Prospective Students

Information for Prospective Students

News: I plan to admit 1-2 graduate students for the 2024-2025 academic year. I will consider both Master's and PhD applicants. The Master's is a 2-year research Master's; I generally do not take on essay (course-based) Masters's students. If ultimately you want to do a PhD, but are not sure you want to commit to the full 5 years, the PhD Track is a good choice.

Application Logistics

General guidelines:

  • Visit the prospective applicant page on the UBC website and on the CS website for more information.
  • Apply online following the instructions on the CS Website. The application deadline is typically mid-December, please check the CS website for updated information (2024-2025 Academic Year: December 15 2023)
  • If you are interested in working with me, list me as a supervisor in the drop-down menu in the application form.
  • I cannot process applications by email or make guarantees about supervision before your official application is received.
  • The department will start processing applications in January after the application deadline; admissions decisions will be made through April.
  • I will reach out to applicants who seem like a good match for interviews in January/February.

Links to extra information about: financial support, application fee waivers, minimum requirements for admission into graduate studies, and minimum English proficiency requirements.

Application Tips

The UBC Thesis Master's program is research-focused. That means that while you will take some classes, the main focus is in writing a thesis, which could become an academic publication. The Master's is a good option for students who want to do research if they want to spend the next 5+ years doing research (as for a PhD). The Master's program, if advised by me, is not as good an option for students who are mostly looking to gain additional professional skills for a software engineering role.

The most important parts of your application are your Statement of Intent and Reference Letters.

You do not have control over the reference letters beyond choosing your reference writers. try to choose reference writers who know you personally, e.g. your undergraduate research supervisor. A professor whose class you took can be a good option if the professor knows you well (because it was a small class, or you went to office hours), and you did well in the class.

You do have control over your Statement of Intent (SoI), however. I am looking for 3 main things in a statement of intent:

  • Demonstrate you understand what research is.
  • Describe of the research you have done.
  • Describe of the research you would like to do in your graduate studies. Even better if you say why UBC is a good place for you, and why I am a good advisor for you, to pursue these studies.
    • You will not be tied to doing this research for your graduate studies; the purpose is to convey to me what types of research problems interest you, and whether I might be a good advisor for you to work on those problems.
It is best to "show", not "tell": describing the research you have done, your understanding of its significance, and any extensions of that work that interest you, can demonstrate all these points well.

Additionally, your SoI is a place where you can briefly mention the existence of any hardships that might affect your application: e.g., if you had one semester where you failed your courses due to medical or family emergency.

Contacting me

You are welcome to contact me if you have additional clarification questions. However, as mentioned above, I cannot process applications or make guarantees about supervision by email.

If you are contacting me via email, put "[prospective-student]" as the first part of your subject line. I get many emails from prospective students and cannot answer them all; this helps me spot emails with specific queries.

You can also email me to let me know you have applied, if you are particularly interested in working with me---if so, briefly mention in your email why you are particularly interested in UBC and my research group.

Additional Information

Thomas Pasquier's information for potential students ("Joining my Lab") is very helpful in outlining a good Statement of Intent, and the importance of research fit with your supervisor. William Bowman explains one perspective on the application process in more detail.