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Successful completion of a doctoral program leads to the highest university degree, the doctor of philosophy (PhD), and allows you to become a high-level researcher or practitioner.

Why do a doctorate?

Doctoral studies allow you to conduct independent, high-level research that makes an original contribution to scientific, technological, or artistic knowledge, interpretation, or development. They offer an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in a particular field.

A doctorate allows you to:

  • Make effective use of information and documentary resources relevant to your field of research
  • Explore a research topic in depth to go beyond current knowledge and practices
  • Adapt, design, or further develop research and analytical methods
  • Manage your research independently
  • Uphold standards and rules of ethics and integrity and promote best practices in research and knowledge dissemination
  • Test the value of your findings against new knowledge in your field of research
  • Critically interpret data specific to a field of knowledge
  • Supervise research activities
  • Present, in writing and orally, a complex intellectual problem in a clear and coherent manner, as per the standards in a field of knowledge


Doctoral programs leading to a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree D) include a doctoral exam, a dissertation based on substantial original research that counts for at least 60 credits, and a minimum of 6 credits for cross-listed or doctoral courses, excluding the credits awarded for the exam. 

See the Theses and dissertations section for more information.

Doctoral programs

See all the doctoral program s offered at Université Laval.

Guide de cheminement aux cycles supérieurs - maîtrise recherche et doctorat

Le Guide de cheminement pour les étudiantes et les étudiants à la maîtrise recherche ou au doctorat vous permettra de tirer profit au maximum de vos études à l’Université Laval, dans l’optique de cheminer efficacement et de mieux réussir vos études supérieures.

Vous y trouverez les étapes essentielles à connaître, en commençant par les premières questions à vous poser avant d’entreprendre vos études supérieures, pour cheminer efficacement jusqu’à la diplomation:

  • Êtes-vous prêt à entreprendre des études supérieures ?Le contexte général des études supérieures à l’Université Laval
  • Le cheminement et l'encadrement de la formation à la recherche
  • Les rôles et responsabilités de l'étudiante ou de l'étudiant​Les rôles et responsabilités de la direction de rechercheLes étapes finales d’évaluation: du dépôt initial jusqu’à la diplomation

Guide de cheminement aux cycles supérieurs (PDF)

Le Guide pratique pour une demande de bourses d’études supérieures ou un stage postdoctoral vous offre des conseils utiles pour l’élaboration et la rédaction de votre dossier de candidature.

  • Les sujets suivants sont abordés dans le guide: 
  • Le déroulement des concours
  • Les critères de sélection
  • Le choix des répondantsLa rédaction du projet de recherche
  • L’expérience et le potentiel en recherche

Guide pratique pour une demande de bourse d'études supérieures ou un stage postdoctoral  (PDF)

Le Guide pour choisir sa direction de recherche aux cycles supérieurs est élaboré sous forme de pistes de réflexion et de questions utiles et est destiné aux étudiants qui désirent entreprendre des études supérieures.

Les réflexions portent sur les thèmes suivants:

  • Sur votre projet et l’environnement de recherche
  • Sur la supervision et les modalités d’encadrement
  • Sur le financement
  • Sur l’éthique et la propriété intellectuelle

Guide pour les étudiantes et étudiants pour choisir une directrice et un directeur de recherche aux cycles supérieurs (PDF)

Dans le Guide sur les activités de recherche à distance destiné aux étudiants et stagiaires postdoctoraux vous trouverez des conseils sur l’encadrement, des suggestions d’ajustements pour les projets de recherche ainsi que des astuces communicationnelles pour faciliter les rencontres à distance entre directions de recherche, professeurs, étudiants et stagiaires postdoctoraux.

Activités de recherche à distance (PDF)

Skills to be developed at the doctoral level (PhD)

Objective of the doctorate (PhD)

Conduct a high-level, independent research project that makes an original contribution to scientific, technological, or artistic knowledge, interpretation, or development

Preferred training method

Independent execution of a research project that contributes to the advancement of knowledge in the field

Dispositions, abilities, and skills to leverage in academic and other research settings

Dispositions, whether natural or learned, are tendencies to act in a certain way. They should be systematically leveraged in various contexts to promote academic and professional success.

Willingness to go beyond current knowledge and practices

  • Openness to constructive criticism
  • Self-discipline, motivation, and rigour
  • Autonomy in making and justifying decisions in relation to one’s project
  • Management of stress associated with deadlines, results, and interpersonal relationships
  • Recognition of the value of new ideas and the impact of research for the development of society
  • Ability to comment and critique in a respectful manner within the limits of your knowledge
  • Ability to adapt one’s speaking style for different audiences
  • Use of different means of communication drawing on a variety of tools
  • Use of digital tools to help develop professional and complementary skills

Professional expertise and specialized knowledge  

This first category includes seven core competencies assessed by the student’s instructors, supervisors, and advisors. These skills are highly sought after in the academic and research community.

Each of the competency statements is followed by actions that reflect the level of skill development. These actions are subject to evaluation and must be mastered by the end of the program.

Making effective use of information and documentary resources relevant to one’s field of research.

  • Use digital information-gathering and acquisition systems to conduct an exhaustive literature search.   
  • Adapt existing collection and analysis methods and techniques or develop new ones.
  • Assess the quality, integrity, and authenticity of information and research results.
  • Assess the reliability, reputability, and relevance of sources.
  • Collect and archive information efficiently to maintain primary and secondary data or sources over time.

