The Sustainability Scholars Program connects UBC graduate students with opportunities to work on funded sustainability projects for on- and off-campus partner organizations.


As a Sustainability Scholar, you work under the broad guidance of a mentor at one of our partner organizations. Through your project work you are immersed in real world learning where you apply your research skills and contribute to advancing the sustainability goals of your mentor's organization.

The program provides a unique professional and educational experience for UBC graduate level students. It is open to currently registered Masters (including JD) and PhD students from all academic disciplines.

Types of Projects

Research projects typically address a range of sustainability themes such as climate adaptation, local food, green procurement, transportation, zero waste, green buildings, GHG emissions reduction, biodiversity, and wellbeing.

As a Sustainability Scholar, you can expect to do things like:

  • conduct a literature review
  • develop case studies
  • prepare a feasibility study
  • build and assess lifecycle costing tools
  • write a business case
  • conduct and develop an environmental scan
  • prepare a GHG emissions inventory
  • develop a tool-kit
  • design, implement and analyse a survey
  • draft a policy document
  • GIS mapping


Benefits for students

As a Sustainability Scholar, you enjoy a range of benefits including:

  • Honing your research and critical thinking skills on a real-life problem that contributes to advancing sustainability in British Columbia. 
  • Working under the direction of a mentor from one of our partner organizations.
  • Working part-time on a professional-level applied research project (which allows you to continue with your courses and thesis work).
  • Opportunities to build your professional network and develop new career options.
  • Feeling great about doing research that has a positive impact on sustainability issues in the region.

Salary and contract

  • If successful, you will be hired as a UBC student employee and receive $27.50/hour (this is the summer 2024 rate). 
  • A standard 250-hour project works out to a salary of $6,875 (minus statutory deductions).
  • International students should note that Scholars Projects qualify as on-campus work.

Eligibility requirements

The UBC Sustainability Scholars Program welcomes current full-time UBC graduate students from all academic disciplines.

  • You must have a valid social insurance number.
  • International students must have a study permit that allows you to work in Canada and that is valid to the end of the Scholars Program work term (August 15, 2024).
  • You must be a current student and not have graduated before the end of the Program (August 15, 2024).
  • You must confirm that you are eligible to work the required project hours, in particular by checking the guidelines for any graduate student funding you hold.
  • IMPORTANT: You must reside in B.C. while working on your project.



Applying for anything takes up a lot of time and energy. So before you apply for a Sustainability Scholars position, here are some things you should know. 

The application process is in three-stages, similar to applying for a professional position.

1. Written application

  • Positions and details are posted on the Apply page.
  • Applications for the summer 2024 program close January 28, 2024 at midnight.
  • Applicants will be shortlisted for their preferred projects based on how well their skills (as described in their cover letter) align with the project requirements. 

2. Interview

  • The top three to five candidates for each project will be submitted to the project mentor. Students will be notified if they have been shortlisted.
  • The project mentor will reach out the candidates they wish to interview to arrange interviews. The project mentor will also check your references.

3. Offer / acceptance

  • The preferred candidate will receive an informal offer from the mentor and then a formal offer from UBC. Candidates are asked to respond quickly as we are trying to fill many openings in a short period.

In addition to skills and experience, successful applicants typically demonstrate the following:

  • A professional, ethical, and cooperative approach to work
  • Clear and effective written and verbal communication
  • Excellent critical thinking and judgement
  • The ability to work independently with minimal supervision
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Creative problem solving, and willingness to consider new ideas and approaches
  • Enthusiasm and curiosity for the research subject matter
  • A keen interest in sustainability


Starting your project

As a Sustainability Scholar, here are some things you need to know in order to get started.

  • The summer program runs for 15 weeks (May to August). 
  • Most projects are 250 hours (some summer projects can be up to 500 hours). Scholars work with their mentors to determine the best allocation of their work time over the term of the project.
  • You will work with a mentor from one of our partner organizations. Partner organizations have included: the City of Vancouver, BC Hydro, TransLink, Vancouver Coastal Health, various NGOs, and local governments across B.C. Many UBC departments also participate in the program.

Over the program term we organize a project orientation, a mid-project check-in, and several professional development opportunities. We also encourage you to self-organize group social events for which the Sustainability Scholars Program will provide some funding.

At the end of the program we expect you to:

  • Present your project at our annual conference, Research to Action: Advancing Urban Sustainability, at the end of September.
  • Submit your final report, tool-kit, draft policy (or other final deliverable) where it will be posted online in the Sustainability Scholars Project Library.