Doctorate in International Studies

The Doctorate in International Studies aims to train a new generation of university researchers skilled in the interdisciplinary approach that is indispensable for dealing with complex international issues. 

Focus on research

As a student at ESEI, you will join a highly productive research community. 

  • Some 80 researchers in disciplines ranging from political science, law, economics and management to geography and agriculture are members of ESEI. All are specialists in the international dimensions of their field. See their research interests.
  • ESEI is home to several  multidisciplinary research groups specializing in security, trade, diplomacy, and development issues in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. 
  • Doctoral students in International Studies are integrated into these teams and strongly encouraged to play an active role. 
  • The academic journal, Études internationales publishes research on international issues from contributors all over the French-speaking world. Doctoral students are invited to submit publications. 
  • Some sixty scholarly events are held throughout the academic year, including conferences, symposia, and panel discussions. Experts from all over the world attend to present their analyses of current international issues. 

Strong guidance and supervision for student researchers

Program administration provides personalized services to guide you according to your profile. From the moment you enter the program, you enjoy access to tailored information about different ways you can facilitate or enrich your studies, including research funding options, opportunities to publish or present scholarly papers, and more.  

Fast-track option

The doctoral program International Studies allows students with outstanding academic records to take advantage of our fast-track option.  


Under this option, students in ESEI’s  research master’s program in international studies may be accepted into the PhD program before completing their master’s degree, and transform their master’s thesis into a doctoral dissertation. 

To be eligible for this privilege, you must meet the following conditions: 

  • Successfully complete all courses in your master’s program
  • Present a written and oral progress report on your research demonstrating to the satisfaction of your research supervisor and co-supervisor and the program director that the scope and originality of your research project is sufficient for a dissertation, and that you have the skills required of doctoral student. 

Students who fast-track to the doctoral program will receive their master’s degree once they have completed 45 credits comprising their master’s coursework, doctoral coursework, and doctoral examinations, in accordance with the conditions of the program. 

See the Université Laval Academic Regulations (Règlement des études, sections 109, 175 and 322) for more information.

Doctoral program in International Studies

Learn more about the admission criteria, structure, and advantages of the program in the Université Laval course directory.

Learn more

Doctoral seminars

The purpose of the doctoral seminars is to familiarize you with ongoing research in international studies by participating in a workshop lecture series. Seminars are given by PhD students, who present the research they are conducting for their dissertations (one presentation per year). 

ETI-8000 Séminaire de doctorat I (1 credit)
ETI-8001 Séminaire de doctorat II (1 credit)
ETI-8002 Séminaire de doctorat III (1 credit)  

Presentations may take place at the university as part of ESEI’s noontime lecture series or off-campus at national or international conferences. At least one presentation must be given at ESEI at a session attended by PhD students and faculty members. 

The objective of these doctoral seminars is to ensure that you present your research project for discussion before your peers and professors and disseminate your findings to the broadest audience possible. 

You normally register for these seminars when you are preparing for your dissertation proposal exam. The evaluation form is signed by the dissertation co-supervisor best able to assess whether your have met the seminar objectives, and countersigned by the program director. 

Registering for a doctoral seminar 

To register for a doctoral seminar in a specific semester, students must contact the program director and complete the appropriate form (803/804/805), available in the Forms section. 

This procedure ensures that the two co-supervisors approve the proposed presentation (date, place, and subject) and that it adequately reflects the student’s research topic. 

Comprehensive exam

Examen rétrospectif: ETI-8003


At the end of your coursework, normally in the 3rd or 4th semester of the program, you must take a comprehensive exam to assess your theoretical, conceptual, and methodological knowledge and determine whether you are able to start writing your dissertation. The comprehensive exam is designed by an evaluation committee composed of faculty members from the two core disciplines you selected. 

There are four faculty members on the committee, two from each discipline. 

Preliminary exam steps 

Before the end of the winter semester, a list of the faculty members chosen to sit on comprehensive exam committees during the upcoming academic year (which begins in the fall) is compiled. These professors must provide or update bibliographies pertaining to their field). The suggested readings and the concepts acquired during program coursework constitute the basic knowledge on which the student will be evaluated. The bibliographies (20 to 30 titles per discipline) will be available from the program director no later than one month after the end of the winter semester. These bibliographies are valid for the following academic year (fall-winter-summer). 

How the exam is conducted 

After you register for your comprehensive exam, your committee members will ask a question (possibly multi-part) related to each of the two disciplines you have selected. The exam is submitted by the end of October for the fall, the end of February for the winter and the end of June for the summer. You then have 10 days to prepare a 20-page written response (10 pages per discipline). Exam dates are announced at least three weeks in advance. 

No more than two weeks after you hand in your exam, you will receive an invitation to appear before the committee to make an oral presentation of about 30 minutes on the results of your analysis. You will then be expected answer questions from the committee members (maximum 15 minutes each). 

After your presentation, you will withdraw to let the committee deliberate. Committee members must complete and sign the evaluation form immediately after your presentation. The committee spokesperson will inform you of the outcome—pass or fail—and send the result to the program director. 

To pass the exam, you must receive a passing grade (P) from at least three of the four committee members. The exam may only be retaken once. Retakes must be scheduled within no later than two semesters. 

Registration procedure  

To register for your comprehensive exam in a given semester, you must contact the program director and provide the appropriate form (801), available in the forms section. 

This step is to ensure that you have clearly identified the two disciplines you have selected for your doctoral program and confirmed who your two co-supervisors are when you begin preparing for your exam.

Dissertation proposal exam

L'examen prospectif: ETI-8004

You must submit your research proposal during the semester in which you are registered for the dissertation proposal exam, normally the fifth and sixth semester. During the exam, you will defend your written dissertation proposal before a 4-person committee consisting of your dissertation supervisor and co-supervisor, and two faculty members from your selected disciplines. The program director serves as the committee chair. 

Written document

  • The proposal should be approximately 25 pages long (single spaced) and must be submitted to committee members and the program director at least two weeks before your presentation. 
  • It must include an outline of your dissertation, a description of the issue you will be studying, your methodology, and a preliminary bibliography. 

Oral presentation

  • The program director serves as moderator.
  • Your presentation should take approximately 30 minutes. 
  • Each committee member has a maximum of 10 minutes each for questions, beginning with the two members who are not serving as supervisor and co-supervisor 
  • You and the program director then leave the room so the committee can deliberate. Committee members must complete and sign the evaluation form immediately after your presentation. 
  • The committee spokesperson will inform you of the decision (P/F) and provide an oral summary of comments (committee expectations) made on the form 

If the proposal is judged unsatisfactory, the committee may decide to issue a grade of M and give you a maximum of one semester to prepare for a retake. In this case, you will receive suggestions as to how to improve your proposal. A final grade (P or F) will then be issued. If your second attempt results in a failing grade (F), you will not be allowed to continue in the program. 

Members of the dissertation proposal exam committee generally serve on the dissertation evaluation committee as well. 

Registration procedure 

To register for the dissertation proposal exam during a given semester, you must contact the program director and complete Form 802, available in the Forms section

Your co-supervisors use the form to confirm that you are ready to take the exam. The faculty members who will make up the examination committee are also chosen at this stage. 


Please refer to the Guide d'encadrement de la thèse (Dissertation Supervision Guide)  in the  Forms section

Students who have questions about the various steps involved in writing a dissertation should refer to the Theses and Dissertations section on the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website. 

List of ESEI research professors qualified to supervise dissertations


Our doctoral students in International Studies

Discover the young researchers doing a doctorate in International Studies

Information on admission to the doctoral program

See the admissions page for our programs.

For more information

Contact the Academic Advising team