University of British Columbia

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The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

  • 61,113 total students
  • 52,721 Vancouver students
  • 8,392 Okanagan students
  • 13,189 international students from 155 countries
  • 12,841 degrees granted in 2015
  • $12.5 billion in economic impact
  • 180 companies spun off from UBC research
  • 1,261 research projects with industry partners
  • 1,095 research contracts and agreements with government and non-profits

UBC’s two main campuses are situated in Vancouver and in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley. Also in Vancouver, UBC Robson Square is a vibrant learning centre in the heart of downtown, the UBC Learning Exchange is a community engagement initiative based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and UBC’s Centre for Digital Mediaat the Great Northern Way Campus is located in Mount Pleasant. UBC also provides clinical education to Faculty of Medicine students at 75 health care facilities across British Columbia. In addition, UBC’s Asia Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong, a Liaison Office in New Delhi, India, and a Liaison Office in Europe facilitate teaching and research partnerships and support alumni engagement.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

Applied Science

  • Architecture and Landscape Architecture
    • Architecture Programs
    • Landscape Architecture Programs
    • Environment Design
  • Community and Regional Planning
    • Human Settlements
  • Engineering
    • Biomedical Engineering
    • Chemical and Biological Engineering
    • Civil Engineering
    • Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • Engineering Physics
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Geological Engineering
    • Integrated Engineering
    • Materials Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Mining Engineering
  • Master of Software Systems
  • Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC)
  • Nursing
  • Planning


Architecture and Landscape Architecture

  • Architecture Programs
  • Landscape Architecture Programs
  • Environmental Design


  • Anthropology
  • Art History, Visual Art and Theory
  • Arts One
  • Asian Studies
  • Asian Research
  • Central Eastern Northern European Studies
  • Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies
  • Co-ordinated Arts Program
  • Creative Writing Program
  • Vancouver School of Economics
  • English
  • French, Hispanic, & Italian Studies
  • First Nations Languages Program
  • First Nations Studies Program
  • Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice
    • Critical Studies in Sexuality
  • Geography
  • History
  • International Relations
  • Journalism
    • International Reporting Program
  • Library, Archival and Information Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Liu Institute for Global Issues
  • Museum of Anthropology
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
    • European Studies
    • Study of Democratic Institutions
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Theatre and Film

Audiology and Speech Sciences


  • Accounting
  • Bachelor of Commerce
  • Executive Education
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Management Information Systems
  • Marketing
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Management in Operations Research
  • Operations and Logistics
  • Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources
  • MSc Program
  • PhD Program
  • Real Estate Division
  • Strategy and Business Economics

Community and Regional Planning

Continuing Studies

  • Continuing education for adult learners (in-class and online)
  • English Language Institute
  • Teaching, Learning and Technology, Centre for (Distance Learning)



  • Oral Biological and Medical Sciences
  • Oral Health Sciences


  • Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education
  • Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy (EDCP)
  • Educational Studies
  • Kinesiology
  • Language and Literacy Education
  • Teacher Education


  • Forest Resources Management
  • Forest Sciences
  • Wood Science

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies


  • Green College
  • St. John’s College



Land and Food Systems

  • Global Resource Systems
  • Applied Biology (formerly Agroecology)
  • Food, Nutrition & Health
  • Food and Resource Economics Group
  • Graduate Studies



Library, Archival and Information Studies


  • Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics
  • Audiology and Speech Sciences
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Physiological Sciences
  • Dermatology and Skin Science
  • Family Practice
    • Midwifery
  • Genetics
  • International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD)
  • Medical Genetics
  • Medicine
    • Allergy and Immunology
    • Cardiology
    • Critical Care Medicine
    • Endocrinology
    • Experimental Medicine
    • Gastroenterology
    • General Internal Medicine
    • Geriatric Medicine
    • Hematology
    • Infectious Diseases
    • Medical Oncology
    • Nephrology
    • Neurology
    • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    • Respiratory Medicine
    • Rheumatology
  • Neuroscience
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy
  • Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
  • Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Therapy
  • Population and Public Health
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology
    • Nuclear Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Urologic Sciences




Population and Public Health

  • Applied Ethics, W Maurice Young
  • Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP)


Pharmaceutical Sciences


  • Applied Mathematics, Institute of (IAM)
  • Bioinformatics
  • Botany
  • Chemistr
  • Computer Science
  • Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Fisheries Centre (FC)
    • Fisheries Economics Research Unit
    • Marine Mammal Research Unit
    • Project Seahorse
    • Sea Around Us Project
    • Fisheries Ecosystems Restoration Research
    • Quantitative Analysis and Modeling
  • Mathematics
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Resources, Environment and Sustainability, Institute for (IRES)
    • Eco-Risk Research Unit
    • Forest Economics and Policy Analysis
    • Sustainable Development Research Initiative
    • Westwater Research Unit
  • Resources, Management and Environmental Studies
  • Statistics
  • Zoology

Social Work

UBC Vantage College


In 1877, only six years after British Columbia joined Canada, Superintendent of Education John Jessop submitted a proposal for the formation of a provincial university. The provincial legislature passed An Act Respecting the University of British Columbia in 1890, but disagreements arose over whether to build the university on Vancouver Island or the mainland.

The British Columbia University Act of 1908 formally called a provincial university into being, although its location was not specified. The governance was modelled on the provincial University of Toronto Act of 1906 which created a bicameral system of university government consisting of a senate (faculty), responsible for academic policy, and a board of governors (citizens) exercising exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The president, appointed by the board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership. The Act constituted a twenty-one member senate with Francis Carter-Cotton of Vancouver as Chancellor.

