SCARP has had a well-regarded PhD program since the 1970s. SCARP's extraordinary PhD alumni conduct and mobilise original research with cunning new insights, and enter a broader world as a planning scholar.
Full program overview
SCARP's PhD Program provides students with a collegial and convivial environment in which to pursue interdisciplinary research at the intersections of planning theory and practice. We aim to foster planning scholars and practitioners who can think critically, research inventively, and communicate their ideas effectively.
Each year we seek to admit 4 or 5 students, and there may be up to 20 students in residence each year.
We have developed a lively PhD culture at SCARP which includes:
- A forum, held every month
- A lecture series, organized by students
- A SCARP Student Symposium, organized by students and held every February on a topic of contemporary interest.
The SCARP PhD is primarily a research degree, with a flexible component of course work as well as certain specific Required Courses. Doctoral students work under the guidance of a Supervisory Committee consisting of at least three faculty members, including the Research Supervisor.
Overall, Ph.D. candidates should expect to spend at least 3 years in the completion of their degree requirements. Typical programs run 4-5 years.To successfully complete the degree, students must satisfactorily complete the following:
- Course work
- A two-year pre-candidacy residence requirement
- A comprehensive examination
- A research proposal
- Writing and defending a PhD dissertation
The SCARP PhD Program is governed by the general policies and procedures of the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) and their more specific elaboration by SCARP.
The minimum admissions criteria for graduate studies at UBC can be found here.
Beyond this, the SCARP Admissions Committee considers many factors in making admissions decisions. These factors include academic preparation, academic capability, experience, and fit with a prospective research supervisor and with the School.
Please review the 'Applying' tab for details on any prerequisite requirements.
SCARP's PhD Program is governed by the general policies and procedures of the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS). See the Handbook of Graduate Supervision and Policies & Procedures webpages, as well as their more specific elaboration by SCARP (as detailed below and in the PhD Handbook) for Thesis Preparation, Internal Defense, Final Oral Defense, and Thesis Submission. The Chair of the SCARP PhD Program is responsible for ensuring that the administration of each student's program is in compliance with these policies and procedures. Students should be familiar with all information available.
Students typically take 15-24 credits of course work in the first two academic years of SCARP's PhD program.
|PLAN 500||Comparative perspectives on planning history and futures||3 credits|
|PLAN 505||Planning theory, values and ethics||3 credits|
|PLAN 559||Design of planning- and policy-oriented research||3 credits|
|PLAN 602||Advanced planning theory||3 credits|
|PLAN 603||Planning colloquiam||6 credits over 2 years|
to maintain registration in the PhD program
PLAN ***: An advanced research methods course selected in consultation with one’s supervisor
- Students may select other appropriate courses in consultation with their supervisory committee. The exact form and structure of the student’s PhD coursework is left to the discretion of the student and their committee and depends on the student’s background preparation and research focus. PhD students generally use their courses to develop disciplinary expertise relevant to their area of research.
Doctoral students can proceed to candidacy (the research phase of the PhD degree) upon completion of:
- Required coursework
- The comprehensive exam
- Defence of the research proposal
The basic requirements for the status of "Admitted to Candidacy" are:
- All required course work successfully completed.
- Two comprehensive examinations (theory and substantive) successfully completed.
- Completion of a thesis research prospectus that has been successfully defended and accepted.
- Completion of a two-year residency as a full-time student in the PhD program.
- Candidacy requirements should normally be completed within the first twenty-four months in the program and, in any case, within the thirty-six month limit established by G+PS.
Detailed requirements for the thesis document have been established by the UBC Library. The Faculty of Graduate Studies has developed regulations that govern innovative thesis formats and media.
When a PhD student has completed a final draft of their thesis and all Supervisory Committee members have approved it the thesis must be sent to The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) for transmittal to the External Examiner and for the final UBC Oral Examination. If a student wishes to proceed directly to the UBC Defense, the Supervisory Committee must agree that the thesis is ready and submit a memo to that effect to the PhD Chair (or Department Head, in cases where the PhD Chair is supervisor).
