PhD Program

The Queen’s Law PhD program is a four-year program of advanced scholarly research and writing, culminating in a dissertation. Queen's Senate recently approved the expected length of the PhD program from three to four years.

Our students represent a broad range of research interests, and are encouraged to use a variety of research methods. Doctoral students are a key part of our vibrant intellectual community: some teach courses in the law school and work in collaboration with faculty members on research projects. They are invited to participate in faculty workshops, lectures and seminars, and engage intellectually with other students and faculty.

We welcome applications from students who have excelled in previous legal studies, normally with an undergraduate law degree (JD, LLB or equivalent) and a graduate law degree at the Masters level (LLM or equivalent).

PhD Program Requirements

First year:

  • Two mandatory graduate seminars (Legal Research Methods & Perspectives and Advanced Legal Research). If similar courses have been taken at another institution different course requirements apply. 
  • Graduate-level courses relevant to a student’s research topic (for credit or audit), as recommended by the student’s supervisor and in consultation with the supervisory committee.
  • A course of directed reading set by the student’s supervisor and supervisory committee.

End of first semester of second year:

  • An oral qualifying exam to demonstrate readiness to pursue a dissertation.
  • Final dissertation proposal

Second, third, and fourth year:

  • Research and write a doctoral dissertation not to exceed 80,000 words in length exclusive of footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, appendices, tabulated data, table of cases and legislation, and tables of contents.
  • Defend dissertation before an examination committee

More information

The School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs offers a full list of learning outcomes and a pathway to PhD completion on its website.

Practicing Law in Canada

Please note that obtaining an LLM or PhD in Canada does not qualify students who do not have an LLB or JD from a Canadian university to practice law in Canada. International students who are interested in practising law in Canada should contact the National Committee on Accreditation.


Potential Applicants


If you are a potential applicant please see our Graduate Admissions Process for information and a link to the application portal.

Applicants do not contact potential supervisors prior to applying for admission.  Normally, supervisors are assigned when we admit applicants to our Program. Our application form allows applicants to suggest potential supervisors.  If there is someone you are interested in working with, please add that professor’s name to the application form. On the Research Interests webpage, you can find potential faculty supervisors under the various research areas. Availability of supervisors depends on current supervision numbers and if sabbaticals or leaves occur.