Computer Science

Master of Science (MSc), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Multiply your creativity, problem solving and innovation skills, and expand your impact on our increasingly digital world.

Graduate Program Overview

Program Components Expected Duration
MSc Coursework and thesis 24 months
PhD Coursework and dissertation 48 months

The computer science graduate program at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC offers tier-one research-based degrees to students in a collegial, close-knit setting.

Our dynamic faculty and students are engaged in a variety of research projects, many in collaboration with partners in government, non-profit agencies or industry.

Our research-based MSc and PhD degrees in computer science provide students with theoretical, practical and analytical expertise, as well as experience in the application of scientific results to real-world problems.

An Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies (IGS) program option is also available for doctoral students who are interested in computer science and another discipline; it is an individualized option that is flexible and responsive to student interests.

The MSc degree is centred on conducting research in computer science for the thesis-based option or on completing a significant project for the project-based option.

The MSc in computer science has three clusters, including: general computer science, data science and optimization.

Research interests of computing science faculty members and associates include:

  • general computer science topics (algorithms, artificial intelligence, computer science education, databases, human-computer interaction, social networks models, etc.)
  • optimization (nonlinear programming, convex, non-convex and variational analysis, modelling, numerical simulations)
  • data science (computational statistics, databases, design and analysis of experiments)

Graduates of the MSc program are prepared for positions in industry, government, education, consulting or for PhD research.

Program Milestones

  • Establishing a faculty supervisory committee
  • Completing coursework
  • Preparing, presenting, and defending a thesis research proposal (thesis-based option)
  • Preparing, implementing, and reporting on a project (project-based option)

Coursework & Thesis Requirements

  • Thesis option: 18 credits of coursework; 12-credit MSc thesis (COSC 549)
  • Project option: 24 credits of coursework; 6-credit MSc project (COSC 550)

Exceptional MSc students can transfer to the PhD program if they meet program requirements. Most MSc students also complete teaching assistantships (TA) for at least one semester.

The PhD is an advanced research degree that requires original and substantive contributions to the advancement of our understanding of computer science. Graduates of the PhD program are prepared for careers that involve conducting independent research and teaching in academia, government and industry, as well as for careers in a wide range of fields, in roles such as programmers, software developers, software engineers, business analysts, data scientists, big data developers, or data engineers. PhD students may focus their research in:

  • Artificial Intelligence: machine learning, reasoning and algorithmic decision making, intelligent user interfaces, computer vision
  • Network Science: graph theory, network analytics, social network analysis, and applications in social media, computational biology, and brain science
  • Data analytics, data science, big data: business intelligence, data integration, data management, data mining, databases, health analytics, health informatics, learning analytics
  • Human-centered technologies: human computer interaction (HCI), visual, haptic and multimodal interfaces, visual analytics, immersive analytics
  • Optimization, scientific computing: numerical methods and software, modeling, visualization
  • Software Engineering: development tools, software engineering analytics

Program milestones

  • establishing a faculty supervisory committee
  • completing a research proficiency evaluation (COSC 690), involving carrying out a small research project and defending the results
  • completing 24 credits of coursework requirements
  • preparing, presenting, and defending a dissertation research proposal
  • passing an oral candidacy exam
  • completing dissertation research and writing, and defending the work

Research & Supervisors

The professional and research interests of the computer science faculty span a broad range, and their research expertise includes both quantitative and qualitative strategies of analyses.

Graduate students can pursue these and other faculty research and teaching interests:

  • Algorithm design and analysis
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computational statistics
  • Computer science education
  • Computing science and computational mathematics
  • Databases
  • Data analytics
  • Data science
  • Decision support systems
  • Design and analysis of experiments
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Modeling
  • Network science
  • Optimization
  • Scientific computing
  • Social network models
  • Software engineering

Please touch base with a faculty supervisor before you start the application process. We look forward to hearing about your research interests and career goals.

While applications with no identified supervisor will be accepted, no applicant will be admitted until a supervisor has agreed to supervise the student’s thesis or project. Applicants are strongly encouraged to identify and contact a potential supervisor prior to applying. MSc applicants are also required to indicate whether they wish to pursue the thesis- or project-based option.


