Doctor of Philosophy in Social Justice Education

Diane Hill
Doctor of Philosophy in Social Justice Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Justice Education Overview

Transform education and social justice for the next generation

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. 

The flexible-time PhD degree 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. Flexible-time PhD students register full-time during the first four years and part-time during subsequent years of the program.

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

At a Glance

Study Options
Full-time (4 years)
Flex-time (6 years)
Coursework plus thesis

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

Applications for the PhD (funded) and Flexible-time PhD in Social Justice Education for 2022-2023 admissions cycle is set to open early October 2022.


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.

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Why I Chose Social Justice Education

OISE alum Marie Laing
Marie Laing (Master of Arts 2018)

Writer, educator, and youth leader, Native Youth Sexual Health Network
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Award recipient

"I was hungry for language to describe settler-colonialism and how it relates to my queer, two-spirit and trans Indigenous community. I was also eager to see how leading scholars were applying anti-racist education in a variety of contexts to create positive change. OISE’s Department of Social Justice Education was one of the few places I found where I could engage in all of these intellectual projects at once."

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Justice 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.
  • 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 (one academic and one professional)
  • A résumé that provides clear and complete information about the applicant's work or field experience related to their proposed studies
  • Statement of Intent (Applicants are asked to answer each of the following questions in an essay format [bullet points are not acceptable]. Not only will the content of your responses be used in the assessment of the application, but so will the quality and clarity of your writing. Please limit responses to 200-250 words per question.)
  1. What research interests do you intend to pursue in your graduate studies?
  2. How did you become interested in this area of research? (Please feel free to refer to any relevant literature and/or personal experiences.)
  3. Why is Social Justice Education at OISE the best place to pursue your research interests?
  4. What faculty members in Social Justice Education could support your graduate studies and chosen research direction?
  5. What previous experiences, skills, and strengths will support you in your graduate studies?
  • At least one sample of written work that demonstrates engagement with the humanities or social sciences, and social justice in education.

Additional Program Information


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. 
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.



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.  

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 MA students in the Social Justice Education program:

Faculty in the Social Justice Education 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

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.