Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology & Education

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Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology & Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology & Education Overview

Supporting mental health and well-being throughout the lifespan

The Developmental Psychology & Education (DPE) Program is for those who wish to construct an overall perspective on developmental psychology and human development and their implications for practice with children in educational and other applied settings. 

The PhD degree program emphasizes theory and research in the area of developmental psychology and education throughout the life span. It is designed for students who wish to pursue careers in university or community college teaching, and careers that require advanced skills in research and evaluation

There is both a full-time and a flexible-time PhD program option. The flexible-time PhD degree program is designed to accommodate demand by practising professionals for a PhD degree that permits continued employment in areas related to their fields of research. Degree requirements for the full-time and flexible-time options are the same.

In addition, approximately every three years we admit an Early Learning emphasis Flex PhD Cohort. The Early Learning emphasis is not available for the 2022-2023 academic year.

For detailed information about this program, please consult the School of Graduate Studies Calendar


Each year the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development only accepts into its doctoral programs, one international student who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. This applicant must have a Master degree by the time of registration into the doctoral program. Although we typically admit international students to the Developmental Psychology and Education doctoral program, the Clinical and Counselling and School and Clinical Child Psychology Programs may on occasion accept an international doctoral student where the student has a Master’s degree that meets the admissions requirements.

Under very special circumstances, the department will accept an international student into the Developmental Psychology and Education doctoral program as a Flex PhD student with the approval of the chair of the department.

The department does not accept any international students at the MA level.

At a Glance

Study Options
Full-time (4 years)
Flex-time (6 years)
Coursework & Comprehensive Exam

Funding and Tuition
For current information about tuition fees, funding, and financial support, visit Tuition & Financial Support.  

Applications are now closed for the DPE PhD full-time program, for a Fall 2024 start.
Applications are still open for the DPE PhD Flex program, for a Fall 2024 start.


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Why I Chose Applied Psychology & Human Development

Klaudia Krenca
Klaudia Krenca (Doctor of Philosophy, 2020)

Developmental Psychology and Education

"OISE is the number one faculty of education in Canada situated in one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse cities in the world! Throughout my time at OISE, I was provided with an abundance of tools to navigate the post-undergraduate world. The faculty are of high calibre and I was fortunate to have developed a strong network of colleagues and mentors. I am immensely grateful for my supervisor, Dr. Becky Chen, and the entire team at the Multilingualism and Literacy Lab. I was provided with a myriad of opportunities to explore and grow, both professionally and personally."

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology & Education Admission Requirements

General Admission Requirements

Please visit the OISE Admissions website for detailed information about the application process, including general minimum admission requirements and supporting documents. 

Program-Specific Information (Minimum Admission Requirements)

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies.
  • ​An appropriate bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Developmental Psychology and Education, Cognitive Psychology, Applied Developmental Psychology or Child Study or equivalent with standing equivalent to a University of Toronto A- or better in the Master’s degree. Students who have not done a master's thesis will be required to submit a Qualifying Research Paper (QRP) prior to final admission to the degree program. 
  • Required letters of recommendation and a second academic letter of recommendation
  • Applicants to the flexible-time PhD option must be practicing professionals.

Required Supporting Documents

All applicants must submit: 

  • Transcript(s) from each post-secondary institution attended
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Three letters of reference (two academic and one professional) including contact emails.
  • Applicants are asked to answer questions explaining their experiences and how they relate to the program during the application submission process.

Additional Program Information


Students must complete 2.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

  • APD3200H Research Proseminar in Human Development and Applied Psychology (0.5 FCE).
  • 0.5 FCE in statistics and research methods from an approved menu.
  • 1.0 FCE in electives (2 X 0.5 FCE).
  • The 2.0 FCEs are normally completed in Year 1 and should be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students who have an insufficient background in developmental psychology may have to complete additional courses.
Comprehensive Examination

The purposes of the comprehensive examination are threefold:

  • To demonstrate the student’s ability to work independently within an area of concern in human development.
  • To gain knowledge of a new area, a new technique or method in a specified area in human development.
  • To demonstrate the ability to integrate information at the accepted standard for a PhD student.

Students have two options when fulfilling their PhD comprehensive requirements:

  • Option 1: Empirical Research Paper or
  • Option 2: Internship.


