Commerce Scholars Program
Learn how to conduct leading research under the mentorship of a distinguished faculty member.
The Commerce Scholars Program (CSP) encourages you to draw upon the UBC Sauder School of Business's reputation as Canada’s leading research business school. Under the mentorship of a distinguished faculty member, you’ll work as a research assistant, learn all about the research process and sharpen your critical thinking skills.
Is this program for me?
Research skills – including the ability to define an interesting and relevant question, and formulate and test hypotheses – are important for graduate study as well as for a wide variety of careers in business. This program, starting in Year 3, is well suited for those who wish to consider an academic career, or work in the field of consulting.
As a Commerce Scholar, you must stay in regular contact with your Mentor who will introduce you to his/her research and to the research process in general. In addition, you and your fellow scholars are expected to attend all the program events including departmental academic conferences and research seminars with presentations by faculty.
Evan is a 2013 Commerce Scholar. He's currently working as a manager in business transformation for a large forestry client in Vancouver. Prior to going "in-house" he worked longer hours with a wider variety of clients as a management consultant at Deloitte. One of his first memories was learning to ride a bike. He has since created a lot of memories through cycling, namely, road racing for Team Canada as a junior, riding solo across Canada and through the Commerce Scholars Program by studying network effects of Vancouver cycling infrastructure. For his research and presentation he won a top presenter award at a UBC-wide undergraduate research conference. This award also won him the opportunity to represent UBC at a global undergraduate research conference in the Netherlands. He is very grateful for his research mentor, James Brander, and the rest of the Commerce Scholars Program team.
“The Commerce Scholars Program has provided me with a deeper appreciation and perspective of the scientific method, critical thought and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving. These lessons have humbled me and served me well in dealing with client problems at work and in navigating the big, tumultuous world we live in.”
Margaret graduated from UBC with a B.Com (Finance specialization) with a minor in Mathematics. During her time at UBC, she participated in the Commerce Scholars Program under the mentorship of Professor Dale Griffin, who, along with many other professors including Professors Tim Huh and Harish Krishnan, guided her to and through the PhD application process. Margaret received her MSc and PhD degrees in Business Administration at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Accounting Studies at HEC Montréal. She has also worked for the IT Fund of BDC Capital and is an avid consumer of classical music.
“The Commerce Scholars Program helped me discover my interest in academic research and connected me with invaluable mentors who guided me to where I am now. As a Commerce Scholar, I honed communication and critical thinking skills that I still apply to all aspects of my work.”
Bruno is the Manager, Impact Investing at UBC Sauder S3i. He works on applied impact investing research projects with investors, foundations, government and financial institutions, with past projects spanning across renewable energy financing, social impact bonds, health, education, water, and other development themes. Previously, he has contributed to piloting Income Share Agreements to finance higher education in Ghana with Brighter Investment.
"The Commerce Scholars Program set me up with the necessary skills to approach challenging, ambiguous, but nonetheless interesting problems with confidence and excitement."
Laura Lam is a PhD student in Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto in Fall 2020. She completed her Master of Arts in Immigration and Settlement Studies at Ryerson University, and her research interest is at the nexus of migration, employment and gender inequality. She completed her Bachelor of Commerce from the University of British Columbia with a specialization in marketing and sustainability. She has previously worked in a marketing capacity with various startups and technology accelerators. On the side, she is a social entrepreneur and active in supporting anti-human trafficking initiatives in Canada.
“CSP fostered in me an inquisitive mindset and fresh approach to tackle tough problems through data and evidence - instilling in me a lingering pursuit to find answers to problems that I see in my community today.”
Florence is currently a User Experience Architect at ITHAKA, working primarily on the JSTOR platform. She got to UX through design, marketing, and business. After graduating from UBC Sauder with a specialization in Marketing, she worked at a web development company in Vancouver doing digital marketing for several years before moving to the US to complete her Masters in Information Science at the University of Michigan. She now lives and works in Ann Arbor.
“The Scholars Program helped me learn how to do and evaluate research, and gave me a framework and grounding with which to pursue problems I am trying to solve. It's given me a lot of insight into how researchers and scholars do their work, which definitely gave me a leg up in my current role.”
Jack iis a manager in KPMG’s Deal Advisory-Value Creation, where he specializes in project finance, investment due diligence, strategic sourcing and procurement, and business optimization. He advises private investors and governments on issues across the lifespan of capital-intensive projects and enterprises—from investment, development, procurement to operational transformation. Prior to KPMG, Jack was a member of PwC’s Infrastructure and Project Finance practice.
“Early in my university studies, I knew that I was keenly interested in the infrastructure sector. The Commerce Scholars Program matched me with an incredible research mentor who empowered me to ask questions and seek answers about investments in public infrastructure - a topic that is often taken for granted and ignored.”
Dennis is a current PhD student in the OBHR division at the UBC Sauder School of Business, where he also completed his B.Com in 2009. During that time he realized a passion for research through the Commerce Scholars Program and has been involved in research work with organizations like the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Saskatchewan, Statistics Canada, and even a biotech startup!
"Before the CSP, I never expected to set foot on a research-focused career path. Because of the program, I gained firsthand research experience and have since had the pleasure of collaborating with incredible people on intellectually stimulating and rewarding projects. The CSP was the best and most impactful part of my B.Com experience. I would not have the gratifying career that I do without it."
