Research-stream Program Milestones
|Milestones||Target (by end of)|
|1||Establish supervisory committee & thesis topic||Year 1||Year 1|
|2||Supervisory committee meeting||Annually||Annually|
|3||Qualifying exam(NB1)||N/A||Year 1|
|4||Achieve candidacy (NB2)||N/A||Year 2|
|5||Permission to write thesis||Year 1||Year 4|
|6||Permission to conduct defense||Year 2||Year 5|
|7||Thesis defense (departmental exam)||Year 2||Year 5|
|8||Final oral exam (senate exam)||N/A||Year 5|
|9||Electronic thesis submission||Year 2||Year 5|
|10||Graduation||Year 2||Year 5|
NB1: The qualifying exam may also serve as the bypass exam for students from the MASc program who wish to transfer to the PhD program.
NB2: To achieve candidacy, students in doctoral program must:
Milestone 1-2: Establish supervisory committee & thesis topic
All research-stream students must have an identified supervisor and supervisory committee as early as practicable in their program. Both student and supervisor should be involved in the selection and approval of supervisory committee members, the thesis project to be undertaken, and coursework required to support the proposed project.
The supervisory committees should be established no later than by the end of year one. Together, the supervisory committee and student should jointly work toward successful completion of the thesis and student degree requirements by adopting best practices from the Supervision Guidelines outlined by the School of Graduate Studies.
The students are also expected to schedule a meeting with the supervisory committee on a yearly basis to discuss their progress.
Milestone 3: PhD Qualifying Exam
Doctoral students are required to conduct a qualifying exam to ensure that they possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to successfully complete the PhD program. The PhD qualifying exam may also serve as the bypass exam for students from the MASc program who wish to transfer to the PhD program. It is recommended that the qualifying exam be held by the twelfth month, but it must be completed by the fourteenth month of study at the latest. Successful completion of the qualifying exam is a condition of continued program registration. Thus, it is recommended (albeit optional) that students hold a supervisory committee meeting three months before the exam date to receive guidance on preparation, procedures, and expected outcomes of the qualifying exam.
PASS: The student is granted permission to continue in the PhD program.
FAIL: The student fails the exam if there is more than one negative vote (or abstention).
Milestone 5: Permission to write thesis
Students are always encouraged to write early and often. Whereas numerous reports and articles are generated throughout the student’s graduate career, the thesis is a unique piece of writing, which acts as the formal record of knowledge gained and produced by the student during academic training. The thesis writing process formally commences with permission granted by the supervisory committee and the thesis itself could take several months to draft. Schedule a supervisory committee meeting to discuss thesis writing as soon as reasonably practicable.
Milestone 6: Permission to conduct defense
Once a draft of the thesis is completed to the satisfaction of the primary supervisor (and co-supervisor if applicable), and after obtaining their explicit consent, the student should submit the thesis to all members of the supervisory committee for evaluation and decision on whether the thesis is ready for defense. Committee members should be given sufficient time (typically a month) to provide analytical and constructive commentary on the thesis.
After the appropriate review period has passed, the student should call a supervisory committee meeting. At this meeting, the committee should provide the student with feedback and instruction for thesis corrections, modifications, and next steps in the graduate program. The committee should also notify the student of whether the thesis is ready for defense. If a decision is made to move forward with defense, then the committee should take this meeting as an opportunity to discuss defense procedures, timelines, expectations, and recommend internal-external examiner(s). Otherwise, the student should repeat this process until permission to conduct the departmental defense is granted by the supervisory committee.
The internal-external examiner may be a faculty member of the candidate's graduate unit and/or a faculty member of other departments, centres, or institutes of the University of Toronto. The internal-external member must have graduate faculty membership and expertise relevant to the student’s research topic but must not have been involved in supervision of the thesis (i.e. not a member of the student’s supervisory committee).
Milestone 7: Thesis defense (departmental exam)
After being granted permission to defend from the supervisory committee, the student may also receive recommendations for thesis corrections or modifications. The student must ensure that appropriate changes to the thesis be made prior to the departmental defense. The departmental defense is the last academic milestone for MASc students before graduation. Similarly, it is a penultimate chapter in the PhD journey, before the final (Senate) oral exam for doctoral candidates.