Before the University Act, there had been several attempts at creating a degree-granting university with help from the Universities of Toronto and McGill. Columbian College in New Westminster, through its affiliation with Victoria College of the University of Toronto, began to offer university-level credit at the turn-of-the-century, but McGill came to dominate higher education in the early 1900s.

Building on a successful affiliation between Vancouver and Victoria high schools with McGill University, Henry Marshall Tory helped establish the McGill University College of British Columbia. From 1906 to 1915, McGill BC (as it was called) operated as a private institution providing the first few years toward a degree at McGill University or elsewhere. The Henry Marshall Tory Medal was established in 1941 by Tory, founding President of the University of Alberta and of the National Research Council of Canada, and a co-founder of Carleton University.

In the meantime, appeals were made to the government to revive the earlier legislation for a provincial institution, leading to the University Endowment Act in 1907, and the University Act in 1908. In 1910 the Point Grey site was chosen, and the government appointed Dr. Frank Fairchild Wesbrook as President in 1913, and Leonard Klinck as Dean of Agriculture in 1914. A declining economy and the outbreak of war in August 1914 compelled the University to postpone plans for building at Point Grey, and instead the former McGill University College site at Fairview became home to the University until 1925. On the first day of lectures was September 30, 1915, the new independent university absorbed McGill University College. The University of British Columbia awarded its first degrees in 1916, and Klinck became the second President in 1919, serving until 1940.

World War I dominated campus life, and the student body was “decimated” by enlistments for active service, with three hundred UBC students in Company “D” alone. By the war’s end, 697 members of the University had enlisted. 109 students graduated in the three war-time congregations, all but one in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

By 1920, the university had only three faculties: Arts, Applied Science, and Agriculture (with Departments of Agronomy, Animal Husbandry,Dairying, Horticulture and Poultry). It only awarded the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc), and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSA). There were 576 male students and 386 female students in the 1920–21 winter session, but only 64 academic staff, including 6 women.

In the early part of the 20th century, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. Though UBC did not offer degrees in these fields, it began to offer degrees in new professional areas such as engineering, agriculture, nursing and school teaching. It also introduced graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialized course work and the completion of a research thesis, with students completing M.A. degrees in natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

In 1922, the twelve-hundred-strong student body embarked on a “Build the University” campaign. Students marched through the streets of Vancouver to draw attention to their plight, enlist popular support, and embarrass the government. Fifty-six thousand signatures were presented at legislature in support of the campaign, which was ultimately successful. On September 22, 1925, lectures began at the new Point Grey campus. Except for the Library, Science and Power House buildings, all the campus buildings were temporary constructions. Students built two playing fields, but the University had no dormitories and no social centre. Still, the University continued to grow steadily.

Soon, however, the effects of the depression began to be felt. The provincial government, upon which the University depended heavily, cut the annual grant severely. In 1932–33, salaries were cut by up to 23%. Posts remained vacant, and a few faculty lost their jobs. Most graduate courses were dropped. In 1935, the University established the Department of Extension.

Heavy rains and melting snowfall eroded a deep ravine across the north end of the campus, in the Grand Campus Washout of 1935. The campus did not have storm drains, and surface runoff went down a ravine to the beach. When the University carved a ditch to drain flooding on University Avenue, the rush of water steepened the ravine and eroded it back as fast as 10 feet (3.0 m) per hour. The resulting gully eventually consumed 100,000 cubic yards (76,455 m3), two bridges, and buildings near Graham House. The university was closed for 4 and a half days. Afterwards, the gully was filled with debris from a nearby landslide, and only traces are visible today.

Military training on the campus became popular, then mandatory. WWII marked the first provision of money from the federal government to the University for research purposes. This laid a foundation for future research grants from the federal government of Canada.

By the end of World War II, Point Grey’s facilities could not meet the influx of veterans returning to their studies. The university needed new staff, courses, faculties, and buildings for teaching and accommodation. The student population rose from 2,974 in 1944–45 to 9,374 in 1947–48. Surplus Army and Air Force camps were used for both classrooms and accommodation. The university took over fifteen complete camps during the 1945–46 session alone, with a sixteenth camp on Little Mountain in Vancouver, converted into suites for married students. Most of the camps were dismantled and carried by barge or truck to the University where the huts were scattered across the campus.

Student numbers hit 9,374 in 1948; more than 53% of the students were war veterans in 1947–67. Between 1947 and 1951, the university built twenty new permanent buildings, including the War Memorial Gym, built with money raised primarily by the students, was dedicated on October 26, 1951.

The single-university policy in the West was changed as existing colleges of the provincial universities gained autonomy as universities – the University of Victoria was established in 1963.

On February 10, 1964 Harvey Reginald MacMillan donated $8.2 million for postgraduate education to the university.

Prime Minister Trudeau announced the Museum of Anthropology at UBC on July 1, 1971. At a construction cost of $2.5 million, the museum building designed by Arthur Erickson opened in 1976.

UBC’s president is Dr. Martha Piper, who took the role of Interim President starting September 1, 2015, following the resignation of Dr. Arvind Gupta on August 7, 2015. Gupta (appointed on July 1, 2014) had succeeded Dr. Stephen Toope, who held the post for 8 years beginning July 1, 2006. The Chancellor of the University, who acts as the University’s ceremonial head and sits on the academic Senate and the Board of Governors, is Lindsay Gordon (as of April 14, 2014). The UBC Okanagan campus is led by Dr. Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal. All three founding faculties remain, but the Faculty of Agriculture is now known as the Faculty of Land & Food Systems. In the wake of “ongoing turmoil” following the 2015 resignation of the university president, faculty voted in 2016 “no confidence” in the university’s governing board.

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