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

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

  2. Program Delivery

    Full-time, on campus

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

  • A course or thesis-based Master's degree in an appropriate field. Degrees and grades from foreign institutions are evaluated for their equivalency to those of the University of Calgary.
  • 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.
  • Candidates will be expected to have, or to obtain, relevant practical experience in their area of specialization.
  • For applicants required to prove proficiency in English, a TOEFL score of 97 (Internet-based test), an IELTS score of 7.0 (Academic version), or a MELAB score of 83. The test must have been taken within the last two years. Proficiency may also be met by successful graduation from Level III of the International Foundations Program (IFP) with a minimum grade of "B" on Academic Writing & Grammar III, "B" on Reading Comprehension & Proficiency III, and "B" on Listening Comprehension & Oral Fluency III. Note: When requesting that official TOEFL test scores are forwarded to the University of Calgary, please indicate institution code 0813.
  • Two references - References are submitted directly through the online application system.  No hard copy documents are required.
  • Current CV

Admission Portfolio

Applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy program are strongly 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 qualifications for doctoral studies. The Admission Portfolio is especially relevant for applicants who do not hold a thesis-based Master's degree.

This document may contain the following (please include a table of contents):

  • thesis (if applicable) methodology chapter only
  • writing sample (journal articles, conference presentations and/or proceedings)
  • non-print materials (link to personal external website, blogs)

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 some graduate programs. The candidates must provide evidence demonstrating a potential to successfully undertake 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:

  • evidence of personal continuing education/training,
  • results in these continuing education efforts,
  • experience in the field related to the aspired degree,
  • effective management of people, resources, finances, situations,
  • increasing or varying responsible positions in organizations related to the aspired degree,
  • work-related products, e.g., reports, programs of learning or training, handbooks, videos, manuals, workshops, seminars,
  • evidence of personal growth in knowledge, understanding, management skills, and intellectual resources,
  • evidence of innovation,
  • evidence of leadership, coordination.

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

Advanced Credit

The applicant must make advanced credit requests 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.

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.  Graduate Programs in Education will not grant deferrals of admission.  Students unable to take up an offer will be required to submit a new application.

Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. Original documents or certified true copies of each of your official transcripts and degree certificates, in the original sealed envelope, sent directly from the issuing University. Current and previous University of Calgary students are not required to order official University of Calgary transcripts.

If original documents are not in English:

Original documents or certified true copies of each of your official transcripts and degree certificates in the original language, in the original sealed envelope, sent directly from the issuing University, and an English translation from the issuing University or a notarized word-for-word English translation of a duplicate copy of that original.

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

Official transcripts must be submitted to the following address:

Werklund School of Education
Graduate Programs in Education
Education Tower 114
2500 University Dr NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4

Supporting documents (Statement of Intent) must be uploaded to your Student Centre after the application has been submitted.  Applicants will receive a confirmation email with instructions and information regarding this process upon completion and submission of the online application.

As a Graduate Student you are expected to devote the time, effort, and energy necessary to engage in scholarship.  As a graduate student, 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 doctoral 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). 

In the PhD program a supervisor is normally appointed at the time of admission.

Candidacy Examination

Candidacy must be completed within 28 months from the program start date.

The Werklund School of Education Candidacy procedure falls under the Faculty of Graduate Studies Candidacy Regulations.  Graduate Programs in Education Council (GPEC) and the Faculty of Graduate Studies have approved new Werklund School of Education guidelines for Candidacy.

Dissertation

The Doctoral dissertation is the focus of the degree program. In consultation with the supervisor, the student should formulate an appropriate thesis topic as early as possible in the program because the nature and type of proposed doctoral research will affect the time needed to complete the program.  The student’s research problem, research questions and the development of the research proposal will be tied to engagement in coursework and the preparation needed in order to complete the program. The thesis proposal must be approved by the supervisory committee before continuing towards candidacy. 
For guidance in preparing the research proposal, please refer to the Werklund School of Education Candidacy Requirements.
For guidance in preparing the final thesis/dissertation, please refer to the GPE Thesis/Dissertation Rubric and the Student Guide to the Dissertation Oral.

Werklund School of Education Guidelines for a Doctoral Manuscript Based Thesis

In consultation with their Supervisor, students may choose to compose their theses using the traditional thesis style or the manuscript-based thesis style. A manuscript based thesis is intended to provide an alternate format for those students who are both inclined toward and adept at writing articles for peer review and publication.  A manuscript based thesis is a coherent and organized document that contains a related set of papers judged to be publishable, of which the student is the sole author and/ or the first co- author, and which adheres to the Manuscript Thesis Guidelines (See Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar) and meets the criteria specified in the Werklund School of Education Guideline, approved April 2016.  

Ethics approval is required for all research projects involving the use of human subjects before data collection begins. Prior to submitting an ethics application, students are required to complete the TCPS 2 tutorial and upload the certificate of completion into their Researcher Profile in IRISS. Do NOT upload in the documentation section of a study. Register on theTCPS 2 website https://tcps2core.ca/register. When registering, be sure to use your institution email address (name @ucalgary.ca)

To initiate the ethics approval process, the student must submit an application to either the Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics Board or the Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board. Applications to the CFREB or CHREB are created and submitted online using IRISS. There are no paper application forms.

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.

Contact Us

GPA

Have Questions?

Sylvia Parks Graduate Program Administrator (GPA) 403.220.4105, sparks@ucalgary.ca

AC

Academic Coordinator

Dr. Douglas Clark, douglas.clark@ucalgary.ca

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