Doctoral Admission Requirements

Admission to the PhD program is on a full-time basis only.

1. Course and Standing Prerequisites

Applicants must have demonstrated an ability to undertake and complete independent, original research of a high quality. Demonstration of such ability is the chief criterion for admission into the PhD program.

The candidate must hold a Master's degree (or equivalent) in history. Typically, to be considered for admission, an applicant with an MA degree should have obtained first-class ("A") standing in the equivalent of at least four one-term graduate courses, and an overall first-class standing in at least 18 credits of graduate work (= six one-term courses at UBC). Candidates must provide confirmation that their M.A. is complete before they will be allowed to register in September. If the requirements for the M.A. are not complete by registration, admission is revoked. The undergraduate record will also be considered in evaluating students for admission to the PhD program.

The Executive Committee of the Faculty of Graduate Studies may give recommended MA candidates within the department permission to proceed directly to the PhD program without submission of the Master's thesis. The History Department may recommend those MA candidates who have obtained high first-class standing and whose independent research is of high quality. Such candidates will not receive the MA degree.

Mature returning students and applicants with strong backgrounds in other academic disciplines will be considered for admission to the PhD program in history only if they can demonstrate a record of recent formal academic achievement at an acceptable standard in regular session university courses in history, or a comparable achievement. They must also have letters from professors who are familiar with the applicant's recent level of achievement.

2. English Language Requirement

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language):

Faculty and departmental regulations require applicants whose degrees are from a country other than Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, Kenya, New Zealand, or British West Indies to submit an official, original TOEFL score report showing that the applicant has achieved a score of at least 90 (internet based TOEFL score) during the past 24 months, with a minimum score in each of the following components:

  • reading: 22
  • writing: 21
  • listening: 22
  • speaking: 21

For electronic submission, please ensure that you include the following on your TOEFL sheet:

  • Use the University of British Columbia's institution code 0965.
  • Give the reason for taking TOEFL "to enter a college or university as a graduate student"

The TOEFL score may also be submitted as an official paper score report sent directly to the university from the testing centre (Address: 170-6371 Crescent Road, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z2, Canada).

IELTS (International English Language Testing Service):

A minimum overall band score of 6.5 is required with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component of the academic (NOT general) IELTS test.

UBC requires an official score to be sent to us electronically from the test centre.

On the IELTS application form you will be asked to specify institutions where you would like the results being sent to. To ensure UBC receives your results correctly, you have to use the following details on the application:

  • Name of institution: The University of British Columbia
  • Name of person/department: Graduate School Admissions
  • Address: 170-6371 Crescent Road, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z2, Canada

For Alternative Tests:

For alternative tests, such as the GCE  ‘’A’’ Level English Examination or MELAB, please see the link below to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website on English Proficiency Requirements:

3. Additional Language Requirements

Before receiving the PhD degree, candidates must demonstrate an adequate reading ability in a language other than English. Students who require a foreign language (or languages) for their dissertation research are required to take the language exam in that language and are expected to have a basic reading knowledge, or better, in the relevant language(s) prior to entering the program. In cases where the dissertation research involves only English-language sources, students may take the exam in French or another language.

The department holds language exams twice yearly (usually in November and April) in which candidates must successfully translate a passage from the language they have chosen into English, with the aid of a dictionary, but without the assistance of a lap-top computer.

Exemption from the language exam may be granted under certain circumstances. Several departments at the university offer courses to help students acquire a reading knowledge of a foreign language, such as French, German or Russian. Students who have successfully completed such a course at the third-year level or above, with at least a B (72%) average, can apply for exemption from the History Department's exam. The student should inform the History Department's graduate secretary when they have enrolled in such a course, and should submit evidence of completion of the course with their application for exemption. Students who have received an undergraduate degree in the language to be examined may also apply for an exemption.

Students who have completed the MA in History at UBC and have passed the language exam with first class (A) standing are not required to fulfill the requirement at the PhD level, unless the language(s) required for the PhD dissertation are not the same as the language examined for the MA degree. The results from a pass/fail MA exam are not sufficient to waive this requirement. The department may also require evidence of the candidate's competence to use additional foreign languages deemed necessary for study and research in the candidate's PhD program.