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PhD in Law from Canada: A Complete Guide to Pursue PhD in Law in Canada for International Students

Tumul Buch

Canada ranks 4th globally when it comes to research opportunities which is why international students often decide to pursue PhD in Law from Canada. Canada is home to some of the finest law schools offering PhD in Law. Not only is a PhD in Law from Canada a highly remunerative career choice but also a well-respected profession with a great scope. The annual salary package for lawyers in Canada is quite good starting from 37,500 CAD and going up to 295,000 CAD and this field is characterized by a balanced demand and supply of labor.

We have prepared a guide including best universities for PhD in Law in Canada, cost of studying, scholarships, eligibility criteria, admission process, future opportunities to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Why Study PhD in Law in Canada?

If you are looking for reasons why you should consider getting a PhD in Law from Canada, take a look at the points below:

  • World-class education: Canada not only is the top choice among international students beating countries like the US and UK but also home to coveted universities. Remarkably, 12 universities in Canada rank in the QS subject rankings by Subject 2021 for Law and Legal Studies. Out of which 3 universities namely University of Toronto, McGill University and University of British Columbia rank in the top 50 globally while the remaining are placed within the top 300 category.
  • Funding opportunities: There are numerous scholarships for international students in Canada which can definitely help you in reducing the costs significantly. Besides program funding you can secure financial support through Research Assistantships (RA).  You can also find fully funded law PhD in Canada which is totally a bonus point if you are looking for affordable education. International students are also allowed to work on or off-campus with a valid study permit.
  • Future prospects: Adding an international doctoral degree to your resume, makes you highly employable in Canada as well as other parts of the world. It also leads your way to permanent residency in Canada. The demand for judges and lawyers in Canada between 2019-2026 is expected at 46,000 compared to 46,600 job-seekers which means the demand and supply will be stable implying good future prospects.

Job Opportunities after Studying in Canada for International Students!

Top 6 Universities in Canada for PhD in Law

Law is a popular field of study in Canada, let us take a closer look at the top universities for PhD in Law in Canada:

  1. University of Toronto
  2. McGill University 
  3. University of British Columbia
  4. University of Ottawa
  5. York University
  6. Queen’s University at Kingston

Details about PhD programs at each of these universities is mentioned below:

1. University of Toronto

University of Toronto is the top ranking institution in Canada with a very high research output. It also ranks in the top 50 in QS subject rankings for Law and Legal Studies in 2021. It provides Doctoral of Juridical Science (SJD) with 2 admission rounds - one for general entry and the other for direct entry. The Faculty of Law also provides collaborative graduate programs that allow you to pursue PhD in Law with an interdisciplinary perspective.

Institution Type


QS World Subject Ranking 2021


Top PhD in Law Programs

Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)

Annual Tuition Fees

8,735 CAD

Program Funding

Tuition + living stipend

2. McGill University

The Faculty of Law at McGill University offers a competitive, challenging and intense Doctor of Civil Law program with 3 specializations. Admission to this program is very selective as the university admits a new batch of only 15 students per year. This program gives you the opportunity to associate with the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law, the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy or one of the Research Chairs at the Faculty of Law depending on your research area.

Institution Type


QS World Subject Ranking 2021


Top PhD in Law Programs

Doctor of Civil Law (Law)

Doctor of Civil Law (Comparative Law)

Doctor of Civil Law (Air and Space Law)

Annual Tuition Fees

8,375 CAD

3. University of British Columbia

University of British Columbia, another leading institution in Canada offers PhD in Law through Peter A. Allard School of Law. It is a research-intensive program which will open your doors to work in the public sector, legal research, law teaching, policy development, practice of law and government service.

Institution Type


QS World Subject Ranking 2021


Top PhD in Law Programs

PhD in Law

Annual Tuition Fees

9,131 CAD

4. University of Ottawa

University of Ottawa is one of Canada’s top 10 research universities known for its impactful research facilitated by collaboration, innovation and interdisciplinarity. The Faculty of Law at University of Ottawa aims at developing lawyers and academicians who can operate autonomously and prove themselves in the field of law. The maximum limit for completing this program is 5 years from the registration date.

