Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Learning Sciences

Thesis-based, on campus degree

Learning Sciences is an interdisciplinary field of scholarship that works to further scientific, humanistic, and critical theoretical understandings of learning as well as to engage in the design and implementation of pedagogical innovations to support learning. The primary mission of the Learning Sciences PhD program is the advancement of knowledge and the preparation of future researchers and scholars of the discipline. In this research-intensive program, students will engage with and advance the field’s understanding of the cultural, social, cognitive, affective, political, technological, and economic dimensions of learning, teaching, design, and assessment, both within and across diverse settings. Applicants from all disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply, and doctoral students in the program are encouraged and supported to work in interdisciplinary areas and projects. 

This is a research intensive program where students work closely with their supervisors. Applicants are encouraged to go through the list of faculty members associated with the program in the link below, including the “full profile” information link for each faculty member. You are also encouraged to contact faculty members that might be a good fit for your research interests to explore potential connections. If you choose to apply, we expect that you will have discussed your research interests with potential supervisors, and you should explain the potential matches in your statement of purpose. Students’ experience in this research intensive program is dramatically enhanced by a strong complementarity of research interests and strengths of students and supervisors.

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) A thesis-based master’s degree in an appropriate field. Outstanding applicants holding master’s degrees without thesis may be considered.

b) A minimum grade point average of 3.50 on a four-point scale in a master’s degree program.

c) A written statement indicating the applicant’s reasons for wishing to pursue a graduate program.

d) Where appropriate, candidates will be expected to have, or to obtain, relevant practical experience in their area of specialization.

e) 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 may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement for academic purposes in one of the following ways:

An applicant whose first language is not English is exempt from the ELP requirement if they meet the following criteria:

The applicant has completed:

  • a Bachelor’s Degree (minimum of 3 years in length), or
  • a Graduate Degree

in an institution where the sole language of instruction and examination is English

Eligible institutions must be listed as providing English language instruction in the World Higher Education Database (WHED).
Search for eligible institutions  

To submit an official TOEFL test score report:

Arrange for the agency where you completed the academic TOEFL test to send an electronic copy of your test score report to the University of Calgary. Indicate the institution code 0813 and the department code associated with your program of interest, as listed on the ETS website (

To submit an official IELTS test score report:

Please send a copy of your academic IELTS test score report and TRF number to: We will use your IELTS TRF number to search the IELTS database and retrieve your official test.

After your ELP test score reports are received by

You will receive an email from with the following information: Your ELP score report has been uploaded to your file. The Educational Research Graduate Program (cc’d) will update your To Do List at a later date. If you have any further questions about your To Do List, please contact the Graduate Program directly.

Graduate Programs in Education will not be accepting Duolingo for ELP purposes.

f) Two references. Referees will be asked to complete an online reference form.

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.

All supporting documents are due on December 1. This is the same date as the application deadline. NO EXCEPTIONS

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that transcripts arrive before the application deadline, and that referees are aware of this deadline.

Submitting Transcripts

Official Transcripts:
To finalize your admission: Submit one official copy of your final official transcript(s) and degree certificate (if degree is not clearly stated on transcripts) in a signed, sealed envelopes from all institutions you attended.

Unofficial Transcripts:
For initial evaluation purposes: Submit one copy of your unofficial transcripts with the grading scale/transcript legend for all post-secondary institutions to your online application by your application deadline. Offers of Admission are conditional upon receipt of all official transcripts/degree certificates.
FOR DOMESTIC APPLICANTS:  The unofficial transcript must clearly state the degree awarded.  If this is not clearly stated, then a copy of the degree certificate must be included with the unofficial transcript upload.  Once an application is submitted, the unofficial transcript and degree certificate are uploaded as one PDF to the application.
FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS:  The degree certificate must be included with the unofficial transcript upload.  Once an application is submitted, the unofficial transcript and degree certificate are uploaded as one PDF to the application.

Transcripts can be sent by email to  or by mail to the following address: 
Faculty of Graduate Studies
Earth Sciences, 1010
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada 
T2N 1N4

These documents may be sent to the Faculty of Graduate Studies from the institution or they can be mailed to you and you can mail them to us yourself. 

Email transcripts must be sent directly from the issuing institution's transcript office to

Open official transcripts are not considered as official.

Please visit to answer frequently asked questions on transcripts

Applications, transcripts and all supporting documents must be submitted 11:59 pm MT on the application deadline date for each program.

Transcripts for courses taken at the University of Calgary are not required.

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.


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.

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) 403.220.4105,


Academic Coordinator

Dr. Kim Koh,

Apply Now!

Ready to Apply?