PhD Programs in Canada

Vishesh Chogtu
Modified on 2020-10-16 in Canada
Read time: 5 mins


PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is the highest postgraduate degree that can be achieved by an individual. The Ph.D. is a scientific research doctorate or doctorate studies which consists of a duration of three to five years. As its name, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is not limited to philosophy related studies but is also studied in a number of disciples such as economics, psychology, physics etc. Students who study a PhD degree have to submit a research work in their particular field in the form of a thesis.

Why Study PhD in Canada

Canada has always been preferred and is popular among the top countries for international studies.
Many students opt to study in Canada for various reasons such as:

  • Quality Education and Scholarship – Canada provides world class education which is globally recognized across the world. As compared to other countries, international students can get valuable education at lower cost. Canada also offers a number of scholarships which reduces the overall expenses for international students.  
  • Employment opportunities – Students who successfully complete their doctorate can get an opportunity to live and work in Canada for up to three years and can also get a permanent residency or citizenship.
  • Campus Life – Apart from quality education, Canadian university have a great campus life for their students. Each university has their own cultural events and parties that help students to mingle with multicultural people and also acts as a stress buster. Most of the universities provide the students with facilities such as free Wi-Fi, Daily newspapers, journals, magazines etc.
  • Outdoors and Environment – From the Great Lakes of Ontario and Québec, the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Prairies of Alberta to the wilderness of the vast Northwest Territories: there are plenty of places for the students to explore and enjoy.

Top 10 Canadian universities that offer PhD programs

Due to Canada’s vast geographical size, the country is made up of 10 provinces and 3 territories. Provinces are independent sovereign entities whereas territories have their authority delegated by the central federal government.

The major difference between Canadian provinces and territories is for international PhD students is
that only provinces have research universities with the ability to offer doctoral programs to the students.

Top 10 universities which offers PhD and doctoral programs to their students

  • University of Alberta
  • University of British Columbia
  • McGill University
  • McMaster University
  • University of Montreal
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Waterloo
  • York University
  • University of Manitoba

Types of PhD Programs

Apart from the traditional PhD or Doctor of Philosophy, there are various other kinds of PhD programs and degrees for students to choose from depending on their academic qualification and area of study. They are as follows.

  • Academic
  • Professional
  • Higher
  • Honorary
  • Part Time PhD Study

Description of PhD Types

Academic: An academic doctorate which is mainly the standard PhD, are usually for original research and scholarship in academic subjects. It helps prepare a student for various careers with the main focus is of broadening theoretical understanding of a subject, rather than improving professional practice.

Professional: Professional doctorates are mainly given for work that contributes directly to knowledge or practice in a specific vocational field. They also involve original research and analysis, but it incorporates more practical training and instruction. Candidates require appropriate experience for the same.

Higher: Higher doctorates are awarded later in a person’s career, as a means of recognizing esteemed researchers or practitioners. Students normally do not enroll for this kind of doctorates as compared to the traditional university degrees.

Honorary: This kind of doctorates is awarded to individuals to celebrate an individual’s achievements. They do not require any specific track record of academic or professional work and can be granted at the discretion of a university.

Part Time PhD Study: As the name suggests, this is a part time PhD program for individuals who are doing their research along with their PhD study. However, most universities do not offer a part time PhD study as the success rate is very low.

Admission Requirements for a PhD Course

Interested students have to apply online. However, here are lists of some general documents which are required.

  • A Masters degree in the related subject.
  • English proficiency test such as TOEFL
  • Student Visa / Study Permit
  • Passport
  • Letter of recommendation

Scholarships available for PhD Programs

Canadian universities provide a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities for their international students who wish to study a PhD program. Here are some common scholarships available.

  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships – provides funding for international students on selected PhD projects at Canadian universities.
  • IDRC Doctoral Research Awards – offers up to CAD $20,000 for over 3-12 months for students from developing countries who wish to study PhD in Canada.
  • IDRC Research Awards – offers a minimum salary of CAD 40,000 for PhD students from developing countries to complete an internship at the International Development Research Centre.
  • Trudeau Doctoral Scholarships – provide PhD funding for international students in a range of subjects.
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships – provide international students with CAD $50,000 per year for three years of PhD study in Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences or Humanities.


  1. How long does a PhD take?

It usually takes 3 years for a PhD course.

  1. How much does a PhD course cost?

The cost of a PhD course depends on the university, subject and scholarship if applicable.

  1. What qualifications are required for a PhD course?

A Masters degree or its international equivalent is often required for admission to a PhD course.

  1. What documents are required to apply for student visa in Canada?

Applicants are generally required:

  • Proof of acceptance and enrolment to an accredited institution in Canada.
  • A valid passport and proof of financial support.
  • Additionally, students have to have proof of no criminal history or endangering medical conditions of any sort and willingly undergo medical testing as required.
  1. Are Canada qualifications recognized worldwide?

Yes, degrees from Canadian institutions are accepted worldwide and known for their quality of education.

About the Author

Vishesh Chogtu

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