Frequently Asked Questions
Before Applying ...
Application Process ...
Academic Assessment ...
After Applying ...
To what program of study should I apply?
Deciding just what to apply to can be difficult. We suggest that you …
• determine what your academic and/or professional goals are and how OISE fits into the picture
• find out what OISE has to offer (two excellent resources are the current OISE Bulletin and departmental websites)
• connect with OISE faculty with whom you are interested in studying
• connect with current OISE students
• connect with someone working in the field in which you’re interested – what qualifications and credentials do they have?
• attend Information Sessions for potential applicants (typically hosted by departments in the Fall) – a great opportunity to meet with staff and faculty and ask lots of questions
It’s past the December main application deadline, can I still apply?
It depends. To be assured that your application will be considered for a place in a program and for financial support you are required to submit your complete application, including all supporting documentation, by December 3. Applications received after this deadline may not be considered because programs of study may be closed for admission. Applications received after this deadline may not be considered for financial support. If admission remains open you can submit an application for consideration. There are also secondary deadlines for receipt of an application and these deadlines are relative to each session.
Do I have to be a teacher to apply to OISE?
Not necessarily. Most programs at OISE don’t require professional teacher certification, but some do. Generally, for admission to one of our MEd programs a year of professional education for teaching (or the equivalent in pedagogical content) is helpful. As well, at least one year of relevant, successful professional experience is required.
What is the difference between a Special Student and a regular student?
There are significant differences between Special Student status and regular student (aka degree student) status. A Special Student (whether enrolled part-time or full-time) is not undertaking a program of study which may lead to an OISE degree. Some transfer credit is possible, however. Subject to approval courses completed as a Special Student may count for up to one full course or equivalent, or twenty-five percent of the course requirements for the degree, whichever is greater, in a subsequent degree program at the University of Toronto. Credit is possible only if the courses have not already been credited towards another degree, diploma, certificate, or any other qualification.
Reasons for taking courses as a Special Student (opposed to a degree student) include preparatory work, prerequisite study, transfer credit, and professional development. Sometimes Special Students encounter difficulties gaining access to courses in which they are interested; priority is given first to OISE degree students, then other University of Toronto degree students, and then to Special Students. Read detailed information about applying for Special Student study.
Should I speak with an OISE professor before submitting my application?
You may at your discretion. If you are applying to a doctoral program you may wish to identify OISE faculty with whom you are interested in studying. If you have specific questions about their focus or the possibility of working together there may be some value in contacting a professor before submitting your application. The OISE Bulletin identifies research interests of our faculty members and department websites often include faculty profiles.
Is online learning or distance education available at OISE?
Yes – but with limitations. OISE offers some sections of some courses via distance education (mainly computer conferencing). While opportunities for online learning at OISE are growing, it may not be possible for a student to complete all program requirements off-campus.
I am currently enrolled in a graduate studies program, can I transfer to OISE and get credit for my studies?
It depends. If your current program is based at a university other than the University of Toronto transfer is not possible and a standard application for admission is required. If you are currently undertaking a University of Toronto graduate studies program an application for admission is not necessary, but a completed “Degree and/or Program Transfer Request Form” must be submitted to the OISE Registrar’s Office, Graduate Registration Unit. Deadlines to request a transfer may be applicable and students are responsible for ensuring all supporting documentation (e.g. official transcripts, letters of reference) accompanies the transfer request.
If you receive an offer of admission or your transfer request is successful, credit for previous graduate study may be granted. Normally, transfer credit for graduate work completed in another program is limited to one full course or equivalent, or twenty-five percent of the course requirements for the degree, whichever is greater, provided that the courses have not been credited towards another degree, diploma, certificate, or any other qualification.
What is an online application?
The OISE graduate studies application is based on the web – including the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies online application system. All applicants must utilize the online application system to apply for admission to an OISE graduate studies program.
Your responsibilities when utilizing the online application system …
• carefully input all relevant information and check for accuracy
• pay the non-refundable application fee plus the non-refundable supplementary fee (online payment is preferred but mail-in payment is available)
• provide referee information (which you have confirmed) so your referees can be automatically contacted by the University of Toronto (via e-mail) and submit a letter of reference online
• upload supporting documents (such as transcript(s), résumé, statement of intent, sample of written work)
• monitor the status of documents (e.g. received or not received) and take appropriate action when necessary
• monitor the overall status of your application for admission
I’m having problems with the online application – help!
