Printer-friendlyIrving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences /  > Earth and Environmental Sciences > Graduate Studies > Earth and Environmental Sciences

MSc, PhD

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Collaborate with colleagues and top professors in the study of Earth dynamics, including its surface, interior and human impacts.

Graduate Degrees

Program Components Duration
MSc Coursework and thesis 24 months
PhD Dissertation 48 months

The Earth and Environmental Sciences graduate program offers high-calibre research-based degrees to inquisitive and highly motivated students in a collegial, close-knit campus setting that is safe, welcoming and stimulating.

Students conduct research with faculty and peers on a variety of issues and research projects, many in collaboration with partners in government, non-profit agencies or industry. Our collective aspiration is to generate new knowledge and understanding that is regionally relevant and of global impact.

Both the MSc and PhD degrees provide students with theoretical, practical and analytical expertise, as well as experience in the application of scientific results to real-world problems.

Students enrolled in the MSc program will learn useful skills and methods as well as undertake practical research on real-world problems in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Graduates with the MSc degree are prepared for employment opportunities in government, management, industry, education, and consulting or for further studies leading toward an advanced degree such as a PhD.

Formal milestones for the program include: preparing, presenting and defending a research proposal; collecting and analyzing data; writing and defending a thesis; and ideally publishing research results. Most MSc students become Teaching Assistants (TA) for at least one semester in order to gain valuable teaching experience and to learn effective communication strategies.

The MSc degree requires completion of a minimum of 30 credits, which includes 12 credits of coursework and 18 credits of thesis work. Additional coursework maybe required at the discretion of the supervisory committee.

Exceptional MSc students can transfer to the PhD program after one year if they meet program requirements and are approved by the Graduate Program Coordinating Committee.

The PhD is an advanced research degree that requires original and substantive contributions to the advancement of our understanding of Earth and environmental systems. Graduates of the PhD program are prepared for careers that involve conducting independent research and teaching in academia, government and industry.

Formal milestones for the program include: passing a candidacy examination that demonstrates breadth and depth of knowledge in one's chosen field and specialization; preparing, presenting and defending a research proposal; undertaking advanced data collection and sophisticated analytical methods, sometimes based on complex modelling; completing and defending a dissertation; and communicating research results via conference presentations and publications in scientific journals. Most PhD students become Teaching Assistants for at least two semesters in order to gain valuable teaching experience and to enhance their communication skills.

At the PhD level, coursework is required only at the discretion of the student's supervisory committee, depending on previous course credits from the prior MSc degree as well as the nature of their research objectives.

Related Programs


Research & Supervisors

Earth and Environmental Sciences graduate students may pursue research in the following areas of faculty expertise:

  • Biodiversity and Landscape Ecology
  • Complex Social-Ecological Systems
  • Environmental Change
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forest Ecohydrological Processes
  • Geochemistry & Geochemical Fingerprinting
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrology
  • Landscape & Land-Use Modelling
  • Limnology
  • Mantle Dynamics
  • Mineral Exploration
  • Mineralogy & Petrology
  • Natural Resource Studies
  • Paleoecology
  • Sediment Transport Dynamics
  • Structural Geology & Tectonics
  • Trace Element Analysis & Stable Isotopes
  • Watershed Processes & Forest Management
  • Wetland Dynamics & Greenhouse Gases

The success of the Earth and Environmental Sciences graduate program depends on exceptional students undertaking cutting-edge research in collaboration with participating faculty in areas of mutual interest.

Students are strongly encouraged to reach out to a potential faculty supervisor before beginning the application process. We invite you to discuss your research interests and career goals with us. We are happy to share our excitement about what we study and teach.

