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Doctor of Philosophy in Labour Studies

The only such degree in North America, the Ph.D. program engages closely and critically with the issues of work and labour in contemporary and historical perspective. The program aims to develop a new generation of scholars prepared to contribute to research leadership in the academy, the community, policy arenas and organizations representing working people. As a small interdisciplinary program, students will enjoy strong mentorship from leading scholars in the field and benefit from the strong union and community connections of faculty.

Ph.D.Doctor of Philosophy in Labour Studies

The only such degree in North America, the Ph.D. program engages closely and critically with the issues of work and labour in contemporary and historical perspective. The program aims to develop a new generation of scholars prepared to contribute to research leadership in the academy, the community, policy arenas and organizations representing working people. As a small interdisciplinary program, students will enjoy strong mentorship from leading scholars in the field and benefit from the strong union and community connections of faculty.

Ph.D. graduates will be ready to undertake academic employment as well as research jobs, senior administrative and leadership positions in a range of public, private and non-profit organizations with a focus on work and social justice, such as labour organizations, policy research institutes and think tanks.

The program, which normally takes four years of full-time study, consists of course work, comprehensive examinations and a Dissertation. Students are required to take four courses, of which Methods and Advanced Labour Studies Theory are required. Additional courses are chosen from a list of core Labour Studies courses as well as from disciplines such as Sociology, Political Science, Geography, Social Work, History, etc.

Course Requirements

Normally, candidates for the Ph.D. will complete 12 units (4 half courses) of course work at the graduate level which include:
1. LABRST 715 or an equivalent methods course approved by the program; Students entering the PhD program who have already taken LABRST 715 are exempt from this requirement and may take another elective.
2. LABRST 793 Advanced Labour Studies Theory
3. Two elective courses offered by the School of Labour Studies or by another department or academic unit

Supervisors and Supervisory Committees

Successful applicants will be assigned a temporary supervisor of studies upon admission. Not later than eight months following arrival, a supervisory committee for each Ph.D. student will be appointed by the Graduate Committee, on the recommendation of the student and their dissertation supervisor. This committee will consist of at least three members: a dissertation supervisor, normally a full-time faculty member in the School of Labour Studies, and two other members, at least one of whom is a faculty member from outside of the School of Labour Studies, whose scholarly interests include the area of the student’s main interest.

Comprehensive Examination

After finishing their course work, normally in Term 1 of their second year in the program, students will complete a comprehensive exam. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that the student has sufficient knowledge of the relevant scholarly literature in the field of Labour Studies and that they are able to synthesize and communicate this literature in a critically insightful way. The comprehensive exam will consist of a written and an oral component. The examination committee for the comprehensive exam shall normally consist of the members of the supervisory committee.

Dissertation Proposal

Following the completion of the comprehensive exam requirement, students will publically present their dissertation proposal outlining their research question, methodology and how their project will contribute to academic knowledge.

Dissertation

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to write a dissertation with a maximum length of 300 double spaced pages that demonstrates competence in original research following School of Graduate Studies guidelines. Students will be required to defend their dissertation in an oral examination.

 

Detailed program information is available in the PhD Handbook.

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in any discipline with a minimum A- average from an accredited university.
  • A demonstrated interest in studying work, employment or worker organizations from a Labour Studies perspective.
  • Select candidates may be admitted with a B+ average from a Master's degree if they have a minimum of five years of work or volunteer experience in a labour or work-related community organization and are able to provide evidence that they have strong writing and critical thinking skills.
  • Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of their qualifications and the alignment of their interests with the research interests and availability of faculty. 
  • Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty members in the Department regarding potential PhD supervision as well as the PhD program.

Only complete applications will be reviewed after the January 31st deadline. Admission decisions will be communicated in March. Incomplete applications cannot be reviewed.

Required Application Documents:

Graduate Studies Online Application

  • Each applicant is required to complete the Graduate Studies Online Application which opens in October each year.

  • In addition to the online application, applicants must also submit the required documents listed below. Note that some required application documents must be submitted through your online application.

Academic Transcripts

  • Scanned/unofficial/student-generated transcripts for ALL post-secondary studies completed or in-progress are required at the time of application
  • Transcripts from institutions where you completed courses on Letter of Permission and/or as part of Student Exchange Programs must also be included
  • Official transcripts must be submitted if an offer of admission is made:
    • Electronic: 
      • If the issuing institution produces official, electronic transcripts that can be sent directly to other institutions, select this option instead of Paper.
      • The issuing institution must send the official, electronic transcript to Megan Stokes at lsgrad@mcmaster.ca
      • This official, electronic transcript from the institution does NOT replace the scanned, electronic transcripts that the applicant must upload through their online application. 
    • Paper: 
      • Official transcripts in a sealed envelope, signed/stamped by the issuing institution, and sent from the issuing institution directly to the School of Labour Studies (mailing address below). 
    • McMaster University transcripts: 
      • If you are submitting a transcript from McMaster University, submit the transcript in Electronic format ONLY.  You do NOT need to request for a Paper transcript to be sent to the School of Labour Studies if the transcript is from McMaster University.

