International Development Studies Program

PhD in International Development Studies

The PhD in IDS is the first stand-alone interdisciplinary PhD Program in International Development Studies in Canada. It offers a minimum three-year, research-based program that develops leading and original research contributing to the advancement of knowledge in international development. 

The Benefits of Doing a PhD in IDS at Saint Mary’s  

  • The Program boasts a faculty engaged in real-world research on complex development problems, who publish widely and enjoy working with students.
  • The Program’s modest size permits greater individual student attention and supervision.
  • We have linkages with international partners who visit as participants in a renowned Speakers Series.
  • The inter-disciplinary nature of our program provides students with the opportunity to study and engage in research not only with core IDS Faculty, but with Faculty from a wide range of disciplines both inside and outside the program, who are members of our Programme Committee, or Adjuncts, or Program Associates.
  • You will be studying in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the Eastern seaboard, one of the most beautiful ports in Canada. Saint Mary’s is located in the heart of Halifax, Atlantic Canada's largest metropolitan centre, and benefits from its proximity to the region's four other universities, its colleges, provincial government offices, and its centres of arts and culture.  

 Admission Requirements 

  • This 6 credit-hour course is split into two parts, allowing students to explore recent research at the highest level in development theory, and its implications for students' doctoral research. The firest half of hte course (Fall Term) is organized around class-based seminars, while the second half (Winter Term) will follow a Directed Study format, normally with the candidate's supervisor.

Program Description 

The Saint Mary’s University Doctor of Philosophy in International Development Studies Program is a minimum three-year, research-based program focused almost entirely on the preparation and public defense of a dissertation which makes an original contribution to the advancement of knowledge in International Development Studies.

1) PhD Program Requirements   

a) IDST 7500.1/7500.2 - Advanced Development Theory (6 credit hours): 

b) IDST 7600.1/IDST 7600.2 - Advanced Doctoral Research Methods (6 credit hours):

  • This 6 credit-hour seminar is split into two parts, allowing students to explore traditional and recent research method, both qualitative and quantitative, for collecting data relevant to participating students' research projects. The first half of the course (Fall Term) is organized around class-based seminars, while the second half (Winter Term) will follow a Directed Study format, normally with the candidate's supervisor.
  • At the end of Year 1, PhD students shall publically defend a Dissertation Proposal that will provide a detailed overview of the PhD student's research objectives, methods, arguments, literature, and research protocol of the proposed dissertation. Permission to advance to Year 2 of the PhD Program is dependent on a successful outcome of this defense. The IDS PhD Committee will inform the PhD student of the result of the defense, approving movement to Year 2,or requesting resubmission and a new defense. In cases of a second unsuccessful defense, candidates will be required to withdraw from the Program. 

c) The Dissertation Proposal: 

d) IDST 8000 - Doctoral Dissertation (6 credit hours):  

  • Upon entry into Semester 2 of the IDS PhD Program, students must enrol in IDST 8000 - Doctoral Dissertation. This course will remain In-progress (IP) until the student successfully defends the dissertation, at which time a "Pass" or "Fail" will be entered for this course.
  • Fall Semester: IDST 7500.1 and IDST 6500.2
  • Winter Semester: IDST 7500.2 and IDST 7600.2
  • Summer Semester: Preparation of the Dissertation Proposal for public defense, normally scheduled during the first week of classes in September of the next academic year.

2) Time to Completion

The graduate year at SMU is 12 months (September 1 to the following August 31) divided into three four-month semesters. A student’s “minimum time to completion” in the Program is three years (36 months), while the maximum time to completion is 5 years. A normal course of studies for the Ph.D. program would typically consist of the following. 

Year 1 

Year 2

The second year consists entirely of structured independent and supervised research following the research protocol contained in the Dissertation Proposal as successfully defended and approved by the Ph.D. Committee. The research will consist of both primary data acquisition in the field and secondary research, as required by the research objectives of the dissertation. 

Year 3

The third year consists of all activities leading to the preparation of the final draft of the dissertation (extensive consultation with the supervisory committee, submission of various drafts of the dissertation for comment, either in whole or in part, final write-up, etc.), and will terminate in a public, oral defense of the thesis and an examination of the candidate by the appropriate examination committee (normally, the supervisory committee plus an external examiner). The central requirement of the thesis is that it make a significant original contribution to scholarship and substantively advance our knowledge in the field of international development studies.

3) IDS Speaker Series: All graduate students in the IDS Program are required to participate in the IDS Program's Speakers Series, held on selected Fridays throughout the academic year from 12-1:30pm. The Speaker Series provides a forum for students to discuss central development issues with invited guests from academia, NGOs, multilateral agencies, NGOs, and the private sector, amongst others.

For further information, see the Graduate Handbook 2018-19.

Apply to our doctoral program