PhD in Law

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The PhD is a full-time advanced degree involving extensive, research-intensive study, suitable for students who aim for an academic position.  As a rule, an LLM is a precondition to admission to the PhD. Students without an LLM should apply to the Research LLM. If accepted, they can subsequently apply to advance to the PhD after their first year of study.

Degree Requirements

  • Graduate Seminar I: Legal Research (GS LAW 6610)
  • Up to three Study Groups
  • One elective course
  • Extended Dissertation Proposal (60 pages)
  • Dissertation (300-350 pages)
  • Final Oral examination

Course Requirement

All first-year PhD students take one Study Group for credit. In the second and third year of the program, only full-time PhD students are required to take a study group, which is non-credit. For further information on required courses click here.

In addition to the required courses above, it is also recommended that student take Graduate Seminar II: Advanced Legal Research Methodologies (GS LAW 6611)

Extended Dissertation Proposal

PhD students must submit an extended dissertation proposal (60 –70 pages) by the end of their third semester, which is then defended in an oral exam .

The Dissertation

The Dissertation reflects both a substantial contribution to existing literature and, at the same time, be original research. It is expected to be between 300-350 pages.  It should have the usual scholarly apparatus, footnotes and a bibliography, prepared in accordance with the McGill Guide to Legal Citations. It is expected that the dissertation will be of sufficiently high quality to warrant publication by an academic publisher, and/or in venues, of repute.

Students can also request to complete their degree as a Portfolio Dissertation. In this option, students incorporate scholarly articles that were published during their time as a graduate combined with introduction and conclusion.

Time to Completion

PhD students are expected to complete all requirements within 18 terms (6 years).

Residency Requirement

Students in the program must fulfill a residency requirement. “Residency” is defined as being physically based in the Toronto area, and being able to visit the university campus on a daily basis, such as to participate in classes, attend seminars, meet with the supervisor and study at the library.

The length of the residency requirement is: 2 terms (8 months).