Chemistry

Master of Science (MSc), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Become our colleague. Become a leader. Engage in cutting-edge research in this dynamic research-based graduate program.

Chemistry Graduate Program at UBC Okanagan

Graduate Program Overview

Program Components Duration
MSc Coursework and thesis 24 months
PhD Dissertation 48 months

The chemistry graduate program at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC offers tier-one research-based degrees to students in a collegial, close-knit setting.

Our dynamic faculty and students are engaged in a variety of research projects, many in collaboration with partners in government, non-profit agencies or industry.

Chemistry’s research-based MSc and PhD degrees provide students with theoretical expertise, practical expertise, and critical analysis, as well as experience in the application of scientific results to real-world problems.

Students enrolled in the MSc program will learn useful skills and methods as well as undertake practical research on real-world problems in the field of chemistry. Graduates with the MSc degree are prepared for employment opportunities in government, management, industry, education, and consulting, or for further studies leading toward an advanced degree such as the PhD.

PROGRAM MILESTONES

  • establishing a faculty supervisory committee
  • preparing, presenting, and defending a thesis research proposal
  • completing coursework
  • researching, writing, and defending a thesis
  • publishing research results

COURSEWORK & THESIS REQUIREMENTS

  • 23-credit research-based thesis
  • 7 credits of coursework, with a cumulative average of 76% or higher
  • chemistry seminar course

Most MSc students become teaching assistants for at least one semester in order to gain valuable teaching experience and to learn effective communication strategies.

Exceptional MSc students can transfer to the PhD program after one year if they meet program requirements, and if they’re approved by their supervisory committee and the departmental graduate program.

The PhD is an advanced research degree that requires original and substantive contributions to the advancement of our understanding of chemistry. Graduates of the PhD program are prepared for careers that involve conducting independent research and teaching in academia, government, and industry.

PROGRAM MILESTONES

  • establishing a faculty supervisory committee
  • preparing, presenting, and defending a dissertation research proposal
  • passing an oral candidacy examination that demonstrates breadth and depth of knowledge in one’s chosen field and specialization
  • completing dissertation research and writing, and defending the work

It is expected that PhD students will also communicate research results via conference presentations and publications in scientific journals. Most PhD students become TAs in order to gain valuable teaching experience and to enhance their communication skills.

At the PhD level, coursework is required only at the discretion of the student’s supervisory committee, depending on previous course credits from the prior MSc degree and the nature of their research objectives.

 


Research & Supervisors

Graduate students can pursue these and other faculty research and teaching interests:

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomolecular and solid state modelling
  • Catalysis
  • Cell mechanics and mechanobiology
  • Chemical biology
  • Chemistry education
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Enzymology
  • Glycoscience
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Metabolomics
  • Nanoscience
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physical chemistry
  • Plant chemistry and biotechnology
  • Single-molecule biophysics
  • Theoretical chemistry and physics

Exceptional students are invited to apply to join UBC Okanagan’s vibrant chemistry graduate program.

Please contact a potential faculty supervisor before you start the application process. We look forward to hearing about your research interests and career goals.