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Yong Gao | Professor | Computer Science, Data Science | yong.gao@ubc.ca | 250.807.9503 | SCI 262
Research Interests: Algorithmic and computational problems in artificial intelligence and network science; applications in social media and computational biology; graph theory and probabilistic method.
Mohammad Khalad Hasan | Assistant Professor | Computer Science, Data Science | khalad.hasan@ubc.ca | 250.807.8077 | SCI 260
Research Interests: Human-computer interaction, mobile and wearable (e.g., smartwatches, smart glasses) user interfaces, augmented/virtual/mixed reality, information visualization, gesture interaction, computer vision, machine learning, navigation interfaces, input devices.
Fatemeh Hendijani Fard | Assistant Professor | Computer Science, Data Science | fatemeh.fard@ubc.ca | 250.807.9607 | SCI 115
Research Interests: Software engineering; machine learning; multiagent systems; data analytics.
Bowen Hui | Instructor | Computer Science | bowen.hui@ubc.ca | 250.807.9353 | SCI 257
Research Interests: Learning analytics; computer science education; decision making under uncertainty; probabilistic user modeling; human-computer interaction cost models; experiment design and analysis.
Patricia Lasserre | Associate Professor | Computer Science | patricia.lasserre@ubc.ca | 250.807.9502 | ADM 119B
Research Interests: Active learning techniques for computer science; developing tools for learning, computational thinking and design thinking; application of HCI tools and techniques to improve teaching and learning.
Ramon Lawrence | Associate Professor | Computer Science, Data Science | ramon.lawrence@ubc.ca | 250.807.9390 | ASC 349
Research Interests: Database systems and data analytics including data integration; analysis of large-scale scientific data sets and embedded databases for Internet of Things applications; software engineering and system development.
Yves Lucet | Professor | Computer Science | yves.lucet@ubc.ca | 250.807.9505 | ASC 350
Research Interests: Computational mathematics, optimization and convex analysis; modeling; model road design to minimize construction costs under safety and environmental constraints; creating algorithms for computer-aided convex analysis; visualizing operators in 2D, 3D, and 4D.
Abdallah Mohamed | Instructor | Computer Science | abdallah.mohamed@ubc.ca | 250.807.8247 | SCI 108
Research Interests: Software engineering; decision support systems (model driven and data driven); component-based software development; creative higher education.
Apurva Narayan | Assistant Professor | Computer Science, Data Science | apurva.narayan@ubc.ca | 250.807.8272 | SCI 110
Research Interests: Artificial intelligence/machine learning with emphasis on explainable AI/ML and quantum machine learning; data mining; data analytics, safety and security of cyber physical systems; software engineering; graph theoretic analysis of complex systems; decision making under uncertainty.

Centre for Optimization, Convex Analysis and Non-Smooth Analysis (COCANA)

Our in-house Centre for Optimization, Convex Analysis and Nonsmooth Analysis performs fundamental research in convex and nonsmooth analysis and transfers the results to industry by solving practical industrial problems with a focus on commercial applications. COCANA researchers are mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers who apply state-of-the-art optimization techniques to solve real-life problems and provide our industrial partners an edge over their competition.

DISTRIBUTED DATABASE LABORATORY

The Distributed Database Laboratory performs applied research into data management challenges for relational, NoSQL, and BigData systems. Researchers and developers are engaged in projects on small-scale sensor and embedded databases and large-scale BigData projects for the Industrial Internet.


Students & Theses

Meet Our Students

See what our students are up to—find them in our Contact page for their research interests, supervisors, alma maters, and info.

QSCU

The Quantitative Sciences Course Union (QSCU) is a student union dedicated to connecting students with each other, the university and the community in order to enhance their research, learning and overall experience at UBC Okanagan.

Theses & Dissertations

Search all UBC Okanagan computer science student publications at cIRcle, the University’s digital repository for research and teaching materials.


Admission Requirements

Admission to UBC graduate programs is competitive. Applicants must meet the following criteria.

MASTER OF SCIENCE (MSc) APPLICANTS 

Applicants to the computer science MSc program are expected to have:

  • the academic equivalent of a four-year BSc from UBC in computer science or a related field, with a minimum average of B+ (76%) or better in their third- or fourth-year classes, or
  • at least 12 credits in third- and fourth-year classes in their intended field of study, with an A (80%) grade or better, or
  • significant formal training and relevant professional experience

Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.


DOCTORAL APPLICANTS (PhD)

PhD applicants are expected to:

  • hold the academic equivalent of a two-year master’s degree from UBC in computer science or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better,
  • demonstrate clear evidence of research ability or potential

Applicants with a degree not specifically in computer science are expected to have undertaken coursework in computer science such as the equivalent of a minor in computer science. Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.


EXCEPTIONAL CASES

Exceptional students may be admitted directly to the PhD program with only an Honours degree, on the recommendation of the Computer Science Graduate Program Committee and approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar for full admission and program requirements information. The calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

Note: In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct. 

The College of Graduate Studies defines additional requirements and degree equivalencies.

