PhD Admissions Procedures

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The School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, the iSchool at The University of British Columbia, seeks outstanding students who possess the qualities to be successful independent scholars and researchers. Admission decisions are based on the applicant’s package as a whole.

Application Deadlines

September Start Date –  PhD Program

Applications open:

Application deadline:

Supporting document deadline:

September 1

January 15

February 1


Under exceptional circumstances, late applications will be considered up until April 15.

All full-time students who begin the iSchool PhD program in September 2018 will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships.


The student must meet the overall admission standards of The University of British Columbia as established by the UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies.

The applicant must possess a graduate degree in library, archival or information studies. Consideration will be given to applicants with a master's degree or equivalent in another discipline relevant to their field of research. First-class standing is strongly preferred. Applicants with graduate program standing below B+ (upper second class) will not be considered for admission.

In addition, the Doctoral Studies Admissions Committee will consider the following in making its decisions:

  • The applicant's suitability for advanced graduate work, as evidenced by the application and supporting documentation.
  • A match between faculty expertise and the applicant's  research interests.
  • The availability of a research supervisor among the iSchool faculty.

*Please note Meeting the minimum admissions requirements does not guarantee you entry into the program*

Applicants are encouraged to research faculty members to identify shared research interests and the possibility of supervision. Information on iSchool faculty members' areas of research interest is available here .

The following items must be included in order for an application to be deemed complete:

  1. A statement of research intent (maximum 500 words) and a personal statement (maximum 500 words). Together, these two documents should outline the applicant's research interests, research experience and career objectives. (See more information below on Statement of Research Intent/Personal Statement.)
  2. One scanned copy of a transcript from each post-secondary academic institution attended. Please scan and upload digital copies (.pdfs) of official required documents in the application system. These are considered "unofficial documents".
  3. Submission of scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), taken within the last five years. A competitive applicant will have a score above the 75th percentile in at least two of the three bands.
  4. For candidates whose native language is not English, evidence of English proficiency is required. Accepted tests, taken in the past 24 months, include the TOEFL examination and IELTS. Minimum scores are 100 on the TOEFL iBT, or 7.5 overall on the academic (NOT general) IELTS, and no individual component score below 7.0.
  5. Three confidential reference reports, preferably from persons in academic communities, who are able to assess the applicant's  research ability or potential. The references must contain original signatures and must be received in a sealed and endorsed envelope, or submitted electronically through the E-Ref system, initiated by the applicant in the online application system. Emailed references are not accepted. Applicants whose graduate work was completed three or more years ago may substitute a professional reference for one of the academic references.
  6. An up-to-date CV.

*Reference request emails are sent to your listed referees at the moment you submit your online application.  Please note that if you have provided a free email address (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) for any referees, they will receive an email providing instructions for submitting a paper reference, as they will not be able to submit online.

*References are due by the supporting document deadline.

*Please note all reference letters must be submitted in English, or must be accompanied by a word for word translation.

The Doctoral Studies Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an interview, in person, by telephone, or by video conference, or to request additional references.

Applications must include a statement of research intent of no more than 500 words.  This statement will be a key factor in the consideration of applications. The statement should describe original research, and articulate how the iSchool is perceived to support this research. It may include a bibliography, in addition to the 500-word research statement.

The statement of research intent should convey to the members of the Admissions Committee the answers to the following questions:

  • What issue will the research address?
  • Why is this issue important?
  • What is already known about the issue?
  • How is the approach innovative? How will it advance knowledge in the field?

A personal statement of no more than 500 words is also required. It should outline the applicant's research experience, reasons for choosing UBC, and career objectives, and should describe how the applicant is qualified to carry out the research, and what academic knowledge and experience he or she brings to the research proposal.

There are five steps in the process of applying to the PhD Program at the iSchool:

  1. Formal application through the  UBC Graduate Application process, including payment of the application fee and submission of all supporting documents.
  2. Review of the formal application by the iSchool's Doctoral Studies Admissions Committee, including confirmation of faculty expertise and supervision.
  3. Recommendation of the candidate by the Doctoral Studies Admissions Committee to the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  4. Final approval and formal offer of admission by the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  5. Notification of acceptance of offer by the candidate to the iSchool.

Please note: Offers of admission are made by the UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies, upon the recommendation of the Doctoral Admissions Committee, and not by individual faculty members.

Questions about the PhD program may be directed to the Educational Services Coordinator at

For questions about the application process, please contact the iSchool's Program Assistant at