Exploring a research topic in depth to go beyond current knowledge and practices

  • Challenge ideas and prevailing opinions in your field of research in order to explore new avenues
  • Exploit a body of research to generate new ideas, theories, or perspectives
  • Propose original hypotheses or research objectives based on recent advances and prospective developments in your field or area of research
  • Formulate a structured research proposal demonstrating an excellent command of the language associated with your field

Further developing, adapting, or devising methods of research or analysis

  • Hone your knowledge of the research methodology or theoretical apparatus by applying various principles, methods, and techniques to the problem or hypothesis formulated in your project.
  • Master data analysis methods
  • Justify your choice of research methods from among those applicable to your field
  • Explain the adaptation or design of new research methods or analytical techniques Establish mechanisms to validate your research results

Managing research independently

  • Establish a collaboration plan with your supervisor to map out the steps, timelines, and deliverables for your research project
  • Demonstrate independence, initiative, and judgment in planning, revising, or reorienting your work
  • Identify steps that may affect the order or timing of your research and writing activities and adjust your priorities accordingly
  • Use resources and manage time effectively to produce the required results within the specified timeframe

Ensuring compliance with the standards and rules of ethics and integrity and promoting best practices in research and knowledge dissemination

  • Contribute to the social mission of the university through your attitude, behaviour, work, and research activities
  • Situate the impact of your research on society and the environment from a sustainable development perspective
  • Implement and promote the Tri-Agency Framework for Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Identify risks of violation and help manage them appropriately according to the applicable standards or policies in place.
  • Actively ensure health and safety
  • Detect competing ethical and legal obligations and learn to manage them with integrity

Testing the value of one’s findings against new knowledge in the field of research

  • Collaborate to solve complex problems
  • Develop independent and innovative critical thinking
  • Assess the quality, relevance, and potential impact of other research
  • Evaluate the impact and benefits of your own research activities
  • Practice taking a position and defending your ideas before a critical audience
  • Accept criticism from peers, supervisors, and researchers to rapidly identify what needs to be revised or better defended
  • Engage in debate and address controversy in the aim of advancing knowledge

Sharing and transferring knowledge and expertise in a variety of situations

  • Present and defend a dissertation reporting on substantial original research on a complex intellectual problem, in the appropriate format and in keeping the with the publication standards in your field and at the University.
  • Contribute to the scholarly dissemination of your work in a variety of venues and formats
  • Communicate orally and in writing in a style that is appropriate for the purpose and the context, both for specialists and non-specialists
  • Assume your responsibility to act as an expert in your field

Complementary skills to be developed during training according to your career objectives

These four important skills are developed during the program, but are not evaluated as such (nor certified by the diploma). They are crucial to your academic and professional success. They can be reinforced and developed using related services and activities available with your program (library services, placement services, etc.; lunch-and-learn events, seminars, etc.). Each of the competency statements is followed by actions used to develop the competency.

Recognizing the value and limitations of one’s skills and experiences

  • Seek advice from recognized experts in the field to enrich and compare your own views.
  • Review your performance and research experience to identify areas for improvement

Engaging in continuous learning and improvement to develop expertise and maintain employability

  • Identify the transferable aspects of your training, skills, and experience in order to showcase them to potential employers or your superiors
  • Know how to seek out and identify career opportunities within and outside of academia
  • Set career goals, identify training needs, and take steps to keep your knowledge up to date or improve your skills
  • Develop and maintain a regularly updated record of achievements and experience

Developing and consolidating a professional research network

  • Adapt to the interpersonal relationship dynamics in research and work settings
  • Actively contribute to research meetings (seminars, workshops, presentations, team meetings, etc.)
  • Show initiative within the team and maintain its dynamics
  • Develop and maintain productive professional relationships with your supervisor, mentors, colleagues, and peers
  • Work within a scientific or artistic community in a manner that is respectful of colleagues
  • Develop a strong web presence in order to have an impact in your field of research and use personal or social networks for exchanging information related to your professional activities
  • Get involved in learned societies, public organizations, communities of practice, and cooperative networks
  • Provide leadership in interdisciplinary projects
  • Co-produce results with leaders in your field of research
  • Develop collaborations that go beyond scientific differences

Practicing as a researcher in a variety of settings

  • Seize opportunities to generate, promote, and facilitate discussion of research results (forums, conferences, symposia), including transfer and extension activities
  • Promote interaction between research and teaching
  • Oversee graduate research training
  • Contribute to university education at all levels
  • Help manage the human and financial resources of a research project or team
  • Promote social or technological innovation and creativity through your work and practice
  • Participate in interdisciplinarity by fostering dialogue and collaboration with peers and colleagues from other disciplines
  • Develop a broader understanding of the world of research, nationally and internationally
  • Refine your understanding of research organizational structures, resources, and infrastructure
  • Be familiar with research funding sources and their guidelines and priorities in order to develop effective funding strategies, individually and as a team
  • Make strategic, social, or commercial use of data or research results.
  • Safeguard the role of research and researcher leadership in policy development
  • Nurture university teaching and research by maintaining productive ties with industry and business, as well as with government and non-governmental organizations and the public and broader public sector.
  • Put your training and expertise to use to help serve broader national and international community needs
  • Express yourself with authority in your field of research by accurately situating the boundaries of your expertise