The decisions to undertake graduate work and, then, where to do it are likely to be among the more influential of your life. You should consider several good departments and find out as much as you can about them; consider the quality and relevance of the supervision you can expect to receive, the interests inside (and outside) the department, as well as the innovation and intellectual vigour of the institution.
You will know already that there is a geography of Geography: no single department can do everything, and it obviously makes sense for you to find the most congenial base for your work. But for some projects there is no obvious place: you may want to strike out in a completely original direction, or to tie together a series of strikingly different strands. Either way, however, you need to satisfy yourself that the department to which you eventually apply will welcome your ideas and encourage and support you in your efforts.
We don't pretend to cover the whole range of geography, but we represent a wide range of courses, approaches, research projects and interests. We also do our best to help our students develop their own ideas and follow their own paths: we don't represent and neither do we seek to foster a single 'school' of scholars, but rely instead on a lively and creative diversity among faculty and graduate students alike. This mix means that you will probably find several people whose interests intersect closely with your own, as well as others whose friendly disagreement (or outright astonishment!) will help you clarify your ideas and develop a wider and richer platform for your own work.
Research styles differ considerably within the department, since our work ranges from the physical and biological sciences through the social sciences to the arts and humanities. In general, though, graduate students in atmospheric science and physical geography usually work closely with a faculty member, sometimes as part of a larger project team, whereas graduate students in human geography usually work on topics of their own devising which may or may not be closely related to their supervisor's research.
We hope that most of your basic questions will be answered somewhere in this website. For further information about research possibilities and directions, you may find it helpful to write directly to one or two faculty whose work is closest to your own interests. Please include a brief summary of your academic record and interests. If you're not sure whom to approach, ask the Graduate Committee at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, but don't expect any of us to specify your research for you! Although few of our students have a very precise idea of what they want to do before they arrive - and those that do often find their ideas change substantially while they are here - they have all been able to identify particular areas of interest.
Entry is highly competitive: each year we receive over 500 inquiries, which usually translates into around 150 applications for perhaps 25 new places.
We pay particular attention to:
We also take into account the availability of supervisors (we try to make sure that no faculty member is supervising more than about six graduate students at any one time) and the availability of funding.
The Department encourages applications from qualified women, Aboriginals, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities.
The simple answer is "yes". There is a thriving international student community at UBC.
International students pay the same low tuition fee as domestic students. The International Partial Tuition Scholarships are awarded to all international graduates, with few exceptions. However, if the student is a recipient of a major external scholarship or funding that covers their tuition, i.e., if the student´s tuition fees are being paid by their home government, they are not eligible for the tuition scholarship.
There are two issues you should also know about:
In general and in practice, yes.
In some (very rare) cases, students holding a Bachelor´s degree with First Class honours may be admitted direct to the Ph.D. programme. If you are entertaining this possibility, you should know that in your first year you will have to complete 18 credits (six courses) with a First Class average (at or above 80% in UBC grading system). Out of the 18 credits, 10 credits must be specifically graduate courses (500-level and above). In every case we can think of, students who fall into this category have enrolled instead in the M.A. or M.Sc. programme; there is then the possibility of transferring to the Ph.D. programme at the end of the first year, but the same criteria have to be met - so you will not be surprised to learn that, in practice, very few students choose this route.
Most of our graduate students do have a previous degree in Geography, but many don't: Geography is such a wide-ranging field that - so long as you have an appropriate mix of courses relevant to your proposed programme somewhere in your academic career, and your proposed research relates to Geography - we will be happy to consider your application. In the last few years we have admitted graduate students with backgrounds in Anthropology, Botany, Civil Engineering, Commerce, Computer Science, Communications, Cultural Studies, Economics, French, Geology, History, Law, Meteorology, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Sociology, Women's Studies - and Geography!
If you don't have a degree in Geography, however, you may be eligible for a more restricted range of Teaching Assistantships than others, simply because there will be a number of TA positions for which you are not qualified. In some cases funding for your first year in the programme might have to be drawn entirely from awards and/or Research Assistantships, so that we can have time to determine your ability to act as a Teaching Assistant in the future.
In fairness to all candidates we do not normally consider applications for the graduate programme until all applications have been received; however, if we think your interests would be better accommodated in another department, we usually let you know immediately. We begin the evaluation process in February. We try to ensure that most applicants know whether they have been accepted by the end of April. Unfortunately, there will always be a small group for whom no decision is possible until May or June, because we have to wait until we can determine the financial support available for them. Please be patient: we will do our best to let you know what is happening as soon as we can. Equally, if we make you an offer of a place and/or financial support, we would appreciate knowing whether or not you will accept the offer as soon as possible: other applicants will be waiting on your decision.
After making our admission decision, we will recommend the successful candidates to the Faculty of Graduate Studies for final admission approval. You should also be aware of the fact that acceptance by the Department does not mean that you are automatically accepted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Perhaps in as many as 10% of the cases, especially those coming from universities with which UBC has had no previous experience, the Faculty of Graduate Studies will require additional information before formal acceptance.
Let us know your decision as soon as you can - then relax! Over the next few months we will send you full details about the university and the department, summaries of courses being offered in the coming year and suggestions for reading, advice on accommodation, etc.
If you are an international student you will need a "Student Authorization" (Student Visa) before you can enter the country. As soon as you have been accepted by UBC and have received the original official admission letter from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, you should apply for the Student Authorization at the nearest Canadian Consular Office. Please note that, in most cases, it may take up to eight or ten weeks to process your application; and for students from the People's Republic of China, it may even take up to three or six months. To apply for your visa you will need:
If your application is approved, your UBC Letter of Acceptance will be mailed to you and you should retain it for presentation to the Immigration Officer at the Canadian point of entry. For more information on Student Authorization, please visit Immigration Canada and the UBC International House.
At the Department of Geography we do not offer a Master of GIS, instead we offer Master of Science degrees, in which you can utilize GIS technologies. These Master students generally come into the program with a strong background/knowledge of GIS tools and they employ this knowledge in developing their research projects.
For further information on the Master of Science programs, visit http://www.geog.ubc.ca/graduate/masters.html.
Department of Geography - Faculty of Arts - The University of British Columbia