International Development Studies, PhD

In addition to the above faculty complement, Saint Mary’s University faculty from many University departments and programs contribute to the IDS Program through research collaboration, thesis supervision, and participation in the IDS Program Committee charged with providing oversight for the general direction of the Program. The IDS Program belongs to a number of international graduate research consortia which amplify considerably the scope of potential supervision for graduate student thesis research projects, and has a nationally recognized Speakers Series in which graduate students are provided with the opportunity to hear and converse with leading researchers in the field..

IDS (registration code IDST) offers interdisciplinary graduate programs leading to both the Master of Arts and PhD degrees. Both degree programs make considerable use of the techniques and concepts of social science disciplines such as: Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science (among others) to critically analyze the conceptual frameworks underlying development policies in order to situate them in their social, cultural, economic, historical and political context, and to promote potentially lasting solutions and  practical policies to remedy the global South’s most persistent development  problems (e.g., widespread poverty).

Complete details of  the Program and currently offered courses or seminars, together with and ancillary information regarding student life and networking, may be found in the comprehensive International Development Studies Handbook, available from the Program secretary or on the IDS website (

Doctor of Philosophy in International Development Studies

The PhD in IDS is an interdisciplinary doctoral program emphasizing research leading to an original contribution to the advancement of knowledge in IDS. The core area of Doctoral Research in IDS is the political economy of globalization. Students are encouraged to specialize in a specific sub-area such as:

  • development theory
  • labour
  • trade
  • environment
  • migration
  • education
  • gender studies

The IDS PhD Program is currently admitting only full-time students.

Admission Requirements

Applicants normally have a Master’s degree with a first class standing. The applicant’s transcript must demonstrate comprehensive graduate course work in International Development Studies or a very closely related area.  The IDS Program may consider extensive professional experience as a substitute for a portion of the required graduate coursework. In addition to the general requirements set out by FGSR for all doctoral applicants, applicants must submit:

  • a 2,500 word research plan setting out in detail their proposed dissertation project and area of research
  • a Letter of Intent outlining their preparation for pursuing doctoral level research, and
  • an up to date curriculum vitae.


Applicants to this program, whose first language is not English, must demonstrate their English language proficiency as outlined in Graduate Academic Regulation 1e with the following additional requirement:

  • a TOEFL (iBT) score of at least 100 with no individual band below 20; or
  • an IELTS score of at least 7.0, with no band below 6.5.

The deadline for applications is February 1st for entry on the forthcoming September 1st. There are no deferred admissions to the PhD Program, and there are no mid-year (January) entries into the PhD Program.


In admitting students to the program, the Ph.D. Program Committee will take into account the availability of potential dissertation supervisors.  On entry to the Ph.D. program, students will be assigned a supervisor who will be appointed on the basis of his or her expertise in relation to the student’s dissertation at the time of entry. Where a successful applicant has already identified an appropriate supervisor, every effort will be made to ensure that he or she is appointed as the student’s supervisor.

Note: The Ph.D. Supervisor should normally be a tenured faculty member at Saint Mary’s University or other post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada.  In the latter case, such faculty must be recommended by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research as Adjunct Professors at Saint Mary’s University.

These are the normal minimum requirements, but each case will be evaluated on its own merits.  However, applicants will not be evaluated for admittance where any of the required elements have not been submitted at the time when the application is being considered.

Financial Support

Full-time students admitted to the program may be eligible for funding administered by Saint Mary’s University. Funding recommendations are made by the program All successful applicants are automatically considered for graduate funding. Students are encouraged to apply for external scholarships.