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Thu-Thuy Dang | Assistant Professor | Chemistry | thuy.dang@ubc.ca | 250.807.9468
Research Interests: Discovering new biosynthetic enzymes and pathways; generating specialized metabolites structural and functional diversities; re-constituting natural products metabolism in synthetic biology chassis.
Gino DiLabio | Professor | Chemistry | gino.dilabio@ubc.ca | 250.807.8617
Research Interests: Computational studies of i) radical reactions involving organic, inorganic, biological and solid-state systems; ii) noncovalent interactions; iii) oxygen-centred radical induced damage of proteins.
Robert Godin | Assistant Professor | Chemistry | robert.godin@ubc.ca | 250.807.8438
Research Interests: Transient absorption spectroscopy/microscopy to determine the charge carrier dynamics of materials for solar energy conversion; photochemistry and photophysics; carbon-based photocatalytic materials; sustainable energy and material production.
David Jack | Associate Professor | Chemistry | david.jack@ubc.ca | 250.807.8747
Research Interests: Chemical and physical processes at solid surfaces; phase transitions; molecular computer simulations; heterogeneous catalysis; functional surfaces; nanoscience.
Isaac Li | Assistant Professor | Chemistry | isaac.li@ubc.ca | 250.807.8069
Research Interests: Single-molecule biophysics; programmable molecular devices and biosensors; cancer and immune cell biology; cell mechanics and mechanobiology.
Frederic Menard | Assistant Professor | Chemistry | frederic.menard@ubc.ca | 250.807.8225
Research Interests: Chemical biology: use of small molecules to study and manipulate biological systems; design of molecular tools to study the real-time dynamics of cellular events; using organic chemistry, natural products are modified to label proteins involved in cellular signaling; the biology questions studied focus on protein-protein interactions, astrocytes communication, synapse elimination, and neurodegeneration.
Susan Murch | Professor | Chemistry | susan.murch@ubc.ca | 250.807.9566
Research Interests: Plant chemistry and biotechnology; the identification, quantification, and metabolism of plant secondary metabolites, the impact of these phytochemicals on human health, and the development of technologies for mass-production of specific plant chemicals as medicines, natural health products, food additives, and functional foods.
Paul Shipley | Associate Professor | Chemistry | paul.shipley@ubc.ca | 250.807.8749
Research Interests: Organic chemistry; natural products biosynthesis; the biochemistry of secondary metabolism; nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry; rational modification of biosynthetic pathways in bacteria to produce novel compounds with the potential to be pharmacologically relevant.
Kevin Smith | Professor | Chemistry | kevin.m.smith@ubc.ca | 250.807.9933
Research Interests: Synthesis and reactivity of paramagnetic organometallic chromium compounds of relevance to catalytic carbon-carbon bond forming reactions; single electron transfer reactions and electronic structure effects in synthetic organometallic chemistry.
Wesley Zandberg | Assistant Professor | Chemistry | wesley.zandberg@ubc.ca | 250.807.9821
Research Interests: Analytical glycobiology: the use of modern instrumental techniques to study carbohydrates, their oligomers (glycans) and their metabolism; developing new methods to investigate carbohydrates; and using chemical and analytical tools to investigate the functions of protein-linked glycans in cells and animals.

Dang Lab – Plant Bioactive Compounds Research Lab

Plants produce hundreds of thousands of distinct small-molecule natural products, many of which are invaluable nutrients, commodity products, and therapeutics.

At the heart of the beautiful Okanagan Valley, Dang Group integrates biochemistry, chemistry, bioinformatics, and molecular genetics to elucidate and engineer the biosynthesis of valuable small molecules from medicinal plants. Our ultimate aim is to learn and to translate natural metabolism into innovative biotechnologies to meet the ever-increasing demands of high-value chemicals.

DiLabio Lab

Noncovalent interactions play a central role in determining structure and reactivity throughout chemistry and physics. Our group develops and applies computational methods to understand this role.

We also computational chemistry techniques to study a wide variety of radical systems in chemistry, biochemistry and physics. Our current research focuses on quantum effects in enzymes that mediate radical rearrangement processes and on the potential for non-redox metal cations to act as a chemoprotective against radical damage through hydrogen atom transfer reactions.

Godin Lab – Solar Energy & Spectroscopy Group

The group aims to make impactful contributions to worldwide efforts in developing affordable clean energy. Our main focus is understanding the photophysical and photochemical processes that dictate efficiency in solar fuel producing systems. Our advanced time-resolved optical spectroscopy techniques give us the insights necessary to understand the influence of key physical and chemical parameters, and optimize material synthesis with strong rational.

McNeil Lab

The McNeil Research Group conducts chemistry education research by using our classrooms as our laboratories. We study the challenges associated with teaching and learning university-level chemistry and develop innovative learning strategies to address those challenges.

THE MENARD LAB

The Menard lab works at the interface between chemistry and biology. We use small molecules to study and manipulate biological systems. The group provides a multidisciplinary environment where students and researchers work together to develop new chemical and biophysical tools for the study of living systems.

PLANT SECONDARY METABOLITE ANALYTICAL RESEARCH TEAM (PLANTSMART) 

PlantSMART investigates the chemicals produced by plants and how plant chemicals affect human health. Research themes include: chemistry of cannabis and other medicinal plants; plant chemistry for food security; chemistry of natural non-protein amino acids; chemical regulation of plant signalling behaviour; chemistry of plant responses to light.

