Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


The UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies office can answer many of these questions in more detail, and provide a great resource for any graduate student. Check out their website here:

Getting Started | Getting Money | Finding Courses & Workshops | Going to a Conference | Getting Involved & Meeting People | Managing Your Program | Studying Abroad | Thesis Preparation | Forms | Leaving Your Program

Getting started

1. How do I get a CWL account?

Go to and follow instructions.

2. Where can I pay tuition, accept my awards/scholarships and see other financial information?

All of your financial information is kept at the Student Services Centre.

3. How can I access journals and holdings at the UBC library from home?

You can access many useful resources at UBC library (such as e-journals) from home, but you need to set up your browser to the Library Proxy Server.

4. Who is my LFS Graduate Manager and where can I find him/her?

The LFS Graduate Manager and Admission Coordinator can help you with most questions related to your graduate degree. The Graduate Programs offices are located in Rooms 291 and 293 of the MacMillan Building and their door is always open!

LFS G&PS Manager: Tel: 604.822.4593 | Email:

LFS G&PS Admission Coordinator: Tel: 604.822-8373 | Email: 

5. How long will it take me to complete my degree?

  • An MSc will normally take between 2-3 years to complete.
  • A PhD will normally take between 4-5 years to complete.
  • Individual completion times may vary, but there is a limit to 5 years for an MSc and 6 years for a PhD.

Extensions are available under some circumstances.

6. What do I need to know as an international student?

You are in luck! UBC has an entire website and handbook dedicated to you!

Getting Money

1. What scholarships are available for me, and how do I apply for them?

You can find information about graduate student awards at:

Major University Award Competitions

Affiliated Awards, NSERC, SSHRC and Vanier awards are made on the basis of high scholastic achievement and evidence of skill (or potential) at research. Applications for these competitions are made in early Fall each year. Please refer to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Affiliated Fellowships page for eligibility information:

NSERC scholarships (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) provides research funding for university students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors:

SSHRC scholarships (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) provides research funding for university students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors:

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program support PhD students who demonstrate a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies and leadership skills:

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) provides financial support to outstanding students pursuing masters or doctoral studies in health science

2. How do I become a TA, marker or PBL tutor?

You can apply for all of these positions online through the LFS website.

3. What is work-study and how can I become involved?

The Work Learn Program (formerly Work Study/Work Learn) is a wage subsidy program that encourages on-campus employers to create career related on-campus work for eligible students:

Finding courses and workshops

1. How do I find courses?

  • First and foremost, consult with your supervisory committee about which courses you need to take, or should take for your degree.
  • A list of graduate courses in LFS can be found here:

2. How do I register for courses?

You can register for courses, including your thesis credits, at the Student Services Centre using your CWL account:

3. How do I audit a course?

Students may audit a course with permission of the instructor. A form must be signed by the student and instructor, and submitted to the LFS Grad Manager for approval and processing before the change of registration deadline each term.

Be sure to clarify audit requirements with the instructor at the beginning of the course, as expectations for auditing students may vary:

4. Can I take courses for free at other universities through the Western Dean’s Agreement?

Under the terms of the Western Dean’s agreement, graduate students of the member institutions may take courses at another member institution without having to pay the host university’s tuition fees.

For a list of member institutions and application information go to:

5. How can I find professional development workshops?

Going to a conference

1. Can I get help preparing a poster or a presentation?

The Learning Centre (MacMillan 264) offers advice and technical support for both posters and PowerPoint presentations.

2. How do I print a poster?

a. The Learning Centre can help with all aspects of creating an effective poster from displaying information, formatting images to making your poster print ready. Contact Duncan McHugh ( to get you started no less than 1 week in advance.

3. Am I eligible for a travel award?

a. There are 2 travel awards that you are likely eligible for, one from LFS ($400 for MSc, $600 for PhD students) and one from Grad studies ($400). You will need to have an accepted abstract before applying for either award.