 
Bernard Bauer | bernard.bauer@ubc.ca | 250.807.9595
Research interests: Process geomorphology; hydrology; environmental science; understanding how wind systems, water currents, and ocean waves pick up and transport sediments, leading to problems of erosion and sedimentation on beaches, dunes and river (levee) banks.
Yuan Chen | yuan.chen@ubc.ca | 250.807.9594
Research interests: Mineralogy; petrology; geochemistry and geologic resources; the environment; research used to predict the solubility, transportation and potential bioavailability of trace elements through surface processes and to establish environmentally friendly operating procedures for the mining industry.
Jeff Curtis | jeff.curtis@ubc.ca | 250.807.9521
Research interests: Biogeoclimatic control of water quality; inferring hydrologic flowpath from geochemical indicators; optical properties of natural waters; interaction of metals and natural organic ligands; scavenging of nutrients and trace elements in biogenic calcite; fate and transport ofendocrine disrupters.
Fes de Scally | fes.descally@ubc.ca | 250.807.9361
Research interests: Historical and modern tropical cyclone risks in the Cook Islands, South Pacific Ocean; differentiation of debris flow, streamflow and snow avalanche fans in mountain environments and implications for risk management in the Southern Alps, New Zealand.
Sylvia Esterby | sylvia.esterby@ubc.ca | 250.807.9536
Research interests: Environmetrics and ecological statistics.
John Greenough | john.greenough@ubc.ca | 250.807.9520
Research interests: Mantle composition and evolution; diamond indicator minerals; lunar mantle composition; volatiles in lava flows; geochemical fingerprinting of gold; archaeological artefacts; and agrifood products; the concentrations of elements in lava flows to determine the composition of the interior of the Earth.
Kevin Hanna | kevin.hanna@ubc.ca | 250.807.9265
Research interests: Environmental impact assessment, integrated resource and environmental management, climate change adaptation policy, natural resources policy in Canada and Northern Europe, European Union environmental policy.
Ed Hornibrook | ed.hornibrook@ubc.ca | 250.807.8059
Research interests: Biogeochemistry, stable isotopes, biosphere-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases, natural and restored wetlands, lakes, soil, groundwater, trace gas analysis and automation ofmonitoring equipment.
Trudy Kavanagh | trudy.kavanagh@ubc.ca | 250.807.8754
Research interests: Biogeography; treeline ecology; abiotic controls on vegetation dynamics; examination of the water-repellent soils that develop after severe wildfire, which modifies the soil micro-environment and subsequent vegetation establishment.
Kyle Larson | kyle.larson@ubc.ca | 250.807.8564
Research interests: Structural geology; tectonics; petrology; microstructures; evolution of mountain belts; the geology of the Himalaya-Tibet-Karakorm system; tectonics of Southwestern British Columbia.
Craig Nichol | craig.nichol@ubc.ca | 250.807.8087
Research interests: Hydrogeology and vadose zone processes; regional groundwater resources; surface water and groundwater interactions; agricultural irrigation efficiency and nitrate leaching; agricultural greenhouse gas production; acid rock drainage and mine reclamation; soil physics.
Lael Parrott | lael.parrott@ubc.ca | 250.807.8122
Research interests: Ecosystems and landscapes as complex systems; incorporating complexity into natural resource management approaches; regional-scale landscape modelling; social-ecological networks; agent and individual-based modelling approaches; landscape science and scenario building.
Karen Perry | karen.perry@ubc.ca | 250.807.9570
Research interests: Mineralization of organic carbon; palaeoceanography; carbon cycle and climatology.
Michael Pidwirny | michael.pidwirny@ubc.ca | 250.807.8758
Research interests: Species interactions in wetland plant communities; spatial patterns and community structure in vegetation; climate change and its influence on the distribution of species and communities; computer applications, education technology and modelling in physical geography; use of Wiki technology in providing Earth Science information to global internet users; climate change impact assessment.
Jason Pither | jason.pither@ubc.ca | 250.807.9629
Research interests: Biogeography; landscape ecology; biodiversity conservation; community ecology; paleoecology; biodiversity patterns in space and time.
Ian Saunders | ian.saunders@ubc.ca | 250.807.8753
Research interests: Climatology; glaciology; and mountain environments; use repeat aerial photography and GPS mapping to determine the volumetric rates of change of ice in parts of the Illecillewaet River Basin, BC.
David Scott | david.scott@ubc.ca | 250.807.8755
Research interests: Hydrological effects of forest management and land-use change; the effects ofwildfire on hydrology and erosion; the effects of fast-growing timber plantations on stream flow (water yield and low flows); analysis of PAIRED catchment experiments.
Ian Walker | ian.walker@ubc.ca | 250.807.9559
Research interests: Environmental change; chironomid palaeoecology; Quaternary palaeoecology and palaeoclimatology; dynamics of arctic and alpine tree-line ecosystems; aquatic insect ecology;biomonitoring; aquatic insects (living and fossil) as indicators of environmental change.
Adam Wei | adam.wei@ubc.ca | 250.807.8750
Research interests: Eco-hydrological processes; in-stream wood ecology and its relations with channel morphology, aquatic habitat and carbon budget; forest disturbance and watershed processes; application of GIS and remote sensing on watershed hydrology and management; surface water and groundwater integration; long-term soil productivity; and forest ecosystem modelling (FORECAST).
Robert Young | robert.young@ubc.ca | 250.807.9523
Research interests: Glacial and fluvial processes, landforms and landscapes, environments of the Quaternary as determined by physical and biological systems.
Prof. Adam Wei
Sustainable management of forested watersheds
Prof. Lael Parrott
Advancing research in conservation and ecology

Students & Theses

Meet Our Students

See what our students are up to—check out the Earth and Environmental Sciences Students and Physical Geography grad students page for their research interests, supervisors, alma maters and contact info.

Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduate Society 

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduate Society is a student union dedicated to connecting students with each other, the university and the communityin order to enhance students' research, learning and overall experience at UBC Okanagan.

Theses and Dissertations

Search all UBC Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences student publications at cIRcle, the University's digital repository for research and teaching materials.

Erica Massey, Geoscientist
UBC alumna (2017)
Elinor McGrath, Fisheries Biologist
UBC alumna (2010)

Admission Requirements

Master of Science Applicants (MSc)

Applicants to the MSc program normally hold a bachelor's degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences or a related field, with a minimum average of B+ (76%) or better in their third- and fourth-year classes.

The College of Graduate Studies defines additional requirements and degree equivalencies.

Doctoral Applicants (PhD)

PhD applicants normally have an equivalent MSc degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better in all prior graduate course work including the MSc thesis. Background training and previous experience must be sufficient to demonstrate ability or potential for advanced research in the chosen field.

In exceptional cases, applicants who do not meet the requirements stated above, but who have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience, may be granted admission on the recommendation of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduate Program Committee and approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for full admission and program requirements information; the calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

* In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Master of Science Applicants (MSc)

Applicants to the MSc program normally hold a bachelor's degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences or a related field, with a minimum average of B+ (76%) or better in their third- and fourth-year classes.

The College of Graduate Studies defines additional requirements and degree equivalencies.

For non-native speakers of English, minimum acceptance TOEFL scores are 550 (Paper) and 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading and Listening and a minimum score of 21 in Writing and Speaking (internet).

Doctoral Applicants (PhD)

PhD applicants normally have an equivalent MSc degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better in all prior graduate course work including the MSc thesis. Background training and previous experience must be sufficient to demonstrate ability or potential for advanced research in the chosen field.

In exceptional cases, applicants who do not meet the requirements stated above, but who have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience, maybe granted admissions on the recommendation of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduate Program Committee and approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

For non-native speakers of English, minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are 550 (Paper) and 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading and Learning and a minimum score of 21 in Writing and Speaking (Internet).

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for full admission and program requirements information; the calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

* In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Required Grades and Credential Guide

Grades and degree credentials required by UBC vary by country. Search the Required Grades and Credential Guide — a guide to assist international students in estimating their eligibility.

International Advisors

An international student advisor can answer questions about immigration, medical insurance and the transition to UBC's Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC. Visit the International Programs and Services website to meet the team.


Tuition & Funding

Tuition

Program Schedule Domestic (per year) International (per year)
MSc Full-time $4,707.66 $8,270.55
MSc Part-time $2,690.55 $4,755.57
PhD Part-time $4,707.66 $8,270.55

Tuition is paid three times a year at the beginning of each term, and on the first day of the term, as per the Academic Calendar: Winter Term 1, Winter Term 2, and Summer Term.

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for detailed tuition and fees information; the calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

* In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct. 

Graduate students are supported financially through a combination of internal and external funding sources, which might include: Scholarship and Fellowship Awards, Teaching Assistantships (TA), and Research Assistantships (RA).

It is best to speak with your potential supervisor about funding opportunities that are generally available to Earth and Environmental Sciences graduate students.

Students are expected to apply for relevant scholarships and fellowships if they are eligible, and to actively pursue financial opportunities at their discretion.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships (TA) are employment opportunities for qualified students offered by departments to assist with the delivery of undergraduate curriculum. TAs enable graduate students to develop skills in teaching, supervision, facilitation and student assessment. TAs may lead discussion sections, provide laboratory instruction, and assist in student evaluations and marking. TAs are mentored by the course instructor and the laboratory manager with assistance from the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Research Assistantships

Research Assistantships (RA) are employment opportunities for qualified students offered by faculty members with research grants and contracts. As a paid research assistant, graduate students assist their supervisor or other researchers in conducting high-level research, which often contributes to the student's thesis or dissertation. RAs are not guaranteed because they follow the financial cycles of the supervisor's external grants and contracts.

Scholarships & Awards

The College of Graduate Studies administers merit-based graduate awards with many award competitions each year. Rules and regulations regarding these internal scholarships and fellowship are enforced by the College of Graduate Studies as is the administration of payment.

All prospective graduate students (Domestic and International) are encouraged to explore opportunities for external scholarships and fellowships, including awards offered by Canada's three research councils: CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

Graduate awards may also be available from foundations, private organizations or foreign governments (check with your country's education authority).


How to Apply

Find a Supervisor

Please contact our faculty before starting your application. Admission to the program requires the support of a faculty supervisor as well as meeting program-specific criteria.

A complete application package will contain:

  • Online application and application fee
  • Official transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended
  • English language test (for non-native speakers of English)
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé
  • Three reference forms or letters

Applying takes time. We recommend you start your application at least two months in advance of published deadlines.

