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Frequently Asked Questions

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(1) Do I have to set up a direct-deposit option so that my stipend can be deposited directly to my account?

Yes, direct deposit is now mandatory for all graduate student payments at this time. A completed Direct-deposit form along with a void cheque need to be forwarded to UBC Finance at the address below:

UBC Financial Services
305 - 2075 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1

If you prefer to drop off the form personally, please walk to the General Services Admin Building. The building is next to the UBC main bus loop, and directly across from Shoppers Drug Mart and Mahoney's. The Finance office is located on the third floor, room 305.

You can also bring the form to the Graduate Program Coordinator and it will be delivered to finance for you.

(2) Can I opt for payroll deductions to pay for my tuition fees?

Yes, please complete the Payroll Deduction Form and drop the completed form to Student Information Services, Concourse level, Brock Hall. You will also need to include a copy of your student appointment form. If you are interested to go with this option, please let the grad coordinator know and we can provide you with a copy of your student appointment form.

(3) Are graduate students entitled to any vacation period?

Students are entitled to 3 weeks of vacation. This arrangement must be discussed and agreed upon between student and supervisor.

(4) When I bring my personal laptop to the lab, is it possible for me to gain access to the network, as well as to the shared folders?

Yes, please contact our IT support at: itsupport[at]microbiology.ubc.ca

Please provide your full name, student number, lab, and UBC email account. 

(5) How does transfer to the PhD work? (for MSc students)

MSc students can transfer to the PhD without having to complete their MSc program. Students who wish to transfer from a master to a doctoral program must have completed one year of study in the master program with a minimum 80% average in twelve credits, of which at least nine credits must be at the 500 level or above and at least nine credits must be at 80% or above. The student must also show clear evidence of research ability.

Generally, one month before your intended transfer date, you need to schedule a committee meeting and obtain approval from your supervisory committee. Approval to transfer must be recorded on the Committee Report Form (included in your handbook). Please bring the form to the graduate program coordinator after and they will do the necessary paperwork to start the transfer request.

(6) Is it true that PhD students do not have to pay tuition fees?

Yes, that is correct! PhD students will receive PhD tuition rebate for the first four year of their PhD program. Tuiton is covered by the Faculty of Science and UBC's Graduate Student Initiative. The PhD Tuition rebate is equivalent to the regular tuition fee assessment. PhD students in their 5th year receive tuition support from their supervisors. The PhD tuition rebate does not cover student fees.

For “MSc → PhD” students, you will also receive this rebate starting on the term that your transfer becomes effective on.

Although free tuition is a great option for students, we strongly encourage MSc students to not base their transfer decision on this free-tuition fact, since transfer back from PhD → MSc is not as straightforward as MSc → PhD.

7) Do Master students receive an equivalent Tuition break?

Master students receive a suppliment on each paycheque to help offset the cost of tuition.

(8) Some students receive more than $21,000/year, while some receive exactly $20,000. Could you please explain?

As of Sept 2007, all graduate students are supported at a minimum annual amount of $20,000 for Masters and $21,000 for PhD students, through combinations of scholarship/awards, TAships, and supervisor and departmental contributions.

If you have a scholarship, you will earn more than $21,000 since you will also be receiving a suppliment from your supervisor. At the same time, TAship will also earn you an additional bonus of $1,000 for a full time TAship (please see next question regarding TA for more details).

(9) Teaching Assistantship – when do we start to TA?

Current program requirement requires both MSc and PhD students to TA one full time TAship to fulfill program requirements.
For most students, the first TAship is assigned during your first or second term of the second year. If everything goes according to plan, most of you will start your first TAship in your second year.

There are three types of TAships:
1) Required: you are TAing to fulfill program requirement. Students will receive $1,000 bonus/full TAship for the term. If you also hold a scholarship on the term that you are doing a TAship, you will get to keep the full TA income as your bonus, on top of the stipend that you are already receiving.

2) Required by supervisor: this TAship is generally done after you have fulfilled your TA requirement. Since TA is funded by the department, your supervisor may ask you to do another TAship to help offset their financial load. Students doing “required” TAship will receive $1,000 bonus/ full time TAship for the term.

3) Voluntary: after you have fulfilled program requirement, students may want to do a volunteer TA, or they may be asked to help fill in open positions → students typically will receive a bonus from the minimum of $1,000/ full time TAship, to the full TA income. The total amount of bonus for the student must be agreed upon between the student and the supervisor.

(10) Do we have to hold yearly committee meeting? Does it have to be exactly every twelve months?

Graduate students are expected to hold a yearly committee meeting. The whole idea of a committee meeting is for you to present your work to your committee and at the same time to receive feedback from your committee. It is the students’ responsibilities to remind their committee and schedule a meeting accordingly.

About 4-6 weeks before the meeting, please prepare and submit a progress report to your committee members. Progress reports must be prepared according to the Progress Report Outline template.

During the meeting, the Committee Report Form must be filled by the supervisor. Students must also then forward completed forms to the graduate program coordinator.

As for timing, it would be ideal if you could have a committee meeting every twelve months. However, we are not living in the perfect world, people do have different schedules and various issues happen at different time. As long as you hold a meeting every 12 months or so, give/ take one or two months, you will be fine.

The Graduate Program Coordinator and/or the Graduate Advisor will send reminder emails if you are not holding your committee meetings in a timely manner. Choosing to ignore their request could result in the stopping of stipend payment.

(11) When should I complete the comprehensive examination? (for PhD and future transferred MSc students)

A comprehensive oral examination must be taken within 21 months of admission to the graduate program (22 months for students entering in January).

For those who entered September 2014, you should complete your exam by May 31, 2016. This timeline also goes for MSc students who are planning to transfer to the PhD by September 2014.

About 8-12 weeks before the intended exam day, you need to schedule a “pre-comprehensive-exam” meeting. This meeting will serve several purposes, including exploring exam topics and setting date/time for the comprehensive exam.

Please visit our M&I Student Handbook for complete details regarding comprehensive examination.

(12) Do Graduate students receive maternity/paternity benefits?

Students who hold a tri-council scholarship receive 4-6 months maternity/paternity benefits. Students whose stipend is covered by NSERC or CIHR receive 4 to 6 months coverage from their supervisor which is compensated by the tri-council agency.