Doctor of Philosophy

PhD Degree Requirements

*Note that the regulations spelled out below are only an approximate summary.  For details, see the official Regulations and Guidelines for Graduate Programs.

To successfully complete a PhD program, the student must satisfy the minimum course requirements, pass the Entrance Year, the Candidacy Exam, and write a PhD thesis (a significant and original research contribution to the general area of the program), which then has to be successfully defended in a final oral examination ("defense").

It also expected that students participate actively in the Departmental research activities (e.g. seminars and colloquia).

Entrance Requirements

To be admitted to the PhD program a student typically must hold an MSc degree in Mathematical or Statistical Sciences from the University of the Alberta (or an equivalent degree from a recognized institution).  For some programs also, holders of an MSc in other areas like e.g. Computing Sciences or Physics will be considered.  For a detailed list of background knowledge, click here (PDF, 98kb).

Course Requirements

Typically students must take a total of at least *18 in graduate level courses at the Department (*30 after the BSc for students with an MSc degree from the University of Alberta, or for the students transferring from the MSc program; the Graduate Committee may impose additional coursework on individual students).  Some programs have higher requirements.

Normally, a full-time student must take a course load of 3 courses each during the first two terms of the program.  Exceptions can be made for students already engaged in a thesis project.

The Entrance Year 

During their first year of study in the PhD program, students must take at least four so called "core courses" (identified in the Regulations and Guidelines for Graduate Programs for each program) and obtain a certain minimum GPA (usually A-/3.6) on the best four core courses in order to be able to continue.  Core courses taken as an MSc student (or as an undergraduate student) at the Department normally count towards this requirement.

The purpose of the Entrance Year is to ensure that students have the required background for their chosen program.  

The Candidacy Exam

After passing the Entrance Year, students should pass their Candidacy Exam within two years of their entering the program. Students must pass the Candidacy Exam by the end of their third year in the program (four, if the student transferred from the MSc program).

Students who have not passed their Candidacy Exam within three years must apply for an extension to the Associate Chair (Graduate) (currently Jochen Kuttler,

Length of Program

To satisfy the residency requirement for the PhD, candidates must spend at least two years of full-time studies.

The time required to complete the program will vary according to the previous training of the applicant and the nature of the research undertaken; however, a minimum of three years is normally required after the BSc or two years after the MSc.