MASTER OF SCIENCE (MSc) APPLICANTS 

International applicants to the computer science MSc program are expected to:

  • have the academic equivalent of a four-year BSc from UBC in computer science or a related field, with a minimum average of B+ (76%) or better in their third- or fourth-year classes, or
  • have at least 12 credits in third- and fourth-year classes in their intended field of study, with an A- (80%) grade or better, and
  • present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language (please see details below)

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS 

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): minimum score of 550 (paper version); 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading & Listening and a minimum score of 21 in Writing & Speaking (Internet version), or
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service): minimum overall band score of 6.5, with no individual component score less than 6.0, or
  • MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery): minimum overall score of 85, with a final score of 3 in the speaking test

DOCTORAL APPLICANTS (PhD)

International PhD applicants are expected to:

  • hold the academic equivalent of a two-year master’s degree from UBC in computer science or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better,
  • demonstrate clear evidence of research ability or potential, and
  • present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language (please see details below)

Applicants with a degree not specifically in computer science are expected to have undertaken coursework in computer science such as the equivalent of a minor in computer science. Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): minimum score of 550 (paper version); 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading & Listening and a minimum score of 21 in Writing & Speaking (Internet version), or
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing Service): minimum overall band score of 6.5, with no individual component score less than 6.0, or
  • MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery): minimum overall score of 85, with a final score of 3 in the speaking test

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar for full admission and program requirements information. The calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

Note: In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct. 

REQUIRED GRADES AND CREDENTIAL GUIDE

Grades and degree credentials required by UBC vary by country. Search the Required Grades and Credential Guide—a guide to assist international students in estimating their eligibility.

INTERNATIONAL ADVISORS

An international student advisor can answer questions about immigration, medical insurance and the transition to UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC. Visit the International Programs and Services website to meet the team.


Tuition & Funding

Tuition

Tuition amounts presented here are estimates only and all fees are subject to change. For official tuition and fee information, visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar, a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services, and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

Program Schedule Domestic (per year) International (per year)
MSc Full-time $4,995.78 $8,776.74
PhD Full-time $4,995.78 $8,776.74

Tuition is paid three times a year, on the first day of each term: Winter Term 1 (September), Winter Term 2 (January), and Summer Term (May).

Funding Opportunities

Graduate student stipends are funded through a combination of internal and external funding awards, Teaching Assistantships, and Research Assistantships.

Although funding and stipend amounts are not guaranteed, the computer science program has a number of assistantships available for qualified students. Talk to your potential supervisor about funding opportunities.

Students are expected whenever possible to apply for relevant scholarships and fellowships. These include principally, but are not limited to, Canadian Tri-Council scholarships, University Graduate Fellowships, and Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarships.

If students wish to hold off-campus (external) employment, they should discuss with their supervisor, particularly if the student is a grant-holder, as restrictions on hours of work may apply.

Graduate Entrance Award

The Irving K. Barber School of Arts & Sciences offers a $15,000 merit-based entrance scholarship to six exceptional individuals entering their first year of thesis-based graduate studies under a supervisor from the IKBSAS faculty.

All applicants to IKBSAS graduate programs who have submitted an application by January 31 will be automatically considered for the award. No additional application is required. Successful applicants will be notified by March 15.

The Department of Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics has funding opportunities and assistantships available for qualified students.

Program Minimum funding Duration
MSc $17,500 per year 2 years
PhD $18,000 per year 4 years

Teaching Assistantships (TA)

Paid TA positions allow graduate students to develop skills in teaching, supervision, facilitation, and student assessment. Teaching assistants may lead seminars, help teach undergraduate courses, or assist in student evaluations and marking.

  • MSc students are eligible for paid TA positions for up to two years.
  • PhD students are eligible for paid TA positions for up to four years.
  • TA positions usually occur September to April. TA hours and wages are governed by the British Columbia Government Employees Union (BCGEU).

Teaching assistants are mentored by their supervisor and via the Centre for Teaching and Learning. To learn more or apply for a position, see our Careers page.

Research Assistantships (RA)

As paid research assistants, graduate students assist their supervisor or other researchers in conducting high-level research. RAs are typically funded by a supervisor’s external grants, contracts or other sources of funding, and, therefore, are not guaranteed.

Research Assistantships are wholly dependent upon individual research supervisor’s funding. RA positions may take place at any time during the school year and wages and hours will vary. RA positions are not guaranteed. Talk to your potential supervisor about RA opportunities.

UBC Awards

The College of Graduate Studies administers merit-based graduate awards at the Okanagan campus. The College manages a number of award competitions each year and administers payment of all internal awards and selected external awards.

External Awards

All prospective graduate students (Domestic and International) should explore and apply for external awards and fellowships, including awards offered by Canada’s three research councils: CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

Graduate scholarships and awards may also be available from foundations, private organizations or foreign governments (check with your country’s education authority).


