Admissions FAQs

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applicants, we are unable to provide individualized advising services. All admissions-related information can be found on our website and applicants are encouraged to review it in details. Additional information is also posted on the G+PS website.

We recommend applicants consult with professors, postdocs or graduate students who have been providing them with research supervision and mentoring during their undergraduate studies. These mentors will be able to provide guidance on the process of applying for graduate studies that is specific to the applicant’s individual situation and career goals. The essential first step is for applicants to have experience working closely with psychology research.

Please do not send your transcripts or curriculum vitae (CV) as we do not conduct pre-assessments. Refer to our Admission Requirements page for information on minimum academic requirements.

As applications are initially evaluated by potential research supervisors, all prospective applicants are encouraged to review the Research Area section of our website to learn more about specific program requirements for different areas as well as faculty members and their research programs.  Narrow your focus to 3-4 faculty members whose work closely aligns with your interests; formulate specific questions about their research and your background and communicate with them via email.  Some faculty members are delighted to communicate with applicants via email; others prefer to read the applications first and then talk with a small subset of the applicants.  Regardless of their approach, most faculty members are happy to answer questions that will help you determine whether to list them as a potential supervisor on your application.

We do not admit students who intent to complete only the MA degree.  Our MA and PhD degrees are regarded as a unitized program, although students occasionally withdraw after the MA or are not recommended to continue to the PhD program.

If you only have an undergraduate degree (BA or BSc) in psychology and are interested in completing a PhD, then you must apply for the MA program.  We expect you will continue on to the PhD, assuming you do well in the MA program.

If you already have a research-based master’s degree (MA or MSc) in psychology that is similar to ours in terms of requiring a written thesis, statistics, and other coursework, then you should apply directly to our PhD program.  Some students might be required to complete our MA program, with certain requirements waived as appropriate.  Others would be admitted to the PhD program with the requirement that identified deficiencies be made up.

The strongest applications have all these elements:

  • Lab experience and courses (e.g., directed studies) that provide direct research experience in psychology
  • Strong letters of reference from professors or research supervisors who are familiar with your research experience and aptitudes
  • Excellent performance in psychology methods and statistics courses
  • A broad distribution of undergraduate courses across sub-disciplines within psychology
  • Strong grades (at least 80% or ~3.5/4 GPA) in all upper-level courses

You must have at least the equivalent of a major in psychology, including research experience in psychology and a broad array of undergraduate courses in psychology. If your degree is in another field or if you had a minor in psychology, either do a second undergrad degree in psychology or take sufficient courses as an unclassified student to have the equivalent of a psychology major. Program details can be found in our Undergraduate Program area on our website. Information on becoming an unclassified student can be found here.

If your degree is a three-year Bologna-compliant degree from a research-intensive European university, it is likely to be acceptable as a basis for admission to graduate studies at UBC. If this does not describe your degree, then complete the equivalent of an additional 30 credits as an unclassified student with most of those being upper level courses. These courses should include some laboratory experience. Refer to our Admission Requirements page for more information.

Both the BA and BSc degree in psychology will be accepted, and an Honours degree is not required provided you have the equivalent research experience in the form of lab courses or directed studies. Students should however realize that some faculty may prefer an Honours student.

All applicants are required to take the GRE General test; the GRE Psychology subject test is optional and cannot be used to substitute for the GRE General test. Your GRE results must be no more than 5 years old at the time you submit them to us.

Each potential supervisor gives different weight to parts of the application. Reference letters can provide insight into your potential as a graduate student beyond what is provided by your transcript. Get to know faculty members who may write you a letter by working in their labs or taking seminar courses with them. Approach them early about writing a reference. Outline the reason for the request (admissions, scholarships, etc.) and provide background material they can use (e.g., a personal statement, outline of research experience, transcripts), as specific letters are more persuasive. Try to learn if they feel they can write a strong recommendation and provide a way for them to decline rather than have them write a lukewarm letter. Remember, many faculty members write dozens of such letters each year. Find a way to stand out. The American Psychological Society published an interesting article in the Observer (18:5, May 2005) on effective letters of reference.

Unfortunately, due to high volume of applications received, we do not follow up with application status nor do we accept documents after the application deadline. It is your responsibility to ensure that your application is complete and submitted on time. Updated or missing documents will not be accepted after the application deadline. Applicants should also check the status of their references until December 15 deadline.

Full-time study is currently required. We do not offer distance education for our graduate program at this time.

An applicant's chances of admission to the clinical program are higher if s/he works with a research supervisor from the clinical area. However, if additional admissions slots are available, a non-clinical faculty member may request to work with a student in the clinical program. Alternatively, applicants can request to have co-supervisors in which one of the faculty members is in the clinical area.

The MA takes two years and the PhD takes about four additional years. Students in the clinical program take an additional year for their required accredited clinical internship.

Licensing requirements vary from one jurisdiction to another. Check with the governing body in the area in which you want to practice. We do not admit students who intend to complete only a MA in Psychology, and the MA in the clinical psychology program is not structured to prepare students for independent practice.

A student permit (visa) is required to enter Canada. Please refer to the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for more information. Students should begin the process of applying for a visa well in advance of enrolling.

If you are appointed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or a Graduate Research Assistant, your study permit must indicate that you may accept on-campus employment. Upon arrival, you need to apply for a Social Insurance Number. Copies of both documents must be given to the department’s Executive Coordinator. Spouses of graduate students may also obtain work permits.