PhD Program Requirements

To complete the PhD program, a student must successfully complete a Research Proficiency Evaluation (RPE), be admitted to candidacy, complete the PhD thesis, and defend it according to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies policies ( To be admitted to candidacy, the student must complete the Comprehensive Course Requirement and defend the Thesis Proposal Exam. It is highly recommended that both milestones be completed within 24 months from the date of initial registration in the program. A student who is not admitted to candidacy within 36 months from the date of initial registration is expected to withdraw from the program. Extensions may be granted under exceptional circumstances with the permission of the Graduate Affairs Committee and the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The PhD degree is expected to be completed within 3-5 years. Extensions beyond 6 years require University approval.

Research Proficiency Evaluation (RPE)

Students admitted to the PhD program are required to demonstrate their research proficiency by completing a research project with under the supervision of a one or more faculty members, and presenting their results in a written report and oral examination before their RPE committee.  Please refer to RPE for details.

Exception: Subject to the approval of the supervisor, PhD students who completed a Master’s degree from our department AND are working with the EXACT SAME supervisory team can be exempted from the RPE.

A student who fails the RPE has the option of retaking it if both (i) the RPE committee recommends that the student be given a second chance, and (ii) the student can find an alternate supervisor to guide them through the RPE a second time. The second attempt at the RPE must be completed (including the oral presentation) within 8 months of the first attempt. A student who does not pass the RPE must leave the PhD program.

Completing the Research Program

Once the thesis proposal examination is passed, the student must carry out a research program in accordance with his or her research proposal under the supervisor’s guidance, with periodic reviews by the student’s committee. A thesis describing his or her research findings must be written by the student, approved by the committee and an external examiner, and defended at a final oral examination set up by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. A guide to the preparation of PhD theses is provided by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The student has the final responsibility for meeting the requirements and deadlines of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Back to PhD Program

Back to Graduate Programs

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia


ICICS/CS Building 201-2366 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4 Canada
Tel: 604-822-3061 | Fax: 604-822-5485
Undergrad program:
Graduate program:

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia