Coming soon

Conditional upon approval by the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. 

Anticipated date for this program to receive its first cohort is September 1, 2020.


The Institute of the Environment offers an MSc program in Environmental Sustainability, a collaborative master program in Environmental Sustainability, and a PhD program in Environmental Sustainability.

The PhD in Environmental Sustainability is an interdisciplinary degree that focuses on graduating professionals and academics specializing in the areas of environmental science, economics, law, and policy. The program is full time and offered in English and French. Under the regulations of the University of Ottawa, exams, assignments, or the thesis may be written in French or English. Students may also be supervised in French or English.

The objective of the PhD in Environmental Sustainability is to train leaders and professionals with the skills and capacities needed to be effective in developing, analyzing, and empirically evaluating public  policies and institutions designed to address the multiple challenges associated with the transition to sustainability. Students will be trained in considering environmental problems from the perspective of various disciplines of inquiry (with an emphasis on science, law, economics and policy) all of which are critical to the development, implementation and evaluation of solutions to environmental problems.

The program aims to develop a strong comprehension of the complexity of environmental sustainability problems, a critical awareness of the broad range of contributing factors, and the methodological and communication skills required to develop and communicate candidate solutions. 

The program is governed by the “Policies and Regulations” of the University of Ottawa, which are posted on the Administration and Governance

For the most accurate and up to date information on application deadlines, language tests and other admission requirements, please visit the specific requirements webpage.

To be eligible, candidates must:

  • Hold a Master’s degree with thesis or research paper in a relevant discipline. Examples of relevant disciplines include environmental studies broadly construed, geography, economics, environmental science, political science, international development, environmental engineering, and law;
  • Have obtained a minimum average of 75% (B+) calculated according to university guidelines;
  • Provide two confidential letters of recommendation;
  • Provide a CV and a statement of interest outlining career goals;
  • Identify at least one professor who is willing and available to act as thesis supervisor; and
  • Provide an outline of the proposed research project.

Language Requirements

Applicants must be able to understand and fluently speak the language of instruction (French or English) in the program to which they are applying. Proof of linguistic proficiency may be required.

Applicants whose first language is neither French nor English must provide proof of proficiency in the language of instruction.

Note: Candidates are responsible for any fees associated with the language tests.

Fast-track from Master’s to PhD

Students enrolled in the MSc program in Environmental Sustainability or other similar programs at the University of Ottawa have the opportunity to go directly to the PhD program without having to write the  thesis provided the following conditions are met:

  • Students transferring from the MSc in Environmental Sustainability:
    • have successfully completed all required course work for the first two terms of MSc program (minimum 16.5 credits) with an average of at least A;
    • have shown satisfactory progress in their research or have a demonstrated ability to do independent research
    • provide a letter of recommendation from the proposed doctoral thesis supervisor supported by members of the Thesis Advisory Committee (see below).
  • Students transferring from other uOttawa graduate programs:
    • have successfully completed the mandatory coursework of the two first terms of their masters program and have successfully completed courses in at least two of the following disciplines: Law, Science, Policy or Economics with an average of at least A. The committee may require an addition of one or two electives if these conditions are not met.
    • have shown satisfactory progress in their research or have a demonstrated ability to do independent research 
    • have a letter of recommendation from the proposed doctoral thesis supervisor that is supported and approved by members of the Thesis Advisory Committee to be an area relevant to Environmental Sustainability.

The student must make a written request to transfer to the PhD program no later than the end of the third term of enrollment in the master and must enroll in the doctoral program in the fourth term. Once the transition is made, all the requirements of the doctoral program must be met.


The Institute may require students to take additional courses depending on their backgrounds.

Students must meet the following requirements:

Compulsory Courses:
EVD 8100 Theory and Practice in Environmental Sustainability3 Units
EVD 8901 Research Design and Methods for Environmental Sustainability / Conception de recherche et méthodologie pour la recherche en durabilité de l’environnement 13 Units
3 elective course units at the graduate level3 Units
Qualifying Examination
EVD 9997 Qualifying Examination
Thesis Proposal
EVD 9998 PhD Thesis Proposal
THD 9999 PhD Thesis


The student must complete both the written and oral component of the Qualifying Examination (QE). The QE Evaluation Committee, using the research proposal summary as a guide, will identify two fields of knowledge related to the student’s proposed research. The written and oral component of the Qualifying Exam is usually completed no later than the end of the 5th term. Failure to meet this deadline results in a first failure of the Qualifying Exam and requires that the student register for the Qualifying Exam in the following term. Students will have one last opportunity to successfully complete both the written and oral components of the Qualifying Exam. In the event that the student should fail either of the two components, the Qualifying Exam would be considered failed for the second time; and the student would be withdrawn from the program.

Thesis Advisory Committee

The student’s Advisory Committee normally includes (i) faculty members from at least two substantively different disciplines (such as, but not limited to, economics, science, law, policy, engineering, health sciences, geography, and management), and (ii) a non-academic stakeholder who may provide practical mentorship and encourage a link between research and practice, where appropriate.

Minimum Standards

The passing grade for all courses is B. Students whose progress is unsatisfactory, or who do not meet the requirements of their program, will be withdrawn from the program. Reasons for withdrawal include a) two failures in the program, whether of courses, Qualifying Exam, thesis proposal; b) unsatisfactory performance of research or field work; or c) two unsatisfactory progress reports.