Stefanus obtained a BCom degree with a double option in Transportation and Logistics and International Business in 2016, and was the recipient of the Dan Muzyka Head of the Class Award in Commerce for earning the top marks and standing at the head of his graduating class. He subsequently attended the University of Toronto and completed the Master of Industrial Relations and Human Resources (MIRHR) degree program in 2017. In his final two years at the UBC Sauder School of Business, under the guidance of Dr. Adam Saunders, he participated in the Commerce Scholars Program, conducting an original research project on how the course registration policy at UBC affects student selection of sections within a course and how it impacts the course’s grades distribution. While he was an undergraduate student, he was also actively involved in the complete redesign of a core course in Management Information Systems (COMM 205/391), and contributed to the redesign of a mandatory course in Human Resources Management (COMM 203/392) and an introductory course in Organizational Behaviour (COMM 292). Stefanus currently works as a Workplace Management and Occupational Health Analyst for Coast Mountain Bus Company, TransLink’s largest subsidiary.
“The Commerce Scholars Program is more than just an opportunity to conduct research; it’s all about embracing my passion, building a lifetime relationship, and challenging my own beliefs. It’s where I could focus on a niche subject matter that I truly care about, where I met talented and amazing individuals along the way with whom I could freely share my thoughts, and where I was motivated to constantly question my own ideas and improve upon them.”
Tenant Support Worker at Lookout Society
Jessica graduated from Sauder with a specialization in Marketing. Since transferring from UBC’s Psychology department, Jessica has always been interested in how individuals make decisions. Her passion for Psychology has pushed her to pursue different career paths in behavioural sciences. Jessica is currently a tenant support worker in the downtown eastside and is in the process of applying to Occupational Therapy school in Canada. She is excited to apply what she has learned from Sauder and her previous CSP mentor, Joey Hoegg. Previously, she worked at TELUS Health as a marketing specialist focused on channel strategy and e-commerce. In her free time, Jessica enjoys playing hockey, skiing and hanging out with her dog.
Justin graduated from the UBC BCom program with a double option in Finance and Accounting and was a 2017 Commerce Scholar. Within the Commerce Scholars Program, Justin studied under the mentorship of Dr. James Vercammen and performed a survival analysis of products within the US breakfast cereal industry as his final research project. Justin is now a senior consultant with KPMG in their Vancouver Enterprise practice, which is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and private companies improve their businesses. He has worked for and with companies in a variety of industries including distribution, hospitality, and real estate.
"The CSP truly enriched my experience at UBC by encouraging me to be inquisitive about my everyday observations of the world around me. The research seminars and conversations with my mentor and cohort provided invaluable opportunities to share my ideas and develop different approaches to solving complex problems."
Graduate Research Assistant, Strategy and Business Economics Division, Sauder School of Business
Haishan obtained his Master of Business Analytics and B.Com (Hons.) in Finance from UBC Sauder, and was a 2019 Commerce Scholar. As an international student studying aboard, he is always fascinated by the cultural, economic and institutional differences among countries and therefore formed strong interests in international business research. Under the supervision of Professor Ilan Vertinsky, Haishan developed his CSP project investigating the relationship between the intellectual property rights protection and innovation. Haishan is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant at UBC Sauder. He is also preparing for Ph.D. applications for the 2021 entry.
“The CSP provides a fantastic environment for exploring, learning, and sharing ideas with distinguished faculty and with motivated peers. The mentorship and training I received throughout the program greatly support my current research work. I strongly recommend this program to students who are interested in a career in academia.”
Research Theory for Commerce Scholars
Report and research presentation at a student research conference
The six credits will count toward the BCom Commerce electives requirement.
You will work as a research assistant to your mentor over the period of January to August, typically between Years 3 and 4 (based on a mutual agreement) and be paid a $5,000 stipend for your efforts. (Note: the work for research assistantship must be completed when Scholars are in Canada.) All scholars will present their research work at a student research conference in March/April of Year 4.
Upon graduation, you will receive a 'Commerce Scholar' designation on your transcript confirming your participation and completion of this specialized program.
To be eligible for consideration, you must:
- be advancing to Year 3 of the BCom program (or Year 4 in the case of Co-op students)
- achieve a minimum of a first class average (80%) in all COMM 2XX courses with an overall strong academic record
- attain a minimum of 76% or a "B+" in UBC WRDS 150, ENGL 112 or accepted equivalent course
- successfully complete COMM 290, COMM 291, and COMM 295
- submit the Commerce Scholars online application which includes your resume, and the Scholar Applicant & Mentor Agreement Form
Applicants to the Commerce Scholars Program should secure a faculty research mentor and indicate a project area within the mentor's research interests.
You are encouraged to contact one or more CSP Ambassadors to learn about their experiences.
To apply to the program, you will be required to submit a Notice of Intent in February, followed by a full application in May. Details will be provided to eligible students.
The selection committee, in addition to confirming that you have met the eligibility requirements described above, will assess your motivation for conducting research, creativity and overall potential by assessing the application form and conducting an interview (in person or by phone) if necessary.