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Soil Science


Degrees Offered: Ph.D., M.Sc., M.L.W.S.


Professors Emeriti

L. M. Lavkulich, H. E. Schreier.


A. Black, C. Chanway, S. Grayston.

Associate Professor Emeritus

A. A. Bomke.

Associate Professors

M. Krzic., S. M. Smukler.

Assistant Professor

J. T. Cornelis.

Program Overview

Soil Science offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in the areas of soil microbial ecology, organic matter, soil physics, irrigation and drainage, biometeorology, soil pollution, soil and water conservation, soil management, and land use, with application to forest, agricultural, urban, and range soils, as well as a professional Master of Land and Water Systems (M.L.W.S.) degree. The Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees include a combination of courses in both basic and applied sciences, with research leading to the completion of a thesis/dissertation. The M.L.W.S. degree is intended for students seeking a post-baccalaureate degree for professional practice in the land and water resources management realm. The program is designed to be completed in one calendar year.

Soil Sciences programs are enriched through collaboration with: colleagues in other graduate programs, such as Forestry, Geography, Plant Science, Institute for Resources and Environment, Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems, and Landscape Architecture; and agencies such as Environment Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development, and other provincial, municipal, and regional government agencies.

Research facilities are housed both within the MacMillan and Forest Sciences Buildings and, on a shared basis, in other buildings on campus. Research facilities within the MacMillan Building include modern analytical laboratories and other equipment for conducting chemical and biometeorological research, while excellent facilities for soil biological research are located in the Forest Sciences Centre.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

Students admitted to the Ph.D. degree program normally possess an M.Sc. degree in soil science or a related area, with clear evidence of research ability or potential. Transfer from the M.Sc. to the Ph.D. program is permitted under regulations Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies regulations.

Program Requirements

Appropriate coursework may be selected in consultation with the student's supervisory committee. All doctoral students are required to successfully complete a comprehensive examination. The major requirement for the Ph.D. is completion of a research dissertation meeting the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requirements.

Master of Science

Admission Requirements

Students admitted to the M.Sc. degree program normally possess a four-year B.Sc. degree in soil science or a related area, and must meet the general admission requirements for master's degree programs set by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Program Requirements

The program consists of a minimum of 30 credits of coursework selected in consultation with the student's supervisory committee, and includes graduate courses in soil science and other areas relevant to the student's research. At least 24 credits must be at the 500-level or higher.

Master of Land and Water Systems

Admission Requirements

For admission to the Master of Land and Water Systems (MLWS) degree program, applicants must meet the admissions requirements of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and should have a science-based bachelor’s degree, preferably in one of the following disciplines: soil science, agricultural science, environmental science, geology, geography, ecology, forestry, or environmental or civil engineering. A background in introductory (first-year university equivalence) economics, geology, physical geography and soil science is beneficial but not required for admission into the program.

Application for admission must include a letter outlining the applicant’s previous experience as well as their intent for pursuing the MLWS degree and how it will enhance their career goals. Applicants may be interviewed by a MLWS advisor to determine any academic deficiencies, including lack of pre-requisites.

Admission may be contingent on concurrent completion of first-year introductory courses in deficient area(s) at UBC or a recognized post-secondary institution to meet the admission requirements of the program.

Program Requirements

The MLWS degree requires 33 credits of coursework, consisting of 21 credits of required courses plus 12 credits of electives.

Required Courses:

  • LWS 501 (3)
  • LWS 510 (3)
  • LWS 550 (3)
  • FRE 302 or equivalent (3)
  • LWS 548 (6)
  • At least one of LWS 515 (3) or LWS 517 (3) (Note: Student can get credit for both towards the degree)

f the 33 credits, a maximum of 6 credits may be at the 300 - 400 level, and 27 credits must be at the 500 - level or higher. Transfer credits for equivalent course content are acceptable but must be approved by the MLWS Director prior to entry into the program. Transfer credit information can be found in the Academic Calendar.

The MLWS degree program is designed to be taken on a full-time basis. The program’s course sequence is scheduled from September to April, and the capstone LWS 548 Major Project is completed from May to August, thus completing the degree in 12 months of intensive study. Completing the MLWS program requirements in a period longer than 12 months (part-time), must be discussed and approved by the Program Director prior to the student’s program commencement.

Each student is required to complete a Major Project, modelled after a “professional paper” (LWS 548). This may be conducted off-campus and is co-supervised by a recognized professional (such as a Professional Agrologist, Biologist, Forester, Geoscientist), UBC Faculty member approved by the Academic Coordinator.

The MLWS program will allow students to gain credit towards accreditation in existing appropriate professional organizations and does not propose any new professional accreditation.

Contact Information

Admission & Administrative Coordinator
Faculty of Land and Food Systems
291-2357 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
Tel: 604.822.8373
Fax: 604.822.4400
Web (MLWS):
Web (SOIL):

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