There are different sources of assistance. For technical issues (e.g. access interrupted/denied, error message, field not functional) contact the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies (firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-978-6614). For questions about information requested in the online application system, refer to the system’s “Help” feature (descriptions of most fields are provided), as well as Apply via Online Application System. Most queries pertaining to the application process, available programs, admission requirements, deadlines, financial assistance/funding (and more) are answered within our OISE Graduate Admissions website. If not, contact us directly and we’ll do our best to help (email@example.com, 416-978-1682).
What is a self-administered application?
Because the OISE graduate studies application is self-administered – you are required to compile all necessary documentation and submit online (whenever possible) via the online application system – we recommend that you start preparing your application as early as possible. Official paper transcripts must be provided to the OISE Registrar’s Office, Graduate Admissions Unit. It is critical to communicate with your prospective referees well in advance of submitting your application for admission. Prior to submission of your application confirm current contact information (e.g. valid institutional/organizational e-mail address) and absolutely ensure each referee is willing and able to provide a letter of reference in a timely manner. Complete applications will be processed upon receipt. Incomplete applications will result in a delay in processing and may not be considered. Lastly, one single set of supporting documents is required even if you have selected more than one program of study choice (maximum three).
I want to apply to several programs, can I?
You can. One single application to OISE graduate studies allows you to select up to three OISE graduate programs.
The University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies online application system makes it easy to list (in order of preference) a maximum of three OISE choices. You pay a single application fee plus a single supplementary fee ($210 total). You submit a single set of supporting documents (transcripts, résumé, letters of reference, etc.) which will be reviewed by Admissions Committees for all OISE graduate programs selected. One useful strategy we suggest – if you’re applying to more than one program clearly identify sections within your statement of intent specifically adapted for/directed to each program.
For University of Toronto graduate programs outside OISE, a separate application (plus fee) is required and you need to review relevant websites for information.
I applied last year ... I’m a current/former OISE student ... Do I have to re-submit documents?
Yes – the self-administered application process is applicable to all applicants. If you have previously applied to OISE graduate studies, or if you are a current or former OISE graduate studies student, you must submit all necessary documentation. Previously submitted documents (e.g. letters of reference, official transcripts) will not be carried forward to a new application.
Do I have to pay the application fee?
Definitely – all applicants must pay the non-refundable application fee plus the non-refundable supplementary fee (current total fee is $210 Canadian). If you are presently registered in an OISE master’s program and continuing into an OISE doctoral program, or if you are a former OISE student with no current registration, payment of the application fee and supplementary fee is necessary. A single application fee plus a single supplementary fee is applicable even if you are applying to more than one OISE program of study (maximum three).
Online and paper transcripts? Do I really have to provide my transcripts two ways?
First, a transcript of your academic record from each and every post-secondary institution you have attended (including the University of Toronto) must be included in your application. And, yes, transcripts are the only supporting documents that must be submitted in two different formats: online (electronic) and paper (official). The electronic online version is a requirement of the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies. The official paper version is utilized for academic assessment purposes and is required as part of every student file.
Online transcripts are electronic records uploaded via the online application system. Once you have confirmed your application by moving to the payment stage the system permits you to upload transcripts (plus other supporting documents). Detailed instructions are provided within the system.
Official transcripts are paper records received in the Registrar’s Office in a sealed envelope, signed/stamped by the issuing institution. Transcripts received in an unsealed envelope, or faxed copies of transcripts, or informal grade reports, or electronically transmitted transcripts, cannot be considered official.
What if I can’t get official transcripts?
On extremely rare occasions, an academic institution will not issue official transcripts. As well, some applicants, under very extraordinary circumstances, cannot acquire official transcripts. If your post-secondary institution does not issue official transcripts or if you are unable to obtain official transcripts due to extraordinary circumstances, you may submit unofficial transcript copies accompanied by a letter of explanation from you. Your situation will be reviewed.
What if it’s really difficult for me to get an academic (or professional) letter of reference?
