Graduate Student Funding

Graduate students in the Department may receive financial support from a variety of sources an in a variety of forms. Standard funding models do not exist and multiple arrangements are possible, often contain a mix from several sources. This page outlines the various forms of funding support that may be available.

Minimum Funding Package for PhD Students

All PhD students who commence in September 2018 or later are assured of a minimum funding package of $18,000 per year for four years.  The package may be comprised of a combination of the various primary sources of funding indicated below (or the student may decline component funding).  The level of funding and the component funding sources for each year commencing September will be indicated through a letter to incoming students in April and to ongoing students during the preceding summer.  In order to receive such funding, all students are required to apply each year for external funding as may be relevant and as notified to them, and to report on the status of this through their annual progress reports.

Funding Sources

Most MASc and PhD students receive financial support from a primary source, and may do so from one or more supplementary sources. In general MEng students do not receive financial support, except that a very few MEng students may receive supplementary funding from Teaching Assistantships and Marker positions. The most common primary and supplementary sources are as follows:

Primary Sources

  • Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA)
  • Four-Year Doctoral Fellowships (4YF)
  • Civil Engineering Excellence Awards (CIV-EX)
  • NSERC Scholarships
  • Affiliated Fellowships
  • Other Awards

Supplementary Sources

  • NSERC Top-Up AwardsTop-Ups
  • International Student Tuition Fee Awards
  • Teaching Assistantships & Marker Positions (TA)
  • Other Opportunities

These are outlined in turn below.  Additional information about scholarships, awards, and funding is available at this page maintained by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and this page at UBC Student Services.  Finally, employment opportunities relating to a student's status in the Department are mentioned below.

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA)

A GRA provides monthly support, effectively a salary, for an MASc or PhD student through a research grant or contract held by the Research Supervisor.  The level of support and the start and end dates are at the discretion of the Research Supervisor (who holds the grant/contract), and are specified at the time of appointment.  There are no specified minimum or maximum levels of support and no specified duration of support.  For students who do not obtain other forms of support, GRA levels are typically $17,000 per year for MASc students and $20,000 per year for PhD students.  GRA's may be renewed and may combined with other forms of student support, at the discretion of the Research Supervisor. 

Four-Year Doctoral Fellowships (4YF)

The Four-Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF) Program, which is administered by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, provides primary support for exceptional PhD students.


Eligibility. All PhD students in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd years of their program (i.e. not incoming students) – both domestic and international – are automatically considered each May for 4YF funding to commence the following September. [Students who enter the program in May are first considered in May one year later; students who enter the program in January are first considered in May four months later.]


Level and Duration of Support. 4YF's provide $18,200 per year plus full tuition coverage, matched by $5,000 per year in the form of a GRA from the Research Supervisor, totaling $23,200 per year plus full tuition coverage. If awarded, the support commences in September, typically one year after entry to the program. The award may be extended up to the end of the 4th year in the program, subject to satisfactory academic progress.


Selection Process. Each March, the Graduate Advisor informs the Graduate Awards Advisor of the number of 4YF awards that are available. Each April, all eligible students are invited to submit an application form for the 4YF (and CIV-EX) Awards. Each May, the Department's Graduate Awards Committee, chaired by the Graduate Awards Advisor, adjudicates these two awards. The three most important selection criteria are satisfactory progression, academic excellence and research productivity. The Graduate Advisor endorses the recommendations, and forwards them to G+PS for processing.

Civil Engineering Excellence Awards (CIV-EX)

The Department uses a portion of its GSI allocation to provide Civil Engineering Excellence (CIV-EX) Awards to PhD students.  [GSI refers to the Graduate Support Initiative, which is a UBC program that provides Departments with funding to support graduate students through awards and scholarship top-ups.]

Eligibility.  All incoming PhD students – both domestic and international – are considered in March for CIV-EX funding to commence the following September.  All continuing students in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd years of their program (i.e. not incoming students) – both domestic and international – are automatically considered each May for CIV-EX funding to commence the following September.  [Students who enter the program in May are first considered in May one year later; students who enter the program in January are first considered in May four months later.]

Level and Duration of Support.  A CIV-EX Award provides $18,000 per year, matched by $10,000 per year in the form of a GRA provided by the Research Supervisor, totaling $28,000 per year.  If awarded, the support commences in September and extends for 12 months.  The award is not renewable, although students may be re-considered for the award.

Selection Process.  Each March, the Graduate Advisor informs the Graduate Awards Advisor of the number of CIV-EX awards available for incoming students and for continuing students.  The committee adjudicates the CIV-EX awards twice a year.  Each March, the Department's Graduate Awards Committee, chaired by the Graduate Awards Advisor, considers the applications of all incoming PhD students and makes recommendations.  Each May, the committee considers continuing PhD students for these awards, along with 4YF Awards, and makes recommendations for these two awards.  The three most important selection criteria are satisfactory progression, academic excellence and research productivity.  The Graduate Advisor endorses the recommendations and processes the awards.

