A Master’s degree is expected to take two years, although faster progress is encouraged. The MSc degree requires a combination of coursework and research for a total of 30 credits. 12 credits of coursework are taken, with the remaining 18 credits being thesis research.
Students have considerable flexibility in their choice of courses including graduate and senior undergraduate courses in Zoology, Botany, Microbiology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Fisheries, Genetics, Conservation, and Earth and Oceans Sciences, as well as several other departments. Students may also design their own courses in the form of "Directed Studies" supervised by a faculty member other than their supervisor.
At the end of their two year program, MSc students are expected to complete an oral defense of their Master’s thesis.
After 1 month
After 8 months
Between 12 to 24 months
After 24 months
After completion of the required course-work, and within 18 months of starting date, the MSc supervisory committee (minimum three members) must recommend in writing to the Graduate Advisor that the student be transferred to the PhD program. The committee should discuss who to add to the committee (four total members required).
A PhD thesis proposal must be approved at a meeting by the full four-person committee. The Department will then make a recommendation to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for this transfer.
Once the thesis proposal has been approved, the Comprehensive Exam can be scheduled. Note that the Comprehensive Exam must be taken within 18 months of starting graduate school at UBC, even for students transferring from the MSc to PhD program.
Students may be eligible to transfer from a master’s program into a related doctoral program if they meet the following requirements:
- Hold a bachelor's degree, and have completed a minimum of one year of study in the master's program with 9 credits at the 500-level or above and of first class standing (80% or better).
- Students entering the doctoral program after partial completion of the master’s degree must, during the first two years of study at the graduate level, complete a total of 12 credits with a first-class average (of which at least 9 credits must be at the 500-level or above and at least 9 credits must be of first-class standing) to maintain registration as a doctoral student.
- Show clear evidence of research ability or potential.
Transfer directly into a doctoral program is normally accomplished after completion of the first year of study at the master's level and will not be permitted after completion of the second year. Transfers may not be retroactive.
The MSc examination serves as a departmental review of the candidate and his/her research.
Please follow the instructions on the Master's Defense Checklist (updated July 2022).
Master’s Oral Defense. Please read the exam protocol in the Zoology Student Handbook.