Graduate Studies

Thesis Completion

By researching, writing, and presenting a thesis, students acquire general skills in research design and methods, in critical thinking, and in writing and communicating. They additionally acquire a detailed knowledge of their thesis area.

Collaboration with Colleagues

By working alongside other graduate students, post-docs, faculty members and visitors, students acquire a broad knowledge of animal welfare issues involving farm, laboratory, companion and wild animals. This breadth of knowledge improves students’ employment prospects and ideas from one area often provide the key to solving problems in another.

Course work

Graduate students take courses according to their individual interests and needs. In addition to our own courses related specifically to animal welfare, students may take courses in experimental design and statistics, applied ethics, animal behaviour, and fields relevant to their thesis topic. Students, in conjunction with their supervisory committee, select a set of courses tailored to meet their needs.

A list of graduate courses can be found here.

Further information on M.Sc. and Ph.D. requirements can be found at the Faculty of Land and Food Systems: Degree Requirements – Animal Science.

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M.Sc. OR Ph.D.?

Most of our students are accepted with the intention that they will complete Ph.D. degrees. Those who already have a Master’s degree and evidence of strong research productivity may be accepted directly as Ph.D. candidates. Others enroll initially in the M.Sc. program with a view to continuing on to a Ph.D. There is a mechanism whereby very strong Masters candidates can be reclassified as Ph.D. candidates once certain conditions are met.

Because we were established principally as a research unit, we do not usually accept students for the Master’s degree alone as Master’s students do not normally make as great a contribution to the research work of the Program.

Exceptions may be made for candidates who:

  • Are judged capable of a thesis that meets a specific research need of the program or one of its sponsors, or
  • Have career aspirations (e.g., in the animal care professions) that would be significantly advanced by masters level study in animal welfare

Formal requirements

The UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies has admission requirements (navigate the left hand-side panel) for registering as a graduate student at UBC. These regard the type of degree completed, marks received, and English language proficiency.

Program-specific requirements

Accepting a graduate student represents a large commitment of time and resources. Before accepting a graduate student we need to be convinced that an applicant is a good fit with our program.  Generally we look for potential students that have:

  • An excellent academic record. This is important for securing competitive scholarship funding to support students during graduate work.
  • An exceptional aptitude for research. Graduate students spend most of their time conducting independent research. Publications and letters of reference should support that the applicant is exceptionally good at this core activity.

Additionally we look for:

  • A career fit. Students need to demonstrate their vision of how graduate work in animal welfare will equip them for their intended career.
  • A fit with the program’s research needs and strengths. The program has certain key areas of existing research, and it is easier to accept students whose interests fit into areas that are already active. The program also has a range of sponsoring groups with their own research needs; sometimes students are accepted if their research interests match the needs of one of these groups. Occasionally, very promising applicants are accepted whose interests are different but complementary to those of our existing program.
  • A personal fit to the program. The 15-20 faculty members, graduate students, post-docs and visitors who make up the program are an exceptionally harmonious group, based on the matching of research goals and interest. What exactly are we looking for? The UBC Animal Welfare researchers are a pragmatic group, working in the real world — in animal shelters, on farms, in laboratories — to improve animal welfare in practical ways. We emphasize research, analysis and problem-solving rather than advocacy and rhetoric; group members are an interactive group who learn from and support each other’s work.
  • Availability of funding. The easiest students to accept are those who have their own funding although options exist for students who do not (see below).

We want all of our graduate students to have enough income to live on. Hence, the availability of funding is an important concern when accepting students.

The easiest students to accept are those who have their own funding such as a personal scholarship from NSERC (for Canadian students) or similar support from their own countries or from other sources.

The second, relatively easy, students to accept are those who do not yet have such funding in place, but whose academic record is so strong that we know they will be highly competitive for scholarship support in the near future.

The third, and most difficult, students to accept are applicants who do not have existing scholarships and whose records make it unlikely that they would win scholarships. In these cases we have two options:

  • We can try to find a fit between such students and specific project-related funding; for example, if a student wants to work on the welfare of beef cattle, we may be able to suggest cattle producers’ organizations that they could contact for support.
  • We can hire the student as a Research Assistant to fill an existing need; typically we have only 1-2 students supported in this way at any one time.

Information, provided by the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, on funding and scholarships can be found here.

PhD students who are about to complete or have recently completed their dissertation and are interested in a post-doctoral research fellowship should visit the UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies web site and also the Government of Canada websites on Post-Doctoral Research Fellowships and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships.

If you are interested in the Program, contact the faculty member whose work most closely aligns with your interests. Provide a brief summary of your previous experience and an abbreviated CV. If the faculty member has the capacity to take on another student at this time, you may be invited to an informal meeting with Program members. If your interests align with the Program’s objectives and if there is funding and capacity, you will invited to formally apply through the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Land and Food Systems
2357 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: 604-822-1219
UBC Animal Welfare Program
2357 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: 604-822-2794
Fax: 604-822-4400

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