Graduate Programs and Courses

108 PhD in Educational Studies

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Educational Studies is a research degree requiring a dissertation on original and significant research within traditional educational and community-based educational contexts extending from early childhood through mature adulthood.

The general goal of the Doctor of Philosophy program in Educational Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island is to examine education at an advanced level from a variety of perspectives, including, but not limited to, the investigation of theoretical and practical aspects of policy, curricula, teaching and teacher education, administration, and professionalism.

Graduates of the PhD in Educational Studies develop the competence and expertise needed to assume positions of leadership, such as educational researchers in institutional and non-institutional contexts; teacher educators; curriculum and instructional leaders in school boards and private industry; and school, school board, and governmental educational administrators. This program also promotes collaborative work with colleagues in educational endeavours and lifelong professional development. The program provides learning opportunities in which the candidate, in supervisory and collegial relationships with one or more faculty members:

1. develops a critical and comprehensive understanding of significant trends and major concerns in the field of education, and formulates and expresses, both orally and in writing, personal and professional positions in relation to how these trends and concerns are manifested in their area of interest;

2. develops in-depth knowledge and understanding of different philosophical stances in education and educational research and their sociopolitical and practical implications;

3. develops an understanding of, and ability to use and evaluate, a wide range of research methodologies used in educational research;

4. designs and presents a proposal for an original research project of significance in the field of education;

5. completes the proposed research under faculty supervision, then writes and orally defends a dissertation;

6. develops competencies in clear and logical writing skills that allow for disseminating knowledge to a variety of audiences;

7. develops competencies in leadership roles within formal and/or informal educational institutions, agencies, or communities.

Supervisory Committee

The candidate works with a supervisor, and possibly a co-supervisor, appointed at the time of admission to the program and based on a fit between the candidate’s area of interest and the area of expertise, publication, and funding of the supervisor(s). Supervisor(s) are member(s) of the UPEI graduate faculty with supervisory or co-supervisory privileges. The Supervisory Committee is chaired or co-chaired by the supervisor(s) and includes two other members of the UPEI graduate faculty.

Program Requirements

Students are enrolled in the UPEI PhD program in Educational Studies as a full-time student for three years. This program also requires a residency of three semesters, normally completed consecutively. If, after three years, students have not completed all degree requirements, they continue to pay a maintenance fee to UPEI until all requirements are completed. Students have a maximum of seven years to complete all degree requirements.

The UPEI PhD in Educational Studies includes four courses, a comprehensive portfolio, and a dissertation.

Required courses:

ED 7000 – Advanced Quantitative Methodology and Methods in Education Research
ED 7010 – Advanced Qualitative Methodology and Methods in Education Research
ED 7020 – Directed Studies in Educational Research Methodology and Methods
ED 7034 – Theory in Educational Research
ED 7040 – Graduate Seminar in Educational Studies
ED 7050 – Comprehensive Examination (ePortfolio and Oral Defence)
ED 7060 – PhD Dissertation

Submission of Dissertation

When the dissertation, in its final form, has been prepared after the final oral examination, the student brings six unbound copies to the Co-ordinator of Graduate Studies at least four weeks prior to Convocation.

Each copy must be submitted in a separate folder with the pages numbered and arranged in the appropriate order. The dissertation must be free from typographical and other errors. All copies must include the Certificate of Approval signed by the Examination Committee and the members of the Supervisory Committee. Also included must be a brief Abstract and a copy of the circulation waiver and the copying licence.

When accepted by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, one copy is retained for microfilming and deposited to the University Library after being bound. A second copy is released to the Faculty of Education. A third copy is released to the student’s supervisor and three copies are released to the student.


The University requires publication of the dissertation in the following manner:

One unbound copy of the dissertation is forwarded to Library and Archives Canada, together with an agreement form signed by the candidate authorizing Library and Archives Canada to microfilm the dissertation and make microfilm copies available for sale on request. Library and Archives Canada film the dissertation exactly as it is and list the dissertation in Canadiana as a publication of Library and Archives Canada.

A fee is charged by Library and Archives Canada to offset the cost of microfilming.

A Library and Archives Canada Microfilm Agreement form is sent to the candidate prior to the PhD Dissertation, to be signed and submitted to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies immediately after the successful completion of the examination.

The student, in consultation with the Supervisor and the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, shall have the right to request that circulation and/or copying of the dissertation in any form be withheld.

Circulation and Copying of Dissertation

In normal circumstances, as a condition of engaging in graduate study at the University, the author of a dissertation grants certain licences and waivers in respect to the circulation and copying of the dissertation:

  • to the University Librarian, a waiver permitting the circulation of the dissertation as part of the Library collection;
  • to the University, a licence to make single copies of the dissertation under carefully specified conditions;
  • to Library and Archives Canada, a licence to microfilm the dissertation under carefully specified conditions.

Copyright Provision

Copies of the dissertation shall have on the title page the words “In partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of PhD in Educational Studies.” The international copyright notice, which consists of three elements in the same line — the © symbol (the letter “C” enclosed in a circle), the name of the copyright owner (the student), and the year — should appear as a bottom line on the title page of the dissertation.


This course explores an extensive range of quantitative approaches to research in education including, but not limited to, experimental and quasi-experimental research and surveys. The course also focuses on statistical analyzes appropriate for quantitative research.

This course explores a range of qualitative methodologies and methods in qualitative inquiry in educational studies and locates these approaches in broader theoretical and epistemological trends in social science and humanities. In addition, students will explore varying ways to collect, analyze and interpret qualitative data. Taught by active researchers with expertise in qualitative research methodologies, the course prepares students for critiquing and using qualitative research.

Working with their dissertation supervisor(s), students develop in-depth knowledge and practical expertise related to specific research methods appropriate to their chosen dissertations.
PREREQUISITE:  ED 7000 and ED 7010

Facilitated by the student’s supervisor(s), this course focuses on reading and development of a comprehensive literature review in the area of interest of the student’s doctoral dissertation.

This course focuses on the evolution of educational thought from a variety of cultural perspectives. The interplay of theorists and theories from philosophy, psychology, and sociology will be drawn together to explore their influence on conceptions and practices of education.
PREREQUISITE: ED 7040 and one methods course (ED 7000 or ED 7010)

In this seminar, students are exposed to and engaged in selecting and critiquing a wide variety of public scholarly presentations by visiting scholars and UPEI faculty researchers, and facilitating scholarly dialogue among those who attend. The course also requires students to prepare a book review for publication in a scholarly journal, and present for critique by peers and colleagues the literature review prepared for ED 7030.

The ePortfolio is an independent work, separate from the dissertation proposal, where the student provides evidence of his or her knowledge, skills, and readiness to embark on a dissertation journey. Students collect pieces of their own work completed throughout the program, in a variety of formats, which demonstrate 1) that they have read broadly in the field of educational studies; 2) that they have in-depth knowledge of the literature in one area of research interest, which could be related or unrelated to the intended dissertation topic; and 3) that they have a critical understanding of methodologies and attendant methods used in educational studies, including quantitative and qualitative paradigms. In an introduction to the portfolio, students make a case for the documents they include in the portfolio by justifying how the documents demonstrate that the goals of the comprehensive requirement have been reached.  Students’ competencies in the course are assessed through a comprehensive examination, which includes an assessment of the eportfolio and an oral defence of their competencies in four areas of competency (i.e., Knowledge of Theory, Research Knowledge, Professional Competencies, and Instructional Competencies).
PREREQUISITE:  ED 7020, 7034, 7040

The PhD dissertation provides evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out independent and original research, develop the necessary theoretical and methodological framework and analyzes, and present the findings in a scholarly manner.


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