Doctor of Philosophy

A research-intensive (thesis-based) degree, normally intended to prepare scholars for careers in research and teaching


PhD in Educational Research

The Werklund School of Education's Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Educational Research allows students to explore and develop expertise in the field of education. Our program is full-time with a residency (on campus) component.

The Werklund School of Education's Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Educational Research is a research-intensive program that prepares scholars for careers in research and teaching. Students work with a supervisor, assigned at the time of admission, to complete scholarship that includes coursework, candidacy, research and writing, and the eventual defense of your dissertation.

Our graduates are scholars that demonstrate expert knowledge, understanding, skills, and critical thought processes in their careers as researchers, teachers, administrators, professors, and more.

Applicants are encouraged to explore our Educational Research specializations to determine which specialization would be the best fit for your scholarship.


Adult Learning

Adult learning and education is informed by a rich heritage rooted in a commitment to human, community, and social development. Studies in adult learning draw from multiple and diverse contexts and interest areas that include post-secondary and continuing education, business and industry, NGOs, community development, and international organizations.

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Curriculum & Learning

Curriculum and learning studies compass issues of content, context, and teaching in both formal and non-formal educational settings. Students may explore contemporary themes including issues of globalization, gender, culture, power, traditions of wisdom, ecology in education, and the ideas and practices of social justice. Themes are examined from social, cultural, historical, political, discursive, ecological, and other interpretive perspectives.

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Language & Literacy

Language and literacy studies prepare students to understand and conduct research on various dimensions of literacy, linguistic and cultural diversity. Our studies encompass the acquisition, use, teaching, and learning of languages, multiliteracies (multiple meaning-making systems, including print, visual, oral, audiovisual, and gestural texts), and new literacies and digital media.

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Studies in leadership and educational policy draw upon the social sciences and humanities to prepare our researchers and practitioners for administrative and research-related careers. Students analyze and resolve contemporary issues related to educational policy, organizational change, and the direction and management of schools, school systems, other institutions, and governmental bodies concerned with public and private education.

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Learning Sciences

Learning science is an interdisciplinary field of scholarship that works to further scientific, humanistic, and critical theoretical understandings of learning. Our students engage in the design and implementation of pedagogical innovations to support learning. Our primary mission is the advancement of knowledge, and the preparation of future researchers and scholars of the discipline in the learning sciences.

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Study with us starting in either Summer or Fall 2023

Ready to begin or continue your graduate studies with Graduate Programs in Education? Please review the important information outlined below.

Identify your specialization

Consider the research that you would like to pursue, and identify which of our specialization areas you would like to apply to.

Review admission requirements

Carefully review and ensure that you meet the admission requirements outlined below. Applications open September 1-December 1.

Gather supporting documents

Supporting document requirements are outlined below. The deadline for supporting document submission is December 1. This is the same as our application deadline.

Submit your application

Your complete online application is due on December 1. Applicants will be notified of admission decisions after applications have been reviewed and assessed. We appreciate your patience with our response. 

Program Details

  1. Application Dates

    Application opens:  September 1
    Application deadline: December 1
    Official supporting document deadline: December 1-No Exceptions

    Students must use the online application found at the How to Apply page.

  2. Program Delivery

    The PhD in Educational Research is a full-time program that is normally delivered on campus for the first two years of the program for either a Summer term start or a Fall term start. Please note that this requirement may be subject to change due to considerations around COVID-19. More details on program delivery will be announced shortly.

Admission requirements are also outlined in the University Calendar.

In addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies admission requirements, Graduate Programs in Education requires:

  • A thesis-based master’s degree in an appropriate field. Outstanding applicants holding master’s degrees without thesis may be considered.
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.50 on a four-point scale in a master’s degree program.
  • A written statement of approximately 500 words indicating the applicant's reasons for wishing to pursue a graduate program. In this statement, briefly outline how your research interests and goals align with the specialization you have applied to; identify relevant prior research, teaching and leadership experiences, publications, awards and recognitions, that you bring to doctoral research. To help us to consider potential supervisors, please identify Werklund School of Education academic faculty members whose research expertise aligns with your own.
  • Where appropriate, candidates will be expected to have, or to obtain, relevant practical experience in their area of specialization.
  • Two references. Referees will be asked to complete an online reference form.
  • Current CV.
  • Meeting the English language proficiency requirement. Proficiency in the English language is essential for the pursuit and successful completion of graduate programs in the Werklund School of Education. Prior to admission to Graduate Programs in Education, an applicant whose primary language is not English must fulfill the English language proficiency requirement. For additional information, please visit our How to Apply page.