The thesis transmittal memo and the final thesis are due in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies a minimum of six weeks before the University final oral examination.
University Final Oral Examination
The final step in the Doctoral Program is a formal oral thesis defense administered by the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Regulations pertaining to the University's final oral examination can be found in a reference booklet entitled " The Final Oral Examination Guide for Doctoral Candidates ".
Important timelines highlighted in the booklet are:
Three months before the expected completion of the thesis, the Appointment of External Examiner form must be submitted by SCARP to G+PS
Six weeks before the final oral examination, submit the thesis and departmental memo to G+PS.
Six weeks is the earliest date that a defense can be scheduled after the thesis has been transmitted to the External Examiner by G+PS.
Four weeks before the final oral examination, the Research Supervisor must confirm the date and time of the final oral examination and submit the Examination Program and the Approval of University Examiners forms to G+PS.
Timelines are subject to change. Students should check for documentation updates a minimum of six months prior to their expected thesis defense date.
Formal Preparation and Submission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies
- Please review all information on requirements before you proceed here.
- The Admissions Committee considers many factors in making admissions decisions, such as academic preparation, academic capability, experience, and fit with the School of Community and Regional Planning.
- Only those full applications requested, following the initial pre-application submission process, will be considered (see “application steps” below).
- Due to the volume of documents received we are unable to confirm receipt of documents by email or phone. Please check your online application regularly for updates.
- Please do not email individual faculty regarding the procedure described on this page. Follow the steps outlined below.
The field of planning includes many rich and diverse areas of research. SCARP has a small number of faculty with dedicated expertise in a subset of planning areas. The PhD program therefore focuses on nurturing and supervising a small number of select applicants. SCARP takes great care in ensuring a good match between student, supervisor, and area of research.
If you would like to apply for the next September intake, please review the following steps:
- Read SCARP's minimum requirements for admission in the program overview tab.
- Complete Pre-Application by November 30
Prospective applicants must complete a short PhD Pre-Application questionnaire.
- Receive Invitation to Apply by December 15
Prospective applicants will be notified on whether they are invited to submit an official application.
- Submit Full Application by February 1
Deadline for official PhD application by invited applicants only. Uninvited applications will not be considered.
- Receive Admission Decision in early April
Applicants will be notified of admission and funding decisions at approximately this date. Date may shift slightly to coincide with relevant funding announcements.
Please contact the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for the inquiries below:
- Application fees
- Online application problems
- Minimum academic requirements
- Transcript requirements
- Translations of transcripts
- Letters of Reference
Minimum Admission Requirements
The School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) adheres to the minimum academic requirements established by the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies:
I received my Masters degree from a post-secondary institution within Canada or the United States
I received my Masters degree from a post-secondary institution outside of Canada and the United States
Further information on qualifications for the PhD program may be found in the program overview tab.
Please note the following required information:
- Applicants are required to scan and upload digital copies of all official transcripts, including transcripts for study abroad semesters, non-degree studies, or credential programs.
- Please ensure that the uploaded documents are official transcripts and include a transcript key. (Transcript keys are often printed on the reverse sides of official transcripts.)
- Grade reports, marking sheets, and transcripts marked “unofficial” are not acceptable and will not be considered for review.
- Degree certificates are required only if the degree conferral is not listed on the transcript.
- Transcripts in a language other than English or French must be accompanied by certified translations. If applicable, transcripts that do not have an indication of the date the degree was conferred must be accompanied by a degree certificate (and translation, if appropriate).
- Uploaded transcripts should be in PDF format, with each transcript complied as one PDF document. Include only one copy of the transcript key. Any additional or extraneous documents will be excluded from the final application file.
The uploaded copies of official transcripts are considered “unofficial documents”. We use the unofficial documents to evaluate applicants and make conditional offers of admission.