Smith Lab

Earth-abundant transition metal catalysts that operate under mild conditions will be required for valorization of renewable resources and more sustainable organic synthesis. The Smith research group has explored metal-mediated radical reactions based on reversible homolysis of chromium-alkyl bonds in well-defined organometallic complexes.

WOLTHERS RESEARCH GROUP

Enzymes are large macromolecules that serve as biological catalysts for an immense number of biochemical reactions. We explore how enzymes can serve as valuable tools for the synthesis of new drugs and other high commodity chemicals, and also lead to the treatment of diseases, including bacterial infections, cancer, and metabolic disorders.

SINGLE MOLECULE CELLULAR BIOPHYSICS LAB

We study the biophysics of cells at the single molecule and single cell levels. Our studies address fundamental cell biology questions that have many practical applications from smart DNA-based biomaterials to cell screening technology.

SHIPLEY LAB

Our lab focuses on describing the chemistry of medicinal plants and bacteria to investigate the chemical differences between species and samples. This is used to discover biological activities, optimize natural health product formulation, identify adulterated products, and classify species by their chemistry.

ZANDBERG LAB

A key objective of our lab is to combine capillary electrophoresis (CE) and mass spectrometry (MS) into a sensitive and high resolution method for glycan analysis. As a complement to the development of improved hyphenated analytical methods, we are also interested in devising more efficient sample preparation techniques. We also explore the roles played by glycans in diverse biological phenomena. Our lab members: investigate the effects of known chemical inhibitors of glycan processing enzymes; synthesize and test new inhibitors; devise assays to explore the functions of glycan biosynthetic enzymes; develop new methods for identifying glycan-binding proteins and their target.


Students & Theses

Meet Our Students

See what our students are up to—find them in our Contact page for their research interests, supervisors, alma maters, and info.

Theses & Dissertations

Search all UBC Okanagan Chemistry student publications at cIRcle, the University’s digital repository for research and teaching materials.


Admission Requirements

Admission to UBC graduate programs is competitive. Applicants must meet the following criteria.

MASTER OF SCIENCE (MSc) APPLICANTS 

Applicants to the chemistry MSc program are expected to have:

  • the academic equivalent of a four-year BSc from UBC in chemistry or a related field, with a minimum average of B+ (76%) or better in their third- or fourth-year classes, or
  • at least 12 credits in third- and fourth-year classes in their intended field of study, with an A- (80%) grade or better, or
  • significant formal training and relevant professional experience

Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.


DOCTORAL APPLICANTS (PhD)

PhD applicants are expected to:

  • hold the academic equivalent of a two-year master’s degree from UBC in chemistry or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better,
  • demonstrate clear evidence of research ability or potential

Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.


EXCEPTIONAL CASES

In exceptional cases, applicants who do not meet the requirements stated above, but who have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience, may be granted admissions on the recommendation of the Chemistry Graduate Program Committee and approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar for full admission and program requirements information. The calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

Note: In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct. 

The College of Graduate Studies defines additional requirements and degree equivalencies.

MASTER OF SCIENCE (MSc) APPLICANTS 

International applicants to the computer science MSc program are expected to:

  • have the academic equivalent of a four-year BSc from UBC in chemistry or a related field, with a minimum average of B+ (76%) or better in their third- or fourth-year classes, or
  • have at least 12 credits in third- and fourth-year classes in their intended field of study, with an A- (80%) grade or better, and
  • present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language (please see details below)

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS 

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): minimum score of 550 (paper version); 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading & Listening and a minimum score of 21 in Writing & Speaking (Internet version), or
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service): minimum overall band score of 6.5, with no individual component score less than 6.0, or
  • MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery): minimum overall score of 85, with a final score of 3 in the speaking test

DOCTORAL APPLICANTS (PhD)

International PhD applicants are expected to:

  • hold the academic equivalent of a two-year master’s degree from UBC in chemistry or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better,
  • demonstrate clear evidence of research ability or potential
  • present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language (please see details below)

Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): minimum score of 550 (paper version); 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading & Listening and a minimum score of 21 in Writing & Speaking (Internet version), or
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service): minimum overall band score of 6.5, with no individual component score less than 6.0, or
  • MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery): minimum overall score of 85, with a final score of 3 in the speaking test

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar for full admission and program requirements information. The calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

Note: In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct. 

