Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from Prospective Students to the Education Doctoral Program at Concordia University

In this List of Questions
1.  About our doctoral program
2.  What specialties does this program offer?
3.  What type of research training does the Education Doctoral Program at Concordia provide?
4.  Who should apply?5. How might our doctoral degree benefit you?
6.  How long does the program take?
7.  How does the doctoral program work?
8. What types of academic support does we provide to students?
9. Who’s involved with our program?
10. How have our graduates fared?
11. How can I finance doctoral studies?
12.  What do we expect of entering students?
13. Should I contact a prospective supervisor before I submit my application?
14. How do I submit an application?
15. When should I submit the application?
16. What happens after I submit an application?
17. Contacts

1.  About our doctoral program

Concordia University, whose Department of Education is among the top-ranked in the world, offers a broad-based doctoral degree in education that prepares you for positions in academia, educational leadership, research, policy formulation, and consulting.

Like all PhD programs, ours is a research degree.  The primary emphasis of this program is preparing you to conduct your own research—a dissertation—in such a way that it will withstand the most rigorous of peer reviews.

2.  What specialties does this program offer?

Our doctoral program offers an interdisciplinary approach, which provides exposure to the breadth of the field of education while also offering the opportunity to specialize in an area of interest.


First, about the interdisciplinary nature of education

Education itself is an interdisciplinary field—drawing on, and contributing to—many fields, including (1) social sciences, such as psychology and sociology; (2) humanities such as philosophy and history; and (3) the design and application of technology, such as human factors and social media

Our program exposes students to many branches of the field of education.   Our faculty researches learning and human performance throughout the life cycle, from early childhood through learning on-the-job and into adulthood.  We research learning at the individual level as well as the systems that support learning.

Now, the list of specializations

To effectively conduct research, however, doctoral students must narrow the focus of their studies and our program allows students to do so.  Students can focus on one these four areas of education:


  1. 1.  Applied Linguistics explores the theoretical and practical (pedagogical) aspects of second and bilingual language acquisition.  Emerging from several disciplines, including education, linguistics, and psychology,  Applied Linguistics takes a multi-dimensional perspective to studying the acquisition of language.  Researchers in Applied Linguistics investigate:
  • Language learning by children and adults in different contexts—in the classroom, and through study abroad, immersion, and intensive language teaching—and based on different characteristics of learner—such as age, attitude, motivation, aptitude, and other social and cognitive learner characteristics
  • The nature of the language system and its development over time, such as the acquisition of vocabulary, grammar, phonology
  • The types of pedagogical practices used in language teaching, including second language teaching methods, and teaching second languages for academic and other purposes
  • The consequences of language learning, including  bilingualism, literacy, and cognitive development
  1. 2.  Child Studies focuses on the development of children in three critical contexts:
  • The family, which explores parent-child and sibling relationships
  • Educational settings, which explores issues related to child care, language and literacy, cognitive processes (such as math and science), social processes (such as friendship), and the delivery of educational services (such as services for children with special needs)
  • Community and culture, which involves issues related to the influence of community programs (such as special populations, health and well-being), media (including  technology), and culture (such as values and beliefs) on children.

3. Educational Studies explores educational foundations, considers anthropological and sociological, comparative and international, and historical and philosophical perspectives on education, and provides interpretive understanding and critiques of educational policies, practices and problems.  Specific areas of specialization include:

  • Adult education
  • Literacy
  • Multiculturalism
  • Gender issues
  • Critical thinking
  • Educational policy in Quebec and Canada
  1. 4.  Educational Technology focuses on the design of programs to achieve their intended performance goals, the human and technological systems and in which performance occurs, and whether learning programs or other types of efforts (called performance interventions) are best suited to address the goals. Because technology often plays a significant role in the design and delivery of these interventions, Educational Technology also looks at software and hardware systems, from individual e-book readers used for textbooks to Learning Management Systems that affect the delivery and management of learning programs throughout an organization.  Our Educational Technology program is rooted in the philosophy of Human Performance Technology, which proposes that the purpose of education is to help learners successfully accomplish worthy goals for themselves, the organizations that sponsor their programs, and society.  Specifically, educational technology focuses on:
  • Human performance technology
  • Human resources development
  • Educational cybernetics; systems analysis and design
  • Media research and development
  • Distance education
  • e-Learning
  • Support for particular types of learners, including learners in the workplace, school children, university students, learners with special needs, and community-based learning.


3.  What type of research training does the Education Doctoral Program at Concordia provide?

Excellent research training Regardless of your specialization, faculty in the Department of Education can prepare you to effectively conduct many types of research, including:

  • Empirical studies, which draw upon experimental, observational, and descriptive methods—including mixed methods
  • Systems analyses
  • Theoretical analyses
  • Meta-analyses and similar studies, which synthesize several previous empirical studies

Students receive this preparation through a variety of courses in their program—including courses on intermediate and advanced research methods and cognitive psychology—as well as a doctoral seminar that introduces students to a broad range of research and theory in education, and writing the types of reports typically producedby researchers.