Institution Type


QS World Subject Ranking 2021

101 - 150

Top PhD in Law Programs

PhD in Law

Annual Tuition Fees

6,955 CAD - 7,959 CAD

5. York University

The Osgoode Hall Law School at York University is well-known for providing affordable PhD in Law. The program accepts a very limited number of candidates therefore you need to be a competitive applicant and apply early to secure a place. All candidates are expected to complete the requirements of the program within 18 terms i.e. 6 years.

Institution Type


QS World Subject Ranking 2021

101 - 150

Top PhD in Law Programs

PhD in Law

Annual Tuition Fees

6,275 CAD

6. Queen’s University at Kingston

The Queen’s University of Kingston provides a 4-year PhD in Law program. Queen’s law programs proudly boast of high employment rates of nearly 95%. The program helps you reach the highest point in your career and understand the challenges of the ever-changing job market.

Institution Type


QS World Subject Rankings 2021

151 - 200

Top PhD in Law Programs

PhD in Law

Tuition Fees

12,927 CAD

Universities in Canada for PhD

Eligibility Criteria and Admission Requirements for PhD in Law in Canada

Before proceeding with the admission process, let us take a look at the eligibility criteria and admission requirements for earning PhD in Law from Canada:

  • Master’s degree
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Canadian study permit
  • Additional documents

Let us now talk about these PhD requirements in Canada elaborately:

  • Master’s Degree

For seeking admission to PhD in Law in Canada, you must complete an LLB or JD along with a master’s degree in Law from recognised universities. You are expected to have a minimum overall average of B+ i.e. 75% or above in your master’s degree.

  • Proof of English Language Proficiency

International applicants whose first language is not English must submit English language test scores for admission. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 with no band less than 7.0 or TOEFL score of 100 is required for admission to PhD in Law in Canada for international students.

  • Canadian Study Permit

As international students seeking admission to Law PhD in Canada, you will have to apply for a Canadian study permit. Applications for a study permit can only be submitted after receiving an admission confirmation.

Documents Required for PhD in Law in Canada

Take a look at the list of documents required for applying to PhD in Law in Canada for international students:

  • Transcripts from post-secondary education
  • English language proficiency tests scores
  • GRE scores, if required
  • Letters of reference
  • Statement of Interest
  • CV
  • Dissertation proposal
  • Writing sample
  • Preference of thesis supervisor
  • Copy of passport
  • Proof of sufficient finances

What is the Eligibility, Requirements & Application Process for Masters in Canada?

Compared to the number of applications received, the seats for PhD in Law in Canada is quite limited which is why barely meeting the admission requirements does not guarantee admission. Let us now take a look at the admission process for PhD in Law in Canada:

Admission Process for PhD in Law in Canada

PhD in Law in Canada is offered for the September intake. Applications for admission are available around September of the previous year and are accepted up to December 1 at most institutions. The application deadlines for doctoral degrees are mostly not flexible and must be adhered to. Once you have checked the eligibility criteria and application deadlines, the next step is applying for admission. The steps in the application process in Canada are discussed below:

  1. The application process will start by completing the online application available on the respective university’s website and submitting the necessary application fee.
  2. An essential step to apply for Phd is connecting with a supervisor, some universities require commitment from a supervisor prior to applying while others assign supervisors in the first year.
  3. The next step is to gather and upload all necessary documents required for admission.
  4. Make sure you add your referees carefully as it is an important part of the application and must be received by the specified deadline for your application to be complete.
  5. After submitting the application, you can track the status of your application and wait until the admission decision. Universities generally send admission decisions via email.
  6. If you are accepted, make sure you reply to your offer of admission within the prescribed time period and pay the tuition deposit.
  7. Next, you will have to proceed with the student visa application. You must check the financial support being provided by your institution and apply for funding opportunities accordingly.

Intakes and Deadlines to Study in Canada in 2022!