This is not uncommon. While a minimum of two supporting letters of reference – one academic and one professional – should be included in your application, sometimes applicants experience difficulty obtaining a letter of reference. For example, applicants who graduated from university many years ago and have since not been active in an academic setting may be unable to call upon a university instructor with whom they studied. While applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain one academic and one professional letter of reference, they may submit an alternative combination such as two letters of reference from a professional source (in this case you should direct the most suitable referee to include some comments pertaining to your intellectual abilities and potential).
Can I submit more than two letters of reference?
Generally, two letters of reference are sufficient and submitting extra reference letters is not encouraged or permitted. However, several programs require an additional (third) letter of reference; refer to the relevant departmental section(s) in the OISE Bulletin for more information. At present, only applicants to the Developmental Psychology and Education (MA, PhD) program and applicants to the School and Clinical Child Psychology program must submit an additional letter of recommendation.
Should I submit my GRE score?
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) or other similar test scores are not required as part of an OISE application.
How do I know if I require a TOEFL score?
Lots of important information about English language facility requirements may be found in the OISE Bulletin. OISE reserves the right to require evidence of English language facility from any applicant educated outside Canada whose mother tongue or first language is not English. Applicants must demonstrate their facility in the English language if their mother tongue or first language is not English and they graduated from a non-Canadian university where the language of instruction and examination was not English. Test scores (e.g. TOEFL, MELAB, IELTS, COPE) must be forwarded directly from the testing service to the OISE Registrar's Office, Graduate Admissions Unit, to be considered official. Test scores are valid for two years from the date of testing.
Generally, if you completed an appropriate bachelor's or master’s degree at an institution where the official language of instruction and examination is English, you do not need to submit proof of English language proficiency. Sometimes determining whether the requirement is applicable or not can be complicated. The Registrar’s Office cannot provide a specific determination prior to submission of an application for admission.
I’m an International Applicant – are there special things I need to know?
Absolutely. English language facility and financial considerations are two key issues. Many International Applicants are subject to proof of English language facility. In addition, it is critical that International Applicants carefully and thoughtfully consider the serious financial implications of being an OISE graduate student over both the short term and the long term. The section on our website entitled Information for International Applicants provides specific information – plus helpful resources.
How do I know if I’m admissible?
Firstly, all applicants will be considered on their individual merits for admission to any graduate program at the University of Toronto.
For a master’s degree, admission requirements include an appropriate bachelor’s degree with high academic standing (equivalent to at least mid-B or better in final year) from a recognized university. For a doctoral degree, admission requirements include an appropriate master’s degree with high academic standing (equivalent to B+ or better in master's degree program) from a recognized university.
The Registrar’s Office cannot provide a specific assessment of credentials prior to submission of an application for admission. You may wish to complete your own informal academic standing assessment. Here are some general calculation guidelines …
For admission to a master’s program:
• if your bachelor’s degree was completed on a full-time basis, average the final year
• if your bachelor’s degree was completed on a part-time basis, average the five (approximately) most recent, academic, senior-level, full courses or equivalent (students enrolled in fewer than four full course equivalents in their last academic year – including Summer Session – are considered part-time)
For admission to a doctoral program:
• average all academic courses completed for the entire master’s program
What do you mean by an "appropriate" degree ?
Overall, a degree that has suitable breadth, depth and, where appropriate, an affinity to the OISE graduate program to which you are seeking admission.
Occasionally, a degree may not be considered an appropriate basis of admission because it does not contain sufficient liberal arts content (aka academically-oriented courses). Courses with a significant professional training component, practical component, studio component, performance component, or sports component are not counted as liberal arts. Generally, in a bachelor’s degree the established standard is at least 75% liberal arts content.
What is academic upgrading?
If your bachelor’s degree was not completed with the required academic standing you may wish to consider academic upgrading. Normally, such an upgrading program:
• consists of five full courses at the senior-level (e.g. fourth year)
• consists of academic (i.e. liberal arts) courses (e.g. BEd study or professional training or courses with a significant practical component are not acceptable)
• must be completed at a recognized university
• must be completed on a full- or part-time basis within five years or less
• must be completed with standing equivalent to a University of Toronto B+ or better (for OISE programs that require a minimum of mid-B or B+) or be completed with standing equivalent to a University of Toronto A- or better (for OISE programs that require a minimum of A-)
OISE courses undertaken as a Special Student are generally not appropriate for academic upgrading purposes. Lastly, it’s important to note successful completion of an upgrading program does not guarantee admission; all applications are considered in competition.
