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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Justice Education

This PhD program offers students with opportunities for advanced study, original research, and theoretical analysis in Social Justice Education. It is designed primarily for those interested in research and careers in academia. 

Study options: Full-time 

Components: Coursework, comprehensive examination, and thesis

Program Length: 4 years

Time Limit: 6 years


Flex-time study option:

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

Please note: Flexible-time PhD students register full-time during the first 4 years and part-time during subsequent years of the program. The flexible-time PhD program is not a distance education program. 

Program Length: 6 years 

Time Limit: 8 years


Registration information:

  • PhD students must register continuously and pay the full-time fee until all degree requirements have been fulfilled.
  • Students cannot normally transfer between the full-time and flexible-time PhD options.
  • Students cannot normally transfer between the EdD program and PhD programs.

The Department of Social Justice Education (SJE) welcomes applicants with diverse but relevant backgrounds. The PhD program can be taken on a full-time or flexible-time basis.

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


Note: PhD (Flex-time) in Social Justice Education is accepting a limited number of applications for 2021-2022.





1. Coursework: Students are required to complete 3.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs), including:

  • At least 2.0 of the FCEs must be in the Social Justice Education program.
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches to Humanities and Social Sciences: Theory and Praxis (SJE3905H, 0.5 FCE) is recommended.
  • Additional courses may be required, such as specified courses in research methods and/or theory.
  • Students who are registered in a collaborative specialization may apply to have their SJE course requirement reduced by 0.5 FCE.
  • Students must consult with their faculty advisor before enrolling in any out-of-department course for which they wish to receive credit. 

2. Comprehensive Examination: 

Students are encouraged to take, as part of their program, one half course (0.5 FCE) focused on the substantive area on which they will be examined. Students choose one of the following options for completing the comprehensive examination requirement:

  • a major paper (30 to 40 pages); or
  • a substantive course outline (30 to 40 pages) for a topic of interest to the student within the area of social justice education; or
  • a solid draft of a scholarly article.

The option selected and the date for the comprehensive exam will be decided by the student and the supervisor. The comprehensive exam should be taken no later than the end of Year 3.

Comprehensive exams will be graded on a pass or fail basis. A student who fails the comprehensive exam will be permitted one additional attempt to pass. A second failure will result in the recommendation for termination of the student’s registration.

3. Thesis:

Students must submit a thesis and defend it at a Doctoral Final Oral Examination. The thesis must embody the results of original investigation conducted by the student under the direction of an OISE thesis committee. The thesis must constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge of the field of study.

* Full-time PhD students must have an approved thesis topic, supervisor and approved thesis committee, and completed all other program requirements by the end of Year 3. Flex-time students must have the same by the end of Year 4.  

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Registration information

    Students must register continuously and pay the full-time fee until all degree requirements have been fulfilled.
  • Students cannot normally transfer between the full-time and flexible-time PhD options.
  • Students cannot normally transfer between the EdD program and PhD programs.

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 SJE program:


Faculty in the SJE program have multi-disciplinary teaching and research expertise in a wide range of fields, including but not limited to:

  • Anti-colonial and Indigenous education
  • Anti-racism education
  • Ethics and education
  • Critical race studies
  • Indigenous knowledges
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methodologies
  • Queer and gender theory

To learn more, see our faculty profiles.


Funding and tuition


We are pleased to offer base funding packages to full-time PhD students in years 1 to 4 (excluding flex-time programs).


The following are annual tuition fees for 2019-2020. These figures include all non-tuition related fees. 

  • Domestic full-time students: $7,858.65
  • Domestic part-time students: $2,758.13
  • International full-time students: $8,578.65

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


Admission and application information

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

The Department of Social Justice Education’s admission guidelines are attentive to challenging barriers of systemic discrimination in education. Applicants may voluntarily self-identify as members of equity-seeking groups (women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, persons with a disability, sexual/gender minorities, francophone, etc.), if this is considered relevant to research interests or experience in social justice education.

Minimum admission requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies.
  • Admission requires a University of Toronto Master of Arts or Master of Education in Education, or its equivalent from a recognized university in the same field of specialization proposed at the doctoral level, completed with standing equivalent to B+ or better.
  • Students who are admitted without sufficient previous study in a humanities, social science, or a cognate discipline may be required to take additional courses.
  • Applicants to the flexible-time PhD option are accepted under the same admission requirements as applicants to the full-time PhD option. However, in addition, applicants to the flexible-time PhD should demonstrate that they are active professionals engaged in activities relevant to their proposed program of study.

Required supporting documents

All applicants must submit: 

  • Transcript(s) from each post-secondary institution attended.
  • Two letters of reference, preferably from university instructors with whom the applicant has studied or worked.
  • A résumé that provides clear and complete information about the applicant's work or field experience related to their proposed studies.
  • A statement regarding the intended PhD research project relevant to social justice education, as well as reasons for undertaking a program in the departmentincluding a statement of preference for one or more faculty members whose research is best matched to the student's research interests.

At least one sample of written work that demonstrates engagement with the humanities or social sciences, and social justice in education.


Applications open on September 25, 2020. The main application deadline is November 16, 2020. To guarantee consideration for admission and a base funding package (if applicable), applicants should submit their application and supporting documents by this date. 

After November 16, 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 admissions.oise@utoronto.ca.

Questions about the program? Please contact us