Program Requirements | PhD | Graduate Programs | Faculty of Education | UNB

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Faculty of Education
UNB Fredericton

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Program requirements


Admitted candidates will participate fully in planning a program of studies to enhance their individual growth and address their professional needs and to meet the requirements of the degree.

Specific activities will be determined through collaboration initially between the candidate and his or her supervisor and subsequently with the candidate's supervisory committee.

Candidates and supervisors should be familiar with the regulations of the UNB's School of Graduate Studies guide for students writing a thesis, report or dissertation.

Required time to complete the program

The regulations of the School of Graduate Studies state that the candidate will normally have a maximum of seven years to complete the degree from the date of first registration.

Extensions beyond that date must be negotiated with the candidate's supervisor, the coordinator of doctoral studies and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Doctoral seminars

Doctoral students are required to attend regularly and to participate fully in all activities, including the two doctoral seminars.

These seminar courses will include the presentation, discussion and exploration of current issues in education by faculty members or guest speakers.

Discussion will focus on current research, practical applications and future trends.

The doctoral seminars will also include presentations by participants and discussion of their developing research ideas.

Class location

These classes are taught at UNB's Fredericton campus. Therefore, candidates are expected to be "in residence" for a minimum of two terms.

The term "in residence" means that the student is expected to be physically present at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) and to be registered as a full-time student.

Develop theoretical expertise in a specific area(s) within the field of education

Relevant activities could include:

  • Completing specific courses
  • Participating in selected workshops, conferences, institutes, etc.
  • Completing independent reading and library/database research

The student will be expected to engage in regular discussions with the supervisor over the duration of these activities.

Write three comprehensive examinations

The purpose of this examination is to demonstrate that the student has the broad substantive and methodological background necessary for completing a dissertation in their field and to establish their areas of scholarly expertise.

Each student is required to complete three comprehensive examinations. The comprehensive examination questions allow students to build their knowledge within specific areas related to their research.

The specific fields for examination will be established by the supervisory committee in consultation with the student and will normally consist of two topics related to the student's area of study and one related to the research methodology to be used in the dissertation.

The student normally begins the first comprehensive examination after all course work has been completed.

Normally, the comprehensive examinations will be completed before the student formally presents their thesis proposal and begins extensive work on the dissertation.

Procedures for comprehensive exams

  1. As early as possible in the student's program, the supervisory committee determines an examiner for each comprehensive exam question. It is strongly recommended that at least one examiner be from outside the supervisory committee.
  2. The supervisor, the student and the comprehensive examiner meet to consult on appropriate area of inquiry on the exam.
  3. The examiner develops the comprehensive question and submits it to the student with a copy to the supervisor. At this time, the supervisor notifies the associate dean of graduate studies that the question has been given to the student and a copy of the question is placed in the student's file.
  4. The student submits the completed answer to the examiner with a copy to the supervisor.
  5. The examiner returns his or her evaluation of the exam with appropriate feedback to the supervisor within one month. The examiner's feedback includes a statement of the results of the exam (pass or fail). The supervisor assures the evaluation is placed in the student's file.
  6. The supervisor meets with the student to discuss the results of the exam.

The comprehensive exams will take the following formats:

  • One of the three products must be a written academic paper of approximately 30 manuscript pages.
  • One of the three products must be a substantial oral presentation, including fielding questions, along with a permanent scholarly product (e.g., a shorter scholarly paper)
  • The remaining product may be a film, a work of art, another presentation, etc.

Early in the term, the supervisory committee will make the following clear to the student in writing:

  • the exam questions
  • the format for responding to each question
  • the criteria by which each question will be assessed
  • a timeframe for completion of each question.


The timeframe for completion of the comprehensive examination for all PhD students will be no longer than three consecutive academic terms. All students will be expected to complete their comprehensive examination no later than seven (7) terms after the original date of entry to the program.


Each student, in consultation with their supervisor, will decide on the term to begin the comprehensive exam and in that term and in all terms until the comprehensive exams are completed, will register for the course ED6999, Education Comprehensive Examination.

Write and defend a dissertation

Presenting the dissertation proposal to the Faculty of Education

When the candidate’s supervisory committee has been established and the members have agreed, in principle, to accept the dissertation proposal, the candidate will make a formal presentation of the proposal.

All faculty members and graduate students will be invited to attend and will have an opportunity to pose questions to the candidate. This will then be presented to the Faculty of Education’s graduate academic unit for approval.

The Faculty of Education's PhD Dissertation Policy will provide you with additional details.

Submitting the proposal for ethics approval

Once the research proposal has been presented publically and approved by the Faculty of Education, the candidate will complete the required ethics forms and submit these to the faculty ethics committee.

Once approved by the faculty ethics committee, the application will be forwarded to the University Research Ethics Board (REB) for approval. No research involving humans may proceed without approval of the REB.

Defending the dissertation

The final dissertation will be examined according to the policies established by the UNB School of Graduate Studies.

The examining committee for the final oral examination consists of:

  1. An external examiner from outside of UNB
  2. The supervisor(s)
  3. Another person from the home GAU
  4. A person from another UNB GAU
  5. One other person from either the home or another GAU