Global governance as a subject field entails an interdisciplinary examination of power and authority in the global arena and examines the variety of actors, institutions, ideas, rules, and processes that contribute to the management of global society, exploring their origins, their evolving roles, as well as their political, economic, social, environmental, and ethical consequences. In addition to considering international organizations and inter-state interactions, global governance gives critical focus to various non-state actors, formal and informal networks, and broader transnational, supranational, and sub-national realities of contemporary life that increasingly contribute to the establishment and functioning of global rules, norms and institutions.

The study of global governance is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of research where scholars and practitioners from various academic and professional backgrounds come together to focus on governance issues relating to fundamental problems in global affairs. In this field, policy-relevant research and teaching about problems of global governance go beyond the rigidities and formalities of established disciplinary boundaries to be effective. Global governance issues are sufficiently complex that an interdisciplinary approach to their study is necessary. Our Global governance issues are complex, which demands an interdisciplinary approach. This interdisciplinary program is designed to meet these needs.

The PhD program, offered jointly by Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, admitted its first cohort of students in 2007-2008. The main objective of the program is to provide world-class instruction fostering intellectual leadership in the emerging field of global governance.

The study of global governance is usually concentrated in Political Science departments. The program requires students to develop expertise in the study of global governance from a political, economic and historical perspective, in addition to offering the wider view of geography, environmental studies, and global studies. The faculty members involved in the program are strongly committed to the goal of enabling students to study issues of global governance in an interdisciplinary manner.

The program offers six fields of specialization: Global Political Economy, Global Environmental Governance, Conflict and Security, Global Justice and Human Rights, Global Social Governance, and Multilateral Institutions and Diplomacy.

To be considered for admission, applicants must successfully complete an MA degree with distinction or equivalent in Political Science, History, Economics, International Development Studies, International Peace Studies, Globalization Studies, Environmental Studies, or a related field, with an overall average of at least A- (80%, First Class in UK systems).

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate command of the English language with a minimum TOEFL score of 600/250/100, or the equivalent on a comparable test. Comparable tests include: CanTEST 4.5, CAEL 70, IELTS 7.0, MELAB 85. See the graduate calendars for Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo for further details.

All applications must include the following documents (incomplete applications will not be considered):

  • a complete online application from either Wilfrid Laurier University or the University of Waterloo;
  • 3 academic letters of reference;
  • transcripts and degree certificates (where applicable) of all undergraduate and graduate work;
  • a résumé of your academic and work experience; include a history of your publication and scholarly paper activity and any other information you feel will interest the admissions committee;
  • a brief statement of your research interests that explains your reasons for pursuing graduate studies in the Global Governance PhD program, your areas of interest, and an indication of at least one preferred supervisor who is a faculty member at either the University of Waterloo or Wilfrid Laurier University (maximum 500 words);
  • a sample of your scholarly writing (no more than 25 pages in length);
  • for international applicants, an official statement of your acceptable English-language test results;
  • if you are a Permanent Resident, evidence of your status in Canada is required; you must provide a photocopy of your signed “Record of Landing” or photocopies of both sides of your Permanent Resident card.

The program typically admits 12 students per year, six through Wilfrid Laurier University and six through the University of Waterloo. There is one intake of students per year, always in September. The program is not normally offered on a part-time basis. In exceptional circumstances, students may assume part-time status after their formal course work has been completed.

Yes. You may apply to either Laurier or UW, but not both. Although admissions decisions are made by a joint admissions committee consisting of faculty from both universities, you should apply to the institution where your preferred supervisor is based. Your degree will be granted by the university in which you are enrolled. If you have questions about which you should apply, please contact Dr. Andrew Thompson at [email protected].

A list of Balsillie School affiliated faculty can be found on the faculty page of the BSIA website. Once admitted to the program, students are assigned an interim supervisor. Students formalize their supervisor and supervisory committee following the successful completion of the comprehensive exams in the second year. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact potential advisors prior to submitting their applications to the program.