Cost of Studying PhD in Law in Canada

The cost of studying for a PhD in Law in Canada includes tuition fees, cost of accommodation, food, transportation, healthcare, entertainment and personal expenses. On average, the annual tuition fee for PhD in Law in Canada is 6,955 CAD - 15,000 CAD.

The exact cost of living in Canada will depend on various factors such as your location, type of accommodation and preferences. You can assume the average cost of living to be around 10,000 CAD - 12,000 CAD per year i.e. 800 CAD - 1,000 CAD per month. The rent of accommodation makes a major difference in your cost of living. If you choose to live on-campus accommodation, the rent is around 3,000-7,500 CAD while off-campus accommodation costs around 8,000 CAD - 9,000 CAD per year.

Now as you are aware of the investment that is required to study Phd in law in Canada, let us look at the ways in which you can manage your studies within budget. Below mentioned are some of the PhD law scholarships Canada. 

Scholarships for PhD in Law in Canada

There are a lot of PhD in Law scholarships in Canada to ease your financial burden. Besides financial support provided by universities, you can apply for PhD Law scholarships in Canada. Take a look at the table below to learn about the various scholarships and eligibility criteria for the same:


Eligibility Criteria

Amount Granted

Ontario Trillium Scholarships

  • Awarded to international students who have scored at least 80% in the most recent 2 years of education.
  • Applicants must be willing to enrol for PhD in Ontario universities.

The amount of the award is 40,000 CAD

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

  • To be eligible, candidates must have a first-class average of A- in the last 2 years of study.
  • It is necessary to receive a nomination from a Vanier CGS allocated Canadian university.

Recipients are awarded 50,000 CAD per year for up to 3 years

International Law Research Program Graduate Scholarship

This award is provided to outstanding graduate students conducting research related to international economic law, international intellectual property and international environmental law.

The award amount is 24,000 CAD per year

John Peters Humphrey Student Fellowship in International Human Rights Law

Awarded to outstanding international students pursuing full-time graduate studies in international human rights or international organizations.

The amount of each award is 20,000 CAD

Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarships

To be eligible you must be accepted to a full-time doctoral program and complete their program by 2025 or later.

Recipients will receive up to 40,000 CAD per year for 3 years

How to Finance your Studies in Canada?

Career Opportunities in Canada After PhD in Law

Law is a high yielding field because of the ever-growing demand for legal services. A PhD in Law boosts your salaries by 23% and prepares you for senior positions in an organization. 

  • You can be working at private firms, public sector, educational organizations, large corporations, Government or be self-employed as a lawyer, attorney, counsel, advocate among other positions.
  • Employees of the public sector receive higher salaries than those employed in the private sector. 
  • The average salary of a person working in the legal field is around 144,000 CAD per year. Notably, legal professionals in Ontario have the highest average salaries of around 160,000 CAD followed by Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. 

The popular job titles and average salaries for candidates with PhD in Law from Canada are given in the table below:

Job Title

Average Annual Salary


238,000 CAD


244,000 CAD

Corporate Counsel

174,000 CAD


176,000 CAD

Judge Advocate

245,000 CAD

Legal Counsel

177,000 CAD

Legal Executive

206,000 CAD

Legal Services Director

275,000 CAD

Litigation Attorney

294,000 CAD

Legal Services Manager

279,000 CAD

Administrative Law Judge

322,000 CAD

It is a well-known fact that a higher level of education directly contributes to higher earning potential. Therefore investing in a PhD in Law in Canada is definitely worth it for your future. Law is a skill-based discipline and to work as a professional in this field you need to have strong judgment, knowledge of legal matters, ability to handle clients, grit, problem-solving skills, negotiation skills, etc. If you are looking for streamlined assistance to fulfil your dream of studying in Canada, connect with our Yocket Counsellors today!


Frequently Asked Questions about PhD in Law in Canada

How long is the PhD in Law in Canada program?

What are the top universities for PhD in Law in Canada?

How much does it cost Indian students to get a PhD in Law from Canada?

Is a PhD in Law in Canada funded?

Is it mandatory to a LLM for admission to PhD in Law in Canada?

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