Dec 06, 2022  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
    
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023

Regulations for Degree Progression



3.1 General Regulations on Supervision

It is the responsibility of the department/program to ensure that every graduate student has been assigned, at all times, a supervisor or a faculty advisor or a properly constituted supervisory committee, as appropriate. The supervisor must be declared within the first 5 months of registration into the program and for Ph.D. candidates, the supervisory committee must be declared within the first 12 months of starting the study.  Master’s candidate may or may not have a supervisory committee formed depending on the program.

The supervisory committee will consist of at least three members. Two, including the supervisor, must be from within the department/program. A third member, whose scholarly interests include the area of the student’s main interest, may be from outside the department/program. One member may be appointed from outside the University with the permission of the Vice-Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies. For more information please consult the policy mentioned below on Supervision of Graduate Work.  The department/program should ensure that the members of a supervisory committee are sufficiently competent and experienced to serve at the required level. In identifying a supervisory committee, the department/program should consider the following, among other things: the balance of the committee by rank and experience; publications and other demonstrations of competence in scholarship or research on the part of the supervisor. Supervisory committees for Ph.D. candidates shall be reviewed annually by the department/program. Supervisory committee members must continue their participation on the student’s committee, even while on sabbatical, unless otherwise replaced by the Department Chair or delegate.

From time to time it may be appropriate for non-McMaster faculty, e.g., industry experts to be considered for roles on the supervisory committee. In cases such as this, approval is required by the Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies or delegate. Please refer to the policy at the following link.

In FHS, committees may also include an Associate Member who would have a formal advisory role on the committee. Please click here for more details.

While the supervisor and student have a mutual obligation to meet on an  annual basis, the department/program shall ensure there is a formal regular meeting of each Ph.D. supervisory committee at least once within the reporting year (December 1-November 30), and possibly more often, to discuss the student’s progress. Each Ph.D. supervisory committee must report at least annually on the student’s progress and the department/program chair must forward such reports to the School of Graduate Studies for completion of the milestone. For Ph.D. students who have entered or transferred into the Ph.D. effective January 1st or May 1st, they must have a Ph.D. Supervisory committee meeting completed no later than November 30th of that same calendar year; those entering September 1st must have at least one meeting by November 30th of the next year. The report formally documents the supervisory committee’s assessment of the progress of the student’s program.

The frequency of meeting is left to the discretion of the supervisory committee based on the progress of the student and provided that a minimum of one meeting occurs per year.  A shorter duration between meetings is normal for students who are having difficulty in their academic progression and each meeting should involve an assessment of progress.  Occasionally, an additional meeting that is not assessed may be requested by the supervisory committee, student, department, or Associate Dean when there is a major gap in supervision, for example upon returning from a leave of absence or if there is a change in supervisor. If a PhD student is returning from a Leave of Absence, it is suggested that the Supervisory Committee meet with the student upon their return and use the Non-Graded PhD Supervisory Committee form available on the SGS website as a tool to set goals for the coming term. A graded PhD Supervisory Committee meeting is required no later than 6 months upon their return to ensure that these goals are met or nearly completed.

The department/program should prepare a set of guidelines for supervisors and students. The guidelines should deal with the selection and functioning of supervisory committees and should cover the joint responsibilities of faculty members and graduate students. The guidelines may be attached to or incorporated in department/program handbooks which give regulations supplementary to those in the Calendar. Items relevant to graduate supervision should be approved by the appropriate Faculty Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study. A copy of the guidelines shall be given to each faculty member and each graduate student.

It is possible to change supervisors or the membership of a supervisory committee, although this is not the norm. If the direction of the research changes, membership can be changed by mutual consent of the parties involved. Supervisors and/or supervisory committee members may not resign without the department’s/program’s approval. A change in supervisor is at the discretion of the department/program, not the student or supervisor.

If a student feels that they are receiving unsatisfactory supervision, they should consult the Department/Program Chair or Graduate Advisor. If this avenue is not sufficient, the student is encouraged to speak with the appropriate Associate Dean of Graduate Studies about the problem.  A student without supervision may be withdrawn due to the requirement of supervision to complete the degree.

Graduate students and supervisors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the McMaster University Graduate Work Supervision Guidelines for Faculty and Students, which follow below and to list of policies, policies on accommodations available on the School of Graduate Studies website at https://graduate.mcmaster.ca/resources.

3.2 Theses

This section pertains to the electronic thesis requirement for both research Master’s and Doctoral studies.  The oral examination is not described in this section and can be found in the corresponding sections for the specific degree, Master’s (Section 3.3.3) and Doctoral (Section 3.4.4). Electronic theses (e-theses) are text-based PDF files and may contain non-text elements such as embedded videos and sounds. Normally, a printed paper version is no longer acceptable for degree completion.   

No research for use towards the degree requirements of a Master’s or Doctorate at McMaster may be treated as a secret or classified document indefinitely, but may be permitted to be embargoed for up to one year normally while the student seeks publication by a publisher or to patent their work. All e-theses will be available to readers through MacSphere. 

3.2.1 Preparing a Thesis  

A candidate must present a thesis which embodies the results of original research and mature scholarship. In some disciplines, the appropriate form of thesis is a book-length dissertation with chapters.  In some disciplines, a “sandwich thesis” composed of journal length articles connected by general introductory and concluding chapters will be appropriate.  In the case of sandwich theses involving papers with multiple authors, the student must make substantial and significant contributions to the composition of text in each paper, and to be judged to have an intellectual leadership role with respect to the overall body of work. 