What is a qualifying year?
If you have completed a three-year bachelor’s degree you may wish to consider undertaking a qualifying year. A three-year bachelor’s degree plus satisfactory completion of a qualifying year program is generally considered equivalent to a four-year bachelor’s degree. Normally, such a program:
• consists of five full courses at the senior-level (e.g. fourth year) subsequent to completion of an appropriate three-year bachelor’s degree
• in combination with a three-year bachelor’s degree brings the total number of full courses (or equivalent) completed to at least twenty
• consists of academic (i.e. liberal arts) courses (e.g. BEd study or professional training or courses with a significant practical component are not acceptable)
• consists of courses that are reasonably relevant to the proposed graduate-level study
• must be completed at a recognized university
• must be completed with the required minimum academic standing (e.g. equivalent to a University of Toronto mid-B or better)
OISE courses undertaken as a Special Student are generally not appropriate for qualifying year purposes. Lastly, it’s important to note successful completion of a qualifying year program does not guarantee admission; all applications are considered in competition.
My previous program is ungraded – what should I do?
It is the practice in some universities or programs not to assign standard grades in the evaluation of a student’s academic performance. Most often "credit" or "pass" is noted on an official transcript, but no letter or numerical grade. Because our evaluation of an application includes academic standing an ungraded program presents some challenges.
Under such circumstances we request an applicant to arrange for an official letter from the issuing institution confirming the study was completed with a minimum standing (e.g. mid-B). Most often the letter is generated by the university’s Registrar's Office. If such a letter is not available, an applicant should arrange for a minimum of three official letters from professors in the program with whom they have studied that speak to overall contribution to the program and specifically to attaining a minimum standing had the program been traditionally graded. Whether from the Registrar’s Office or from professors, the letters should be included as part of a complete application for admission.
It’s important to note while this information is very helpful in our decision-making, the file may be considered non-standard. Should a department wish to offer a place in a program a case for non-standard admission may be required which must be reviewed and approved by the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies.
Have my documents been received yet – my record shows Pending/Documents Pending?
We know you're anxious, but please be patient.
Successful electronic submission of a document via the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies online application system (e.g. résumé, letters of reference) immediately moves the status from “Pending” to “Received”. For paper (hardcopy) documents, we must carefully match and review every single document and modify the status. As well, a change in overall application status from Documents Pending to Under Review (i.e. all required supporting documentation received) is not automatic – staff in the Registrar’s Office must process each individual record.
From mid-November to mid-January our office receives a very high volume of documents – literally thousands. We process incoming documents as quickly and efficiently as possible (including updating the online application system). All documents are date-stamped according to arrival in our office; applicants are in no way penalized because of the required processing time. In the unlikely event a document has been correctly sent to our office but has not been received we’ll do our best to provide a reasonable opportunity for re-submission.
How will my application be reviewed and how is a decision arrived at?
The process of evaluating your application is twofold.
An application is first processed in the Registrar’s Office, Graduate Admissions Unit. Document tracking and confirmation are part of a preliminary review of your application. The Registrar’s Office is responsible for the data management of your application both on the online application system, as well as the student record system. We also complete an academic assessment of your post-secondary credentials. In keeping with established guidelines of the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies, our evaluation includes verifying the accreditation of an academic institution, considering appropriate University of Toronto degree equivalency, and calculating academic standing. The determination of whether your application is technically admissible to a program is made at this step of the evaluation process.
Your application is typically reviewed by a Department Admissions Committee comprised primarily of OISE faculty. All aspects of your application are thoroughly considered, including the Registrar’s Office academic assessment, your résumé, statement of intent, and letters of reference. The specific methods of each committee vary; some formally rank applications while others arrive at a general consensus per individual file.
