faculty of environmental studies

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Stages of the program

For complete details of the PhD program, including graduate courses offered, please see the PhD information in the Current students section of our site.

Program Plan

As a doctoral student in an intrinsically interdisciplinary program, you do not follow a set curriculum but are guided by your own Program Plan – your self-created guide to your studies. In your first term, you will enrol in the program’s one required course: ENVS 8102, the PhD seminar. Working with the seminar collective and your assigned Interim Advisor, you will develop the initial version of your Plan, which will include brief statements about:

  • the personal context of your inquiry
  • your current research interests
  • key terms and definitions
  • related tensions and questions
  • your comprehensive areas

Through refining, elaborating and following your plan, you will progress to the next stage of your studies. As part of this process you may choose to take courses in the Faculty, in other graduate programs at York, or, with approval, at other universities. You may also participate in other educational experiences that will help you achieve your intellectual goals.

Comprehensive examinations

In consultation with your Advisor, you are encouraged to read and explore in a wide but focused way, and to learn to draw out prevailing themes, issues and debates. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the Faculty and diversity of Program Plans, the comprehensive exams can take many forms. Usually students focus on two to four comprehensive areas, one of which may be methodological. However, there are no set areas – instead, these are defined through the development of your Program Plan and in discussion with your Advisory Committee members.


You will research and write your dissertation under the guidance of your Supervisor and Supervisory Committee.