Getting involved and meeting people

1. How can I get involved with the LFS Grad Council?

Email them ( or visit the LFS Grad Student Portal at

2. How can I get involved with the Graduate Student Society of UBC (GSS)?

There are lots of ways to contribute to the GSS! More information is on their webpage:

3. How else can I meet other graduate students at UBC?

  • The LFS Grad Council organizes social events throughout the year! Their events include a grad orientation and gala for old and new students, Jitter Chatter coffee and snack socials every two weeks, and much more! Keep updated through Facebook by following the LFS Graduate Students page, and by checking out the blog:
  • GSS offers many opportunities to meet people through social activities, sports and leadership opportunities. Check them out here:
  • UBC Rec offers athletic classes, personal training and sport teams to join all year round!

Managing your program

1. Are there workshops or seminars to help me with time management, or to prepare for my oral defense or comprehensive exam?

2. I am having trouble with my supervisor, who should I talk to?

The LFS Graduate Manager should be one of the first people to talk to if you are having problems with your supervisor. He/she can be found at MacMillan 344, with walk-ins welcome from 9am-5pm

3. I need to take a leave of absence for health or personal reasons, how do I do that?

You can be granted a leave of absence by the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies if you do not feel that you will have the time to complete your academic responsibilities due to personal or health reasons. Find out more here:

4. What do I need to know to have a successful MSc or PhD?

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers many resources for you to help manage your program:

5. What do I need to know about my rights as a TA?

As a TA, you are automatically part of CUPE 2278, a union for TAs at UBC, run by TAs at UBC. If you are not paid, or forced to work unpaid overtime, or treated unfairly in any way do not hesitate to get in touch with them. They will inform you of your options and legal rights and take action on your behalf if that is what you want:

Studying abroad

1. Where can I find opportunities for studying abroad as a graduate student?

UBC’s Go Global program offers many opportunities for students to travel abroad during their degree:

It is also possible to make your own arrangements with your supervisory committee to visit another university not included in the Go Global program.

2. What will I need to do to prepare for my trip?

Follow the steps provided by Go Global (even if you are not part of the program) to ensure your safety abroad:

Thesis preparation

1. What is a committee meeting and how often do I need one?

You should be meeting with your committee every 6 months. Fill out a committee meeting form after every meeting and submit it to the LFS G&PS office (MacMillan 291) or by email to

2. Can I get help preparing my thesis?

Of course! The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers workshops and a website dedicated to making thesis preparation pain-free.

3. What forms do I need for my MSc exam?

You will need to complete the MSc Thesis Defense Committee Composition form and Approval by MSc Supervisory Committee to Proceed to Final Exam form at least 2 weeks before your exam. Submit these forms to the LFS G&PS office  (MacMillan 291) or by email to

The chair of your exam will also need to complete and submit an MSc Chair’s Report to the LFS G&PS office  (MacMillan 291) or by email to

Find all forms here:

4. What is a comprehensive exam and when do I need to take it?

After courses are complete, you will take a “comprehensive examination” that is intended to test your grasp of your field of study, and your ability to communicate your understanding of it in English or in French. More information about the exam is located on the FoGS website.

Every program has different guidelines for their comprehensive exam, but you will need to take it no later than 24 months after you start your PhD. Details for LFS programs are located here.

5. What forms do I need for my PhD comprehensive exam?

You will need to submit a PhD Supervisory Committee Composition form to the LFS G&PS office  (MacMillan 291) or by email to 2 weeks before the exam.

The chair of your exam will also need to complete and submit an PhD Chair’s Report to the LFS G&PS office  (MacMillan 291) or by email to after the exam.

After the exam, provided that all the other requirements are met, fill out the Recommendation for Advancement to Candidacy form and hand it in to the LFS G&PS office  (MacMillan 291) or send by email to

Find all LFS forms here:

6. What forms do I need for my PhD exam?

You will need to submit forms to both LFS and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Do I need a form for that?

There are many forms that you will need to fill out in the course of your degree. Usually you will need to check with both LFS and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FoGS), as they have different forms for the same thing.

Leaving your program

1. How do I withdraw from my program?

It is possible to withdraw from your program for personal reasons, or because you are asked to withdraw. Find details of how to withdraw on the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website:

2. Can I transfer to a different program or to a PhD?

To transfer between closely related MSc programs or to an entirely new program, visit:

To transfer from an MSc to a PhD:

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