Conflict Studies

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  • Program requirements

The Faculty of Human Sciences (FHS) at Saint Paul University offers a PhD in Conflict Studies, which is conferred jointly by the senates of Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa under the terms of the federation agreement between them.

This bilingual (English-French) program caters to students from both academic and professional backgrounds. In accordance with  Saint Paul University regulations, students have the right to submit their work, their thesis, and to answer examination questions in French or in English. The program is offered on a full-time basis.

The program, administered by the School of Conflict Studies,  focuses particularly on four interrelated themes: ethnic, religious, moral and social justice dimensions of conflicts. To arrive at a comprehensive understanding of these dimensions of conflict, the program takes a multidisciplinary approach.

Graduates of the PhD program will be prepared to:

  • Generate original, theoretically informed analyses based on in-depth knowledge of the ethnic, religious, moral and social justice dimensions of conflicts;
  • Design and conduct research that contributes to the advancement of the knowledge of one or more of these aspects or facets of conflicts within the field of Conflict Studies.

Students are encouraged to consult the list of professors and their areas of interest which are posted on the FHS website to determine whom they might want to ask to serve as a supervisor for their doctoral work.

The program operates within the framework of the General Regulations of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FGPS), which are posted on the FGPS website.

To be considered for admission, applicants must:

  • Hold a master’s degree or equivalent in Conflict Studies or in a related discipline (Administration, Canadian Studies, Communication, Criminology, Economy, Ethics, History, Human Geography, Industrial Relations, Intercultural Communication, International Development, International Studies, Labor Relations, Law, Philosophy, Political Science, Public Ethics, Religious Studies, Social Psychology, Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Mission Studies and Interreligious Dialogue, Women's Studies).
  • Have achieved a minimum average of 75% (B+) calculated in accordance with FGPS guidelines;
  • Provide three confidential letters of recommendation;
  • Provide a CV and a statement of purpose outlining their career goals;
  • Identify at least one professor in the program whose research interests correspond to theirs;
  • Provide a detailed draft of their proposed research project.

Fast-track from the Masters to the PhD program

Students enrolled in the MA program may be allowed to fast-track to the PhD program without having completed the MA thesis, provided that they meet the following conditions:

  • have completed the last two years of their undergraduate studies with a minimum of an A- average;
  • have completed six of the seven compulsory courses in the MA program, 18 credits, with a grade equal to or greater than A- for each of these courses;
  • have demonstrated satisfactory progress in their research program;
  • have a written recommendation from the proposed PhD thesis supervisor;
  • have approval from the Graduate Studies Committee of the Faculty of Human Sciences.

Students must make a written request to fast-track at the beginning of their fourth session of registration or earlier, and, if approved, must register for the PhD in their fifth session at the latest. Once in the PhD program all program requirements must be met.

Language Requirements

It is required to demonstrate an active knowledge of either English or French, and the capacity to comprehend and read the other language (English or French). Language proficiency may be demonstrated by providing any of the following:

  1. proof of having studied for at least three years (full time) in a high school, college or university in Canada or elsewhere where the language of instruction was exclusively English or French;
  2. a minimum TOEFL score of 600 on the paper-based test (or 250 on the computer-based test) with a minimum  writing score of 4.5; IBT 100 (writing: 24);
  3. an IELTS score of 7 (writing: 6.5);
  4. an average  score of 4.5 in listening/ reading,  and a score of 4.0 in writing on the CanTEST (for English) or the TESTCan (for French) administered by the University of Ottawa. 

The Faculty of Human Sciences (FHS) reserves the right to conduct an interview to determine an applicant`s language level. If a student’s doctoral research requires knowledge of a language other than French or English, the FHS may require proof of such knowledge.

Some additional documents, and in some cases specific forms, are required. For more information, please see the page Step 4: Gather the documents needed for the assessment of your application.

The requirements of the PhD program in Conflict Studies include successful completion of 15 credits of coursework, a comprehensive examination and a thesis. 


