Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Frequently Asked Questions - Graduate Programs


1) Who are the M. Ed. and Ph.D. programs designed for?

Anyone with an interest in examining the principles of Education more deeply. From assessment practices to leadership, educational psychology to policy, our programs are designed for individuals with all kinds of backgrounds, including those that do not possess a Bachelor of Education degree. Some of our graduates go on to teach in the public and private systems across the world, while others go on to higher education, industry, or consulting work. The programs are designed to allow you to explore your own interests and get what you want out of it.

2) How long does it usually take to complete the M.Ed. and Ph.D. programs?

For the M.Ed. program (full-time), it is expected that students will complete all degree requirements within the first five terms, i.e. April 30th of year two. Most students complete courses in their first full year, and work through the thesis or project in the second year. It is not expected that students will take longer than two years to complete, and funding is not available past year two.

For the M.Ed. program (part-time), it usually takes four full years to complete all of the requirements. Most students complete courses in their first full two years, and work through the thesis or project in the third and fourth years.

The Ph.D. program typically takes students four years to complete. Students work through courses in the first two years, and focus on comprehensive examinations (two are required) and the dissertation in the remaining years.

3) How do I obtain teaching and research assistantships?

Teaching assistantships are not guaranteed to students in the M.Ed. and Ph.D. programs, but they are plentiful and become a part of many students’ funding packages. Postings for teaching assistantships are sent out by the Office of the Dean, and students are encouraged to apply for any courses that they are interested in. The hours vary, where individuals are given as many as 200 hours over 8 months, and as few as 20 hours, depending on the course.

For research assistantships, most often these are organized through faculty members at Queen’s Faculty of Education rather than formally advertised. Students are encouraged to talk to faculty members about any work that may be available in their area of interest to set up a research assistantship if one is available.

4) How do I go about choosing a supervisor in the M.Ed. program?

For M.Ed. students, it is helpful to use courses as an opportunity to get to know the faculty members. Students may also look into faculty profiles online http://educ.queensu.ca/people to determine their research interests and areas of specialization. Students are encouraged to set up a meeting with a potential supervisor and share their own goals and plans. Through the conversation, students will get a sense of the approach that faculty member takes, and whether or not this would be a good fit. This conversation typically happens as formal coursework requirements are coming to an end.

5) What is the difference between a project and a thesis?

If you opt for a project, you have to take a total of eight courses. For a thesis, you are required to take six. This distinction recognizes that a thesis typically involves more work, including a defense of your proposal, data collection and analysis, writing the thesis, and defending it. In a project, you decide on your area of interest and put together some type of reflection of your growth in that area. For some, it is the production of a resource, for others it may be a synthesis of existing resources. You would make the decision about what you will do for your project with your committee, and it is submitted and given a mark by your team upon completion.

6) How do exams work in the Ph.D. program?

Once you have completed required coursework, you can begin your comprehensive examinations. You write two examinations, one written and one with both written and oral components. The first comprehensive examination is written only, and is bound by a three-week period. You are given a comprehensive examination question (e.g., produce a literature review on a topic) and must submit it at the end of the three-week period, which is then evaluated by two members of your supervision committee. If you have not produced a satisfactory response to the prompt, you will be given more time to re-examine a particular area or re-write a response to a new prompt, or fail.

The second comprehensive examination is a proposal defense, therefore it is not bound by time. You can take as much time as you need to produce your proposal, and your committee schedules a proposal defense for you when they deem you are ready. This examination is a brief presentation of your proposal and a defense of the decisions you made within it.


1) What is the difference between the M.Ed. and PME?

The PME differs from the traditional M.Ed. in that the M.Ed. is research-based and requires a thesis/project, while the PME is course-based and focused on the practical application of theory to professional practice. If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D., the M.Ed. is a better option as it provides you with the necessary research background. If you are looking to increase your professional credentials and working knowledge of theory, the PME is a great fit.

2) How long will the PME take to complete?  

The PME requires 10 courses for completion.  There are three terms per year- September and January starts (10 week courses) and a July start (7 week courses).  We typically advise students to start by taking one course to get a feel for the workload, and then add from there.  Most students take 1-2 courses per term, and finish at around the 2-year mark.

3) What is the course load like?

The PME is designed for part-time studies, and as such is flexible.  There is no requirement to attend lectures or be online at a certain time, so you can work your coursework around your professional and personal schedule.  You receive all course materials and due dates on Day One of the course, so you know what is coming and can budget your time accordingly. Students who have successfully completed our program typically spend a couple of hours per week per course, and more when there is a larger project due.

4) What does a typical course look like?

PME courses are typically broken into modules, each lasting 1-2 weeks and focusing on a particular theory of the course.  For each module there are typically a few discussion posts (posting your thoughts on the course material and responding to your peers), and then sometimes a small artifact (think blog post or PowerPoint slides).  Some courses have fewer small projects in favour of larger ones, and vice-versa.  There is never any need to come to campus to write examinations. 

5) Will the M.Ed. and/or PME give me certification to teach in Ontario K-12 schools?

No, to gain certification to teach in Ontario you must successfully complete a B.Ed. program, and then be approved for certification to teach through the Ontario College of Teachers.