The PhD in Global Governance requires the completion of six courses and the following program milestones: two comprehensive examinations, participation in doctoral seminars, a dissertation proposal, and dissertation defence. The expected time to completion is four years. Please note: Students are expected to be in residence until the time they have completed their dissertation proposal and presentation. Students are encouraged to remain in residence well past this milestone as experience shows that progress through the program is greatly aided by presence in the community.

Typical progress through the program is as follows:

Year Course and Milestone Requirements
Year 1

Term 1:

  • GGOV 700/GV 710 Globalization and Global Governance
  • HIST 605/GV 720 The History of Global Governance
  • Normally, 1 other course to meet other course requirements
  • Doctoral Seminars

Term 2:

  • ECON 637/GV730 Economic Analysis and Global Governance
  • GGOV 701/GV 701 Research Seminar (Methods)
  • Normally, 1 other course to meet other course requirements
  • Doctoral Seminars

Term 3: Prepare for Comprehensive Exams

Year 2 Term 1: Comprehensive Exams
Term 2: Dissertation Proposal and defence
Term 3: Begin Dissertation Work
Year 3 Dissertation Work
Year 4 Dissertation Work and Thesis Defence

All students must complete six courses, including the following four mandatory courses: the global governance core course, an economics component, the history component, and the research seminar. Students are required to maintain an overall average of 80% in the course phase.

Students must choose to specialize in one of the six fields of the program: Global Political Economy, Global Environmental Governance, Conflict and Security, Global Justice and Human Rights, Global Social Governance, and Multilateral Institutions and Diplomacy. To prepare for the comprehensive exam in that field, they must select at least two courses from their chosen field. Of these two, at least one course must be a course identified as “core” for that field (marked with an asterisk in the lists below).

Students are allowed to take two additional courses at no cost. Consult with the program assistant about the required paperwork.

Students must write comprehensive examinations in two areas within 16 months of starting the program. Normally, students will write comprehensive exams in September at the start of their second year. The first examination will be on Global Governance and will test the breadth and depth of a student’s comprehension of the leading literature. For their second examination, students will choose to write a comprehensive examination in one of the six fields of the program. Students can only write an examination in a field if they have completed two courses, one of which must be a “core” course, in that field.

Normally, students will complete and have approved a doctoral dissertation proposal by the end of February of their second year in the program. Completion of the proposal will involve a formal presentation and defence of the proposal to the Supervisory Committee. Normally, committee members and the student will also complete their second progress report following the defence.

Normally, the doctoral dissertation research proposal will be no more than 30 pages, exclusive of bibliography. A proposal will include the following: a statement of the principal research question(s) and a justification of the question or questions; an outline of the principal theoretical orientations that are framing the research questions; a detailed outline of the research methods and steps to be taken to obtain answers to the research questions; an assessment of the likely contribution to knowledge of the dissertation research; a timetable for completion of the research.

Students have the option of completing a four-to-six month internship working on global governance issues in the public or private sector, at a research institute, or for a nongovernmental organization. The “work-term” would normally take place during the student’s second year in the PhD program. In some circumstances, the Program Director may permit the internship to take place later in the student’s program. After completing the internship, students will be required to present, in a public forum, a written account of their work study experience, including theoretical and/or empirical implications for the study of global governance.

Normally, students should complete and defend the dissertation within four years of starting the program. When a dissertation is completed to the satisfaction of the supervisor, the thesis will be referred to the other members of the supervisory committee. After all committee members are satisfied with the dissertation, including completion of revisions recommended by the committee, an oral defence will be scheduled.

Tuition rates are comparable at each university, but do vary from year to year. For information about tuition rates, please consult the UW Graduate Studies Office or the Laurier Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies websites.

Students admitted to the program receive some form of financial assistance, and are eligible for a variety of scholarships. Internally, students are eligible to receive PhD-level fellowships valued at up to $27,000 as well as additional university-based scholarships and funding. Students are also required to apply for external funding from granting agencies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. To assist students, the PhD program conducts a “Grant Writing Seminar” at the beginning of each academic year.

Students who remain in good standing with the program can anticipate four years of funding assistance. For a list of internal and external awards, consult the Scholarships and Awards page of the BSIA website.

Applications are usually due mid-January each year. Once we have a confirmed date for the current year’s admission deadline, we will post it to the Admissions page on our website.

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