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Curriculum details

Through its required courses and tutorials, the program of study focuses on preparing students to independently conduct their dissertations.

Phase 0: Pre-requisite courses, which provide students who have little or no formal educational backgrounds in their area of specialization with the opportunity to develop an initial foundation of knowledge. Students are informed of prerequisites (if any) at the time of their admission. More information

Phase 1: Required courses, which explore foundational theory and provide the skills needed to conduct empirical and critical research, as well as introduce the applications of research in the practice of Education. More information

Tutorials, which let students develop additional expertise in their area(s) of focus (Applied Linguistics, Child Studies, Educational Studies, or Educational Technology), as well as at least one additional area. Although they are called tutorials, they are intended to provide active learning experiences as well as hands-on research training.

Comprehensive exam, which involves:

  • Completing the readings on a custom-designed list (readings may include those from courses and tutorials) (this might sound like a lot of work, but many people find this to be one of the best opportunities to immerse themselves in the literature of the field)
  • Completing a three-part exam (one part on-site, a second part take-home, and a third part before an academic committee)that assesses students’ familiarity with their area(s) of specialization and their readiness to conduct research independently.

Dissertation, which involves proposing a study that the student conducts independently, completing and documenting the study, and presenting the resulting report to a panel that includes an academic committee from the program, and two external reviewers (this includes both a written report and an oral presentation).

Program Flowchart

The flowcharts linked below provide an overview of the program.

Download Ph.D. Education Program Flow Chart (xls)
Printable PDF Ph.D. Education Program Flow Chart

How long does the program take?

Before answering this question, consider these issues:

Status: Full- or-part-time:

Because courses are scheduled in the late afternoon and early evening, our program is suited to both full- and part-time students. Note, too, that students may change between full- and part-time status during the program, except for those studying as international students.

  • Full-time students take as mnay as 18 credits over two terms is full-time status. Some of the advantages of full-time status: only hastens the completion of the degree, but also makes it possible for students to involve themselves in a variety of on-campus activities that significantly contribute to their development. Furthermore, students seeking government loans and bursaries, and other awards must have full-time status. The primary disadvantage is that students need to plan for financial support while they attend school.
  • Part-time students can take as few as 3 credits per term to be eligible for part-time status. Some of the advantages of part-time status: for those who have good jobs in the Montreal area they can continue their careers. Some employers even provide financial support for doctoral studies. The primary disadvantages of part-time status are that completing the degree takes more time, students miss some of the on-campus interactions, and are not eligible for several financial aid programs.

Location: Note that our program is resident; they only occur on campus and students must plan to take courses on our campus in Montreal. During the classwork phase of the degree, commuting from a location outside of the greater Montreal area is not feasible; students who have attempted to do so in the past have not completed the degree.

Residence requirement: The University requires an official residency period of two years. Students are encouraged to spend at least one year of their program as full-time students.

So how long does the program take? Here are the suggested lengths of the program:

  • A typical full-time student takes between 3.5 and 5 years to complete the program. Students must complete the program in 6 years.
  • A typical part-time student takes between 5 and 7 years to complete the program. Students must complete the program in 8 years.

When students apply to the program, they are asked to declare their status as either Part-time or Full-time. Eighteen or more credits over two terms is considered full-time status and any fewer number makes the student part-time. Full-time status not only hastens the completion of the degree, but also makes it possible for students to involve themselves in a variety of activities that are available for Ph.D. students, such as research studies conducted by faculty members. Furthermore, full-time status is necessary if students wish to be eligible for government loans and bursaries and to apply for other types of awards.

Residence requirement

The University requires an official residency period of two years. Students are encouraged to spend at least one year of their program as full-time students.

Time limit for completion of degree

All work for a doctoral degree must be completed within 18 terms (6 years) of full-time study, or 24 terms (8 years) of part-time study from the time of original registration in the program. Under exceptional circumstances the time limit may be extended upon the recommendation of the EDC and the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies.


We welcome students into the Education Doctoral Program who have master’s degrees in other disciplines.

But our doctoral courses assume that students have a high level of familiarity with educational concepts and research.

To ensure that all students have the same foundational knowledge, we verify that they have fulfilled these prerequisites. Students who do not have this prerequisite knowledge take these prerequisite courses to address this gap.

Area of Knowledge: Research

Choose one of the following courses:

Research Methods II (APLI/ETEC 641, 3 credits):

Prerequisite: ETEC 640. In this course students develop a proposal, design a pilot study to investigate a research problem, and later analyze the data. Projects may use quantative or qualitative methodologies.

