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Application Information

Transdisciplinary Sustainability

Admission Requirements:

  • master’s degree in a relevant field; OR

  • 12 months in a master’s program and demonstrated capacity to pursue doctoral studies; OR

  • bachelor’s degree (honours) or equivalent and 5 years of relevant professional experience


  • completion of eligible English-language secondary school or degree program; OR

  • IELTS Score above 6.5 or TOEFL score above 80 or equivalent (note that these are minimums – higher scores may be required for an application to be competitive)

(see calendar regulations for more information)

Application Procedures and Timelines

Most students will enroll on a full-time basis starting in September. In exceptional circumstances (i.e. with rationale coming from the prospective supervisor, and with approval from the program committee), students may enroll on a part-time basis and/or start in January or May. The application deadline for a typical September start is February 15 of the same year.

Interested students should contact a potential supervisor prior to finalizing their applications. Because the program is transdisciplinary and involves a wide variety of disciplines and faculty, the supervisor’s role is absolutely essential in helping to establish a student’s project, program of study, and committee. As well, the supervisor typically must provide a certain level of top-up funding, and applicants should be aware of whether or not their proposed supervisor can do so before proceeding with a full application (see more information at the bottom of the Program Description page). The potential supervisor should be clearly identified in the answer to Question 1 of the “Statement of Interest” on the application form. No applicant can be given a formal offer of admission until a faculty supervisor has been confirmed.

Applications must include a proposal, uploaded to the application portal as an additional document. It should be no longer than 2 pages single-spaced, and should elaborate on the following headings relevant to the proposed research project: rationale and significance, research objectives (or questions), methods, and fit with TRSU program. The last section should explain how the project fits with the TRSU program's transdisciplinary approach as explained on the program homepage (e.g. how will the project integrate distant disciplines for broad interdisciplinarity and how will it genuinely engage with external partners for co-production?). Specifics are important: applicants should identify which distant disciplines will be combined, how those distant disciplines are likely to be combined, which potential supervisory committee members might represent the identified disciplines, and which potential external partners might be engaged. Note, however, that the applicant does not need to have a background in all identified disciplines. This proposal does not replace the "Statement of Interest" section in the main application form, which must be completed as well.

Students who do not plan to use a transdisciplinary approach in their research cannot be admitted to the program.

Once a prospective supervisor has agreed to supervise an applicant if they are admitted to the program, the applicant should request that the supervisor send a "letter of support" to the Graduate Officer directly (currently grichards@grenfell.mun.ca), by the application deadline. The letter should specify how much top-up funding the supervisor will offer to support the student each year. Normally, the supervisor is expected to provide at least $7,250 per year over four years. See the "Financial Support" section on the "Program Description" page for more information.

Tips for the Application Process

Because supervisor top-up funding is normally expected, the pre-application process of contacting a potential supervisor is very important. There are essentially two ways to do this. First, a student can apply for a specific open PhD position that has dedicated funding (see the postings at the bottom of this page). Second, a student can contact affiliated faculty members with research interests that overlap with their own (see the list below). The applicant may discover unadvertised positions or may be able co-create a position organically if the supervisor has extra funding available. An interested supervisor can also make the case for admitting a student without the usual amount of top-up funding (see the "Financial Support" section on the "Program Description" page).

Applying without an agreed prospective supervisor (and letter of support) is possible but is unlikely to be successful, so it is not recommended.

Affiliated Faculty

The faculty members listed below have indicated interest in potentially supervising TRSU students or serving on supervisory committees (though it does not necessarily mean that they currently have the capacity and/or funding to take on a new student – especially for the inaugural year, given the rapid timelines). Please note that securing the support of a potential supervisor is an essential part of a competitive application, but it is not a guarantee that admission will be offered.

Faculty in the School of Science and Environment at Grenfell Campus

Mumtaz Cheema (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences)

Stephen Decker (Environment and Sustainability)

Paul Foley (Environmental Policy)

Lakshman Galagedara (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences)

Robert Gallant (Computational Mathematics)

Morteza Haghiri (Environment and Sustainability)

Andreas Klinke (Environmental Policy)

Mano Krishnapillai (Environmental Science)

Michele Piercey-Normore (Environmental Science)

Garrett Richards (Environmental Policy)

Gabriela Sabau (Environment and Sustainability)

Raymond Thomas (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences)

Adrian Unc (Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences) - not taking on new TRSU students for 2021-2022

Olga Vasilyeva (Computational Mathematics)

Kelly Vodden (Environmental Policy)

Jianghua Wu (Environment and Sustainability)

Faculty in Other Schools at Grenfell Campus

Maggie Atkinson (Visual Arts)

Kelly-Anne Butler (Humanities)

Gerard Curtis (Visual Arts)

Cameron Forbes (Visual Arts)

Shoshannah Ganz (English)

Robert Hengeveld (Visual Arts)

Todd Hennessy (Theatre)

Daniel Nadolny (Psychology)

William Newell (Business Administration)

Roselyne Okech (Tourism) - only available for co-supervision in 2021-2022

D’Arcy Wilson (Visual Arts)

Faculty at Other MUN Campuses

Ashlee Cunsolo (Labrador Institute)

Kelly Hawboldt (St. John’s Campus: Engineering)

Roberto Martinez Espineira (St. John’s Campus: Economics)

Sean McGrath (St. John’s Campus: Philosophy)

C. Michael Wernerheim (St. John’s Campus: Economics)

Adjunct Faculty (may serve as committee members)

John Dagevos (Tilburg University: Sustainable Development)

David McKenzie (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Agronomy)

Gregory Wood (Consulting: Tourism)

Open Postings for Funded PhD Student Positions

Current opportunities may be listed below.

[no current postings]

Graduate Studies

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: FC4021
Phone: (709)639-6585
Email: gradstudies@grenfell.mun.ca

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