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Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education

Educational Leadership and Policy Program

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - Educational Leadership and Policy

Are you looking to further advance your knowledge of educational leadership, policy, social diversity and change, particularly relating to PK-12 education? 

This doctoral program fosters the study of problems in the administration and leadership of educational programs. It best serves students who are committed to scholarship and research as a means for deepening their understanding of leadership in schools or in other educational and service institutions.

While experience in teaching and leadership is not an essential prerequisite for admission, such experience provides a desirable background. The department welcomes applicants with diverse but relevant backgrounds.

Study options: Full-time; flexible-time option available. Designed for practicing professionals, the flexible-time option enables students to continue working while pursuing their studies. 

Components: Coursework, comprehensive examination and thesis

4 years, 6 years flexible-time

For detailed information about the program, please consult the School of Graduate Studies Calendar and the OISE Bulletin

Check the application tips for this degree. 




1. Coursework. Students must complete a minimum of 3.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

  • LHA 3040H People and Power in Organizations (0.5 FCE).

  • 1.0 FCE in research methods, to be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor (excluding LHA 1003H and LHA 1004H, which may not be counted towards this requirement). Students who have already attained an acceptable level of competence in research methodology may be authorized to choose a course in a different area of study.

  • At least 0.5 FCE at the 3000 level or the 6000 Special Topics level from the Educational Leadership and Policy program.

2. Comprehensive examination. Successful oral defence of a written portfolio that emphasizes reflective practice.

3. Thesis proposal hearing.

4. Thesis.

Registration information

  • Students in the full-time option must register continuously and pay the full-time fee until all degree requirements have been fulfilled.
  • Students in the flexible-time option must register continuously until all degree requirements have been fulfilled. They register full-time during the first four years and may continue as part-time thereafter, with their department's approval.
  • Students cannot transfer between the full-time and flexible-time PhD options.
  • Students cannot transfer between the EdD and PhD programs.

Explore courses

Collaborative specializations

Collaborative specializations provide graduate students enrolled in participating degree programs with an additional multidisciplinary experience as they complete their home degree program. 

Learn more about the collaborative specializations offered to PhD students in the ELP program:


Faculty in the Educational Leadership and Policy program have multi-disciplinary teaching and research expertise in a wide range of fields. To learn more about our faculty, check out our program's faculty listing for profiles.

Our faculty's expertise includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Educational policy analysis and program evaluation
  • Whole system reforms
  • International comparisons of educational equity
  • Socio-economic disparities in academic achievement
  • Large-scale data analysis
  • intersections of law and education
  • School administration, philosophy and theory
  • Critical democracy and educational leadership issues


Funding and tuition


We are pleased to offer OISE Graduate Funding Packages to full-time PhD students in years 1 to 4 (excluding flexible-time programs).


The following are the annual tuition fees for 2021-2022. These figures include all non-tuition related ancillary and incidental fees. 


  • Domestic full-time students: $7,979.99
  • International full-time students: $8,735.99

For detailed and up-to-date information about tuition fees, funding, and financial support, visit Tuition and Financial Support.  

Admissions and application

General information

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

  • ​An appropriate master's degree, from a recognized university in a relevant discipline or professional program, with a minimum standing equivalent to a University of Toronto A-. 

  • Applicants to the flex-time program should be active professionals who demonstrate connections between their professional work and their proposed course program, and/or between their professional work and their proposed research. Capacity to secure blocks of time to enable concentrated study is required.

Required supporting documents

  • Transcript(s) from each post-secondary institution attended
  • Two letters of reference (one academic and one professional)
  • Résumé
  • Answers to faculty admissions questions (applicants are to answer each question in an essay format)
  • Sample of written work (In addition to the answers to the faculty admissions questions, a supplementary writing sample is required, which will help the admissions committee to assess an applicant's readiness to succeed in rigorous coursework and to conduct systematic research for the PhD. Applicants typically submit a master's-level Major Research Paper or thesis as their writing sample. Applicants who do not have a Major Research Paper or thesis must provide a writing sample that showcases their ability to write clearly and analytically about educational issues. The admissions committee will look for evidence that applicants understand how to, or have the potential to, craft an academic document, display an ability to define a research problem, devise an appropriate focus for an inquiry, assemble and analyze evidence, and develop conclusions in a rigorous manner. Examples include a master’s-level course paper, a policy document, and a professional publication.


The main application deadline is November 15, 2021. Tguarantee consideration for admission and a base funding package (if applicable), applicants should submit their application and supporting documents by this date. 

After November 15, admission to some programs may remain open. For the most up-to-date information on application deadlines, please visit OISE Admissions


Questions about applying? Please contact the OISE admissions office at 416-978-4300 or