PhD: Invited Application Requirements

To apply for the September 2021 intake, please visit the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies below:

Application & Admission

Application open: December 5, 2020
Application closes: February 1, 2021
Referee deadline: February 10, 2021

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

Only invited applications will be considered.
For more information, please review our PhD Application Steps.

Application and Admission Information for the PhD program

The Admissions Committee considers many factors in making admissions decisions. Factors include academic preparation, academic capability, experience, and fit with the School of Community and Regional Planning

***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.***

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:

If you received your Masters degree from a post-secondary institution within Canada or the United States, click here.
If you received your Masters degree from a post-secondary institution outside of Canada or the United States, click here.

Further information on qualifications for the PhD program may be found under our PhD Program Overview section


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 we do not require applicants to send hardcopies of official transcripts to the School of Community and Regional Planning 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 here.

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". 

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. Letters should be in PDF format, on letterhead, with signature. For more information, please visit the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies section on Letters of ReferencePlease note that an online application must be submitted before referees receive a request to provide a reference.

If using the electronic reference system is not possible, hardcopies may be accepted. Letters of reference and reference forms submitted in hardcopy are not official without the referee's signature and received in a sealed and endorsed envelope, signed by the referee across the seal. Hardcopies of reference forms and/or letters must be mailed to the address below: 

School of Community of Regional and Planning
University of British Columbia - Vancouver Campus
433 - 6333 Memorial Road
Vancouver, BC 
V6T 1Z2 Canada 

Deferred Admission

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

Students admitted to the program will commence full-time studies in September. We do not admit students at any other time of year.