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PhD Program Application Process for Master's Transfer Route

NOTE: For complete admission and degree requirements, see the Graduate Studies Calendar and Course Catalogue.

Academic qualifications for master's transfer route

Applicants who intend to transfer from a University of Lethbridge master’s degree program to an approved PhD program must satisfy four basic criteria before the University will consider approving the transfer. The applicant must:

  1. be currently enrolled in a master's program at the University, have completed a minimum of 12 months[1] and a maximum of 24 months of the master's program, and have completed the program’s required coursework;
  2. be in good standing in the master's program;
  3. have demonstrated research and academic excellence; and
  4. agree to work with the same supervisor(s).
NOTE:When PhD program applicants are admitted by transfer from the master’s program, all PhD degree requirements apply.

Eligible applicants must apply for admission via the online application system, available at, and by following the process outlined below.

[1] A master’s student can apply for a transfer before 12 months, but 12 months of the program must have been completed at the time of the transfer to the PhD program.

Table 1: PhD program application process for master’s transfer route

STEP 1 - Program Committee and applicant complete transfer evaluation and approval

Assign Transfer Committee:
The relevant Academic Unit or Department Graduate Education Committee assigns a Transfer Committee to oversee the transfer evaluation and approval. The Transfer Committee consists of a non-voting chair and three (3) members. One (1) member should be from outside the applicant's discipline. The supervisor or co-supervisor may not be a part of the Transfer Committee. The relevant doctoral program committee must approve the assigned Transfer Committee.

Provide evidence of research and academic excellence:
The applicant and their Supervisor provide the Transfer Committee with evidence of research and academic excellence. Acceptable evidence of academic excellence includes completion of all required coursework, GPA, and letters of reference. Acceptable evidence of research excellence may include any or all of the following: publications, posters, and presentations.

Certify that the applicant is worthy of promotion:
The applicant's Supervisor/Co-Supervisors prepares a letter that indicates the applicant is worthy of consideration for transfer to the PhD program without completing an Master’s degree. The Supervisor/Co-Supervisors forward(s) this letter to the Transfer Committee.

Complete transfer examination
The applicant completes a transfer examination that demonstrates the ability to develop, write, and defend his or her research ideas. The transfer examination is set and overseen by the Transfer Committee and approved by the relevant doctoral program committee. The transfer examination has a written and an oral component. For the written component, the applicant must develop a detailed research proposal based upon his or her research program and interests. The oral component may consist of a defence of the proposal. The Transfer Committee forwards the results of the transfer examination to the School of Graduate Studies.

Approve student for transfer:
Based on all available evidence and the results of the transfer examination, the Transfer Committee makes a recommendation to the relevant doctoral program committee indicating whether the applicant should be approved for transfer. If they agree, then the relevant doctoral program committee recommends that the applicant be approved for transfer to the School of Graduate Studies. If approved, the admission process continues at Step 2.

STEP 2 - Applicant submits the application online by the application deadline

The following required admission decision documents must be submitted via the online application system, available at

  • Unofficial academic transcripts
  • Three references
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Letter of Intent
  • English language proficiency (ELP)

Additional documentation:
If additional documentation is required, the School of Graduate Studies will contact the applicant.

Submission Process:
Completion of the online application form requires uploading the required admission documents, providing referee names and contacts, and paying the application fee by midnight (MST/MDT) on the deadline date. Refer to Table 1: Application Deadlines in the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs section of the Graduate Studies Calendar (

By submitting this application, applicants authorize the University to request transcripts on their behalf from institutions participating in ApplyAlberta (Alberta Post-Secondary Application System).

STEP 3 - Applicant arranges for official documents

Official documents, including proof of graduation for the baccalaureate degree and transcripts of all post-baccalaureate work, if any, are required prior to course registration.

Applicants who have attended or are currently attending institutions NOT participating in ApplyAlberta must arrange to have official transcripts sent directly from the issuing institution to the Admissions Office. A list of participating institutions is available at

Applicants may also be called for an interview with the relevant doctoral program committee.

STEP 4 - Admission decision process

The relevant Academic Unit or Department Graduate Education Committee reviews the application and makes a recommendation on admission to the relevant doctoral program committee. The office of the School of Graduate Studies, on behalf of the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, unofficially informs the applicant of the doctoral program committee’s decision. Official admission decision will be sent electronically the Admissions Office. Applicants will be notified of their official admission status by the Admissions Office no later than April 1, July 1, or December 1. Successful applicants will be advised of registration procedures at that time.

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