Students also have opportunities to learn about research by working with faculty on their research studies, and to demonstrate their research skills through the captstone project: the dissertation.

4.  Who should apply?

The Doctoral program in Education at Concordia University is intended for students with a variety of long-term interests and needs, including:

  • Aspiring academic faculty. The academic part of the program specifically prepares students to conduct research in the field, and helps students to develop the expertise needed to succeed in the research lab and in the classroom.
  • Aspiring educational leaders, policy analysts, and consultants, all of which involve work in which research is as important as it is in academic positions, even though much of the research often has applied uses.

5. How might our doctoral degree benefit you?

Consider these ways that the Education Doctoral Program at Concordia University benefits its students and graduates:

  • Strong research training, with exposure to a variety of research methods and their underlying philosophies, and hands-on research skill development through course projects, research assistantships (when available), and dissertation research.
  • An interdisciplinary experience.  Because our program encompasses all of the disciplines in which we specialize, students are exposed to issues of learning throughout the lifetime, from early childhood to adult education, and from discipline-specific issues to the applications of technology.  But more than exposure, our program encourages students to explore links among disciplines, and study and conduct research across these disciplines.
  • Excellent urban location.  The Department of Education is housed on the downtown campus (called Sir George Williams campus) of Concordia University a 1-block walk from the Guy-Concordia station of Montreal’s efficient Metro system.  The University library is downstairs in the same building.  Within a 2-blocks radius of the department are the Hall Building of Concordia—which hosts many student and cultural events, much housing for students, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Ste-Catherine Street–the retail heart of downtown Montreal, and Crescent Street—one of the entertainment centers of Montreal.  Beyond 2 blocks? The most unique and culturally diverse urban centers in North America.
  • A connection to community.  Concordia University prides itself on maintaining strong links to the community.  Complementing a university that is well integrated into its surrounding communities and institutional outreach programs like the University of the Streets, the faculty of the Department of Education maintain strong relationships with community and professional organizations, which, in turn, provide a real-world labs to help apply the programs developed through our research.
  • Reasonable tuition and living costs. Quebec university tuition is the lowest in Canada for in-province, in-country, and international students.

In addition, Montreal has one of the most reasonable costs of living of any metropolitan area of its size in North America. Specifically housing, public transit, and food are especially reasonably priced.

  • Diversity. Like the population of Montreal, the student population in the Department of Education is a diverse one, representing cultures and backgrounds from 6 continents, as well as diverse life experience.

6.  How long does the program take?

In terms of time:

  • 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.

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.

7.  How does the doctoral program work?

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.

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

Phase 3: 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.

Phase 4: 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.

Phase 5: 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).

8. What types of academic support do we provide to students?

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.

Support from the Academic Committee 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.

Other Types of Support 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.

9. Who’s involved with our program?

Although doctoral studies emphasize independent work, that does not mean solitary work.  In your studies, you will interact with:

Like our faculty, students in the Education Doctoral Program at Concordia University reflects a diverse set of interests and expertise in education and related fields.

10. How have our graduates fared?

Although Concordia launched the Education Doctoral Program in 2008, this program builds on the 25-year tradition of a previous PhD program in Educational Technology.

Because of the similarity among those programs, the post-graduation experiences of students in the earlier program can provide some insights into the likely post-graduation experiences of those entering the Education Doctoral Program.

Graduates of that program are working as:

  • Academic faculty, at universities in the U.S., South America, and Asia.
  • Education leaders at organizations including positions in senior administration, faculty development, e-learning development and administration,
  • Consultants specializing in workplace learning, educational policy, and school curriculum
  • Leaders in nonprofit organizations and NGOs, government agencies, and corporations.

11. How can I finance doctoral studies?

Students are ultimately responsible for financing their own studies. Therefore, as you consider your application for this program, also consider how you plan to cover tuition and living expenses.

Some issues to consider as you do so:

  • When considering the total cost of studies, note that the total cost of a doctoral degree at Concordia compares favorably to the total cost of studying at other universities in North America—even if other universities offer financial support as part of their offer of admission.

That’s because our tuition and cost of living are reasonable and, thus, lower the total cost of education.

  • When planning financially, consider the total cost of studies:  not only basic tuition and fees, but also housing, food, books and computers, insurance, entertainment and, for those whose family live in other communities, the cost of return visits.
  • Note, too, that other universities include the Research and Teaching Assistantships as part of the admissions offer.

Although Concordia offers many such opportunities but does not include them as part of the formal offer of admission.