For full consideration students should apply by the following dates:

Intake Apply Before 
Domestic applicants
September January 31
January June 2
May October 13
International applicants
September January 31
January June 2
May October 13

UBC's Okanagan Campus

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. In the Earth and Environmental Sciences graduate program at UBC’s Okanagan campus, you gain all the benefits of attending a globally respected university while studying in a close-knit learning community.

UBC Okanagan

UBC Okanagan is situated near the northern border of the dynamic city of Kelowna, a hub of economic development with a population of about 150,000 people—the fourth fastest growing population in Canada. In fact, the Okanagan Valley is rated one of the best communities in Canada to grow a business.

More than 160 buses travel daily from campus to key locations such as Kelowna's cultural district and thriving downtown waterfront. The campus is two minutes from the Kelowna International Airport, one of the 10 busiest airports in Canada.

UBC Okanagan is situated within the traditional territory of the Okanagan Nation, whose spirit of stewardship for the land is reflected in the university’s respect for sustainability.

A diverse natural region with sandy beaches, beautiful farms, vineyards and orchards, and snow-capped mountains, the Okanagan Valley features sweeping stretches of lake shores and endless mountain trails for biking and hiking.

Check out this 360-degree video: Kelowna From Above*.

* Best viewed using Chrome or Firefox (desktop), YouTube app (mobile)

Full-time UBC Okanagan students can live in residence, which offers modern living with easy access to academic and personal support. Residences are surrounded by hiking and biking trails, plus panoramic views of the campus and valley.

The Student Residence website includes helpful information about Important Dates for living on campus, plus options and resources for Living Off Campus.

Kelowna Off Campus Student Housing is a public Facebook group that shares notes about housing options, finding roommates, and vacancies in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley.*

* UBC does not verify or endorse information shared on this third-party website, which is offered here as a public resource only.

Join the club! Make friends with similar interests, and organize and participate in academic and recreational events in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Course Union.

There are orientation events for all graduate students, including the College of Graduate Studies' incoming graduate student orientation, Jumpstart for international graduate students, and the Create New Student Orientation series.

Stay active. Take advantage of the many opportunities to get involved and play—from workout space in the new Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre and our 1,561 square-metre gymnasium, to athletic courts, intramurals, fitness classes and nationally ranked varsity athletics. Have a ball in Sports and Recreation.

Relax. The Graduate Collegium is a gathering place where grad students can hang out, eat lunch, spend time with their fellow students, and attend or host special events. The lounge-style room is open seven days and week and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, kitchen facilities, and individual and group-work spaces.

The College of Graduate Studies is your hub for administrative support and such things as graduate workshops for professional development and for assisting you from the admissions process through to your graduation.

The Library's Centre for Scholarly Communication (CSC) supports graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff and faculty in disseminating their research. The CSC provides one-on-one consultations and workshops, including writing support for theses, dissertations, journal articles and grant proposals.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning provides support related to teaching, TA training and use of technology in educational programming.

Careers and Occupations

With an Earth and Environmental Sciences MSc or PhD degree from the University of British Columbia, graduates are well-positioned to thrive in a variety of occupations, such as:

  • Antipollution measures inspector
  • Dangerous substances inspector
  • Development and production geophysicist
  • Environmental geologist
  • Environmental impact assessor
  • Environmental policy analyst
  • Environmental reporter/writer
  • Environmental standards enforcement officer
  • Environmental technician
  • Farm water coordinator
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrologist
  • Hydrometric technologist
  • Junior environmentalist
  • Land use analyst
  • Park warden/naturalist
  • Pollution control technologist
  • Project planner/reclamation worker
  • Public health inspector
  • Regulatory analyst
  • Renewable energy consultant
  • Sanitarian
  • Soil use planner
  • Waste management specialist
  • Water resource manager
  • Wetlands ecologist
  • Wildlife conservationist
  • Wildlife manager
  • Zoning investigator

Career Services

Map out your future and prepare to hit the ground running with resources and services provided by the Advising & Involvement Centre.

Tell your story with resumé and cover-letter strategies, and search Work Study jobs for experience relevant to your degree and career goals. You can also book an appointment to meet one-on-one with our career advisor.

alumni UBC

alumni UBC is a member-driven association that offers a variety of lifetime programming and communications to enrich the lives of UBC graduates.

The 'Your Next Step' program offers webinars, speaker series and professional development sessions. It is designed to provide advice, tips and resources in areas of career development to graduates for life after university.

Realize the promise of a global community with shared ambition for a better world and an exceptional UBC.

Inquire

Dr. David Scott
Graduate Program Coordinator
250.807.8755
david.scott@ubc.ca

Last reviewed shim7/6/2017 3:06:13 PM