Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Research on Contemporary Social Issues

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  • Program requirements

Saint Paul University, through its faculties of Human Sciences, Theology, Philosophy, and Canon Law, offers a PhD in Interdisciplinary Research on Contemporary Social Issues. This degree is conferred jointly by the Senates of Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa under the terms of the federation agreement between them.

The interdisciplinary research doctorate provides a space for reflection to increase understanding of contemporary social issues taking account of the insights of the graduate disciplines of the four participating faculties.

The program prepares leaders intending to assume responsibility for addressing contemporary social issues.

The admission requirements are as follows:

  • A master’s degree, or equivalent, in Human Sciences, Theology, Philosophy, Canon Law or in other disciplines such as Canadian Studies, Communication, Economics, Health Sciences, History, Human Geography, Industrial Relations, Intercultural Communication, International Development, International Studies, Labour Relations, Law, Management, Medicine, Political Science, Public Administration, Public Ethics, Social Psychology, Social Work, Sociocultural Anthropology, Religious Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies;
  • An average of 8.0 (A-) calculated in accordance with graduate studies guidelines;
  • Significant experience (minimum two years) in addressing contemporary social and/or social justice issues, obtained either through volunteer activities or employment (in roles such as: Director/Manager, Teacher/Instructor, Policy Analyst, Project Officer, Foreign Aid worker, Nurse, Journalist, Military Officer, Human Resources Specialist, Public Servant, Lawyer, Crisis Management/Disaster Management Officer, Immigration Officer, etc)*;
  • Proficiency in either English or French and the ability to read and understand the spoken and written word in the other language;
  • Three confidential letters of recommendation, including one from a professional familiar with the candidates’ social commitment and able to confirm their suitability for advanced research (candidates returning to the university after many years in the workforce may provide two letters from immediate supervisors confirming their social commitment and suitability for advanced research);
  • A CV and a letter of intent (maximum 500 words) setting out the candidate’s career goals;
  • A draft of the thesis project (maximum 1,000 words);
  • The name of at least one professor whose research interests correspond to the proposed thesis topic;
  • An interview with the Interdisciplinary Program Committee (IPC).

* Candidates who have not yet achieved the required two-years of experience may be admitted on an exceptional basis. They will have to complete an internship as part of their program.

Compulsory Courses (15 units)

  • HTP7901 Doctoral Seminar / Séminaire de doctorat (3u)
  • A minimum of four elective graduate courses (12u). At least two of the courses must be in different schools or faculties. A directed readings (HTP8901) or a research internship (HTP8304) may, with permission, replace a regular course.

The choice of courses and registration in a directed readings course or an internship must be approved in advance by the Interdisciplinary Program Committee (IPC).

The internship is compulsory for candidates admitted without having achieved the required level of field experience.

Comprehensive Examination (HTP9998)

The comprehensive examination, overseen by the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC), has a written and an oral component. The questions must be drawn from at least two different disciplines. Anyone who fails the written of the oral is entitled to one retake, which must happen the following term. A second failure in either component leads to a grade of NS (not satisfactory) and to withdrawal from the program. The examination must normally take place by the end of the fifth term and by the end of the sixth at the latest. Failure to sit and pass the examination by the deadline counts as a failure.

Thesis Proposal (HTP9997)

The thesis proposal is prepared under the guidance of the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) and it must be considered acceptable and defended orally to the Committee’s satisfaction before the end of the sixth or at the latest the seventh term. In the event of failure, the proposal may be submitted and defended a second time no later than the following term. A second failure leads to a grade of NS (not satisfactory) and to withdrawal from the program.

The proposal, once found acceptable by the TAC, must be forwarded to the IPC for approval, a step that must be completed before submitting it to the Research Ethics Board (if required) and before undertaking any independent data collection.

Doctoral Thesis (HTP9999)

The thesis may be a monograph format or a series of articles or a theoretical exposition linked to a project with an agency.

Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC)

During the second term in the program, a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) is formed. The Committee is composed of the thesis supervisor and at least two other professors, one of whom must belong to a faculty other than that of the thesis supervisor. The Committee’s membership must be approved by the Interdisciplinary Program Committee (IPC). Meetings between the student and the Committee take place at least twice each year commencing with the second year of registration in the program.

Academic Regulations

HTP 7901 - Doctoral Seminar

Epistemological and methodological implications of interdisciplinary research on contemporary social issues, especially in relation to the students’ thesis topics.

HTP 8304 - Research Internship

Internship of 150 hours in a setting relevant to the thesis research, involving advanced and sustained research and analysis. The internship is supervised and the work evaluated by a professor who is a member of the program. Graded S/NS.

Prerequisite: Approval of the internship proposal by the Interdisciplinary Program Committee (IPC).

HTP 8901 - Directed Readings

Individual course aimed at deepening knowledge of an area relevant to the thesis research.

Prerequisite: Permission of the Interdisciplinary Program Committee (IPC).

HTP 9997 - Thesis Proposal

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the comprehensive examination.

HTP 9998 - Comprehensive Examination

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the coursework.

HTP 9999 - Doctoral Thesis

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

Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Please leave your documents in the mailbox in front of room 148 when our offices are closed.

Information for future students

Saint Paul University

223 Main Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1S 1C4


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