Compulsory Courses (9 credits)

ECS8901 Doctoral Seminar I (3cr.)
ECS8902 Doctoral Seminar II (3cr.)
ECS8903 Research Methodology (3cr.)

Thesis proposal (ECS9997) (no credits)

The Thesis proposal must be submitted to the Thesis Advisory Committee for evaluation and approval before the end of the fifth session. In the event of failure, the proposal can be resubmitted and defended the following session at the latest. A second failure leads to withdrawal from the program. The proposal must be approved by the Research Ethics Board before undertaking data collection.

Elective Courses (6 credits)

Two (2) elective courses (6 credits) from the list of graduate courses from the Conflict Studies program at Saint Paul University, from other programs at Saint Paul University or at another university. Students may also choose ECS8911 Selected Readings and Research (3cr.) as one of their two elective courses. Course selection is subject to the approval of the program director.

Comprehensive Examination (ECS9998)

The comprehensive exam allows  students to demonstrate their mastery of the content of the courses as well as their ability to integrate and apply their knowledge to conflict situations. In the event of failure, the proposal can be resubmitted and defended the following session at the latest. A second failure leads to withdrawal from the program. The comprehensive examination, which includes a written and an oral component, must be completed within 24 months of initial registration in the program. The procedures for the comprehensive exam are found in the Doctoral Student Guide in Conflict Studies, available under the heading “Handbooks for Students” on the FHS web page.

Thesis (ECS9999)

Duration of the program

The requirements of the program are usually fulfilled within four years. The maximum time permitted is six years from the date of initial registration in the program, or seven years in the case of the students fast-tracked from the master’s to the doctorate.


All students must complete a minimum of six sessions of full-time registration at the beginning of the program.

Minimum Standards

The passing grade in all courses is 70 (B). Students who fail two courses (equivalent to 6 credits), the comprehensive exam, the thesis proposal, the thesis or whose progress is deemed unsatisfactory must withdraw from the program.

Thesis Advisory Committee

A thesis advisory committee will be formed during the first session in the program, in consultation with the student based on potential thesis topics proposed in the initial application to the program. The thesis advisory committee will be composed of the supervisor and two additional professors who have agreed to offer the student support and direction throughout their doctoral studies.  At least two members of the committee must be from the School of Conflict Studies. The composition of the committee is finalized at the end of the first year of the program. By the end of the third session, the student in consultation with the thesis supervisor must register the thesis topic with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

ECS 8901 - Doctoral Seminar

Seminar aimed at enabling students to gain expertise in  Conflict Studies, from a multidisciplinary approach. Epistemologies of Conflict Studies. Exploration of the field in connection with the student’s research interests.

Prerequisite: Active knowledge of English or French and passive knowledge of the other language.

ECS 8902 - Doctoral Seminar II


Seminar aimed at enabling students to gain expertise in Conflict Studies, from a multidisciplinary approach. Exploration of the field in connection with the student’s research interests.

Prerequisites: ECS8901. Active knowledge of English or French and passive knowledge of the other language.

ECS 8903 - Research Methodology

Critical evaluation of research findings in the human sciences. Qualitative and quantitative methods of gathering, validating, and interpreting evidence. Issues in research ethics. Applications in graduate research projects and theses. Prerequisite: Active knowledge of English or French and  passive knowledge of the other language.

ECS 8911 - Selected Readings and Research

ECS 9997 - Thesis Proposal

ECS 9998 - Comprehensive Examination

ECS 9999 - Doctoral Thesis

Prerequisites: ECS9997 and ECS9998

Contact Us

Office of the Associate Vice-Rector, Strategic Enrolment Management
Room 148
Saint Paul University
223 Main Street
Ottawa, ON
K1S 1C4

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Telephone: 613-236-1393
Fax: 613-782-3014

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1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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Information for future students

Saint Paul University

223 Main Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1S 1C4


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