Application Information

Admission Requirements:

  • master’s degree in a relevant field; OR
  • 12 months in a master’s program and demonstrated capacity to pursue doctoral studies; OR
  • bachelor’s degree (honours) or equivalent and 5 years of relevant professional experience


  • completion of eligible English-language secondary school or degree program; OR
  • IELTS Score above 6.5 or TOEFL score above 80 or equivalent (note that these are minimums – higher scores may be required for an application to be competitive)

(see calendar regulations for more information)


Application Procedures and Timelines

Most students will enroll on a full-time basis starting in September. In exceptional circumstances (i.e. with rationale coming from a prospective supervisor, and with approval from the program committee), students may enroll on a part-time basis and/or start in January or May. The application deadline for a typical September start is January 15 of the same year. Notices to your named referees will not go out until you submit the application, so you may want to notify them informally ahead of time and/or submit the application 1-2 weeks early to make sure that the reference letters come in on time.

Interested students should contact a potential supervisor prior to finalizing their applications. Because the program is transdisciplinary and involves a wide variety of disciplines and faculty, the supervisor’s role is absolutely essential in helping to establish a student’s project, program of study, and committee. As well, the supervisor typically must provide a certain level of top-up funding, and applicants should be aware of whether or not their proposed supervisor can do so before proceeding with a full application. The potential supervisor should be clearly identified in the answer to Question 1 of the “Statement of Interest” on the application form. No applicant can be given a formal offer of admission until a faculty supervisor has been confirmed.

If a prospective supervisor agrees to supervise an applicant pending admission to the program, the applicant should request that the supervisor send a "letter of support" to the Graduate Officer directly, by the application deadline. The letter should specify how much top-up funding the supervisor will offer to support the student each year. Normally, the supervisor is expected to provide at least $7,000 per year over four years, with funding for at least the first three years available at the time of admission (and, if necessary, payments to external members of supervisory or examination committees, such as Indigenous Elders or professional artists). Prospective supervisors should consult the "Checklist for Supporting Supervisors" section below. The letter of support does not count as one of the two reference letters required for all graduate program applications. Please note that the application database is not checked regularly for new applications, but it will be checked around the application deadline or when a supervisor "letter of support" is received.

If an interested applicant is not able to find a prospective supervisor to support their application, they are still welcome to apply (this is a change in policy from previous years). Chances of admission will be much lower without a supporting prospective supervisor, but the program aims to establish a continuous "pool" of applicants that can potentially be paired with project/supervision opportunities that arise. These general applications can be submitted at any time of year, but are more likely to receive consideration if they come in before the application deadline and aim for a September start. Decision notices may be delayed for these applications, because the program will wait to see if opportunities arise before formally rejecting general applications. A general application can stay in the "pool" for two application cycles (years) if the applicant requests reconsideration (or "roll over") after a rejection decision. Proposals (see below) are still required for general applications, but - to aid with matching applications to project/supervision opportunities that arise - applicants may want to specify additional research interests outside of that sample proposal as well as the range of potential supervisors they would be interested to work with.

Applications must include a proposal, uploaded to the application portal as an additional document. It should be no longer than 2 pages single-spaced (before references). This proposal does not replace the "Statement of Interest" section in the main application form, which must be completed as well.

The proposal should (using headings) clearly and explicitly explain the project's:

  • rationale and significance
  • research objectives or questions
  • possible methods (including data collection and data analysis)
  • fit with TRSU program goals
    • broad interdisciplinarity
      • what (distant) disciplines will be involved?
      • how might these disciplines be integrated with one another?
      • who might represent these disciplines on the supervisory committee?
      • (note that the applicant does not need to have a background in all identified disciplines)
    • knowledge co-production
      • what external partners might be involved?
      • how might these partners contribute as part of the research team?
      • when in the research process might these partners be engaged?
    • sustainability
      • which pillars of sustainability might be involved? (e.g. environmental, economic, social)
      • how might these pillars be considered in the research project?

Students who do not plan to use a transdisciplinary approach in their research cannot be admitted to the program.


Tips for the Application Process

Because supervisor top-up funding is normally expected, the pre-application process of contacting a potential supervisor is very important. There are essentially two ways to do this. First, a student can apply for a specific open PhD position that has dedicated funding (see the postings at the bottom of this page). Second, a student can contact affiliated faculty members with research interests that overlap with their own. The applicant may discover unadvertised positions or may be able co-create a position organically if the supervisor has extra funding available. An interested supervisor can also make the case for admitting a student without the usual amount of top-up funding.

Applying without an agreed prospective supervisor is possible and welcome (see above section), but is much less likely to be successful.


Checklist for Supporting Supervisors

If you are a faculty member who would like to supervise a specific student in the TRSU program, please complete the following actions to support the applicant (before they finalize their application):

  • review their draft application materials (e.g. CV, transcripts, application form)
  • meet with them (e.g. phone call or virtual meeting) to discuss proposal and potential program
  • work together to refine their initial proposal
    • ensure it follows guidelines under the "Application Procedures and Timelines" section above
  • write a letter of support and submit it to the TRSU Graduate Officer before the application deadline
    • state how much top-up funding you are providing
      • include the type of funding (i.e. stipend or RAship) and over how many years
      • if providing less than the required amount, include justification
    • state whether you have met with the student and reviewed their materials (especially the proposal)
    • if supporting a late application, or a non-September start, include justification
    • see the "Application Procedures and Timelines" section above for more information


Open Postings for Funded PhD Student Positions

Current opportunities may be listed below.