How to Apply

Find a Supervisor

Please contact our faculty supervisors before starting your application. Admission to the program requires the confirmed availability and mentor-match with a faculty supervisor as well as meeting program-specific criteria and requirements.

A complete application package will contain:

  • Online application and application fee
  • Unofficial transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended are required for the application package. However, if admitted, the student must submit official transcripts to the College of Graduate Studies
  • English language test (for non-native speakers of English)
  • CV or resumé
  • Three reference forms or letters

Applying takes time. We recommend you start your application two months in advance.

For full consideration students should submit all application materials by the following deadlines:

INTAKE APPLICATION DEADLINE
September January 10
January June 1

UBC’S Okanagan Campus

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. In the computer science program at UBC’s Okanagan campus, you gain all the benefits of attending a globally respected university while studying in a close-knit learning community.

DYNAMIC CITY

UBC’s Okanagan campus borders the dynamic city of Kelowna, a hub of economic development with a population of about 150,000 people—the fourth fastest growing population in Canada. In fact, the Okanagan Valley is rated one of the best communities in Canada to grow your business.

More than 160 buses travel daily from campus to key locations such as Kelowna’s cultural district and thriving downtown waterfront. The campus is two minutes from the Kelowna International Airport, one of the top 10 busiest airports in Canada.

UBC Okanagan is situated within the First Nations territory of the Okanagan Nation, whose spirit of stewardship for the land is reflected in the university’s respect for sustainability.

NATURAL BEAUTY

A diverse natural region with sandy beaches, beautiful farms, vineyards and orchards, and snow-capped mountains, the Okanagan Valley features sweeping stretches of lakeside and endless mountain trails for biking and hiking.

Check out this 360-degree video: Kelowna From Above.*

* Best viewed using desktop Chrome or Firefox (desktop) or YouTube app (mobile).

CAMPUS HOUSING

Full-time UBC Okanagan students can live in residence, which offers modern living with easy access to academic and personal support. Residences are surrounded by hiking and biking trails, plus panoramic views of the campus and valley.

OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING

* UBC does not verify or endorse information shared on this third-party website, which is offered here as a public resource only.

Join the club: Make friends with similar interests, compare notes, and organize and participate in academic and recreational events in the Quantitative Sciences Course Union.

College of Graduate Studies: CoGS offers orientation events to support you in your first steps as a graduate student at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Stay active: Take advantage of the many opportunities to get involved and play—from workout space in the new Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre and our 1,561 square-metre gymnasium, to athletic courts, intramurals, fitness classes, and nationally ranked varsity athletics. Have a ball in Sports and Recreation.

Relax: The Graduate Collegium is a gathering place where grad students can hang out, eat lunch, spend time with their fellow students, and attend or host special events. The lounge-style room is open seven days and week and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, kitchen facilities, and individual and group-work spaces.

College of Graduate Studies: Your hub for administrative support and such things as graduate workshops for professional development and for assisting you from the admissions process through to your graduation.

Centre for Scholarly Communication: Supports graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff, and faculty in disseminating their research. The Library’s CSC provides one-on-one consultations and workshops, including writing support for theses, dissertations, journal articles, and grant proposals.

Centre for Teaching and Learning: Provides support related to teaching, TA training, and use of technology in educational programming.

Learn more about graduate student resources and support.

Careers and Occupations

Careers in computer science are rated as some of the most in-demand and difficult to fill in the job market today, and are needed in every field and industry. With a computer science MSc or PhD degree from the University of British Columbia, graduates are well-positioned to thrive in a variety of occupations, such as:

  • Application analyst or developer
  • Bio-informatic technician
  • Chief technology officer
  • Computer and information systems manager
  • Computer games designer
  • Computer programmer
  • Computer science technician
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Database analyst
  • Firmware designer
  • Information security analyst
  • Information systems analyst
  • Interactive media developer
  • Network and computer systems administrator
  • Research engineer
  • Smartphone application developer
  • Software engineer
  • Software designer
  • Software security analyst
  • Web developer

Career Services

Map out your future and prepare to hit the ground running with resources and services provided by the Advising & Involvement Centre.

Tell your story with resumé and cover-letter strategies, and search Work Study jobs for experience relevant to your degree and career goals. You can also book an appointment to meet one-on-one with our career advisor.

alumni UBC

alumni UBC is a member-driven association that offers a variety of lifetime programming and communications to enrich the lives of UBC graduates.

The ‘Your Next Step’ program offers webinars, speaker series and professional development sessions. It is designed to provide advice, tips and resources in areas of career development to graduates for life after university.

Realize the promise of a global community with shared ambition for a better world and an exceptional UBC.