Note: Students who have received credit for ETEC 548/648 may not take this course for credit.

Quantitative Methods of Inquiry (CHST 605, 3 credits)

This course introduces students to the philosophy, principles, and techniques in quantitative inquiry in the social sciences. Specifically, it focuses on the main quantitative methodologies of inquiry that are necessary for conducting research and interpreting data in child studies. The course covers techniques for addressing quantitative research questions in the field, including gathering, organizing, analyzing, and communicating data. Statistical techniques that are commonly used to address such questions are covered, with appropriate computer software for key methodologies. Laboratory work is provided to give students practical experience with such software.


Area of Knowledge: Area Foundations

Prerequisite course varies, depending on specialization

Applied Linguistics

Language Development (APLI 621, 3 credits):

The purpose of this course is to survey the principal research in second language acquisition. Students will examine theories of second language acquisition and relate them to language learning in the classroom. They will become familiar with the major research issues through their reading of both primary and secondary sources and through lectures and class discussions.

Child Studies

Advanced Child Development (CHST 600, 3 credits)

  • To acquire an in-depth knowledge of the "grand" theories and issues as they specifically relate to child development.
  • To acquire expertise in the critical evaluation of theory and research.
  • To acquire the skills of orally presenting professional quality work.

Educational Studies

Take one of the following:

Educational Concepts and Research (ESTU 601, 3 credits)

The aim of this course is to enhance reflective awareness of the role of conceptual lenses or paradigmatic presuppositions in shaping and directing inquiries. A number of concepts and ideas from post-Kuhnian philosophy of science will be put in service of this aim.

The first half of the course will examine some of the issues in the philosophy of science that emerged after Thomas Kuhn’s landmark work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Starting with Kuhn’s work, we will investigate the nature of scientific change, and we will begin to pose normative questions about how science should be conducted. The first paper assignment will correspond to this part of the course.

In the second part of the course, we will continue our examination of the nature of inquiry, exploring in particular some writings on the relationships between data form and presuppositions and aspects of constructivism. The assignment for this part of the course will be a group project and presentation on an area of research subject to competing modes of investigation. The special area of study will be moral education. All class members are expected to participate in groups. Groups should function as groups, that is, each group will organize its own work, prepare a class presentation, and write a project report. More details about this assignment will be given during the course.

This course investigates some fundamental questions in the philosophy of science. As you will (hopefully) discover, these issues are fascinating in their own right, but they also have tremendous relevance for the conduct of educational research. If you are an aspiring researcher, you may find that some of the readings will affect the way you see the scientific/educational research enterprise. This may, in turn, affect your own research practices.

School and Society (ESTU 644, 3 credits)

This course focuses on sociological interpretations of the relationship between societal institutions and education. Topics concern questions of social equity, who decides what knowledge, skills, behaviors, values and attitudes should be transmitted through the schooling process. Central to the course are the criticisms of assumptions that schools are sites fostering equal opportunity. That is, the course challenges "commonsense" assumptions with alternative interpretations about the nature and purpose of schooling.

The course is intended to develop the critical reflective capacity of students so they might analyze the reciprocal effects of education and society on each other; for instance, issues that concern racial, ethnic, linguistic, gender and class inequities are carefully examined.

Educational Technology


Fundamentals of Instructional Design (ETEC 650, 3 credits)

This course introduces students to instructional design, which refers to both the systematic process for preparing learning materials as well as to the theories and principles that guide that work. Working on a real-world project, students directly engage in the process and prepare an instructional program.

Note: Students who have received credit for ETEC 512/712 may not take this course for credit

Strongly recommended

Fundamentals of Human Performance Technology (ETEC 651, 3 credits)

Prerequisite: ETEC 650. Building on the base of instructional design, this course introduces human performance technology (HPT). HPT is a set of principles and methods for identifying and solving problems that cannot be solved through instructional programs alone. Working on a real-world project, students design a variety of non-instructional interventions.

Note: Students who have received credit for ETEC 512/712 may not take this course for credit.

Core Courses: (21 credits common to all areas of specialization)




EDUC 806 Quantitative Methods 3 credits
[Prerequisite: APLI 641, CHST 605, or ETEC 641]
EDUC 807 Advanced Qualitative Methods 3 credits
EDUC 808 Reporting Research 3 credits
EDUC 809 Advanced Issues in Education 3 credits


Specialization Area Tutorials:  (9 to 12 credits)  

:Three 3-credit tutorials are required. If the student or supervisory committee feels it necessary, students can include a fourth 3-credit tutorial without incurring an additional fee.