Thesis and Doctoral Final Oral Examination

Students must register continuously and pay the full-time fee until all degree requirements have been fulfilled.

Students cannot transfer between the full-time and flexible-time PhD options.

Collaborative Specializations provide students with a the opportunity to explore a novel interdisciplinary area or special development that crosses a number of disciplines. 

Collaborative specializations are available with the PhD in Developmental Psychology & Education with the following program:

  • Neuroscience
    • For graduate students and doctoral fellows who would like to increase their versatility for career development through the scientific study of the nervous system.
Emphasis: Early Learning

[Admissions to this emphasis have been administratively suspended]

Students interested in the Early Learning emphasis should consult with the Graduate Coordinator.

  • Students wishing to complete the emphasis in Early Learning will include the following courses (2.0 full-course equivalents [FCEs]) in their overall PhD program:

    • APD3200H Researching Proseminar in Human Development and Applied Psychology (0.5 FCE).

    • APD3273H Researching Early Learning (0.5 FCE): an overview course of quantitative and qualitative methodology which meets the requirements of an intermediate or higher-level statistics course required of all Developmental Psychology and Education students).

    • APD1211H Psychological Foundations of Early Development and Education (0.5 FCE).

    • APD3274H Early Learning and Thesis Development (0.5 FCE).

What is a Qualifying Research Paper (QRP)?
In addition to the standard application process, students who completed a master’s degree that did not require a thesis must submit a Qualifying Research Paper (QRP). 

  • This paper provides evidence of the ability to identify a research or development program, to design and conduct a study or project, and to report the findings or results in a rigorous manner.
  • The QRP is not required prior to being accepted into the Doctoral Program, but acceptance will be conditional upon it’s suitability. It must be completed before the beginning of classes and approved by members of the departmental admission committee.
  • The QRP requirement can be fulfilled by submitting individually-authored research that the applicant has conducted previously, often as part of work responsibilities. Alternatively, applicants can submit a fully-documented research proposal (supervised by an assigned faculty member in the counselling program) which demonstrates the ability to conceptualize and plan a research project.

What questions will be asked during the application process?
The faculty questions is one of the most important parts of your application. It is your opportunity to describe your past experiences related to the program to which you are applying and how those experiences led to your current interests in graduate studies in this area.

Applicants are asked to answer the following questions as part of the admissions application process:

  • DPE PhD
    • What is your total months of research experience.
    • Is this program is your first choice.
    • Who is the supervisor you would like to work with?
    • What field of research you are interested in?
  • ​DPE PhD Flex:
    • Are you a practicing professional?
    • What is your total months of research experience.
    • Is this program is your first choice.
    • Who is the supervisor you would like to work with?
    • What field of research are you interested in?
    • Please complete the SGS SGS-standard Current Employment Status application page.

Is there a difference to the application when applying for the flexible-time option?
Flex-time PhD students are accepted under the same admission requirements as applicants to the full-time PhD option. However, in addition to the standard application process, students applying to the flex PhD-DPE must include a statement of intent that they:

  • are currently in a career related to the proposed field of study
  • have a desire to continue with their current career
  • have the capacity to secure blocks of time to enable concentrated study (e.g., through the employer’s leave policy or study incentive system). 

Program Chair: Dr. Kang Lee

Program Faculty: Dr. Esther Geva; Dr. Angela Pyle; Dr. Chloe Hamza; Dr. Eunice Jang; Dr. Kaja Jasinska; Dr. Lisa Dack; Dr. Michel Ferrari; Dr. Patricia Ganea; Dr. Zachary Hawes; Dr. Alexandra Makos; Dr. Rhonda Martinussen; Dr. Michal Perlman; Dr. Tracy Solomon; Dr. Richard Volpe; Dr. Mahshid Azimi-Bolourian; Dr. Kang Lee; Dr. Anne-Claude Bedard; Dr. Linda Iwenofu; Dr. Earl Woodruff; Dr. Rosalina De Sa; Dr. Cynthia Waugh; Dr. Becky Chen; Dr. Mark Wade; Dr. Laurie Faith; Dr. Jennifer Jenkins

Questions? Please email us at

Program Coordinators:
Puja Variawa (DPE PhD)

Gela Bolandpour (DPE PhD Flex)

Ready to join one of the world’s top universities?

Take the next step in your academic journey and start your application to graduate studies at OISE.