An acquaintance is planning to apply to law schools for a Ph.D in Canada. She is reading about the residency requirement and is sure that it means that she would have to live on-campus, possibly even in an undergraduate dormitory. Here's a sample statement from Dalhousie University:

Applicants must spend at least one full academic year (12 months) in full-time residence at Dalhousie after registration for the PhD program. The Graduate Studies Committee of the Schulich School of Law reserves the right in certain cases to require the completion of a second year of residency. It is to be noted, however, that consistent with other doctoral programs at Dalhousie University, PhD candidates must pay fees at the full-time rate for two years regardless of whether they have been required to spend a second year in residence at Dalhousie.

I've told her that I believe it's just a requirement to register as a full-time student and live in the area. Are there any Ph.D programs that do require (or strongly suggest) on-campus living? If that's too close to a shopping question, is a Ph.D residency requirement not a requirement to use on-campus housing?

Note: I know of an intensive Master's program that strongly suggests living in campus housing unless you already live in the university area.

1 Answer 1


Generally, in the context of a doctoral degree, "residency requirement" refers to some minimum number of credits that must be completed at the degree-granting institution, or minimum duration during which the degree candidate must be enrolled full time at the degree granting institution. In contrast, work completed at another institution and applied toward the degree does not count towards the residency requirement. See e.g. policy statements here , here, and here, which make it clear that this is the kind of residency requirement they're referring to.

But "residency requirement" is occasionally used in other ways - for example, here it refers to students being considered in-state residents for admissions and tuition purposes.

It is very unusual but not unheard of for doctoral students to be required to live on campus for some time. See this Google search. I am not aware of any US or Canadian universities that have this requirement.

  • Also, a good question to ask (if going to any school part-time) the full-time requirement at many schools can be fulfilled by simply ensuring two consecutive semesters of dissertation work with 9 (or equivalent) hours. The powers that be explained to me that this had something to do with immigration-y stuff, but it served me well so I didn't ask many questions :-) Dec 18, 2015 at 20:10

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