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Canadian Studies Ph.D.

students and faculty in discussion around table in Wilson Reading Room, Kerr House
School for the Study of Canada

Canadian Studies Ph.D.


Trent's Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies is celebrated for its role in developing the field of Canadian Studies.  It serves as the base for students and faculty in the Canadian Studies Ph.D. Program.  Located at Trent's historic Traill College, close to downtown Peterborough, the College has recently been converted to a graduate college.  It also serves as the home for three other graduate programs in the humanities and the social sciences.  Here Canadian Studies Ph.D. students are afforded excellent office and social space, as well as a limited amount of accommodation.

The doctoral program in Canadian Studies is offered jointly by the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University and by the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University.

The Ph.D. program offers five fields of study:

  • Culture, Heritage, and the Arts;
  • Environment and Place
  • Policy, Economy and the State;
  • Identities and Social Movements; and
  • Feminist, Gender & Women's Studies

Over the first decade of the program thematic concentrations have evolved at each institution as a result of established faculty research profiles and supervisory strengths. For details of these see the comprehensives page. Each of these concentrations is readily encompassed under one or more of the core fields and is supported by faculty resources at both institutions. Doctoral student research projects at each institution are, however, not limited to these themes but rather cover an enormous breadth of subject matter and approaches within the field of Canadian Studies. The program, drawing upon the faculty of the two academic units and universities, encompasses course requirements, comprehensive examinations, and a dissertation.

The Ph.D. program in Canadian Studies normally will be undertaken on a full-time basis. However, in cases of exceptional merit, the Frost Centre will accept a few candidates for the degree on a part-time basis.

“Canadian Studies at Trent provides a truly interdisciplinary PhD program that gives students the flexibility to pursue their own interests along one of five broad theme areas. As a student with an environmental studies background, the Frost Centre provided me with an opportunity to pursue research on sustainable community development in Canada and internationally.” Rebecca Pollock, Trudeau Fellow

Degree Requirements

Doctoral candidates must successfully complete the equivalent of 10.0 credits. Candidates who have deficiencies in certain areas may be admitted to the Ph.D. program, but will normally be required to complete additional work. The specific requirements are as follows:

  1. 1.0 credit for successful completion of the mandatory core seminar, Canadian Studies 6000.
  2. 1.0 credit for successful completion of two half-credit courses at the graduate level from the list below.  A GPA of 9.0 (B+) or better must be obtained at the end of course work in order to remain in the program.
  3. 1.0 credit for successful completion of two half-credit written comprehensive examinations. Students will be examined in two fields. Normally, students will be expected to complete their comprehensives within 24 months of entering the program.
  4. Satisfactory demonstration of an understanding of a language other than English. Although French is the preferred second language, students may be permitted to substitute an Aboriginal language indigenous to Canada or another language if it is demonstrably relevant to their research interests.
  5. A defence, in English, of a written dissertation proposal. Following the completion of their comprehensives, students will be expected to defend a proposal of the research and analysis they plan to undertake in completing their Ph.D. dissertation. The dissertation proposal defence should normally occur within three months after the completion of a student's comprehensive examinations. The dissertation committee will be composed of three faculty, always including one from each university.
  6. A 7.0 credit dissertation, which must be successfully defended in English at an oral examination.

Academic Standing

Students must obtain at least a B+ standing or better in each course counted towards the degree to remain in the programme. Comprehensive examinations (which will be graded on a Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory or Pass with Distinction basis) are exempted from this required standing.

"What initially attracted me to the Canadian Studies doctoral program was the unique opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary environment.  The ability to draw insights, theories and methods from numerous disciplines has challenged me and allowed me to push my research in directions that are not possible in a traditional disciplinary program.  The real strength of the program, however, is the professors and fellow graduate students.  Their diverse interests, research and scholarship make the Frost Centre an exciting and dynamic place to study." Meg Beaton