What Can I Do With A PhD in Canadian Studies?

Googling that phrase didn’t bring up anything useful, so I thought “aha, what a great title for a post!” followed immediately by a very reluctant “I guess that post should have some content… which I should probably generate… nuts.”

When I say that a Google search was fruitless, I mean that I found lots of pages listing “PhD requirements.” However, the career advice I found from the two PhD programs in Canadian Studies that I know of (or that exist as far as Google is concerned) was eerily similar:


Summary: Parliament, museums, academic posts, and “interesting public service careers.”

Here’s what’s offered by the School of Canadian Studies that I call home:


Note: Unique career opportunities can follow. That sounds delightfully ominous.

(Also, in case you came across this post while wondering if you should even get a PhD in Canadian Studies, that probably merits a separate post / blog / existential crisis, but here is a list of  programs that might be relevant to you [listed in arbitrary order based on which tabs I have open right now]:

– Canadian Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley, California, USA

School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada [“joint” program with Trent]

Canadian Studies at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada [“joint” program with Carleton]

– Canadian Studies Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, USA

Centre of Canadian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland

American AND Canadian Studies PhD at the University of Nottingham, which I can only assume is run by Robin Hood [jk I’ve totes been there and they have a lovely library])

Here is a list of things I think one can possibly Do with a PhD in Canadian Studies. Feel free to suggest more (especially if they’re Unique or Interesting), and I’ll keep you informed as to how each thing progressively unravels:

– Keep on working part-time as a technical writer for engineering firms! (Haha, just kidding, you won’t have to pay international student tuition anymore after you’re awarded your PhD, so maybe you can go full time.)

– Teach (unless tenure-track professoring is more your speed, in which case you might be SOL. Try coursera.)

– Write (start a blog or something? or publish a book, or write for some open access journals, or turn to paid journalism to pay the bills)

– Keep reading (maybe go to Lawyer School or Librarian School)

– Work In Government (a Parliament of some sort might be in line with your expertise)

– Work for an NGO or non-profit (let’s not lie, probably writing)

– Be an unpaid intern (c’mon, that’s not a good life plan!)

– Be fascinating at cocktail parties, particularly at Canadian Embassies the world over (that is a good life plan, if it got you invited to parties)

– Work in a Museum (a variation on the pedagogy theme listed above) or Be a(n) Historical Re-enactor. Better yet, have a YouTube Channel about your life as a(n) historical re-enactor:

Granted, maybe you don’t need at PhD for that, but luckily there is some Internet to hook you up with an outlet for all of that thar larnin’.)

– Do the academia thing (in administration or otherwise)

Be a cashier at Walmart (the person who wrote that sounds kind of jerky, but the other replies seemed a bit more thought-out)

– Manage a cafe or volunteer somewhere (with your cronies from International Studies)

– Be an area studies martyr (this doesn’t really seem like my cup of tea, but if it brings you joy, go for it! Also, the person who suggested that seems awesome if only for providing open access to their entire book about Tajikistan!)

– Think Tank (and other activities with fellow [or fella] holders of BA degrees in History – the list doesn’t change too drastically from humanity to hum-anity)

– Lots of other stuff! Research, consult, edit, serve as vice president and corporate manager of a heavy-metal-equipment manufacturing company, join the military, work as an independent scholar, run a small business, or other options listed when you Google “What can I do with a PhD in History?” Seems that lots of the skills translate across (inter)disciplinary lines, such as researching, writing, and managing your time effectively whilst perhaps blogging on the side.

Start your own company in Nunavut (*EDIT – updated after the original post went live*)

Each category (let’s call them “career skill sets”) includes lots of subsets of styles and job choices. All is not lost! Well, maybe it is, I mean, here you are Googling career advice at 6 am on Christmas.

If you’re here looking for Real Answers, don’t take those joke ones to heart – I’m sure you can find a fulfilling career that suits your personal preferences and I wish you the best of success in that endeavo(u)r!

(When you Figure It Out, do let me know so I can be happy for you.)

With best wishes for little baby Jesus’s birthday to you and yours,


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