We try to keep this information as up to date as possible but if there is a discrepancy between the information on this website and the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies’ website, the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies’ website will be considered to be correct.

If you can’t find an answer to your question, please contact the Program Coordinator who will be pleased to help.

Financial Support/Tuition/Fees

Yes. Direct deposit is mandatory for all graduate student payments. Please complete a direct deposit form and give it to the person responsible for payroll matters in your supervisor’s lab.

Yes. Please submit a copy of your Student Appointment Form along with a Payroll Deduction Form to Student Information Services, Concourse level, Brock Hall. You can usually get a copy of your Student Appointment Form from the Program Coordinator. You must submit these documents 6 weeks before the start of each term.

When a domestic student is on extension tuition fees go up. This is another reason to finish your degree on time! Domestic M.Sc. students who are beyond their 5th year and domestic Ph.D. students who are beyond their 6th year pay around $900 a year more than you were paying before. International students continue to pay their regular tuition fees.

UBC will refund the unused portion of your tuition but not any student fees. Please contact the Tuition Fee Payment Office at Brock Hall to request a refund of any remaining portion of the term's tuition fees. Only full months of tuition can be refunded.
Tuition Fee Payment Office
2016–1874 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1 tel.: 604.822.9836

The Graduate Student Society has an emergency fund available to domestic and international students. The Fund is of a very limited nature and intended as a last resort gap-fill for students in their final year of studies who can demonstrate that they have exhausted all other funding, loan and income options and are in good standing to finish their degrees in a timely manner. Due to its limited size, the Fund is seldom available for tuition and generally is awarded for a few months of rent and groceries for students in dire need but close to finishing. Potential applicants must contact a GSS Advocacy Officer for further details and application procedures.


Ph.D. students who are not required to take courses can start their program in September, January or May.

For all other students, September admission (i.e. at the beginning of an academic year) is very strongly recommended. Exceptions to this general recommendation will only be permitted by the Director of the CELL Program in highly unusual circumstances. If you do receive permission to start in January, you should note that because BIOL 530 (which runs Sept. – Dec.) is a prerequisite for CELL 501 (which runs Jan. - April), you will have to complete CELL 501 at the start of your second year in the Program. In addition, the 9 credits of coursework required in your first year in the Program MUST include BIOL 530 (3 credits), two of the Program's 1.5 credit Content courses, and 3 credits of elective coursework.

Students are entitled to 3 weeks of vacation. You must coordinate this with your supervisor.

  • M.Sc. students’ committees should have at least 3 members: your Research Supervisor (who will Chair the committee) plus at least 2 more faculty, one of whom must be a member of the CELL Program.
  • Ph.D. students’ committees should have at least 4 members: your Research Supervisor (who will Chair the committee) plus at least 3 more faculty, two of whom should usually be members of the CELL Program. In cases where there is insufficient expertise among CELL Program members, and with the permission of the Director/Graduate Advisor of the CELL Program, up to two members of a doctoral student’s committee may be external to the CELL Program.

All graduate students MUST have a committee meeting at least once every 12 months. It is the student’s responsibility to organize committee meetings. It is sometimes difficult to find a date/time that works for all of your committee members, so you should plan well ahead. After each committee meeting, you must send a report of the meeting, signed by all the members of your Committee, to the Program Coordinator. The Director/Graduate Advisor of the CELL Program will review this report to make sure that your progress is satisfactory. If your progress is not satisfactory, you will need to develop a formal plan for the correction of any deficiencies in consultation with your Research Supervisor and Advisory Committee.

There should be a Chairperson (who is appointed by the Director of the CELL Program) and 3 Examiners. At least one of the examiners must not be on your Advisory Committee and at least one of the examiners must not be a faculty member of the CELL Program (these criteria can be satisfied by a single examiner). Details are provided in Guidelines & Forms.

In order to transfer you must have completed at least one year, but not more than two years, of study in the M.Sc. program with a minimum 9 credits of coursework at the 500-level or above, all of which must be of first-class standing. You must also show clear evidence of research ability. Remember that transfer is not permitted after the completion of the second year in a Master's program.

You will need permission from your Research Supervisor and Advisory Committee, which should be obtained at a formal meeting of the Advisory Committee. Approval to transfer must be recorded on the report of the meeting which is sent to the Program Coordinator. There is also a form that needs to be filled out, signed by your Research Supervisor and the Director/Graduate Advisor of the CELL Program, and submitted to G+PS.

Successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination is a critical requirement for Advancement to Candidacy, which must take place within 36 months of the start of your program. A student who has not advanced to candidacy within 36 months may be required to withdraw from the program. For this reason, you should plan to take your Comprehensive Examination mid-way through your third year at the latest – do not leave it to the last minute! Also, do not underestimate the amount of time and effort that is required to pass the Comprehensive Exam; you should scale back the amount of time that you spend in the lab to concentrate on preparing for your exam.

You will need to schedule an initial meeting of your Examination Committee about 8 – 10 weeks before the exam itself; this meeting sets the scope of the examination and defines the topics that you will need to cover in detail. The Examination Committee itself will consist of a Chairperson (who is appointed by the Director of the CELL Program) and at least 3 examiners, at least one of whom must NOT be a member of your Advisory Committee. Details of the Comprehensive Examination can be found here. Additional information is available on the G+PS website.

Once the External Examiner nomination form is submitted to G + PS, you should plan on defending in around 4 months. The G+PS website has useful checklists and timelines that you can use to plan your route to the final doctoral exam.

You should contact Doctoral Exams as soon as possible and explain the problem to them. You should be prepared to give them a date that you will be able to submit your thesis for transmission to the External Examiner. Doctoral Exams will then contact the External Examiner to find out whether he or she will still be available; if not, an alternate External Examiner will need to be identified.

It is your Research Supervisor’s responsibility to nominate University Examiners and to make sure that they meet the requirements set out by G+PS (in particular, University Examiners should be at arm's length from both the Candidate and the Research Supervisor). The CELL Program Director/Graduate Advisor has to approve the choice of University Examiners on the University Examiner form before it goes to G+PS.

‘Cells’ Seminars: MSc students who entered the CELL Program in September 2015 or later are required to present once in year 2/early year 3 (i.e. prior to writing up their thesis). PhD students (and MSc to PhD transfer students) are required to present twice, once in year 2/early year 3 (i.e. prior to their Comprehensive Exam) and once in year 4/early year 5 (i.e. prior to writing up their thesis).  You can sign up for a talk here.  Note that students starting in the CELL program as of September 2015 will no longer have to present a doctoral ‘Exit’ seminar. Students who entered the CELL Program prior to September 2015 are strongly encouraged to present in the ‘Cells’ seminar series and can sign up on a voluntary basis.

Exit Seminars: Doctoral students who entered the CELL Program prior to September 2015 are required to give a formal ‘Exit seminar’ on their research during the time their thesis is in the hands of the External Examiner. This seminar will usually take place one to two weeks prior to the final oral examination. To schedule your Exit seminar, look at the CPS Seminar Schedule well in advance of the date of your thesis defense. If you cannot find a suitable date on the seminar schedule, choose 2 or 3 alternate dates that work for you and your supervisor (if a suitable scheduled date is not available, it is possible to arrange a non-scheduled day/time). Again well in advance of the date of your thesis defense, email Estelle Li with your proposed dates, name, affiliation information, thesis title, abstract and photo and she will help coordinate the scheduling of your seminar.

G+PS expects to receive the final version of your dissertation within one month of your defense.