Sustainability

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.

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 12 nationally and internationally recognized faculty researchers with experience in areas related to sustainability.

Research Areas

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
Supervisors

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.


Kerry Black | Engineering | kerry.black@ubc.ca |
Research interests: Sustainable infrastructure; water and wastewater management; cross-disciplinary and community-based research.


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


Kevin Hanna | Geography | kevin.hanna@ubc.ca  |
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.


Kasun Hewage | Engineering | kasun.hewage@ubc.ca |
Research interests: Lifecycle assessment of construction products and processes; waste management in construction; energy based sustainability analysis in infrastructure projects; construction productivity and safety; human factors and information technology in construction; construction process optimization.


Nancy Holmes | Creative & Critical Studies | nancy.holmes@ubc.ca |
Research Interests: Creative writing – poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction; Canadian literature; eco art; ecopoetics; ecocriticism; community-based art; place-based art; collaboration and interdisciplinary research methods; sustainability.


John Janmaat | Economics | john.janmaat@ubc.ca |
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.


Lael Parrott | Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences | lael.parrott@ubc.ca |
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.


Nathan Pelletier | Biology, Management | nathan.pelletier@ubc.ca |
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.


Rehan Sadiq | Engineering | rehan.sadiq@ubc.ca |
Research interests: Risk analysis and impact assessment; decision-making under uncertainty; reliability engineering.


Donna Senese | Geography | donna.senese@ubc.ca |
Research interests: Tourism, parks and protected areas; landscapes of wine: ecumene, iconography and cultural diffusion; wine, food and agriculture; commodified conceptions of rurality, hazards, gender and vulnerability; regional analysis of geographic dimensions of tourism and recreation


Rebecca Tyson | Mathematics | rebecca.tyson@ubc.ca |
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 | john.wagner@ubc.ca |
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.

Admission Requirements

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

MASTER OF ARTS (MA) and MASTER OF SCIENCE (MSc) APPLICANTS 

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.


DOCTORAL (PHD) APPLICANTS 

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.


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.

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

 MASTER OF SCIENCE (MSc) and MASTER OF ARTS (MA) APPLICANTS 

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:

  • 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 (PHD) APPLICANTS 

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:

  • 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.

* 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 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 $4,897.86 $8,604.66
PhD Full-time $4,897.86 $8,604.66

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.

Assistantships

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.

Scholarships & Awards

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.

Required Documents

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
  • Three reference forms or letters
Deadlines

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

Applicants who wish to enter the program in the second semester of the academic year or in the summer semester should consult with the theme coordinator to determine if accommodation is possible.

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 psychology 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 or YouTube’s mobile app).

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.

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.