Current PhD Students

Students entering the PhD program take a minimum of 12 credits of course work at the 500 level, and complete two qualifying examinations and a thesis. The Program aims to maintain flexibility to accommodate the needs of individual students. Upon entering, each student will be assigned a pro tem advisor in their area of interest to help in planning a program of study. For a more detailed description of course work and other requirements See Candidacy and Thesis.

Students who have already done comparable course work should discuss this with the Graduate Advisor. Depending on their academic background, students may be required to take additional course work. The first two years of the program will require students’ attendance on campus.

Every effort is made to ensure that each student has satisfied all the requirements for the degree.  However, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that, at the time of applying for graduation, all requirements have been met.

Incoming students will be registered in required courses by the program assistant,and may register in electives when registration opens.  Following Orientation at the beginning of September, Students will prepare a program of study in consultation with their pro tem advisor, and may make changes to their registration at that time.

PhD students are assigned a pro tem advisor when admitted. The pro tem advisor will assist the students in forumating a program of study, and may become the student's research supervisor for comprehensive exams and thesis, but that is not always the case. GRSJ students draw on the Institute’s Associate Faculty Members to serve as supervisors and committee members.  Be sure to peruse the Faculty of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies site with regard to Supervision and Advising:

An oral review is required of all PhD students in April each year. This takes the form of an interview with the Director and Graduate Advisor. Its purpose is to review the student’s academic progress, registration, and financial arrangements, and to give students an opportunity to provide feedback on their experience of the program. Forms and detailed instructions will be distributed by the Graduate Secretary in March.

A copy of UBC’s Policy 85, “Scholarly Integrity” will be distributed with this Handbook at Orientation in September. It is important that new graduate students read this policy and discuss with the Graduate Advisor any questions they might have.

This description of student progress through the program is provided as an example only. The actual progress of individual students may vary.

First Year
Students will take 12 credits of core course work (GRSJ 500, 501 and 502) during the first year of the program. This is also the time to establish a committee (supervisor and two members) with whom to work toward the comprehensive exams. In preparation for the comprehensive exams, the student will begin work on a research bibliography and reading lists, continuing to work on this over the summer.

Second Year
Students work with their supervisory committee to finalize their reading lists. The committee, with leadership from the supervisor, decides on the format of the comprehensive exam. One model that is encouraged is for the committee to develop exam questions in consultation with the student. Other models might be preferred that could involve take home exams, or shorter timed exams with questions provided by the committee for the student to respond to. Typically, the student writes two papers and prepares one course syllabus. If the written exams are determined to be successful, the student should expect to advance to an oral critique within three weeks of submitting the final paper and course syllabus. Upon completion of the oral critique, the student begins preparation of the prospectus. Ideally both the comprehensive exams and the prospectus will be completed during the student’s second year. The student should expect to allow sufficient time for revision and development of the prospectus in consultation with the committee. A defence of the prospectus is not necessary, but the committee may choose to hold a meeting to give the student feedback and reach consensus that the prospectus is final. A student is described as advancing to candidacy after the prospectus has been accepted.

Third Year
Following acceptance of the dissertation proposal by the committee, students typically are able to concentrate on research in the third year. If the student has not yet advanced to candidacy, it is imperative that this be completed during the third year.

Fourth Year
In consultation with the supervisory committee, students now work full-time on their dissertation.

Fifth Year
The dissertation is completed, and the candidate defends it in an oral examination administered by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Upon successful defense, the dissertation is submitted to the UBC Library and the PhD is complete.

Forms for current PhD students are here.