Doctoral Studies

Supervisors and Committees

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. (See the Resources on Supervision at right.)


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.

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.

Registration Policy

If you are initially registered as a full-time doctoral student, you must remain full-time for the remainder of your program. You may request part-time status at the time of application, but the decision belongs to your department.

Once eligible, full-time doctoral students who were admitted before Fall 2011, can register in THES 919 and pay reduced tuition. There is no part-time version of THES 919.

In many disciplines, part of your research work may be done off-campus. For further details, check with your department.

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.

Program Fee

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 whether you are a part-time or full-time student.

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.

Leave of Absence

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. 


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.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research is here to serve the graduate community and see you through a rich and successful program experience!

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


Pathways to a Doctoral Degree

PhD 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.

It also represents 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.

Some are defined by the University, such as:

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.