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Academic support

A PhD is a research degree that prepares students to independently conduct research.

So, although the program includes coursework (and, for those who have not completed a related master’s degree, some background study), the program is primarily driven by the initiative of the student. That’s to prepare students for the expectations upon graduation—that they’ll be able to independently initiate research and conduct those studies.

Although doctoral studies rely on the independence of the student, they are not solitary studies. Subsequent sections describe the roles of others in the process and the different types of support we provide students.

Throughout the program, each student is supported by an academic committee. Each committee includes:

  • Supervisor
  • Two additional committee members

Supervisors serve as the guides on the journey of doctoral studies. Supervisors are people who share your professional interests and can oversee your work in the area in which you would like to conduct your research. At each juncture in the process, supervisors oversee and approve your work.

  • When you start the program, supervisors provide an overview of the program and help you with course selection. For those who need to take background courses, supervisors can provide the context of those courses and explain how they integrate with your study plans.
  • As you begin work on the tutorials, supervisors can help you clarify your goals, and identify tutorials that will provide you with research experience as well as develop expertise in the area of your research and develop a strong familiarity with prior research in that area.
  • As you prepare for the comprehensive examination, supervisors provide feedback on your reading list and your readiness for the exam, and oversees the examination process.
  • As you prepare the dissertation proposal, supervisors provides feedback on the initial proposal and determines its readiness for the formal presentation that is required at this phase. Your supervisor also reviews and approves the ethics form that is submitted following approval, so that the study can receive institutional approval to proceed.
  • As you complete your dissertation, supervisors provides feedback on the initial proposal and determines its readiness for the formal presentation that is required at this phase. Your supervisor also recommends the two external reviewers for the dissertation and makes sure that arrangements for the presentation are complete.

Committee members provide additional counsel and advice. Students should meet with each of their committee members during their first year. If possible, students should also consider conducting at least 1 tutorial with each of the members of their committees.

When students are admitted to the program, they are assigned an interim supervisor and committee. After completing the comprehensive examination, students formally name their dissertation supervisor and committees, after having had the chance to work with several faculty members. Some students retain the interim supervisor and committee for the dissertation; others change their committees.

As part of the process of helping doctoral students become independent researchers, our doctoral program tries to introduce students to the communities of practice in their field.

The interactions in these communities that start during doctoral studies often serve students for the rest of their careers.

These introductions often start in the classroom, but the majority of the participation continues outside of the classroom at the initiative of the student.

Specifically, students might pursue opportunities to:

  • Become active with other students, either by working on committees for student life within the Department of Education or through the Graduate Student Association
  • Participate in meetings of various associations for professionals and researchers in their areas of interest, such as the American Educational Research Association, Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Canadian Society for Training and Development, and others
  • Play leadership roles in organizations, such as manager of programs or treasurer, to develop skills and experience that will be beneficial later in the career.
  • Review articles for peer-reviewed journals and proposals for peer-reviewed conferences.
  • Present research and theory at the conferences of professional associations and other industry events.
  • Publish articles for practicing professionals in trade magazines.
  • Publish research articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Each opportunity provides unique perspectives on research or practice in your area of interest—perspectives not possible solely through the classroom and reading journals.

The opportunities are limitless; students need to decide for themselves where their interests lie and what their time permits. Many of these opportunities also provide students with chances to collaborate with other students, faculty, and people working outside of the Department of Education at Concordia.

To encourage student participation in these activities, a variety of types of support are available, from student discounts on memberships and subscriptions to various forms of financial and in-kind support for attending conferences from the university and the organizations sponsoring them.

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