Admission Portfolio

Applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy program are encouraged to submit an Admission Portfolio containing examples of their work. The purpose of the Admission Portfolio is to give applicants the opportunity to provide additional documentation that demonstrates their suitability and qualification for doctoral studies. The Admission Portfolio is particularly relevant for program applicants who do not hold a thesis-based master’s degree.

The Doctoral Admission Portfolio may contain the following:

a) Thesis (if applicable).

b) Reports.

c) Research grants or scholarships.

d) Articles.

e) Curriculum documents.

f) Non-print materials, (e.g. multimedia).

g) Evidence of relevant prior learning (see below).

h) Personal statement documenting research skills and interests.

The Doctoral Admission Portfolio must include a Table of Contents and an Executive Summary that outlines the contents of the Portfolio.


Relevant Prior Learning Considerations

In exceptional circumstances, individuals who do not meet formal academic requirements but who have significant life achievements may be considered for admission to the program. The candidates must provide Graduate Programs in Education with evidence demonstrating a potential to undertake successfully the proposed program of studies. Such candidates are advised to make early contact with Graduate Programs in Education, and supply additional supporting documents as part of their application package, such as:

a) Evidence of personal continuing education/training.

b) Results in these continuing education efforts.

c) Experience in a field related to the aspired degree.

d) Evidence of successful management of people, resources, finances, situations.

e) Increasing or varying responsible positions in organizations related to the aspired degree.

f) Work-related products, e.g. reports, programs of learning or training, handbooks, videos, manuals, workshops, seminars.

g) Evidence of personal growth in knowledge, understanding, management skills, and intellectual resources.

h) Evidence of innovation.

i) Evidence of leadership or co-ordination responsibilities.


Advanced Credit

The applicant must make advanced credit request as part of the admission process. Credit will not be given for course work taken as part of another completed degree/diploma, or for courses taken to bring grade point average to a required level for admission.

Graduate Programs in Education does not normally accept undergraduate courses for credit toward graduate degrees.


Admission Note

In all these cases, the decision whether or not to admit the applicant rests with the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Admission to all graduate programs is highly competitive due to limited enrollment capacities. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

All graduate programs are governed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In the case of any conflict, regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar take precedence over material on this website. Please consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar for University of Calgary graduate admission requirements.

Please check Application Process for details.

Offers of admission are valid only for the term to which applications are made.  

Applications, transcripts and all supporting documents must be submitted 11:59 pm MT on the application deadline date for each program. Please visit the FGS applicant transcript page to answer frequently asked questions on transcripts. 

For additional information on transcripts and where to send them, please visit our How to Apply page.

Two (2) academic references are required. References will be asked to complete an online reference form. No hard copy letters of reference or documents will be accepted.

Please see the Faculty of Graduate Studies' advice on finding references for your application.

References are due by the application deadline, so you should complete the online application earlier in order to give your referees sufficient time to submit their reference. Referees will receive notification on how to submit their reference after you submit your application and are due on the application deadline regardless of when they receive the notification. Please ensure that your references are aware of the supporting document submission deadline. Applications without completed reference forms will be considered incomplete after the application deadline has passed.


Statement of Intent and Admission Portfolio
Applicants must submit a written statement of intent and are encouraged to submit an admission portfolio as part of the application to the PhD in Educational Research program. 

Hard copy statements of intent and admission portfolio components will not be accepted. Please ensure that you are using the online application system to submit these documents.

Information on tuition and fees can be found in the University Calendar.


  1. Funding

    The Werklund School of Education provides funding opportunities for full-time doctoral students admitted to the on-campus program, for the first 4 years in program.

  2. Awards and Scholarships

    Applicants to the program are encouraged to apply for internal and external scholarships.

As a Graduate Student, you are expected to devote the time, effort, and energy necessary to engage in scholarship. You will determine the specific milestones and requirements of your program of study in consultation with the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar and with your graduate supervisor. 

An integral part of the student experience is working closely with a supervisor on the development and completion of a research project. A graduate supervisor mentors graduate students through regular meetings and research training aimed at research, scholarship, teaching and professional development. Graduate supervisors support students in the timely completion of their programs.

As a Graduate Student, you are expected to meet with your graduate supervisor on a regular basis. While each student-supervisor relationship is unique, graduate supervisors can assist graduate students in a number of ways: advising on course selection, applying for awards and scholarships, obtaining research funds, applying for teaching assistant and sessional teaching opportunities, developing track records in refereed publications and conference presentations, getting involved in leadership and service, and encouraging and supporting apprenticeship in a research community of practice (collaborative review of papers, grants, academic writing, and data analysis). 

A supervisor is normally appointed at the time of admission to the PhD program.

Contact Us


Have Questions?

Sylvia Parks Graduate Program Administrator (GPA)


Academic Coordinator

Specialization specific AC contact info listed on specialization page.

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