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PhD application FAQ

Inquiries about our graduate programs should go to Rachel Richmond, graduate secretary

Admission to the PhD program is based on your previous academic record, proposed area of research and reference letters.

Students accepted into our PhD program are expected to have an average of A- (GPA 7.0) in their MA program. They should have positive letters of reference that speak strongly in support of their capability to complete a PhD program.

Lastly, students should submit a statement of research interest that shows that faculty members in our program are able to supervise their project.   

Your research proposal should fit into one of our fields of specialization:

  • Canadian politics
  • comparative public policy and governance
  • contemporary social theory
  • cultural, social and political thought
  • democratic constitutionalism
  • Indigenous nationhood
  • international and transnational politics
  • politics in the global south

Your proposal should fall within the expertise of one of our faculty members, and we encourage you to contact faculty members to see if they are willing and able to be the supervisor.

A PhD supervisor and PhD candidate make a commitment which will last for several years. Both the supervisor and department must be able to provide the necessary support for each applicant.

We receive many applications each year and are only able to admit a small number. The admissions committee is selective when it considers applications for the PhD program.

An applicant might be able to pursue a PhD program successfully, and yet not be offered a place in our program because we do not think we could provide what they need to be successful. This is a judgement we make about ourselves, not about the applicant.

There is only way of finding out whether you will be accepted: apply and let us review your application. No one can give you a true estimate of your chances in advance because no one will have seen your full application. We do our best to take all relevant factors into account.

The 2 letters of reference are extremely important. They should clearly outline your potential to succeed in graduate school.

Our committee looks for evidence that you have a strong background in political science and have developed the skills to succeed in graduate school. Most importantly, the letters should show whether you have a capacity for independent thinking and research.

The letters are meant to provide additional information to your transcripts. They give professors the opportunity to show us that you have potential to complete a PhD program and make an original contribution to your field of study.

Research proposal

Your statement of research interest is also important. We read it to get a sense of what you want to do at the PhD level. We are impressed by mature, thoughtful, well-written letters. We can tell a lot about you by the way you describe your academic intentions.

Do you know something about the field in which you are proposing to concentrate? Have you read enough of the appropriate literature to be able to identify a problem worth pursuing? Have you understood what you have read? Do you have a realistic sense of what you can accomplish as a PhD student?

We know that you may still be thinking about your research topic. We understand that you may change your mind about what you want to do. We want to know whether you understand what research in your field of political science might involve and what a research topic might look like.

Cost to complete a PhD includes tuition and other education costs (such as fees and books) as well as basic living expenses.

Tuition at the University of Victoria is $2,135 plus fees, so students should expect to pay between $6,500 and $7,000 per year for tuition.

Cost of living in Victoria is high, and we find that most students will need to set aside $25,000 per year during their PhD studies.  

We are able to provide some funding in the form of graduate awards, teaching assistantships (TAs) and research assistantships (RAs) to help cover some of the costs. Depending on whether you qualify for all potential awards, PhD students receive between $18,000 and $22,000 in funding for 1 year.

We highly recommend that you apply for external funding as well, such as the graduate fellowships offered through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).