Please note that applicants are not required to send hardcopies of official transcripts to the School of Community and Regional Planning office at the time of application.
For more information, please visit the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies sections on Canadian Official Transcripts or International Official Transcripts.
GRE-Graduate Record Exam (General Test)
The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not mandatory, and is only recommended in situations where an applicant’s GPA is close to the minimum and does not reflect the applicant’s true academic potential. GRE scores show students' level of reasoning skills, critical thinking and the ability to communicate in writing which provides us with additional information about the likelihood of a student's success in graduate school.
The GRE is particularly helpful in situations where applicants do not have undergraduate grades (because their program may have been ungraded), or if there are obvious gaps in an applicant’s academic record. A strong GRE score will provide the admissions committee with another data point to consider academic ability.
The GRE is widely required for graduate school applications throughout North America. We urge applicants to carefully review the guidebook that comes with the test application. It illustrates the kinds of questions on the test and helps the student practice for the test. Please see the GRE website.
Submission of GRE test scores must be followed in accordance to the instructions outlined by the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies here.
Evidence of English Language Proficiency
Standardized test of English language proficiency is required unless the previous post-secondary degree is from a university where the primary language of instruction was English.
To be eligible for admission, applicants must meet the following minimum scores:
- Overall score of 100 or higher
- Reading & Listening: Score of 22 or higher
- Writing & Speaking: Score of 21 or higher
IELTS (academic only):
- Overall score of at least 7.0
- Reading, Writing, Listening, & Speaking: Score of 6.5 or higher
More information on these tests can be obtained from their websites: TOEFL | IELTS.
Submission of English language proficiency test scores must be followed in accordance to the instructions outlined by the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
Research Statement of Intent
Applicants are required to prepare and submit a research statement of intent (approximately 1,000 words). The statement should outline the thesis project you wish to undertake, the research methods you expect to use, and how the work builds on or draws from your previous training or experience.
Evidence of Research Competence
Applicants must submit a copy of their Master’s thesis for their application. Previous academic publications, or previous academic projects are also considered acceptable writing samples.
Each applicant must submit a CV/resume detailing educational background, work and/or volunteer experience, publications, and any academic or professional awards earned.
Letters of Reference
Exactly three references are required for the application. Additional references will not be considered as part of the final application file.
References should be from individuals who can assess your academic or professional qualifications and your communication skills. In most cases, at least two references should be academic. If you have been away from school for several years, all references may be from non-academics who are capable of assessing your professional and, if possible, your potential academic performance. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their references submit documentation by the deadlines specified. The reference deadline is 10 days after the application deadline. Contact references in advance of submitting an application to ensure they have adequate time to provide a letter. Reference letters may be addressed to the "PhD Admissions Committee".
Please note that an online application must be submitted before referees receive a request to provide a reference.
There are three possible formats for references: electronic references, paper letters of reference, and paper reference forms. SCARP strongly prefers that references utilize the electronic reference system in the online application to submit a letter of reference. Please note that the system is unable to accept e-mails from Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, MSN or other free e-mail accounts for referees. Letters should be in PDF format, on letterhead, with signature.
If using the electronic reference is not possible, please send paper letters of reference and reference forms to:
School of Community and Regional Planning
Faculty of Applied Science
The University of British Columbia - Vancouver Campus
433 - 6333 Memorial Road
Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z2
For more information, please visit the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies section on Letters of Reference.
It is not possible to defer admission. If you are accepted but do not register you may apply again by submitting a new application form and paying the fee. Your admission would be considered along with others applying for that year.
Time of Admission
Applicants selected for consideration for admission will be invited to an interview with their prospective research supervisor and Program Chair. Final admission decisions will be made after the interview.
Applicants admitted to the program will commence full-time studies in September. The School of Community and Regional Planning does not admit students at any other time of year.
Pre-application closes: November 30
Application open: December 15
Application closes: February 1
Referee deadline: February 10