[2023] Ultimate Guide to University of British Columbia (UBC)

November 30, 2022   |   6 Min. Read

University of British Columbia (UBC) is a public university in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As one of the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is one of the most prestigious universities in Canada and the most popular university in Vancouver, BC.

A view from UBC Vancouver main campus
Photo source: UBC

Where is UBC Located?

UBC Vancouver Campus

The main UBC Vancouver Campus is located in Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4. The location is surrounded with students orientated amenities, facilities, shops and restaurants, and it only takes a 30-minute bus ride to downtown Vancouver or around 45 mins to Richmond by Skytrain.

UBC Robson Square Campus

The UBC Robson Square Campus set in downtown Vancouver, which is mainly for providing programs to adult learners through its extended learning programs.

Why choose UBC? What is UBC Known For?

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for teaching, learning and research, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world.


Things that students love about UBC Vancouver:

  • Its beautiful campuses encourage sustainability
  • Very strong diverse student body with great student events and support
  • Brilliant professors
  • Blazing fast Wi-fi network
  • Close to the Ski resorts, beach and hiking trails
  • Distinguished top-ranked subjects/programs

How Many Students at UBC Vancouver Campuses?

UBC currently serves 58,768 students on its Vancouver campuses, and 28.6% of those students are international students from over 100 countries.

What are Some Good Programs at UBC?

UBC – QS World University Rankings By Subject (2021)

  • Arts & Humanities – ranked 30
  • Computer Science & Information System – ranked 25
  • Education – ranked 10
  • Engineering, Mineral & Mining – ranked 9
  • Environmental Sciences – ranked 12
  • Geography – ranked 8
  • Mathematics – ranked 21
  • Sports-related Subjects – ranked 4

Besides the subjects mentioned above, Peter A. Allard School of Law and UBC Sauder School of Business are some of the most popular programs among students.

Is UBC Good for International Students?

Of course! As mentioned earlier, about 30% of UBC students are international which translates into around 17,000 international students each year.

Combined with one of the top 3 universities in Canada and the welcoming immigration policy that Canada offers, it’s desirable for international students who not only want to pursue their studies but also build their life in another country.

UBC also has a dedicated international student services department which provides all kinds of valuable information to help international students settle down in Vancouver seamlessly, so that international students can focus on what’s important.

What’s UBC Tuition Fee?

UBC’s tuition rate is relatively expensive compared to other colleges and universities in Vancouver.

  • For domestic students: the tuition fee ranges from $5,729 to 9,232 per year depending on the program.
  • For international students: the tuition fee ranges from $43,802 to 55,848 per year depending on the program.

When do Classes/Terms Start at UBC?

There are 4 school terms in total at UBC:

  • Summer Session – Term 1 (May – June) / Term 2 (July – August)
  • Winter Session – Term 1 (September – December) / Term 2 (January – April)

Normally, students at UBC will take both Term 1 and 2 from Winter Session, and will take a break in Summer Session.

When to Apply for UBC?

UBC has two sessions available for enrollment in general. It is the best for you to look into the academic calendar for the facility you would like to get in, as the application deadline may be different:

Summer Session (Start from May) application deadline: January 15

*Please note that not all degree and diploma programs accept applications to the summer session

Winter Session (Start from September) application deadline: January 15

*Deadlines may vary depending on different programs. For instance, the application deadline for art history is on August 1, and Design in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urbanism is on January 31.

Does UBC Have Dorms? Where Do UBC Students Live?

UBC’s on-campus housing more than 13,000 students in 15 student residences. It is the largest student residence in Canada.

Unfortunately, although its the largest student residence provider in Canada, it’s still not enough to accommodate all UBC Students, and only certain UBC students are qualified for its on-campus student housing. Around 10,000 new UBC students have to be lucky to secure their on-campus housing annually.

UBC On-campus Residences

We have listed three residences that are only for first-year students:

A Student is studying at UBC dorm.
Photo source: UBC
  • Orchard Commons is the newest UBC residence and lives close to Vantage College. It is noted for its exceptional height, hotel-like aesthetic, and panoramic views of the campus, and students can rent this residence by sessions (winter/summer), which is a six months semester school term.
  • Place Vanier is another UBC residence tailored for its new students (first and second-year). It consists of 12 houses, and The Gordon Shrum Common Block is the hub for many residence activities in Vanier. It includes the dining room, fitness room, music room, and after-hours convenience store.
  • Totem Park is a residence for first-year students only, and it is made up of nine houses. As it has a big common study area, it’s ideal for students who are new to UBC and want space and time for studying.

* Please note that the above residences have a fixed 8-month lease (one session), and it is mandatory for all students to subscribe to meal plans during their stays.

8 residences are available for upper-year students. We have selected a few options with different features for you to have a quick peek at the on-campus housing at UBC:

This is a Studio suite at UBC
Photo source: UBC
  • Brock Commons – Tallwood House is in the central location of UBC, and it is near to bus loop, many campus classrooms, and recreational facilities. Unlike other first-year residences, students need to rent this residence year-round, which means they are required to pay the rent for a whole year.
  • Exchange is a huge residential area that houses over 650 students. It is located alongside the UBC bus exchange and just steps away from the UNC Aquatic center and Student Recreation center. It has the most room types available for students to choose from. It requires students to lease annually.
  • Fairview Crescent is a townhouse-style suite located on the east side of campus near UBC’s two main shopping areas. The residence allows students to lease by sessions (8 months).

UBC Off-campus Housing

UBC provided detailed information to its students about where to live off-campus on its website. Many suggested platforms are commonly used for finding a rental place in Vancouver, and each of them has good and bad when it comes to student rental.

We strongly suggest you read the detailed review of each of those rental platforms for students, as well as tips for renting in Vancouver to find best value and avoid scams if you are unfamiliar with renting in Vancouver, Canada.

What’s the cost of living for on or off-campus student residences at UBC?

Pricing of the residences should be the most concerning part among all the students, and we have categorized the prices based on different room types at different residences for your reference.

For first-year:

  • Shared Room  –  starting from $5,451 per 8-month school term per bed ($681.37 per month per bed)
  • Connected single room  – starting from $7,367 per 8-month school term ($920 per month)
  • Single room – starting from $7,954 per 8-month school term ($994.25 per month)
  • One-bedroom apartment – starting from $10,977 per 8-month school term ($1,372 per month)

*All first-year students are compulsory to buy a meal plan – $ 6497.94 per 8-month school term ($812.24 per month)

For upper-year:

  • Shared single room – starting from $6,858 per 8-month school term per bed ($875.25 per month per bed)
  • Private bedroom – starting from $7531 per 8-month school term ($941.37 per month)
  • Studio – starting from $14,966 per year round ($1,247.16 per month)
  • one-bedroom apartment – starting from $11,766 per 8-month school term ($1,470.75 per month)

Living off-campus is relatively more expensive than living on campus. However, it provides more flexible lease terms which are not required for an 8-month or 1-year fixed lease and allows students to co-living with their friends who are non-UBC students. Let’s take GEC Living as an example:

GEC Living (Off-campus student housing):

  • Shared bedroom – starting from $1,200 per month per bed
  • Private bedroom – starting from  $1,600 per month per bed

Now you should have a rough idea of how much you will be spending on tuition and housing when studying at UBC. But what about other costs of living in Vancouver? Check out the most-read blog about the cost of living in Vancouver as a student in 2022.

We have compiled a list of universities and colleges in Vancouver that may spark your interest for further educational options.