Ontario Qualifications Framework (OQF)

13 – Doctoral Degree


The qualification categories distinguish between levels of knowledge based on a continuum ranging from the mastery of particular, established bodies of knowledge and skills to levels at the frontiers of knowledge where new knowledge is created and established assumptions and methods are challenged. Each qualification may be seen as a reference point along that continuum. The descriptions of each qualification outline its purpose, typical admission requirements and typical duration.

Overall Program Design and Outcome Emphasis
Programs are thesis-based. Students must have demonstrated a high degree of intellectual autonomy, an ability to conceptualize, design and implement projects for the generation of significant new knowledge and/or understanding, and their ability to create and interpret knowledge that extends the forefront of a discipline, usually through original research or creative activity.


  • Profession-oriented
  • Research-oriented

Preparation for Employment and Further Study
For employment requiring the ability to make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, and innovation in tackling and solving problems.

Typical Duration
Three to five years in length, depending on the field and the speed at which individuals progress through requirements.

Admission Requirements
Normally a Masters degree, though some doctoral programs admit high-performing students with Baccalaureate/Bachelor's Degree: Honours degrees. In some cases, bridging studies may be required.

Ontario public university/consent holder pursuant to Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act, 2000.

Indigenous Institute

Qualification Awarded
Doctoral Degree


This section outlines the generic competencies that the holder of each qualification is expected to be able to demonstrate, with a focus on knowledge and skills transferable to the workplace or useful for further study. The descriptors indicate the different categories of competencies, which vary in nature and degree depending on the qualification. The capacity to work creatively and autonomously is required at all levels but in contexts that range from fixed routines to those characterized by ambiguity and uncertainty.

Depth and Breadth of Knowledge
A thorough understanding of a substantial body of knowledge that is at the forefront of their academic discipline or area of professional practice, including, where appropriate, relevant knowledge outside the field and/or discipline.

Conceptual & Methodological Awareness/ Research and Scholarship

  1. The ability to conceptualize, design and implement research for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the research design or methodology in the light of unforeseen problems;
  2. The ability to make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, sometimes requiring new methods;
  3. The ability to produce original research or other advanced scholarship of a quality to satisfy peer review and to merit publication.

Communication Skills
The ability to communicate complex and/or ambiguous ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Application of Knowledge
The capacity to:

  1. Undertake pure and/or applied research at an advanced level;
  2. Contribute to the development of academic or professional skills, techniques, tools, practices, ideas, theories, approaches and/or materials.

Professional Capacity/Autonomy

  1. The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex situations;
  2. The intellectual independence required for continuing professional development;
  3. The ethical behaviour consistent with academic integrity and the use of appropriate guidelines and procedures for responsible conduct of research;
  4. The ability to appreciate the broader implications of applying knowledge to particular contexts.

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge
An appreciation of the limitations of one's own work and discipline, of the complexity of knowledge, and of the potential contributions of other interpretations, methods, and disciplines.