Doctoral Program

Program Description

The doctoral program in Studies in Teaching and Learning English as a Second Language is designed to prepare students for careers as academics and researchers. Programs are highly individualized, depending upon the student’s prior education, experience, and interests. The program will comprise a minimum of 6 courses (21 credits) and a dissertation. Each student’s program of study will build upon core requirements and will be uniquely designed around individual needs and interests, in consultation with the student’s advisor. The three core courses are Seminar in TESL (3 credits), Research Practicum in Psychological Studies in Education (6 credits), and research methodology (3 credits). A minimum of three elective courses will be chosen: at least two from the graduate course offerings of the Department of Educational Psychology, and the remaining from the Departments of Linguistics, Secondary Education and Modern Languages and Cultural Studies. Additional courses from other departments may be considered, depending on the individual needs of the student. Students may be required to take additional courses to strengthen their background training in particular areas.

Following the completion of coursework, the student must pass an oral candidacy examination, and then conduct research, write and defend a dissertation. The focus of the dissertation will be on research in one of four general areas: (a) studies of L2 learning and teaching; (b) approaches to and evaluation of ESL classroom instruction for adults; (c) student and program evaluation; and (d) language teacher education. Candidates for the doctoral program will be chosen on the basis of research interests commensurate with those of the Department of Educational Psychology’s TESL faculty. These include second language pedagogy, second language reading and literacy, learning strategies, assessment, and language teacher education.

Admission Requirements

The program’s minimum admission requirements are a Master’s degree in TESL, Applied Linguistics, or related field from a recognized institution, with a minimum GPA of B over the most recent 60 credits of course work. Applicants should have ESL or EFL teaching experience, with some empirical research experience. Applicants who are non-native speakers of English must provide proof of proficiency in the English language.  Students entering the PhD program must have an overall TOEFL iBT score of 101 with a minimum of 24 in Listening, 24 in Reading, 27 in Speaking and 27 in Writing; OR a minimum IELTS Academic score of 8 in listening/speaking with no band less than 7.

Decisions about admission are based on

  • a GPA over B (based on the most recent 60 credits)
  • evidence of research-based Master's program and continued interest in research  
  • interests allied to those of TESL faculty members
  • identification of an individual faculty member's research interest; indication of having read their publications in order to evaluate that their interests would fit with students' interests
  • research skills that contribute to the program
  • background in the area of interest from the student's Master's program
  • at least one introductory course in statistics
  • presentations or publications based on Master's research
  • eligibility for funding
  • strong letters of recommendation from academic referees with expertise in the area of L2 teaching/learning

Program Requirements

(a minimum of 6 courses [21 credits] plus dissertation)

Required courses

  1. EDPY 680: Seminar in Teaching English as a Second Language *3
    This seminar will give doctoral students the opportunity to become acquainted with research and theory in educational linguistics. Prominent contemporary topics covered will include form-focused instruction, individual differences, discourse analysis, pragmatics, cognitive processing, pronunciation, oral fluency, learning strategies, assessment, instructional methodology, and immigrant settlement experiences. Students will complete extensive reading for this course, and participate in weekly discussions. The final product will be a review and critique of a relevant topic in the form of a paper of publishable quality.
  2. EDPY 612: Research Practicum in Psychological Studies in Education *6 or equivalent
    The purpose of this two-semester course is to help students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct applied research effectively. There are two components to the course: (a) the community research placement and (b) the professional development seminars. The community research placement (8 hours per week) will provide students with an opportunity to acquire experience in doing community-based research. Additionally, in every field there is tacit knowledge that is not covered systematically in most graduate curricula; thus, it is expected that the students’ experiences in their research placement will provide exposure to this knowledge. The professional development seminars are designed to address a number of applied research topics, as well as expose students to a number of current professional issues facing those working in the research community. 
  3. A graduate research methods course *3

Elective courses

A minimum of three 3-credit courses, selected by the student and the Supervisory Committee from a selection of courses currently available.

General Application Information

TESL MEd Student Handbook

Application Checklist (TESL MEd and PhD program)

How To Apply

Program Deadlines

General Admission Requirements & Criteria

Frequently Asked Questions (MEd Program)

Program Coordinator

Marilyn Abbott
marilyn.abbott@ualberta.ca
(780) 492-9090

Program Staff

Abbott, Marilyn
Ranta, Leila

Professor Emeriti 

Derwing, Tracey
Rossiter, Marian


Adjunct Staff

Chambers, Wendy
Dunn, Bill
Foote, Jennifer
Guardado, Martin 
Light, Justine 
Moussu, Lucie 
Noels, Kimberly 


*Please note that when selecting an academic supervisor, you may visit the Faculty page to view all our professors to find a suitable match for your research interests.