How to Apply

The CELL Program welcomes applications from students with first class or high second class Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. In most cases, students enter with a degree(s) in the biological life sciences, but applicants with other backgrounds, such as computational modeling, mathematics and chemistry will also interest some CELL faculty members.

Early application is strongly recommended, especially in the case of applicants who intend to apply for financial assistance and/or international students, who should be aware that it may require up to six months to process visa applications.

The application deadlines are as follows:

Program Start Date Application Deadlines  –  International
September 1st March 31st
January 1st (PHD ONLY) August 31st
May 1st November 30th
Program Start Date Application Deadlines  –  Domestic
September 1st March 31st
January 1st (PHD ONLY) August 31st
May 1st November 30th

An applicant with a research supervisor confirmed, may be considered for late application, on a case-by-case basis. All applicants are encouraged to submit their application in advance of the application deadline.

Students with a bachelor’s degree who are entering the M.Sc. or Ph.D. program should be prepared to begin their studies at the start of the academic year in September. Starting at the beginning of the academic year offers students the greatest choice of graduate courses and Teaching Assistantships as well as opportunities to apply for awards and scholarships. Exceptions to this general recommendation will only be permitted by the Director of the CELL Program in very unusual circumstances. Students with a Master’s degree who are entering the Ph.D. program and who are not required to take courses can start their program in September, January or May.

Admission procedures

There are four steps to admission. Please follow the first three steps in the order listed to ensure that your application will be successful. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Admission procedures can be found here. If you have any other questions about the admission process, please email the Program Coordinator.

How to Apply - Steps


Make sure that you meet the minimum requirements for admission to graduate studies at UBC. Applicants who do not meet these minimum requirements will not be accepted. The minimum admission requirements are summarized below. Please visit the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) website, including their Frequently Asked Questions, for additional information. The CELL Program does not require applicants to take Graduate Record Examination (GRE) tests.

UBC Admission requirements

The following summarizes the minimum requirements for admission to graduate studies at UBC. It is important to remember that these are the minimum admission requirements – the great majority of students who successfully enter the CELL Program exceed these minimum requirements.

Canadian or U.S. applicants:

Applicants for the Master’s degree (M.Sc.) program must:

i) Hold a degree that is academically equivalent to a UBC 4-year Bachelor’s degree,

ii) Have completed at least four years of study with a B+ average (76% at UBC) in third and fourth year-level coursework, or at least 12 credits of third- or fourth-year courses in the A- grade range (at UBC 80% or higher), in subjects related to the intended field of graduate study,

iii) Have sufficient preparatory academic background to carry out graduate work in the chosen field.


Applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program must:

i) Hold a degree that is academically equivalent to a UBC Master’s degree, with an overall average of B+ (76% at UBC) in the Master’s degree program, OR

ii) Hold a Bachelor’s degree with one year of study in a Master’s program and at least 9 credits of coursework at the 500-level or above, all of which must be of first-class standing (at UBC 80% or higher). Clear evidence of research ability or potential is also required. Transfer into a doctoral program is normally accomplished after the first year of study at the Master’s level and is not permitted after completion of the second year, AND

iii) Have sufficient preparatory academic background to carry out graduate work in the chosen field.

In exceptional cases, applicants who hold a Bachelor’s degree with an overall average in the ‘A’ grade range (at UBC, 80% or higher) and who demonstrate advanced research ability may be granted direct admission to the Ph.D. program. Students entering directly from a bachelor’s degree must, during the first two years of study, complete 12 credits of coursework 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.

International applicants:

The minimum admission requirements required by G+PS are available on a country-by-country basis. Students are required to have an adequate facility in verbal and written English. Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language of instruction are required to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination prior to acceptance into the Program; see FAQs for details.

The G+PS website also contains information specific to international applicants, including important information about the ‘Student Authorization’ and other government regulations for entry into Canada.


If you meet the minimum entrance requirements required for admission to graduate studies at UBC, you will need to find a Faculty member who agrees to act as your Research Supervisor. Acceptance into the Program is dependent upon a prospective student getting written agreement from a Faculty member that he/she will be their Research Supervisor. Although you can send in an application to the Program and we will attempt to match your interests with a potential supervisor, this does not guarantee that a supervisor will be found for you – ultimately it is your responsibility to find a faculty member who is willing to supervise you as a graduate student.

To find a Research Supervisor, check the list of CELL Program faculty members and email those whose area(s) of research interest you to find out if they have any graduate student positions available. Please do not mass email all faculty members in the Program. Please see FAQs for further information about finding a Research Supervisor. General information about finding a research supervisor is also available on the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.


If you meet the minimum entrance requirements and have found a faculty member who has agreed to supervise you as a graduate student, then you can proceed with a formal on-line application to G+PS. Please follow the instructions carefully and note the supporting documents required. A non-refundable application fee is required at this stage: 2016/17 application fees are $100.00 for domestic applicants and $156.00 for international applicants. Once you have submitted your application it will automatically be forwarded to the CELL Program.


When we receive your complete on-line application, the CELL Program Admissions Committee will carefully review your academic qualifications, letters of reference, relevant prior research experience, and motivation to pursue graduate studies in cell and developmental biology as reflected in the written statement of your interests. If your application is accepted by the Admissions Committee, we will ask you and your Research Supervisor to sign the Agreement between Graduate Student and Research Supervisor which details the amount and sources of funding that will be available to support you as a graduate student in the CELL Program. Once we have received this form, we will recommend your acceptance by G+PS, who will then write to you confirming your entry into the Program. International students will need to present the acceptance letter from G+PS when applying for a study permit.