Note: The status of your transcripts and application in the School of Graduate Studies McMaster University Application will not be updated to "complete" until you have sent an official electronic or paper transcript. Please ensure you upload transcripts from all institutions attended at the time of application for evaluation purposes.

Academic References:

  • Two (2) confidential reference reports from instructors most familiar with your academic work. 
  • In cases of mature* applicants, one (1) work-related reference is acceptable.
  • McMaster University uses an Electronic Referencing System (e-Reference). By entering the email address of your referee through your online application, the system will automatically send an e-Reference request on your behalf

  • IMPORTANT: 
    • The system will send the e-Reference request to your references only after you submit your online application. Referees may require 3-4 weeks to complete a reference report. Referees must complete their reference report by February 1st. Please keep this in mind when you are working on your application.
    • If you are unable to use the Electronic Referencing System, you can download the Reference Form to send to your referees for completion.  
    • Downloaded reference forms must be sent by the reference directly to Megan Stokes by e-mail (LSgrad@mcmaster.ca) or to the mailing address below. 

*more than two years since last enrolled in a post-secondary education institution 

Statement of Interest

  • Must be uploaded as a PDF document through your online application
  • 3-4 pages (750 - 1000 words), double-spaced
  • References page(s) should be single-spaced and do not count towards the maximum 3-4-page limit
  • An effective statement includes:
    • A clear research question
    • Rationale for the research question
    • A clear research plan and methodology
    • How your background (including education and work/volunteer experience) prepares you to do the research.
    • Why the School of Labour Studies at McMaster is the right place for you to pursue the above research question.

Resumé/CV

  • Must be uploaded as a PDF document through your online application

English Language Proficiency (if applicable)

  • If English is not your native language, an official copy of your English Language Proficiency score or other evidence of competency in English is required.  Applicants whose university studies were completed at an institution where English is deemed the official language of instruction may be exempted from this requirement (official letter from the institution is required)
  • The English Language Proficiency exam must have been completed within 2 years of the application due date
  • The most common English Language Proficiency exams:
    • TOEFL: minimum score of 92 (internet based), 237 (computer based) or 580 (paper based), minimum of 20 per band. Please use TOEFL department code 080 (Other Social Sciences).
    • IELTS (Academic): minimum overall score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in each section
  • Other English Language Proficiency exams may be accepted. Please visit the School of Graduate Studies: How to Apply and click “Language Requirements” for more information
  • Submit English Language Proficiency exam results as a scanned document uploaded through your online application. 

Application Deadline:

  • January 31st, 2021 (includes all other supporting documents; CV, Statement of Research Interest, transcripts)
  • Reference deadline: February 1st, 2021

Please send all (hard copy) supporting documents to:

School of Labour Studies
c/o Megan Stokes
Kenneth Taylor Hall 717
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4
Canada

All full-time Ph.D. candidates will be offered a minimum level of funding (currently set at an annual minimum value equal to full-time tuition plus $13,500 for 4 years) from a combination of sources that may include teaching assistantships, graduate scholarships, and external scholarships/bursaries.

For information about major scholarships and awards competitions, please visit the School of Graduate Studies: Awards & Funding.

  • International applicants, please see here for Scholarships and Awards

Scholarships

Internal Scholarships

Competitive scholarship funding is offered to full-time graduate students in the School of Labour Studies.  Internal scholarships, which include Graduate Scholarships, are intended to help students devote their time and energy to the successful completion of their studies.

External Scholarship

Many of our current and incoming students receive notable scholarships from external funding agencies such as OGS, SSHRC, etc. Applicants are highly encouraged to apply to external funding agencies. Once admitted, students will be required to apply for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship annually, if not already an award recipient.

Teaching Assistant (TA)/Research Assistant (RA) in lieu Positions

Each Ph.D. student and many Master’s students are offered a TA or RA in lieu of TA valued at approximately $11,839 for a full year and $5,919 for a half year for 10 hours per week.  

 

Tips for successful applications:

  • Review the PhD Handbook
  • Contact a potential supervisor in Labour Studies prior to submitting an application to ensure that they are taking students and to gauge their interest in your proposed project. Eligible supervisors include all core Labour Studies faculty members (not including associate members)
  • Write an effective research statement. An effective research statement includes:
    • A clear research question
    • Rationale for the research question
    • A clear research plan and methodology
    • How your background (including education and work/volunteer experience) prepares you to do the research.
    • Why the School of Labour Studies at McMaster is the right place for you to pursue the above research question.
    • If you need further advice, seek advice from a mentor from your previous school/program, since they know you best.

International Applicants are encouraged to review the information on our prospective International Student site.

The School of Graduate Studies Tuition, Fees & Scholarships Labour Studies Ph.D. Handbook Graduate Application Guide & FAQs How to Use the SGS Online Application Apply Now
For more information:
Megan Stokes, School of Labour Studies
KTH-717
905-525-9140 ext. 24692
LSgrad@mcmaster.ca
Length:
4 Years
Required Credential:
Master’s degree
Program Type:
Thesis and Course based
Program Options:
Full-time, Part-time
Typical Entry:
September
Current Deadline:
January 31