REQUIRED GRADES AND CREDENTIAL GUIDE

Grades and degree credentials required by UBC vary by country. Search the Required Grades and Credential Guide—a guide to assist international students in estimating their eligibility.

INTERNATIONAL ADVISORS

An international student advisor can answer questions about immigration, medical insurance and the transition to UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC. Visit the International Programs and Services website to meet the team.


Tuition & Funding

Tuition

Tuition amounts presented here are estimates only and all fees are subject to change. For official tuition and fee information, visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar, a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services, and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

Program Schedule Domestic (per year) International (per year)
MSc Full-time $4,995.78 $8,776.74
PhD Full-time $4,995.78 $8,776.74

Tuition is paid three times a year, on the first day of each term: Winter Term 1 (September), Winter Term 2 (January), and Summer Term (May).

Funding Opportunities

Graduate student stipends are funded through a combination of internal and external funding awards, Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships.

This funding is guaranteed to the minimums stated below, assuming both satisfactory progress in the program and satisfactory performance as a TA (if applicable).

Students are expected whenever possible to apply for relevant scholarships and fellowships. These include principally, but are not limited to, Canadian Tri-Council scholarships, University Graduate Fellowships, and Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarships.

If students wish to hold off-campus (external) employment, they should discuss with their supervisor, particularly if the student is a grant-holder, as restrictions on hours of work may apply.

GRADUATE ENTRANCE AWARD

The Irving K. Barber School of Arts & Sciences offers a $15,000 merit-based entrance scholarship to six exceptional individuals entering their first year of thesis-based graduate studies under a supervisor from the IKBSAS faculty.

All applicants to IKBSAS graduate programs who have submitted an application by January 31 will be automatically considered for the award. No additional application is required. Successful applicants will be notified by March 15.

The Department of Chemistry has funding opportunities and assistantships available for qualified students.

Program Minimum funding Duration
MSc $17,500 per year 2 years
PhD $19,500 per year 4 years

TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIPS (TA)

Paid TA positions are provided through the Department of Chemistry and allow graduate students to develop skills in teaching, supervision, facilitation, and student assessment. Teaching assistants may lead seminars, help teach undergraduate courses, or assist in student evaluations and marking.

  • MA students are eligible for paid TA positions for up to two years.
  • PhD students are eligible for paid TA positions for up to four years.
  • TA positions usually occur September to April. TA hours and wages are governed by the British Columbia Government Employees Union (BCGEU).

Teaching assistants are mentored by their supervisor and via the Centre for Teaching and Learning. To learn more or apply for a position, see our Careers page.

Research Assistantships (RA)

As paid research assistants, graduate students assist their supervisor or other researchers in conducting high-level research. RAs are typically funded by a supervisor’s external grants, contracts or other sources of funding, and, therefore, are not guaranteed.

Research Assistantships are wholly dependent upon individual research supervisor’s funding. RA positions may take place at any time during the school year and wages and hours will vary. RA positions are not guaranteed. Talk to your potential supervisor about RA opportunities.

UBC Awards

The College of Graduate Studies administers merit-based graduate awards at the Okanagan campus. The College manages a number of award competitions each year and administers payment of all internal awards and selected external awards.

External Awards

All prospective graduate students (Domestic and International) should explore and apply for external awards and fellowships, including awards offered by Canada’s three research councils: CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

Graduate scholarships and awards may also be available from foundations, private organizations or foreign governments (check with your country’s education authority).


How to Apply

Find a Supervisor

Please contact our faculty supervisors before starting your application. Admission to the program requires the confirmed availability and mentor-match with a faculty supervisor as well as meeting program-specific criteria and requirements.

A complete application package will contain:

  • Online application and application fee
  • Unofficial transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended are required for the application package. However, if admitted, the student must submit official transcripts to the College of Graduate Studies
  • English language test (for non-native speakers of English)
  • CV or resumé
  • Three reference forms or letters

Applying takes time. We recommend you start your application two months in advance.

For full consideration students should submit all application materials by the following deadlines:

INTAKE APPLICATION DEADLINE
September January 31
January June 1
May October 1

UBC’S Okanagan Campus

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. In the chemistry program at UBC’s Okanagan campus, you gain all the benefits of attending a globally respected university while studying in a close-knit learning community.

