Students undertake research activity at a recognized research institution or institute under the supervision of a host academic. This can be initiated by the student or by a UBC faculty member wishing to send students abroad for the purposes of academic collaboration. Students enjoy the flexibility of a self-initiated research placement while building an international network of students and professors in their research area. Additionally, students may be able to explore a specific research topic that is not available at UBC and gain exposure to new skills, expertise and equipment.
Self-directed Research Abroad
What is self-directed research abroad?
Go Global support for Research Abroad
- Self-Directed Research Abroad Award: See award and eligibility criteria below
- Advice and support on finding opportunities
- Administrative assistance, when applicable
- Pre-departure and student safety abroad support
Here are some tips for getting started. For further information and support, make an appointment with the Research Abroad Advisor.
- There is no set timeframe or deadline for planning and doing research abroad however, it’s recommended that students begin preparing 3 to 6 months in advance of anticipated departure
- Consider your areas of interest, the type of research you’d like to do, and potential locations
- Begin exploring potential supervisors or host research labs/groups
- Contact potential supervisors to discuss your interests, confirm supervision and agree on dates. See below for tips on how to obtain a supervisor at a host university
- Apply for funding through the Go Global Self-Directed Research Award
Supervision at the host university
Students are responsible for arranging their own host supervisor. Go Global can help you strategize and plan your supervisor search, and research experience.
Commitment from a host supervisor must be obtained before your application can be approved by Go Global.
Tips on finding a supervisor
- Use your network – talk to professors here on campus about their international networks in their field
- If you want to go to a specific university, check its faculty listings and contact a professor who is doing research in your area of interest
- Search online for labs or research groups that are currently looking for new members – often they will have extra work that needs to be done
- Read research papers and contact professors whose research interests you
Responsibilities of a host supervisor
The role of a research supervisor can vary depending on the situation. But there are some basic responsibilities expected of a host supervisor and their department or lab staff:
- Provide a letter of invitation to the student listing details of supervision, dates of research and a description of the student’s activity at the host university
- Provide other documentation that may be required for visa purposes
- Ensure that the student has access to the appropriate lab and/or working space, internet access and computing facilities
- Discuss the objectives and outputs expected for the student’s project
- Meet with the student regularly to discuss progress and provide guidance
- Safety orientation, if applicable
- Helps the student navigate the university and communicate with administrative officials if needed
Host universities may charge administrative or registration fees to visiting students. In some cases, these fees can be waived under the terms of an existing agreement between UBC and that institution. Please contact the Research Abroad Advisor for further information.
Making the most of your experience
By doing research abroad you have an opportunity to gain a range of discipline-specific and transferable skills that will benefit your academic studies and career. You are encouraged to reflect on your experience before, during and after.
Go Global has created a handbook that contains tips and tools on making the most of your internship or research placement. Learning how to explain your international experience or how to be confident in talking about your skills could help you stand out from the crowd and market yourself to potential employers.
Funding: Go Global Self-Directed Research Abroad Award
Go Global offers a Self-Directed Research Abroad Award valued between $1000 -2000 to support students participating in self-directed research placements on a competitive basis.
|Research placements starting during UBC term:||Application deadline||Award decision made by:|
(May - August)
|March 23, 2018||
Late April, 2018
Term 1 2018
|July 20, 2018||
Late August, 2018
|Term 2 2017
(January - April)
|November 1, 2017||Late November, 2017|
- UBC degree-seeking student in good standing
- Research activity takes place at a recognized university or institute outside of Canada (i.e. accredited university, or university- or government-affiliated research institute)
- Obtain an academic supervisor at host institution (supervisor must hold a PhD)
- Placement must be a minimum of 4 weeks in duration
- Preference given to students participating in unpaid, full-time research (30 – 40 hours per week)
- Obtain support or supervision from a UBC faculty member
- Meet the requirements of the host institution to be a visiting researcher or student (vary by institution)
- Students must review the UBC Student Safety Abroad Learning Modules, attend a UBC Student Safety Briefing offered by Go Global and complete the UBC Student Safety Abroad Travel Registry prior to departure
- Submit a completion survey one-month following the research placement
What type of activity is not eligible for this award?
- Field research that is not specifically supervised by a host supervisor at a recognized research institution (e.g. data collection in the field)
- Attendance at research conferences or workshops
- Academic courses
- Internships at community organizations, businesses or governmental agencies
How to apply
Once you’ve confirmed your research placement abroad please submit your application through Go Global’s online Gateway System. Begin by searching for the “Self-Directed Research Abroad” experience under “Search Experiences” in Gateway. Apply for the appropriate term.
You will need to include:
- A research plan outlining your duties and role at the host institution or institute
- A short personal statement describing the value of the research placement as it relates to your academic studies and career goals
- The location and dates of your research visit
- Host supervisor contact information
- A letter from your research host supervisor confirming their supervision of you during the research period
- A detailed budget outlining the projected costs associated with the placement listing any other sources of funding (i.e. salary, stipend, other funding).
On this page
- What is self-directed research abroad?
- Go Global support for Research Abroad
- Getting started
- Supervision at the host university
- Tips on finding a supervisor
- Responsibilities of a host supervisor
- Making the most of your experience
- Funding: Go Global Self-Directed Research Abroad Award
- Eligibility criteria
- What type of activity is not eligible for this award?
- How to apply