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

Seek solutions to the multifaceted challenges of sustainability

Graduate Program Overview

Program Components Expected Duration
MSc/MA Coursework and thesis 24 months
PhD Coursework and dissertation 48 months

Sustainability is concerned with maintaining the conditions necessary for the wellbeing of humans and the environment. Critical for all life on Earth, sustainability is a complex issue that requires a broad and integrated approach to address its many facets, ranging from political and social issues to scientific study and technological solutions.

The interdisciplinary graduate degree in sustainability at UBC Okanagan transcends conventional approaches, bringing together diverse perspectives, insights, tools, and techniques to seek solutions to the challenges of sustainability. Students will benefit from the knowledge and resources of four faculties and eight departments, and the collaborative opportunities resulting from the interdisciplinary nature of the program.

Applications for the program open September 1st with a deadline of January 15th each year. 

Students are advised to arrange for the delivery of supporting documents well in advance of the January 15th deadline to ensure a timely review of their application.

The MSc and MA interdisciplinary degrees in sustainability give graduate students access to the expertise of diverse, nationally and internationally recognized researchers from a variety of faculties and disciplines in a coherent, thematic framework.

Graduates of the program will come away with a nuanced understanding of contemporary sustainability issues, and be able to approach complex sustainability concerns from a holistic, systems perspective that integrates concepts from applied science, natural science, social science, and the humanities. Graduates will be prepared for positions in government, the private sector, and teaching and research institutions.

Program milestones
  • Establishing a faculty supervisory committee
  • Completing coursework
  • Preparing, presenting, and defending a thesis research proposal
  • Completing thesis research and writing, and defending the work
Coursework requirements

12 credits are required for the MSc degree, and 18 credits for the MA degree, including:

  • Proseminar in Interdisciplinary Studies (IGS 524)
  • Theme Seminar in Sustainability (IGS 584)
  • Theme Seminar in Knowledge Mobilization and Sustainability Policy (IGS 585)
  • One research methods course
  • Additional coursework, selected in consultation with the student’s supervisor (MA option)

The student’s academic and professional history will determine if the student undertakes a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree.

The PhD degree is centred on conducting original, cutting-edge research in sustainability. Graduates of the PhD program are prepared for careers requiring advanced independent research and teaching in academia, government, and industry.

Program milestones
  • Establishing a faculty supervisory committee
  • Selecting and completing coursework
  • Preparing, presenting, and defending a thesis research proposal
  • Passing an oral candidacy exam
  • Completing thesis research and writing, and defending the work
Coursework requirements

Nine credits of coursework are required. These will be selected in collaboration with the student’s supervisory committee.

Career Possibilities

The interdisciplinary nature of the program will prepare students to continue their academic research in a wide range of fields, or for careers in diverse industries.

  • Environmental NGOs
  • Provincial, Federal and First Nations’ governments
  • Citizens’ advocacy groups
  • Environmental enterprises
  • Journalism
  • Conservation and land management
  • Consulting
  • Private sector sustainability and corporate social responsibility departments
  • Formal and informal education
  • Community-based art practice
  • Curating and editing
  • Community development
  • Public art

Research & Supervisors

This IGS degree draws on the expertise of nationally and internationally recognized faculty researchers with experience in areas related to sustainability.


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

  • Ecocriticism
  • Human-animal studies
  • Culture and climate change
  • Sustainability measurement and management
  • Industrial ecology
  • Ecological economics
  • Sustainable food systems
  • Green technologies

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

Amir Ardestani-Jaafari | Management | Operation Analytics Lab|

Research interests: AI in sustainability, closed loop supply chain, sustainable operations, decision making under uncertainty.

Adeniyi Asiyanbi | Geography | |
Research interests: Political ecology; governmentality; neoliberalization of nature; forest-based climate change mitigation; REDD+, carbon removal and offsetting; wildfires; conservation and development; community engagement; Nigeria, Ghana, Canada (British Columbia and Alberta).

Jodey Castricano | English | |
Research interests: Eco-cultures; critical animal studies; eco-criticism – critical theory (feminist, queer, gender studies); media and digital cultures; digital humanities; virtual reality; narrative; HCI theory.

Jon Corbett | Geography | |
Research interests: Geography; ethnobiology; cartography; exploration, facilitation and promotion of community and ecosystem-based models of land and resource use in communities in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and British Columbia, Canada.

Andrea Craig | Economics | |
Research interests: Commute mode choice, residential location choice, urban economics.

Aleksandra Dulic | Creative Studies | |

Research interests: Visual art; new media; video; drawing 2D; media for social change; climate change; interactive art; experience design.