EDUC 810-824 Educational Technology
EDUC 825-839 Child Studies
EDUC 840-854 Educational Studies
EDUC 855-869 Applied Linguistics

Comprehensive examination
EDUC 890 Comprehensive Examination 12 credits

Doctoral Research
EDUC 891 Doctoral Research Proposal 9 credits
EDUC 895 Doctoral Dissertation 48 credits
Course Descriptions

Quantitative Methods (EDUC 806, 3 credits)

Prerequisite: ETEC 641, or CHST 605 or permission of instructor.

This course builds students' capacity to conduct quantitative research in education at the doctoral level. It covers all topics related to experimental and quasi-experimental design and the application of univariate statistics to educational research problems. In doing so, the course addresses the basic theory underlying quantitative approaches, selection of an initial research question, the types of questions best suited to quantitative methods, managing and analyzing quantitative data, external and internal validity, reliability and objectivity. This course also provides opportunities to analyze quantitative data.

Qualitative Methods (EDUC 807. 3 credits)

This course builds students’ capacity to conduct qualitative research in education at the doctoral level. It covers various types of qualitative research, such as ethnography, case studies, content analysis, and naturalistic observation. In doing so, the course addresses the basic theory and philosophy underlying qualitative approaches, selection of an initial research question, the types of questions best suited to qualitative methods, managing qualitative data, qualitative data analysis, and assuring the credibility and trustworthiness of qualitative data.    

Reporting Research (EDUC 808, 3 credits)

This course prepares students to report their research to various stakeholders of educational research, including funding agencies, other researchers, journal editors, policy makers, and the public. Students prepare various research-related documents, and provide peer reviews.

Advanced Issues in Education (EDUC 809, 3 credits)

This seminar explores one or more complex issues of education that has implications for Applied Linguistics, Child Studies, Educational Studies, and Educational Technology. During the course, students explore the research and popular literature on the topic, critically examine the epistemological, sociological, and theoretical bases of the literature, and relate the lessons learned to their own proposed research projects.

Specialization Area Tutorials (9 to 12 credits)

Four areas of specialization have been identified (Applied Linguistics, Child Studies, Educational Studies, and Educational Technology). Individual or small groups of students will be required to take four 3-credit tutorials (12 credits), normally with individual faculty members, drawn from their area of research, with the guidance of the student’s supervisor and supervisory committee. No more than nine credits may be taken from a single area of specialization. The content and format of area tutorials may vary depending on the number of students and the availability of faculty members. The purpose of the tutorials is to develop advanced knowledge in the area of specialization, and in cognate areas. In addition to helping to prepare a student for the Comprehensive Examination, tutorials are intended to support the development of a research topic, which in turn may become the student’s dissertation. Area tutorials may involve directed readings, supervised research, seminar presentations, and discussion sessions on selected topics within that problem area.

Note: Three 3-credit tutorials are required. If the student or supervisory committee feels it necessary, students can include a fourth 3-credit tutorial without incurring an additional fee.    

EDUC 890 Comprehensive Examination (12 credits)

The purpose of this examination is to establish that the student has broad knowledge of educational theory and methodology, and more specialized knowledge in his/her area of specialization. Normally comprehensives are completed no later than the end of second year of full time study.

There are three parts to the examination: an on-site exam; the one-week take-home component; and the oral examination of the on-site and take-home components. Completing all of the sections can require as many as five weeks, so that the student and Committee must plan the timing of the examination carefully. 

Once successfully completed, the student will be “admitted to candidacy” for the degree and can proceed to work on the dissertation proposal.

EDUC 891 Doctoral Proposal (9 credits)

After the comprehensive examination requirements are met, students will work on a dissertation proposal under the direction of their dissertation supervisor and committee. A formal proposal will outline the theoretical rationale for the planned study, provides a problem statement, discuss appropriate literature and include a detailed description of the methods to be used to address the problem.

EDUC 895 Doctoral Dissertation (48 credits)

The dissertation is expected to be an original piece of research that demonstrates the student’s ability to conceive, plan, and carry out independent research under the direction of his/her supervisor and the dissertation committee. Issues of topic and methodology are addressed by the whole committee, but ultimately, it is the sole responsibility of the student to undertake and report on work that is deemed a valid contribution to knowledge in the field via a peer review process.    

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