The Department Admissions Committee makes a recommendation on admission to the Registrar’s Office. Recommendations are reviewed and correspondence to applicants is prepared. The time that the evaluation process requires can fluctuate for a number of reasons. Both the Registrar’s Office and departments recognize the importance of notifying applicants of results as soon as possible.
When will I know the results of my application?
Applicants who submit complete applications by the December 3 main deadline should receive notification of results early April. Offers of admission are normally mailed starting end of March. Applicants who submit complete applications after December 3 should receive notification of results within two to four weeks of application submission, but no sooner than early April. Information regarding any OISE financial awards is typically enclosed with an offer of admission.
If I’m offered admission can I delay starting my program?
Normally, admission is valid only for the beginning date specified on the offer of admission in the section "Program to Begin". Applicants unable to attend the session for which they have been accepted must normally re-apply and must compete with all other applicants for admission to the later session.
In exceptional circumstances a department may recommend deferral of admission for a maximum of twelve months (i.e. to the next academic year) following the date of initial acceptance. Requests for deferral should be submitted in writing to the Registrar’s Office, Graduate Admissions Unit, as soon as possible but must be received prior to registration and no later than the deadline to register for the session to which the applicant has been accepted. Requests for deferral received in the Registrar’s Office too late for consideration will be denied and the applicant will be required to re-apply for admission.
New students are expected to begin their program in the Summer Session or Fall Session. A start date delay from Summer Session or Fall Session to Winter Session (i.e. January) is generally not supported. In exceptional circumstances some programs may permit students to begin their program of study in the Winter Session of the year of acceptance. Requests for a change of start date to the Winter Session should be submitted in writing to the Registrar’s Office, Graduate Admissions Unit, as soon as possible, but must be received prior to registration and no later than November 1 of the year of acceptance. Requests received in the Registrar’s Office after November 1 of the year of acceptance will not be considered. Requests for a change of start date to the Winter Session are subject to approval.
I was offered admission to one program, but now I want to transfer to another program. Can I?
We believe an applicant should apply to a program of study they genuinely wish to undertake. Programs are not interchangeable and there is no back-door admission. Only in exceptional cases will a request for transfer between OISE programs of study be considered. Such requests should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office, Graduate Registration Unit, early in a program and are subject to approval.
I did not receive an offer of admission, can I re-direct my application to another program or degree?
An application may be considered for all program selections indicated at the time of initial application. Additional choices (notably requests received after official results of an application) are not normally permitted. The maximum number of OISE graduate studies program selections allowed in a single academic year is three.
I was refused admission – can I appeal?
No. The official results pertaining to an application for admission are final. Per University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies policy, decisions related to admission to an academic program, including admission to a doctoral program for current master’s students, are not subject to appeal. Significant care is taken in the evaluation of an application both in the Registrar’s Office and at the departmental level. Staff and faculty work diligently to ensure admission criteria are applied consistently and fairly. Applicants who are refused and who wish to be re-considered for admission must re-apply in competition with all other applicants for admission to a future academic year.
How can I determine why I was refused admission and how can I strengthen my application for a future year?
All Notifications of Refusal include at least one remark reflecting the main reason an application was not successful. The goal of such remarks is to provide applicants with some understanding of why their application did not result in an offer of admission. What we may recommend to strengthen an application largely depends on why it did not result in an offer of admission originally.
Here are two common Notification of Refusal remarks …
“Your previous study does not satisfy our admission requirements.”
For a variety of reasons academic credentials may not fulfill our minimum requirements for admission. The issue may be academic standing. If you applied to a master’s program, you may wish to consider academic upgrading. (Generally, academic upgrading is not appropriate when applying to a doctoral program.) The issue may be whether the admitting degree is an appropriate degree. A Graduate Admissions Unit staff member is available to discuss your file with you.
“There are a limited number of available admission spaces, and other applications ranked higher.”
This reason is difficult for us in the Registrar’s Office to address. Other applications may have ranked higher because of academic standing, degree appropriateness, letters of reference, statement of intent, professional development, etc. Most often, having evaluated all aspects of your file, the Department Admissions Committee can provide you with some comments. So, we suggest contacting the department directly – but be aware in-depth feedback cannot be provided because deliberations of an Admissions Committee are confidential.
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Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto
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