Natalie Forssman| Anthropology | |

Feminist science and technology studies; environmental humanities; multispecies anthropology; science communication; epistemic cultures; ethnography; embodiment and materiality; participatory methods; educational leadership.

Greg Garrard | Creative & Critical Studies | |
Research interests: Literature and the environment; ecocriticism; human-animal studies; Anthropocene culture; cultural dimensions of environmental issues (e.g. pollution, climate change).

Anita Girvan | English and Cultural Studies | |
Research interests: Cultural Studies; Environmental Humanities; Political Ecology and Environmental Justice; Black and Indigenous Feminist Ecological Thought; Stories, Metaphor; Critical Canadian Studies

John Graham | Social Work | |
Research interests: social policy, diversity and social work, spirituality and social work, multicultural social work, and employee well being/ subjective well being (happiness), homelessness prevention research

Kevin Hanna | Geography |  |
Research interests: Environmental impact assessment; integrated resource and environmental management; climate change adaptation policy; natural resources policy in Canada and Northern Europe; European Union environmental policy.

Min Hu | Economics | |
Research interests: Health Economics, Labour Economics, Applied Microeconomics and Econometrics, with a focus on the economics of well-being of vulnerable populations (Immigrants and Indigenous peoples) in Canada, as well as the economics of cancer and social policy-related topics.

John Janmaat | Economics | |
Research interests: Understanding the drivers of human choices that impact on and are impacted by natural systems, and identifying interventions that can move us individually and collectively to a more sustainable relationship with the non-human world. This includes the use of models that integrate biophysical and/or social processes with economic models of behaviour and analyzing data collected through surveys and related approaches.

Annamma Joy | Management | |
Research interests: Sustainability in Art, Fashion, and Wine; Wine Tourism, Artification Process; Luxury Brand Marketing and Management; Gender, Levinas and the Ethics of recognition.

Eric Li | Management | |
Research interests: Global consumer culture; multicultural marketing and consumption; consumer well-being; online consumer privacy; visual consumption; food consumption; fashion and culture; digital marketing and consumption.

Gordon Lovegrove | Engineering | |
Research interests: SMARTer growth; sustainable community planning and design; sustainable transport and safety; hydrail powered, zero-emission regional passenger and freight rail; affordable housing and co-housing.

Susan Murch | Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chemistry | |

Research interests: The Plant Secondary Metabolite Analytical Research Team (PlantSMART) researches chemistry of plants and how plant chemistry affects human health using analytical chemistry, mass spectrometry, biotechnology, metabolomics and hormonomics approaches.

Astrida Neimanis | Feminist Environmental Humanities | |
Research interests: Feminist studies (with a focus on embodiment, queer ecologies, ecofeminisms, material feminisms and intersectionality), environmental studies (with a focus on cultural studies of water, weather and climate change, and multispecies justice), everyday militarisms, interdisciplinarity, epistemologies and non-traditional research methodologies (e.g. arts-based methods, walking & swimming methods, arts-sciences collaborations).

Michael J Noonan | Biology, Mathematics | |
Research interests: Animal movement, conservation, encounter theory, evolutionary processes, macro-ecology, and statistical ecology.

Nikhita Obeegadoo | |
Research interests: Oceanic and Archipelagic Studies; Indian Ocean and Caribbean Studies; Critical Race Studies Gender Studies; Contemporary literatures from the Global South, including Africa, South Asia and Latin America; Border Theory and Creolization; Theorising the relationship between History and Literature; Environmental Humanities; Medical Humanities. Research Languages: French, Spanish, English, Hindi, Mauritian Creole.

Lael Parrott | Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences | |
Research interests: Ecosystems and landscapes as complex systems; incorporating complexity into natural resource management approaches; regional-scale landscape modelling; social-ecological networks; agent and individual-based modelling approaches; landscape science and scenario building.

Tim Paulson | History | |

Research interests: Canadian history; environmental history; economic history; history of capitalism.

Nathan Pelletier | Biology, Management | |
Research interests: Industrial ecology; ecological economics; sustainability measurement and management; life cycle thinking; environmental and social life cycle assessment of food, feed and biomass supply chains; sustainable food systems; green technology assessment; resource efficiency; social license and market access; trade-based externalization of environmental and social risk; climate change; reactive nitrogen.

Donna Senese | Geography | |
Research interests: geographies of sustainability, rural resilience, landscapes of tourism, wine and food; mixed, participatory, and visual methodologies; conceptions of rurality, mobility, and vulnerability; regional analysis of tourism, wine and food.