NSERC Scholarships

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) offer awards to exceptional students or who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  Applications are initiated by the student, usually prior to admission, and may be submitted via UBC or directly to NSERC, depending on the circumstances.  There are three types of NSERC awards for graduate students:

  • Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s Program (CGS-M)
  • Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program (CGS-D)
  • Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program (CGS-D)

Complete details are at NSERC's Postgraduate Programs webpage.

The three scholarships have values and durations as follows:

  • NSERC CGS M Scholarships – for MASc students at $17,500 for one year, non-renewable
  • NSERC PGS D Scholarship – for PhD students at $21,000 per year for two or three years
  • NSERC CGS D Scholarship – for PhD students at $35,000 per year for two or three years

The Department provides top-ups to these scholarships as described below.

Affiliated Fellowships Program

International MASc and PhD students, who are unable to apply for NSERC Scholarships, may apply instead for Affiliated Fellowships administered by G+PS.  The application deadlines coincide with those of the NSERC awards.  These Fellowships are awarded at various levels, typically at about $16,000 per year, but up to $35,000 in the case of PhD students.  See Affiliated Fellowship Master's Program and Affiliated Fellowship Doctoral Program for further information.

Other Awards

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Award Opportunities webpage provides information on a wide range of other awards (including most of those mentioned herein).  Of particular note are the Vanier scholarships for doctoral students that provide $50,000 per year over three years.

NSERC Top-Up Awards

The Department uses a portion of its GSI allocation to provide Top-Up Awards to NSERC Scholarship holders.  The relevant award levels are as follows:

NSERC PGS-M:         $17,500 (NSERC) + $6,500 (Top-Up) = $24,000 total

NSERC PGS-D:         $21,000 (NSERC) + $7,000 (Top-Up) = $28,000 total

NSERC CGS-D:         $35,000 (NSERC) + $7,000 (Top-Up) = $42,000 total

International Student Tuition Fee Award

International Tuition Awards are available to full-time international MASc and PhD students to support tuition fees.  Students do not need to apply, as all international students who are eligible are automatically considered for this award.  This award is not provided to students who received tuition support external to UBC (or these awards are reduced by the level of external tuition support).

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Marker Positions

The Department of Civil Engineering offers opportunities for many of its graduate students to support undergraduate and graduate course delivery through Teaching Assistantships and Marker positions.

Eligibility and Applications.  

All graduate students are eligible to apply, although an extremely small number of TA's and Marker Positions are typically provided to MEng students.  Students apply through submission of a completed TA/marker on-line application form that is available through the link below (during the period that applications are being solicited).  There is an application limit of 6 courses per term.    Applications for a TA/Marker assignment should be submitted by April 30 through the following link:  [Applications for 2017-18 are now closed; applications for 2018-19 will open at the end of March 2018.]

Level of Support.  Any one student may be assigned no more than 100 hours per term.   Students will be appointed as a GTA I (Graduate Teaching Assistant Level I – applies to PhD students), GTA II (Graduate Teaching Assistant Level II – applies to Master's students) or a Marker.   Payments are made at established hourly rates (see the CUPE 2278 webpage on pay rates), which correspond to about  $30 per hour for TA’s and $14 per hour for Markers.  Additional information about rates of pay and conditions of employment for Teaching Assistant and Marker positions is described in the collective agreement between UBC and CUPE 2278.   

Selection Process. These are awarded at the discretion of the instructor, except that an incumbent in a particular course have first call on an appointment for that course. 

Mandatory Training.  All appointees who have not held a previous TA position will be required to undergo mandatory training as follows:

  • Department Safety Orientation (on-line), see here
  • Workplace Bullying & Harassment Online Training, see here
  • IT Privacy & Information Security Online Training, see here
  • Workplace Violence Prevention, see here

Additional Information.  Additional information on these positions, including details of student duties and responsibilities, are provided through the contract issued with each appointment.

Employment Opportunities

Beyond the funding sources identified above, students may also earn a salary and gain work experience through paid employment opportunities – subject to being able to secure suitable employment, having sufficient time available, and assuring the necessary documentation / approvals.  Two such opportunities that relate to student status in the Department are the Co-op Program and the Work Learn Program, as summarized below.

Co-op Program.  MEng & MASc students have the opportunity to apply to the Co-op Program in order to gain paid work experience during their program at UBC.  Typically, the program starts with a mandatory pre-employment training workshop in the Fall; then, after completing two terms of study, the students proceed with two four-month work terms (in the summer and fall), and then return to campus to complete their programs as necessary. MASc students should consult their Research Supervisor prior to applying to the co-op program.  MEng students may apply here and MASc students may apply here.

Work Learn Program.  The Work Learn Program supports and subsidizes work experiences on campus so as to offer students the opportunity to develop their professional skills and learn in a work environment.