PhD in Educational Studies

Dean of Education
Antony Card, EdD (University of Southampton)

Mount Saint Vincent University Doctoral Program Coordinator and Chair IDAC (Inter-University Adminsitrative Committee)
Ardra Cole, EdD (University of Toronto, Professor)

Mount Saint Vincent University Doctoral Faculty Representative
Melissa McGonnell, PhD (Dalhousie), Registered Psychologist, Associate Professor

General Information

The website for the Inter-University Doctoral Program is

The PhD in Educational Studies is offered in a collaborative partnership with Mount Saint Vincent University, Acadia University and St. Francis Xavier University. The research-oriented doctoral program is jointly administrated by the Inter-University Doctoral Administrative Committee (IDAC). Applicants are admitted to one university and graduate from that Home Institution of Record.

Educational studies assume that education is a complex process that transpires in multiple contexts, takes many institutional forms, and is best understood from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives (natural, social, and human sciences). Doctoral students conduct advanced educational research, enabling them to participate in and influence contemporary academic research and policy discourses. They intellectually engage with complex educational issues in preparation to assume leadership roles related to education in Nova Scotia, and elsewhere.

Doctoral students can focus their studies on one or more of six interrelated themes: curriculum studies, educational foundations and leadership, inclusive education, lifelong learning, literacies, and the psychological aspects of education. These themes reflect current faculty research strengths and ongoing educational studies issues. Doctoral students who are teachers may concurrently anchor their studies in their ‘teachable subjects’. Applicants are encouraged to review the research interests of education faculty members at all three participating universities, available at their respective websites, as well as the research interests of other faculty members.

Note: An average of 14 students will be admitted each year: 6 at the Mount, 4 at St. F.X. and 4 at Acadia.

• A Master degree from a recognized university in education or in a related field of study (a cognate discipline);

• Normally, a graduate thesis in a field related to their doctoral studies. Those applicants who have not completed a thesis are required to submit evidence of their ability to undertake research in education through the completion of a qualifying research paper of sufficient depth and scope to reflect their research competence (details at the PhD website);

• Evidence of scholarly preparation to conduct research, normally including graduate level courses in quantitative and/or qualitative research methods and design;

• Three letters of reference, normally including two academic and one professional;

• A recent curriculum vitae indicating current initiatives in education and any academic, scholarly work to date;

• A letter of intent indicating a proposed area of study from among the six interrelated themes of educational studies;

• A minimum of A- or 80 percent average in his or her highest degree; and,

• An interview with a selection committee that is a subcommittee of the IDAC (if deemed necessary).

Note: Qualified applicants will only be admitted if a suitable supervisor and program can be provided.

Note: English Language Proficiency – to achieve success in this doctoral program, applicants must demonstrate strong reading, writing and comprehension skills in the English language.

Application Process and Deadlines

Note: The Doctoral Program Application Package is available from the Doctoral Program Office in the Faculty of Education and online at the inter-university PhD website at

• Applicants apply for their institution of choice (the Mount, Acadia or St. F. X.) through the Doctoral Program Office by November 15th for July 1st entry;

• The IDAC will review all applications and, by majority agreement, recommend acceptance of applicants to the participating institutions;

• For any applicants recommended to the Mount, the Doctoral Program Coordinator will assign an appropriate pro tem (research) supervisor;

• The Mount Registrar’s Office will inform the applicant, in writing after March 1, regarding the decision of the IDAC. The Mount becomes the Institution of Record for all doctoral students formally admitted to the Mount;

• In addition to specific doctoral program requirements and regulations set out at the PhD website, Mount students are bound by the regulations and procedures pertaining to graduate studies at the Mount;

• Each pro tem advisor (dissertation supervisor) will arrange for an entry meeting for his/her/their student(s) to develop a preliminary plan of study and an initial outline of the proposed research area. This preliminary research plan will be submitted in writing to the IDAC for approval (within a time frame specified by the IDAC), through the Doctoral Program Coordinator. Normally, this research plan is completed before the July 1st start date.

Residency and Period of Study
Students must complete 4.0 units of coursework (GEDU 9001-9005, 9010) by undertaking full-time studies during four consecutive terms (14-month residency). Candidates who have defended their comprehensive portfolio may choose to attend on a part-time basis while completing their proposal and dissertation. They must defend their dissertation within three years after the comprehensive examination, but no later than six years after entering the doctoral program, unless an extension has been granted. Students must register in a minimum of 1.0 unit per year.

Program Requirements
Note: Students take GEDU 9001 and 9002 on site in July at one of the three universities. The site for these two courses will rotate amongst the three universities from year-to-year. Students complete GEDU 9010 and 9100 with their dissertation supervisor and their committee at their Home Institution of Record. The remaining courses are delivered using an e-learning platform.

Note: In some instances, doctoral students may arrange to enrol in an existing topic-related Master level course, augmented with doctoral level analysis and applications.

Note: Doctoral students have the right to take courses and seminars and use the academic facilities of any of the three participating universities in accordance with their approved plan of study.

Required Courses
❏ GEDU 9001 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9002 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9003 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9004 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9005 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9010 1.5 units
❏ GEDU 9100 3.0 units

Required/Electives Courses
At the time of admission, students will be advised if they are required, and they may choose, to complete (in consultation with pro tem supervisor and with approval from IDAC):

❏ GEDU 9006 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9007 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9008 0.5 unit
❏ GEDU 9009 0.5 unit

See courses

Academic Note: This web-based calendar information is applicable for the 2024-2025 academic year which runs from September 01, 2024 to August 31, 2025.

For information on previous years, please consult the University Academic Calendars web page.

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