Babak Mohamadpour Tosarkani | Engineering | |
Research interests: Operations & Supply Chain Management; Life Cycle Assessment & Circular Economy; Project Risk Management; Process Design & Simulation; Strategic Sustainable Development.

Rebecca Tyson | Mathematics | |
Research interests: Mathematical biology and spatial ecology; mathematical models of ecological systems; the development and analysis of mathematical and computational models designed to answer questions about population dynamics, persistence and dispersal. Areas of interest include agriculture (domestic and wild bee dispersal, dispersal and control of pest insects); forestry (spread and control of the mountain pine beetle, recolonisation processes in regrowing forests); cyclic predator-prey populations; effect of climate change (lynx, great horned owl, and snowshoe hare populations).

John Wagner | Anthropology | |
Research interests: Environmental anthropology; political ecology; water, food security and food sovereignty; local ecological knowledge; conservation and development; language documentation; Okanagan Valley; Columbia River Basin; Papua New Guinea.

Wesley Zandberg | Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chemistry | |

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.

Students & Thesis

Meet Our Students

Sustainability theme students have provided profiles for you to discover more about them and their research.

Leandro Biondo

PhD Student

Leandro M. Biondo is a meteorologist and forest science master who worked for two years with green buildings, then 10 years with environmental and science institutions of the Brazilian government where he became a public forest and geospatial information specialist. Leandro has contributed to spatial databases and big data analysis on projects for Indigenous and traditional peoples, rural properties, land and tenure management, biodiversity research, and One Health activities. Leandro’s climate and transportation research is part of an interdisciplinary project funded by the Climate Action and Awareness Fund. Through his associations with Brazil’s National Institute for the Atlantic Forest and Brazilian Forest Services, Leandro will study climate and territorial changes in the Americas, particularly impacts on populations and biodiversity in Brazilian and Canadian forests.

luis cadavid

MSc Student 

Luis Cadavid is a father, entrepreneur, farmer and writer. He completed his BA in Classical Civilizations in Syracuse University, his MSc in Management at Imperial College and has had the opportunity to further his education at the London Business School. He is also on the Board of a non-profit that is dedicated to the agricultural education in Ecuador, LA CASA (Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Agriculture), which is currently doing a 12-hectare permaculture project in the highlands of Ecuador. During the past ten years, Luis’ focus in the agricultural industry has been sustainable production, product development and efficient supply chains. As a business owner he is a fervent believer of sustainable business that’s environmentally conscious. Luis is interested in food safety, supply chain efficiency and sustainable agricultural production.

Madeline Donald

PhD Student 

Madeline was born an uninvited guest on Coast Miwok territory and raised a traveler. Delighted to be living with this place now, her PhD research is about current and potential ethnoecological engagement with non-indigenous plants in riparian restoration efforts in the Okanagan watershed. This research takes place with the Land of the Syilx (Okanagan) peoples and in a context of settler colonial dispossession, violence, and ecologically dismissive infrastructure. The ethnoecological relations of interest in riparian restoration run parallel to and interweave with the reconciliation and (re)building of Indigenous and non-Indigenous human and Land relations. Living with narcolepsy, Madeline actively questions and counters temporally inaccessible expectations for academic labour.

Stephenie hendricks

PhD Student

I’m a “mature” international (U.S.) PhD student focused on documenting environmental health and environmental justice movements. Using Scholarly Personal Narrative text with podcast episodes, these elements are included in modules for an Open Education Resource (OER) curriculum for post secondary students. I am very excited about supporting young adults to understand the intersections of health, environment and justice, especially as these themes gain increased relevancy in their lives with the advancement of climate change.

Cole Hooper

MSc Student

Cole is attending UBCO to pursue his MSc in the Sustainability theme. His research background is in wildlife biology and physiology. He graduated in 2019 from Thompson Rivers University with a BSc in Animal Biology, and an honours thesis on rattlesnake stress physiology. Taking lessons from his past work, he is now shifting towards a focus on management-specific research. Under the supervision of Dr. Lael Parrott, Cole’s research project focuses on informing a climbing management plan for the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. This project is in collaboration with BC Parks and the Penticton Indian Band. As an avid climber and biologist himself, he hopes to help bring balance to the state of conservation and recreation in the park and surrounding area.

Ian turner

PhD Student

Ian Turner is a PhD student in the Food Systems PRISM Lab at UBCO. Ian previously attended the University of Toronto, graduating with a bachelor’s degree majoring in Animal Physiology and Genome Biology. Ian has pursued research opportunities covering many disciplines, ranging from large mammal ecology and physiology, to food systems sustainability. Ian joined the PRISM lab in 2018 to aid in the development of the Canadian Agrifood Life Cycle Data Centre (CALDC). He subsequently enrolled in a Biology MSc in the PRISM Lab, before transitioning to the IGS – Sustainability PhD program. Ian’s research is focused on environmental and animal welfare benchmarking and optimization of the Canadian egg industry using machine learning techniques.

To examine the work of previous UBC Okanagan graduate students, search on cIRcle, the University’s digital repository for research and teaching materials.

As a domain of scholarship, creative activity, and teaching, Sustainability is wide-ranging and interdisciplinary in nature. Sustainability encourages graduate students to become well-rounded scholars, educators, and public intellectuals. During their degree, students will have the opportunity to conduct original research, learn to become effective educators, and work as Teaching Assistants, as well as acquire knowledge in the professional practices of writing for publication, academic CV development, grant writing, networking, and community-engaged research skills.

Interested in Working in the Food Systems PRISM Lab?
​Are you motivated, innately curious, and highly disciplined? Are you keen to hone your research skills and knowledge? Do you have a strong interest in food system sustainability issues? Are you willing and able to critically examine your own assumptions, and to challenge and be challenged in an environment of respect, collaboration, and exploration? Does the prospect of living, working and playing in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in western Canada match your lifestyle aspirations? If so, the Food Systems PRISM Lab might be a good match for you.

Funded Graduate Research Project Opportunities

Admission Requirements

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


Applicants to the master’s program are expected to hold:

  • the academic equivalent of a four-year bachelor’s degree from UBC, with a B+ (76%) average 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%) or better average.

Applicant background training must be sufficient for advanced work in their chosen field.


PhD applicants will normally have a master’s degree in a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better, and clear evidence of research ability or potential. Applicant background training must be sufficient for advanced work in their chosen field.


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.

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


Applicants to the master’s program are expected to:

  • hold the academic equivalent of a four-year bachelor’s degree from UBC
  • demonstrate superior academic standing

Applicant background training must be sufficient for advanced work in their chosen field.

Applicants from a university outside Canada at which English is not the primary language of instruction must present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language prior to being extended an offer of admission. Acceptable English language proficiency tests for applicants to graduate studies are listed in the Academic Calendar.


PhD applicants are expected to hold the academic equivalent of a two-year master’s degree from UBC in a related field and to demonstrate superior academic standing. Applicant background training must be sufficient for advanced work in their chosen field.

Applicants from a university outside Canada at which English is not the primary language of instruction must present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language prior to being extended an offer of admission. Acceptable English language proficiency tests for applicants to graduate studies are listed in the Academic Calendar.


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.

* 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 Global Engagement Office’s website to meet the team.

Tuition & Funding


Tuition amounts presented here are estimates only and all fees are subject to change. For official tuition amounts 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/MA Full-time $5,407.56 $9,500.19
PhD Full-time $5,407.56 $9,500.19

Tuition is paid three times a year at the beginning of each term, as per the Academic Calendar: Winter Term 1, Winter Term 2, and Summer Term.

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

Funding Opportunities

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

Although funding and stipend amounts are not guaranteed, UBC’s Okanagan campus has a number of assistantships available for qualified students. Talk to your potential supervisor about funding opportunities.

Students are expected whenever possible to apply for relevant scholarships and fellowships.

Teaching Assistantships (TA)

Paid TA positions 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. Teaching assistants are mentored by their supervisor and via the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Research Assistantships (RA)

As paid research assistants, graduate students assist their supervisor or other researchers in conducting high-level research, which often contributes to the student’s thesis. RAs are typically funded by the supervisor’s external grants, contracts, and sometimes, other sources of funding.

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 companies or foreign governments (check with your country’s education authority).

How to Apply

Find a Supervisor

Please contact prospective supervisors before starting an application. Admission to the program requires the support of a faculty supervisor, as well as meeting program-specific criteria for admission requirements.

A complete application package will contain:

  • Online application and application fee
  • Official transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended
  • Statement of Intent
  • English language test (for non-native speakers of English)
  • CV or resumé
  • Two reference forms or letters

Applying takes time. Students are advised to start the application process two months in advance of the application deadline.

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

Intake Application Deadline
Domestic applicants
September January 15
International applicants
September January 15

In some circumstances, at the request of a theme coordinator, the Dean or Dean designate in CoGS may approve an off-cycle admission for a student who would be significantly disadvantaged by having to begin their studies in September.

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. At UBC’s Okanagan campus, you gain all the benefits of attending a globally respected university while studying in a close-knit learning community.


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.


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 or YouTube’s mobile app).


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.


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

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.