Therefore, when considering the admissions offer, ours cannot be compared to those of other universities.

Furthermore, the Department of Education and Concordia University offer several work opportunities as well as bursaries (scholarships) and loans for doctoral students.

Work Opportunities for Doctoral Students:  Many students work while studying for their PhD. Doing so not only provides immediate funds, but valuable experience.  We advise students that they can work as many as 10 to 20 hours per week without seriously impacting their studies.

But where are the opportunities?  Here are some possibilities:

  • Working as a Teaching Assistant (RA).  If you have a prior degree in the area in which you are specializing, and if your program offers undergraduate studies, working as a Teaching Assistant in the first year is a possibility.  Jobs for Teaching Assistants are posted between mid-July and early August; applications begin immediately because work starts at the beginning of the academic term.  Note that, if you do not have a prior degree in the area in which you are specializing, serving as a TA in the department during the first year is not likely.  However, TA opportunities for other subjects exist through e-Concordia, the online teaching unit at the university.  (Other academic units reserve their TA positions for their own graduate students.)   Typical TA positions offer 8 to 10 hours of work per week.
  • Working as a Research Assistant (RA).  Professors who have funded research hire RAs to assist them with one or more aspects of their studies.  Because each research project has its own schedule, opportunities often exist year-round.   Contact individual professors to learn of their need for RAs, although most cannot hire you until after you arrive on campus.
  • Finding other on-campus employment.  Opportunities exist in other parts of the campus community for employment, including part-time and work-study employment.   Some involve development of educational resources, others involve teaching English as a Second Language, and still others involve working in one of the student services departments on campus.  These opportunities are posted on the Concordia website.
  • Working off-campus.  For those entering with professional experience, you might find part-time employment opportunities with private employers off-campus. For example, students might work part-time as editors, instructional designers, adult educators, and consultants to school boards.  Because the dominant language of life and work in Montreal is French, many off-campus employment opportunities require French language skills.

Caution:  Regardless of the source of employment, experience suggests that full-time PhD students should work no more than 10 to 20 hours per week during their academic year. Although working longer might offer financial benefits, students who have done so in the past have had serious problems with academic performance.

If you plan to study as an international student and would have a student visa, you are eligible to work as many as 20 hours a week during the academic year and full-time during the summer break.

Bursaries (Scholarships):  Concordia University offer some bursaries (scholarships) and similar types of assistance.  These are competitive (PhD students in all programs compete for most of these) and go to the students with the strongest overall academic records.

We automatically consider all applicants for bursaries as part of the application process.

Several bursaries are also available to current students.  We notify students of these opportunities and the application deadlines.  Students submit applications for the bursaries of interest.

For more information about the bursaries available and the criteria for selecting them, visit

Loans might also be available.  Please visit the Financial Aid section of the Graduate School website for information about student loans.

For further information about financing your degree, please visit the Financial aid and awards page of the web site for the Graduate School at Concordia University (

12.  What do we expect of entering students?

Like all doctoral programs, ours assumes that students have had:

  • Prior study in the areas in which they plan to specialize.  As a result, students identify their intended area(s) of specialization on the application form.

If you have not completed prior study in the area in which you want to specialize:  We recognize  that some students develop an interest in Education after completing master’s studies in other disciplines.  Such students are encouraged to apply to our program but should be prepared to complete some additional study so that they have the foundational knowledge needed to conduct in-depth, independent research in the field.

  • Previous independent research experience.  As a result, applicants are asked to submit a sample of academic writing that demonstrates their independent research skills.
  • Meet these minimum academic requirements:
    • Grade Point Average of 3.0 (on a 4.3 scale) or equivalent in prior degrees
    • English proficiency test:
    • TOEFL (Internet based): 90 or higher overall
    • TOEFL (written) 577 or higher
    • IELTS: Overall 7 or higher (because students will need to work at a high level of proficiency, we also look for a minimum score of 6.5 on both the written and oral tests)

13. Should I contact a prospective supervisor before I submit my application?

Rather than asking students to find a supervisor prior to submitting an application, our entire faculty participates in the admissions decision.  This ensures that the applicant has the support of the entire faculty when entering the program, rather than just one or two faculty members.

Afterwards, the group decides who will serve as interim supervisor and interim committee members. We do consider student preferences in making these assignments, but the faculty member the student suggested might not be available to serve or the faculty might be aware of an even better match that the student might not have considered.

We only assign an interim supervisor and committee.  Later in the program, when students qualify for the dissertation, they may choose their own supervisor and committee, basing their decisions on first-hand experience of having had worked with the faculty members.