The student is responsible for coordinating the departmental defense with guidance from the primary supervisor. The departmental defense committee comprises:
The Chair of the departmental defense may be any member of the supervisory committee. The chairperson should ensure that all members adhere to the agenda and maintain order, and that the defense is conducted fairly such that all members are given an appropriate amount of time to question the candidate, and that the defense is adjourned in a timely manner.
|4 weeks prior||Supervisor secures internal-external member|
|3 weeks prior||Student sends thesis to defense committee|
|2 weeks prior||Student coordinates meeting time and location with defense committee|
|1 hour prior||Student checks that all required documents and forms are printed and prepared for defense|
|Step 1||Chair confirms that all defense committee members and the candidate are present. The defense should be rescheduled if a member is unavailable.|
|Step 2||Chair asks the student to temporarily leave the room for the committee to deliberate.|
|Step 3||Without the student present, the Chair ensures that all members have sufficient knowledge of the thesis to form a judgement on the acceptability of its content. The committee should also decide on the question and answer sequence before asking the student to return.|
|Step 4||The student presents a summary of the research and conclusions of the thesis (no more than twenty minutes).|
|Step 5||Chair invites defense members to question the candidate sequentially (approximately 10 minutes per member). Multiple rounds of questioning may occur until there are no further questions.|
|Step 6||Chair asks the student to temporarily leave the room for the committee to vote. All members must vote YES/NO on the question of whether the thesis and its defense are acceptable.|
|Step 7||Chair invites the student to return and informs him/her of the defense outcome by providing the decision document (defense form) and next steps.|
|Immediately||Student returns defense document to the graduate office (email or drop-off in person)|
Milestone 8: PhD Final Oral Exam (senate exam)
In compliance with SGS regulations, each graduate unit sets their own timeline requirements. IBBME requires at least 3 months of advance notice to prepare for your PhD final oral exam. This timeline starts with submission of the PhD External Appraiser Approval Request Form. The reason for this timeline requirement is to account for communication delays, national and international holidays, travel arrangements, and the coordination of multiple exams in parallel at the institute.
NOTICE Due to office and SGS closure on holidays:
|4 months prior||Supervisor solicits availability from eligible external examiner.|
|3 months prior||Student submits the PhD External Appraiser Approval Request Form to the Graduate Office.
|2.5 months prior||Graduate Office informs the student and supervisor of whether the external examiner is approved by SGS.|
|2.5 months prior||Student sends electronic thesis to Graduate Office.|
|2 months prior||Graduate Office requests exam location and Chair from SGS (NB: Unlike the departmental defense, the senate exam location and Chair is assigned by SGS).|
|2 months prior||Graduate Office sends thesis and requests thesis appraisal from external examiner.|
|1 week prior||Graduate Office sends abstract, appraisal, and program to all attendees.|
|2 days prior||Graduate Office reminds everyone about exam date, time, and location.|
|Step 1||The candidate is invited to present a summary of the research and conclusions of the thesis in no more than twenty minutes.|
|Step 2||The Chair then invites each member of the examination committee to question the candidate in turns of approximately equal intervals.|
|Step 3||When there are no further questions, the Chair asks the candidate to retire, and the examination committee then deliberates and proceeds to vote.|
|Step 4||Voting members must decide whether the thesis and its defense are acceptable.
• If there is more than one negative vote (or abstention), the meeting is adjourned and constitutes a failure.
• Otherwise, the thesis is acceptable with three possible results: 1) accepted as is, 2) minor corrections, or 3) minor modifications.
|Step 5||The Chair informs the candidate of the committee’s decision.|
|Immediately||The Chair returns the exam files to the Doctoral Examinations Office if the exam was held at SGS. If the exam was held elsewhere, the candidate returns the exam files to the IBBME Graduate Office. Exam files should be returned to the Graduate Office immediately following the exam if possible.|
|1 week after||In the event that immediate return is not possible, the candidate has up to one week to return exam files to the Graduate Office.|