Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Research-based program

PhD students produce a thesis of original work with the support of world-renowned researchers and facilities

This program is designed for individuals interested in a rewarding career in fundamental or applied research. The PhD program involves advanced courses and an intensive research program culminating in a thesis, supervised by a CivMin faculty member.

Explore our research themes to see what areas you could pursue in your studies

Students entering the PhD program typically have a Master’s degree, however outstanding applicants who are completing a bachelor’s degree can apply for direct entry into the PhD program.

Fees, Awards and Funding

Students admitted to the PhD program are provided a funding package for up to 4 years Information on fees, awards, funding and Teaching Assistantships can be found here.

Program Length and
Time Limit

The PhD is offered on a full-time basis only.

Program Length

4 years full-time; 5 years transfer-from-master's; 5 years direct-entry

Time Limit

6 years full-time; 7 years transfer-from-master's; 7 years direct-entry

PhD Milestones

  • Comprehensive Exam
  • PhD Supervisory Committee
  • Departmental Exam
  • Final Oral Examination

Program Requirements

In addition to the thesis, students complete a minimum of 2.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) (four half courses) before completing their comprehensive exam*.

  • Students with an MASc degree (or equivalent in the same area of study) must complete a minimum of 2.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) (four half courses).
  • Students enrolled in the MASc degree program who transfer to the PhD program must complete a total of 4.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) (nine half courses)
  • Students with an MEng degree must complete a minimum of 4.5 FCEs (nine half courses). Up to 3.0 FCEs (six graduate half courses) may be used from the MEng program towards the PhD course requirements.
  • For direct-entry students, more FCEs may be required depending on the student's background preparation. It is normally expected that at least one of the half courses will be taken outside of the student's principal area of research.

Students must participate in the non-credit seminar course JDE 1000H Ethics in Research during their first or second session of registration.

The academic program must be approved by the department's Examination and Degree Committee during the student's first session.

Flexible-Time PhD Option

The flexible-time PhD program is a full-time PhD program that a student competes while continuing professional practice in areas related to the student’s field of research. Because the option involves continued professional practice, it allows a student to complete the program over a longer period of time. The typical program length is 6 years, and the time limit is 8 years.

The School of Graduate Studies guidelines for the Flexible-Time PhD option require that applicants demonstrate that the research and proposed program of study are related to the applicant’s professional career, and that they will continue their professional activities while registered in the program.

Typically, students will complete 2.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

  • Year 1-2: 2.0 FCE and the non-credit seminar JDE1000 Ethics in Research, and
    form a Supervisory Committee
  • Year 2: Prepare a research proposal and pass the Comprehensive Exam
  • Year 3-5: Research and writing
  • Year 6: Defend the thesis at the Final Oral Examination by August 30

Students in the Flexible-Time option are registered full-time during the first four years and part-time during subsequent years in the program. Candidacy is achieved upon successful completion of course work and the Comprehensive Exam, normally by the end of Year 2. Throughout the program students are expected to maintain a schedule of regular meetings with their supervisors and with the Supervisory Committees.

Those interested in the Flexible-Time PhD program should reach out to the departmental admissions office at: