Doctoral Studies

Doctoral programs at UAlberta train students to conduct methodical, systematic, theory-based, and collaborative research with a diversity of outstanding people, in a multitude of leading facilities and stimulating environments.

They also represent a significant achievement and a valuable credential for those seeking to contribute a depth of knowledge to pressing and pertinent local and global issues in sectors ranging from academia, industry, and medicine, to education and government policy-making. A doctoral education has become of paramount significance to a knowledge-based economy.

Summary of Requirements

As a doctoral student at UAlberta, you need to complete a number of program requirements-define your research problem, carry out your thesis research, and write and defend your thesis-within a six year designated timeframe. Degree requirements and responsibilities are both academic and administrative.

Learn More

Some requirements are defined by the University. These include:

Other requirements are defined by your department, including coursework and comprehensive examinations.

Your department's section in the University Calendar as well as the graduate handbook define these requirements. You have three years to meet all of your program requirements, with the exception of your thesis work, unless you are registered in a listed exempt doctoral program.

Your Academic Journey

The Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies is here to serve the graduate community and see you through a rich and successful program experience. Here are answers to questions about every phase of your journey.

Laying the Foundation 

Registering in Your Program

Students in thesis-based programs are admitted as full-time students. If a department wishes to admit a thesis-based student on a part-time basis, they must inform GPS at the time of admission.

Under certain circumstances, students who have begun their programs may request a change from full-time status to part-time status. For information on this option, please see this page.

Paying Fees
If you are a doctoral student who was admitted in Fall 2011 or thereafter, you will pay an annual tuition and fees program fee. The amount of the fee depends on various factors, including whether you are a part-time or full-time student. See this page for information.
Securing Financial Support
Many students receive financial support in a number of ways. Information regarding teaching and research assistantships, graduate scholarships and other forms of funding, should refer to the Awards and Funding section. See also this information from the GSA.
Finding a Supervisor and a Committee

You have one or more thesis supervisors, who must meet the University's supervisory requirements. If you were not assigned one at the time of admission, please consult with your department. Doctoral students also require a supervisory committee.

This committee includes all of your supervisors, ensures that your thesis research progresses satisfactorily, arranges for necessary examinations, and verifies that your thesis is ready to be defended. You are also required to provide the committee with an annual report.

Pursuing Your Program

Maintaining Academic Standing
As a graduate student, you have to maintain good academic standing requiring satisfactory status in both course grades, as well as progress in your thesis research.
Meeting the Academic Integrity and Ethics Training Requirement

Academic Integrity and Ethics Training is mandatory for all newly-admitted UAlberta graduate students. Each student is normally expected to complete the equivalent of at least eight (8) hours of structured academic activity to meet this requirement.

For detailed information on the requirement, see this page.

Completing the Professional Development Requirement

After consultation with the Graduate Students' Association and consideration of economic job trends, the University of Alberta is the first Canadian university to implement the Professional Development (PD) Requirement (following some of the Ivy League colleges in the United States).

It's an exciting new initiative to help you recognize your talents, pursue your interests, learn professional skills and make the connections that will help you excel in your chosen field. Although it is mandatory for all incoming graduate students, some departments have professional development already incorporated into their programs. Please check with your department to confirm how this requirement is fulfilled in your program.

For detailed information on the PD Requirement, see this page.

Preparing a Thesis
At the heart of every doctoral program is the thesis: a piece of work which must embody the results of original investigations and analyses and be of such quality as to merit publication, meet the standards of reputable scholarly publications, and constitute a substantial contribution to the knowledge in your field. See this page for information on thesis preparation, requirements and deadlines.
Applying for a Leave of Absence or Requesting a Change to Part-Time Status

Sometimes, medical issues, parental responsibilities, or other emergencies mean that you may wish to take some time off from your studies. As a graduate student you may apply for an approved leave of absence that keeps your program in good standing. For information, see this page; access application forms for regular leaves of absence here and for maternity and/or parental, exceptional and professional leaves here.

Under certain circumstances, students who have begun their programs may request a change from full-time status to part-time status. For information on this option, please see this page. Application forms are available here.

Seeking a Program Extension
Occasionally, circumstances arise that mean that you need more than six years to complete your degree. In such cases, your department may support a program extension. See this page for information; forms are available here.

Completing the Journey

Applying for Convocation
The convocation ceremony represents a crowning achievement of your commitment to research and continuing your education. Please ensure that you review the following convocation information for steps and deadlines.
Requesting a Letter of Completion
If you need a Letter of Completion at the end of your program, please use this form to do so instead of emailing GPS. Please read the instructions in the form carefully before submitting.

Should you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.