FAQs for Prospective Students

General RES Admissions Questions:

The online application system for the RES program opens in mid-September of each year and closes January 15th, providing several months for applicants to submit a complete application. The RES program admits students once per year, for a September program start. We do not offer January admissions.

The RES application close deadline is January 15th of each year. The IRES website How to Apply page will be updated with the specific application close deadline when we open admissions each year. All applications that are complete and submitted by the application close deadline will be considered for admission for the following September. The RES application close deadline is firm; there are no late applications accepted or exceptions made to this deadline. This helps ensure a fair application and adjudication process for all.

Students start their RES program every year in September. This helps ensure a cohort effect for each year’s admitted students and encourages cohesion and collaboration among the incoming group.

No, we do not offer January admission. We admit students for September program starts only.

All RES students are registered as full-time graduate students. We do not allow part-time studies.

Yes. We do not require degrees from a specific program/field to apply to our program. As our program is interdisciplinary, we have students with backgrounds in diverse subjects - from Engineering, Physics and Biology to Anthropology, Film Studies and Law.

For more information on the required RES application materials, please see the How to Apply tab.

A student's particular background, selection of thesis topic, approach to research and the program electives taken govern whether the MA or MSc should be pursued. Generally, if your background and research interests are more closely aligned with themes from the social sciences/humanities and qualitative research methods, it is likely you should apply for the MA program. Conversely, if your background and/or interests are largely quantitative and align more closely with fields such as Biology/Environmental Sciences/Engineering, it is likely you should apply for the MSc program.

Note: If deemed appropriate by your supervisor(s) and RES Graduate Advisor, it is possible to transfer from one RES master's degree program to the other after your program has started (i.e., transfer from RES MA to the RES MSc program, or vice versa).

Yes. RES does not admit applicants to the PhD program unless they have completed a thesis-based master's degree prior to the RES PhD program start.

For further information on what degree requirements you need to apply to the RES program, please see these links:

Yes. All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the profiles of the IRES Core Faculty and Faculty Associates to identify a potential research supervisor or supervisors and contact them directly via email.

Having applicants reach out to faculty member(s) is often very helpful to both parties, as it can help determine if the two are an appropriate academic and working match. Applicants are encouraged to send concise emails to IRES faculty member(s) explaining who they are, describing their research interests or thesis proposal and how that aligns with the faculty member’s work. Lastly, do not be afraid to follow up with a faculty member if you do not hear back from them within a reasonable timeframe. They are very busy people and receive many emails; a follow up is appreciated!

When you fill out the online RES admission application, you will be asked to provide the names of three faculty members with whom you would like to work or have been in communication with.  This will assist us in routing your application to the appropriate faculty member(s) for review.

Important: RES admissions decisions are made solely by the RES Admissions Committee. Being in communication with faculty member(s) is often helpful to an applicant’s file, but by no means guarantees that applicant an offer of admission.

Please see the IRES Research Concentrations to help you determine where your background might best fit within our program and who you are most interested in working with.

All UBC Theses are published in cIRcle, UBC's openly accessible digital repository for research and teaching materials. The RMES/RES Theses can be found on cIRcle and here.

No. You can’t make changes to your online application once it is submitted.  This applies to the application itself as well as documents you have uploaded, so please make sure you upload the final version of your required documents before submitting your application.  If you have issues uploading required documents to your application, please contact the IRES Graduate Program Office at admissions@ires.ubc.ca.


RES Requirements for Admission:

The RES program GPA requirements for admission are slightly higher than the minimum requirements set by UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS).

The RES program requires a GPA weighted A- average, 3.7 GPA, or 80% minimum. For institutions using a different grading system, First-Class Honours status or the equivalent must be obtained.

Students with averages slightly below a first class standing may be considered, but you will need to provide an exceptional thesis proposal and exceptional letters of reference with your application to be competitive.

The academic requirements for students with Canadian or USA credentials

The academic requirements for students with International credentials

You will need to upload scanned copies of your official academic documents to the online application system.  All documents must be uploaded as PDF files. One PDF file must include the front and back of every page of your official transcript or academic document. Unofficial transcripts or documents are not accepted.

Do not send any paper copies of your documents to RES during the application process.
If you are admitted to the RES program, we will then request that you submit your official paper documents to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) to be validated.

Specific requirements for students with Canadian Transcripts

Specific requirements for students with International Transcripts, Degree Certificates and Translations

No. Do not send any paper documents to RES during the application process. You are required to upload all your official academic documents to the online application system as PDF files. We will use the uploaded documents to review your application file and make conditional admissions decisions.

If you are admitted to the RES program, you will then be required to submit hard (paper) copies of your official, academic records in official university envelopes, sealed and endorsed by the issuing institution directly to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS). If available from your previous institution, official documents can also be sent via secure electronic delivery by the issuing institution directly to G+PS. G+PS will verify your official documents and clear any conditions on your admission.

For those admitted to RES, your official hard copy academic documents should be sent directly to:

Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies
University of British Columbia
6371 Crescent Rd
Vancouver, BC CANADA V6T 1Z2

The RES program requires three (3) letters of recommendation from academic sources. If one or more of your referees knows you in a professional context, this is also acceptable. All reference letters must be submitted via the online application system and there are instructions there for applicant and referee to follow.

