Admission to the PhD Program in Language & Literacy Education requires:

  • Master’s degree with high standing in a relevant educational discipline,
  • Sample of work demonstrating an ability to undertake research and scholarly writing (max. 30 pages).
  • CV or resume outlining work experience and academic history
  • Well-written 500 word (maximum) Statement of Intent to describe your proposed doctoral research. Be sure to indicate how your previous education, professional experience, and research have prepared you to undertake your proposed research, and note which people in the department have expertise in your intended area of study. (It is best to name more than one potential supervisor in your Statement of Interest. You do not need their permission to name them so please do not contact potential supervisors to check their availability.)
  • The support of three referees including an assessment by at least two university instructors, preferably one of whom is the supervisor of the masters thesis.

Admission to the doctoral program is highly competitive and we have the capacity to admit only a few outstanding applicants each year. We do not typically consider PhD applicants who already hold a doctoral degree.

Please carefully read the application information online. If you are interested in working with a particular faculty member, you can indicate this in your statement of interest or on the application form. However, admissions decisions are made by a committee and individual professors are unable to make commitments to supervising particular students in advance of the committee’s adjudication. Thus, there is no need for you to contact a potential supervisor prior to your application.

*Please note that LLED has faculty members in two streams: research-stream (assistant professors, associate professors, and professors) and educational leadership-stream (assistant professors of teaching, associate professors of teaching, and professors of teaching). Faculty members in either stream may supervise MEd students. Research-stream faculty members may also supervise MA and PhD students. Educational leadership-stream faculty members need special approval from Graduate + Postdoctoral Studies to supervise MA and PhD students or to serve as committee members for PhD students.

Decisions to recommend offers of admission are based on the following criteria

  1. High grades, especially in the last two years of study; awards; fellowships; scholarships; and distinctions
  2. Relevant professional and academic experience including conference presentations, professional workshops, and publications
  3. Outstanding letters of recommendation
  4. A coherent, well-written statement of intent
  5. Typically, at least two years of successful teaching experience or equivalent
  6. English Proficiency Tests: Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. For acceptable tests and scores, see Application Information.
  7. The availability of a faculty member with similar research interests and appropriate background to supervise the proposed research

The PhD program has only one start date for international and domestic students which is September each year.

Read this information about how to apply online.

Please forward supporting documents to

Graduate Program Assistant
Department of Language & Literacy Education
University of British Columbia
6445 University Boulevard
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6T 1Z2
Telephone: (604) 822-8259
Fax: (604) 822-3154

The department Graduate Academic Advisor is available to answer any academic-related questions.

For admission procedures and document-related queries, please contact


  • an approved Bachelor’s degree and, for K-12 teachers, one year of teacher education;* OR
  • a 5-year Bachelor’s degree in Education; OR
  • a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in Education or other appropriate area provided the applicant has completed all the necessary prerequisites listed below.

Holders of 3-year Canadian degrees require a fourth or honours year.
Note: Students applying for an MEd or MA in TESL and MLED are not required to have a teacher education degree or certification, although typically, we require at least two years of successful teaching experience or equivalent.


Assessments for M.Ed. and M.A. applicants will be based on:

  • undergraduate credits (3rd and 4th level coursework) prescribed by the Department as prerequisite to the program.
  • minimum GPA of 76% average

In cases where applicants have also completed graduate level coursework toward a master’s or doctoral level program, or as an unclassified student, this coursework is assessed separately.
A considerably higher standing may be required because of competitive demand.

Teaching experience

Normally candidates in all the Department’s graduate programs require two years of teaching experience or equivalent.

Background in discipline

Please see the description of all LLED courses.
In general, at least an 18-credit concentration in the subject area is required with at least a B+ standing. The following are the minimum requirements for each specialization area.

Literacy Education: Secondary and Elementary
Appropriate background includes an undergraduate degree in any discipline combined with post-degree teacher education (BEd or equivalent) with expertise in secondary English or elementary language arts.

Public, Government/Non-Government, and Community Sectors
Appropriate background includes an undergraduate degree in disciplines leading to professions such as public librarians, early childhood educators, adult educators, educational consultants, curriculum designers, materials and policy developers, non-government and community-based organizations, and the informal education sector.

English Proficiency Tests

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. For acceptable tests and scores, see Application Information

Assessment of applications

Applicants who meet the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies’ academic requirements are evaluated for acceptance by the Department using the following criteria:

  • scholastic performance
  • three letters of recommendation; at least one reference letter must be an academic reference by a university instructor
  • applicant’s statement of purpose
  • a sample of work demonstrating an ability to do scholarly writing (in the case of MA applicants)
  • evidence of research ability (in the case of MA applicants)
  • availability of a faculty member with similar research interests and appropriate background to supervise the proposed research (in the case of MA applicants)

Aptitude tests, including the Graduate Record Exam or the Miller’s Analogy Test, are not required but may be submitted for consideration.

Offers of admission

Once a student is deemed admissible an appropriate pro tem (temporary) advisor for the student is identified. “Qualifying” status calls for the completion of specified prerequisites before being fully admitted to the program.

Any offer for admission is valid only for the academic year it is made. Candidates who do not accept an offer must reapply if they wish to be considered for admission in a subsequent year. It is not necessary to submit new documents unless the student has completed further academic work.

Conditional admission

Contains condition(s) that must be met before offer can be considered final. Such conditions may include final documentation showing degree conferred, or submission of academic records from previous institutions. Letter of admission stipulates deadline dates as to when the conditions must be met. Failure to comply with a condition will normally result in the student having to withdraw from the program. Due to immigration restrictions, applicants from China who require a visa to enter Canada cannot be issued a conditional admission and may only be admitted under a full final admission.

Unclassified students

Unclassified students are those not enrolled in degree or diploma courses. They require permission in advance from the Dean of G+PS to register in graduate courses and from the course instructor.