14. How should I submit an application?

Following the instructions at the website of the Graduate School at Concordia University (, complete an application. An application includes:

  • Application form (which you submit online through the online admissions process)
  • Research statement (which you submit online through the online admissions process)
  • Additional sample of academic writing (which you submit online through the online admissions process)
  • 3 references (submitted by the referees, not by the student; we will not consider references submitted by students; references from professors who were your instructors or supervised thesis research are most highly valued)
  • Transcripts from every school (submitted directly by the school from which you graduated; we do not accept transcripts submitted by students—nor do we make exceptions.  Furthermore, the application is not considered complete until transcripts are received from the school).  Many universities now offer options to order transcripts online and indicate where to send those transcripts.

Note:  Make sure that your complete application is received by the application deadline.  Please check the Application Deadlines Chart ( at the website for the Graduate School for deadlines for the coming year.

15. When should I submit the application?

We only review applications once per year, in January.

We do not review late applications under any circumstances.

For the current application deadline, visit

16. What happens after I submit an application?

Because we only accept doctoral students for the Fall term, we only review applications once a year—the winter before students are admitted to the university.  We do not accept nor review applications at other time.

The website for the Graduate School at Concordia University provides application dates ( and admissions forms.  First applications are generally due in early December, with final applications due in late January or early February.  Again—please check the website for the Graduate School at Concordia University for actual dates for the coming year.

But what happens once we receive a completed application?

The review begins.  Our admissions process operates somewhat differently than that at other universities.  Because our entire faculty makes a commitment to the student at admissions time, our admissions process provides the entire faculty an opportunity to participate in that decision.

Here is a summary of the way our process works.

First, we prepare applications for review.  During this phase, the Program Administrator reviews all applications to make sure that they are complete, that grades meet minimum entry requirements, and that English proficiency tests (required for students educated outside of Canada, or who have not completed a bachelor’s or higher degree in English) meet minimum requirements.

For degrees from academic systems outside of Canada, an assessment is made by an expert familiar with the equivalencies of different systems.

Note: We do not waive either minimum grade or language requirements.  Applications that do not meet minimum requirements are not sent for further review.

Second, we conduct an initial review of applications.  During this phase, the Education Doctoral Committee—a committee that oversees the program–reviews applications to determine which ones to consider further.  Issues considered include:

  • Ability of the applicant to conduct research independently in one or more of the disciplines of education in which we specialize—Applied Linguistics, Child Study, Educational Studies, or Educational Technology.  Evidence for this is provided in your research statement and your writing sample, as well as through the interview.
  • The match between your research interests and those of our faculty, to make sure that someone on faculty can meaningfully guide you in your studies.  Evidence for this is provided in your research statement and your writing sample, as well as through the interview.
  • The likelihood of your success in our program.  This is assessed through:
    • The record of your past accomplishments
    • Your awareness of our program, its faculty, and its strengths.  Evidence for this provided in the research statement and the interview.
    • Quality of the research statement (does it demonstrate a strong familiarity with the research topic and with education, as well as  propose a compelling research statement)
    • Quality of writing samples (does it demonstrate an excellent ability to communicate their ideas)
    • References (are they all from faculty who have either taught students or supervised their thesis?)

Third, we conduct a secondary review of applications.  During this phase, the faculty in the specializations within the Department of Education  review applications to determine which candidates to interview.   Faculty  considers the same issues as the Education Doctoral Committee, as well as the likely match between applicants’ and faculty’s research interests.

Fourth, we interview candidates.  Members of the entire Department of Education (especially those in the area of specialization of the applicants) conduct brief (20-minute) interviews with candidates to learn more about their research interests, and to provide candidates with an opportunity to ask questions.

The criteria for assessing the interview are the same as those used for the earlier assessment of the application.

We conclude by selecting and notifying candidates.  Based on the interview, the faculty determines as a group whether to admit the applicant.  This ensures that the applicant has the support of the entire group, rather than just one or two faculty members.

Afterwards, the group decides who will serve as interim supervisor and interim committee members. We do consider student preferences in making these assignments, but the faculty member the student suggested might not be available to serve or the faculty might be aware of an even better match that the student might not have considered.

We only assign an interim supervisor and committee.  Later in the program, when students qualify for the dissertation, they may choose their own supervisor and committee, basing their decisions on first-hand experience of having had worked with the faculty members.

17. Contacts

We encourage you to ask questions throughout the process of considering and applying to our program.

For questions about:

  • Admissions requirements and process, contact either Saul Carliner–Graduate Program Director ( or Nadine Wright—Graduate Program Administrator(
  • Faculty research:   Identify faculty from the departmental listing at

Note: Please note that faculty members are not able to make a commitment to your acceptance, much less a commitment to supervise your studies (as is the case in some other universities).  They may, however, tell you more about their research, studies in their program area, and the experiences of current doctoral students. Financial Aid, Visit the web page, Information about Financial Aid for Prospective Students at

Note: The positions stated here are the private ones of the Program Director.


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