Students registered within the doctoral program must complete graduate-level courses, a thesis, as well as ethics and professional development training to complete degree requirements.


Graduate-level Courses

Students enrolled in the PhD program must successfully complete a thesis and graduate-level courses (9 credits) including LAW 696: Graduate Seminar (3 credits) and two additional graduate-level courses (6 credits)

Course selected is determined in consultation with the student's academic supervisor and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.

Students may enrol in graduate-level courses offered by other academic departments at the University of Alberta with the written approval of the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, after consideration of the student's experience, needs and course availability.

PhD Thesis

Candidates are required to produce approximately 250-350 pages or 62,500-87,500 words, inclusive of footnotes or endnotes. The thesis topic must be approved by the student's academic supervisor and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.

Doctoral Candidacy Exam

PhD students must pass a candidacy exam within three years of commencing their program of study. The candidacy exam is an oral examination, which is designed to ensure that doctoral students possess adequate knowledge of scholarship relevant to their thesis project and the ability to complete original research in their field of study.

Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement

Starting in September 2022, new PhD students are required to complete the FGSR Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement for doctoral students. It comprises eight hours of zero-credit, online courses: the six-hour INT D 710: Ethics and Academic Citizenship course and the two-hour INT D 720: Advanced Ethics and Academic Citizenship course. PhD students who completed their LLM at the University of Alberta and who have already successfully completed INT D 710 only have to complete INT D 720.

The course registration is in Beartracks. Once registered, students are added to eClass where they will complete the course material in a self-paced format. The course(s) must be completed during the first semester of the student's program. Successful completion of the course(s) will appear on the student's official transcript record. For further information on the mandatory Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement see here.

Professional Development Requirement

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research requires students to complete eight hours of professional development (PD) activities that are inspired by a career plan document completed by the student called the Individual Development Plan (IDP). The IDP maps the student's career goals and competencies. The PD activities must: contribute to the acquisition of skills, knowledge or mindset; support the career goals or competencies identified in the IDP; comprise formal training or active learning with an assessment component; and fall outside or research methods training or the thesis.

For full details, see the FGSR PD web page.

Full-time PhD students must complete their IDP and have it reviewed by their supervisor within 18 months of the start of their program. The eight hours of PD activities must be approved by their supervisor and completed within the first three years of their program.

Residency Requirements

PhD students are required to complete at least one academic year in full-time residence at the University of Alberta. If the student holds an LLM degree from the University of Alberta, a request made be made for a waiver of residency, upon the recommendation of the supervisory committee and the approval of the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.

The time required to complete the PhD program will vary according to the student's previous education, experience and the nature of the thesis project. Students must complete the program requirements within six years.