DYNAMIC CITY

UBC’s Okanagan campus borders the dynamic city of Kelowna, a hub of economic development with a population of about 150,000 people—the fourth fastest growing population in Canada. In fact, the Okanagan Valley is rated one of the best communities in Canada to grow your business.

More than 160 buses travel daily from campus to key locations such as Kelowna’s cultural district and thriving downtown waterfront. The campus is two minutes from the Kelowna International Airport, one of the top 10 busiest airports in Canada.

UBC Okanagan is situated within the First Nations territory of the Okanagan Nation, whose spirit of stewardship for the land is reflected in the university’s respect for sustainability.

NATURAL BEAUTY

A diverse natural region with sandy beaches, beautiful farms, vineyards and orchards, and snow-capped mountains, the Okanagan Valley features sweeping stretches of lakeside and endless mountain trails for biking and hiking.

Check out this 360-degree video: Kelowna From Above.*

* Best viewed using desktop Chrome or Firefox (desktop) or YouTube app (mobile).

CAMPUS HOUSING

Full-time UBC Okanagan students can live in residence, which offers modern living with easy access to academic and personal support. Residences are surrounded by hiking and biking trails, plus panoramic views of the campus and valley.

OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING

* UBC does not verify or endorse information shared on this third-party website, which is offered here as a public resource only.

Join the club! Make friends with similar interests, compare notes and organize and participate in academic and recreational events in the Chemistry Course Union.

College of Graduate Studies: CoGS offers orientation events to support you in your first steps as a graduate student at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Stay active: Take advantage of the many opportunities to get involved and play—from workout space in the new Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre and our 1,561 square-metre gymnasium, to athletic courts, intramurals, fitness classes, and nationally ranked varsity athletics. Have a ball in Sports and Recreation.

Relax: The Graduate Collegium is a gathering place where grad students can hang out, eat lunch, spend time with their fellow students, and attend or host special events. The lounge-style room is open seven days and week and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, kitchen facilities, and individual and group-work spaces.

College of Graduate Studies: Your hub for administrative support and such things as graduate workshops for professional development and for assisting you from the admissions process through to your graduation.

Centre for Scholarly Communication: Supports graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff, and faculty in disseminating their research. The Library’s CSC provides one-on-one consultations and workshops, including writing support for theses, dissertations, journal articles, and grant proposals.

Centre for Teaching and Learning: Provides support related to teaching, TA training, and use of technology in educational programming.

Learn more about graduate student resources and support.

Careers and Occupations

With a Chemistry MSc or PhD degree from the University of British Columbia, graduates are well-positioned to thrive in a variety of occupations, such as:

  • Agricultural Scientist
  • Analytical Chemist
  • Biochemist
  • Chemistry Teacher
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Chemical Information Management Specialist
  • Chemistry Research Technologist
  • Consultant
  • Consumer Product Chemist
  • Environmental Chemist
  • Food Scientist/Technologist
  • Forensic Chemist
  • Formulation Chemist
  • Geochemist
  • Hazardous Waste Management Specialist
  • Laboratory Manager
  • Occupational Safety Specialist
  • Oil and Petroleum Chemist
  • Medicinal Chemist
  • Patent Agent
  • Pharmaceutical Chemist
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
  • Pollution Control Technologist
  • Process Chemist
  • Quality Assurance Technician
  • Quality Control Manager
  • Science Writer/Journalist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Technical Writer
  • Technology Transfer Officer
  • Toxicologist
  • Water/Wastewater Treatment Analyst

Career Services

Map out your future and prepare to hit the ground running with resources and services provided by the Advising & Involvement Centre.

Tell your story with resumé and cover-letter strategies, and search Work Study jobs for experience relevant to your degree and career goals. You can also book an appointment to meet one-on-one with our career advisor.

alumni UBC

alumni UBC is a member-driven association that offers a variety of lifetime programming and communications to enrich the lives of UBC graduates.

The ‘Your Next Step’ program offers webinars, speaker series and professional development sessions. It is designed to provide advice, tips and resources in areas of career development to graduates for life after university.

Realize the promise of a global community with shared ambition for a better world and an exceptional UBC.