Important: The online application system will only notify your referees to write their letters once your application is complete and has been submitted online. Therefore, it is very important that applicants complete and submit their applications online with enough time for your referees to be contacted, be able to comfortably write their letters of recommendation and for us to receive their letters before the RES admissions deadline. Applications with missing reference letters will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

The thesis proposal is a required – and very important - component of your online application to the RES program. Your thesis proposal should outline the issue(s) you wish to address in your academic work, the perceived relevance or importance of the issue(s), the objectives of the research and proposed methods.

The Thesis Proposal is limited to 2 pages single spaced, 12 point font, and 2.5cm margins. This page limit does not include references.

This is a sample of work you have done in a previous degree, or subsequently (ex: in a professional context), written in English. Please select a work that best demonstrates your ability to write well in the English language. We are looking at for evidence that you are able to write well at the graduate level in English. If the work you wish to submit is a co-authored piece, clearly indicate what components you wrote at the beginning of the writing sample.

The writing sample should be no more than 15 pages in length; please edit/cut your document to meet this requirement.

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application. For further information on these tests, see here.


For admission to the RES program, we require the following scores:


A minimum total score of 100 on the internet-based (iBT) TOEFL, with no TOEFL component less than 24 for entry into the RES program.

  • A minimum score of 600 required for the paper-based TOEFL.
    • Test scores must be official and directly from the testing agency; photocopies of TOEFL scores are not acceptable.
  • A minimum score of 250 for the computer-based TOEFL

Please ensure that you include the following on your TOEFL sheet:

  • The University of British Columbia's institution code 0965
  • The reason for taking TOEFL: "to enter a college or university as a graduate student"

UBC accepts either an official paper score report sent directly to the university from the testing center or an electronic submission.




We require a minimum overall score of 7, with no component less than 6.5 for entry into the RES program.

UBC requires an official score to be sent electronically from the test center. On the IELTS application form you will be asked to specify institutions where you would like the results being sent to. Use the following details:

  • Name of institution: The University of British Columbia
  • Name of person/department: Graduate School Admissions
  • Address: 170-6371 Crescent Road, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z2, Canada

No, we do not require applicants to send us their GRE scores. However, if you have taken the GRE already and you feel the score will help your application, please include it in your application. GRE scores are sent electronically to UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS). The UBC institution code is 0965. The RES department code is 0110.

The GMAT is not required.

Financial & Funding Information

RES makes every effort to fund doctoral (PhD) students at least to the UBC Four Year Fellowship (4YF) level: an $18,200 stipend plus full tuition coverage per year, for four consecutive years. This funding package is often composed of a combination of scholarships, fellowships, Research Assistant (RA) positions and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions.

RES students have been highly successful in receiving support from the most prestigious funding agencies. Many of our students are Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) or Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)  recipients, and in recent years we have seen our students receive both Vanier  Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship, the most highly-regarded scholarships in Canada.

International PhD applicants who submit a complete application by the December 31, 2017 deadline will also be considered for the International Doctoral Fellowship (IDF).

To see a detailed list of scholarships available to students in our program, click here.

In addition to external scholarships, RES typically distributes one-time entrance awards to the majority of incoming students. The amount of these awards varies year to year, however over the last three years the awards have been in the range of $3000-$5000. This amount is often in addition to the 4YF level of funding above.

Lastly, Canadians and Permanent Residents are eligible for government student loans and UBC bursaries. To learn more about these resources, click here.

No. There is no guarantee of funding for Master’s students in RES. That being said, many of our master’s students receive funding during their program and/or receive scholarships or awards.

RES typically distributes one-time entrance awards to the majority of incoming students. The amount of these awards varies year to year, however over the last three years the awards have been in the range of $3000-$5000. This amount is in addition to any funding you may receive from a faculty grant, external scholarship or award.

Funding for Master’s students can come in the form of a Research Assistant (RA) position with a faculty member, a Teaching Assistant (TA) position as well as from various scholarships and awards.

However, as there is no guarantee of funding for your program, it is important to have a discussion with a potential supervisor about what funding might be available to you prior to accepting any offer of admission to the program.

Lastly, Canadians and Permanent Residents are eligible for government student loans and UBC bursaries. To learn more about these resources, click here.

Not necessarily. Doctoral (PhD) students often have their tuition covered by their funding guarantee, however there is no guarantee of funding or tuition coverage for Master’s students.

It is therefore important to discuss funding with a potential supervisor prior to accepting any offer of admission to the RES program.

For information UBC Graduate Tuition and Fees, please see the Tuition & Fees tab on our website.

As we are a graduate program with no undergraduate courses in our department, we are not able to offer Teaching Assistant (TA) positions directly. However, some of our students have found TA positions in other departments such as Land and Food Systems, Geography and via the Environmental Sciences (ENVR) program.

Please visit our Awards, Funding and Fellowship opportunities page found here.

UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) also has a database of their awards opportunities, which is found here.

It is also recommended you look for funding opportunities from your home country, your previous work affiliations and/or from organizations related to your field of study.

We do not have tax expertise and cannot advise you on tax issues. However, below are some links that should help you determine your specific tax requirements.

UBC Tax Forms

Filing taxes for international Students

UBC Tax Assistant Clinic for Students


Additional Admission FAQs can be found at the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) website.