As a general rule, doctoral students are urged to limit their theses to no greater length than three hundred (300) pages of text (Master’s thesis to less than 200 pages). Guidance documents on preparing acceptable theses are found on the School of Graduate Studies’ website. McMaster University accepts both standard theses and ‘sandwich’ theses as formats for the dissertation.  Doctoral students and their supervisors should keep in mind that theses of extraordinary length are to be discouraged. In cases where students and their supervisors believe that responsible scholarly treatment of the thesis topic requires substantially greater length than that specified above, a written approval from the appropriate Associate Dean of Graduate Studies must be obtained before the external examiner is contacted.   

Individual Departments or graduate programs may issue special instructions concerning the expected forms of graphs, tables, maps, diagrams, and sound and video files which may be included within the e-thesis. Hypertext links should be discouraged due to the limited duration that they remain active.  Accepted forms of bibliographical reference in the particular discipline and other matters of format should be discussed with the thesis supervisor.

All copyrighted materials added into the thesis (text, figures, images, tables, etc.) exceeding ‘fair dealing’ requires written permission from the owner prior to thesis submission.  This includes any publications by the student who has transferred ownership rights to a publisher.  Students should consult with campus resources for assistance.  See Section 5.4  for regulations regarding ownership. 

3.2.2. Response Time for Theses Review

Supervisory committees should respond to the draft of a Ph.D. thesis within 2 months. Providing comments on individual chapters will take proportionately less time. Very long theses or chapters may take more time. There are busy periods within the academic year when the time taken to provide comments might be a bit longer than this norm. However, in no case should the response time exceed 3 months.

For Master’s theses the corresponding times are 1 month and 2 months. Master’s students are entitled to defend within 2 months of providing the final draft of the thesis to the department/program.

3.2.3 Submitting a Thesis for Defence  

A completed draft of a thesis approved by the student’s supervisor and/or supervisory committee for the defence may not be altered till after the defence; see Section 3.3.3 and Section 3.4.4 for acceptable time limits on review and editing by supervisors. 

In those instances where an examiner requests a printed copy of the thesis, it is the student’s responsibility to produce a print version well before the oral examination.  

3.2.4 Revision of a Thesis after Defence  

It is generally common that a thesis will require some minor modification as a result of examiners’ comments at the defence.  A student has 4-weeks after their defence date to complete these revisions and seek the approval of their supervisor and/or supervisory committee prior to submitting the final version to MacSphere.  Fees may be levied past this period, but the student may still submit the document at any time afterwards.  

3.2.5 Submitting a Final and Approved Thesis 

All candidates for Master’s or Doctoral degrees who have successfully completed their oral examinations and who have made all required revisions to the satisfaction of their supervisor must upload an electronic version of their final e-thesis to MacSphere. The e-thesis must be presented in a format acceptable to the School of Graduate Studies. 

Please note that changes to an e-thesis will not be accepted after it has been uploaded to MacSphere and that the document uploaded should be the version approved by the supervisory committee after the defence.  Theses may be embargoed normally for up to one year from the date of submission to MacSphere, if requested by the student and supervisor.  This restriction on publication is meant to give the research team time to publish or secure the intellectual property related to their work.  

Tuition fees continue to be assessed until all degree requirements are met, including the successful submission of the final approved thesis to MacSphere.  If a student uploads their final thesis mid-term or -month, their tuition will be assessed to the end of that month and any future enrolment will be removed during the clear to graduate process (e.g., student uploads in February, they will be refunded for March and April). Note that there is no grace period at the end of December or April for final thesis submission and completion of degree requirements.

3.3 Regulations for Master’s Degrees

Three types of Master’s programs are available, although not all departments offer each type. The first is the thesis program, consisting of both course work and a research thesis. The second type entails a major research paper or project rather than a thesis, as well as course work. Finally, some programs offer a course work-only curriculum. The choice of curriculum for Masters students can either be determined at the time of application or after the student is admitted, please consult the departmental listings to see which options are available in a specific discipline.

If a department offers more than one of these types, the ability for a student to switch between them is not automatic, but is sometimes permitted. Approval of the supervisor and department chair (or graduate chair/advisor) is required. In many departments, there will be consequences for the level of financial support to the student. As well, there are likely to be consequences for the expected time to completion. Both financial support and expected time to completion should be clarified prior to approval of the change. If such a change is approved, notification should be sent to the School of Graduate Studies by the department or program, along with any change to the payroll authorization. Graduate Studies approval is not required.

Master’s programs are designed for those students who can devote their full time to graduate studies. (See Section 2.5.2 for the definitions of a full-time student.) Some departments also offer part-time programs. Consult the departmental listing in this Calendar for part-time program availability.

3.3.1 Program Requirements

A Master’s program involving a thesis will normally be somewhat more specialized and will involve fewer courses than is the case in a Master’s program without a thesis. A course Master’s program is constructed by departments to contain a sufficient number of courses to make possible a diversified experience, for the student.

Each graduate program establishes its own minimum course requirement, subject to the approval of the appropriate Graduate Curriculum and Policy Committee, and Graduate Council.

A student’s Supervisory Committee, Supervisor, or Departmental Chair may also require those in thesis degree programs to take courses in addition to the minimum prescribed by the program’s regulations. These additional courses must be relevant to the student’s program. They may be taken in another academic unit/department and may be at either the undergraduate or the graduate level.

Students will be required to meet any additional requirements of the program, including special seminars or colloquia. All departmental assessment rules and practices are subject to consideration by the appropriate Faculty committee on Graduate Curriculum and Policy, and approval by Graduate Council.

Approved assessment procedures must be clearly communicated to graduate students at the earliest opportunity after registration, generally in the program handbook.

3.3.2 Program Progression

The amount of work in a regular (full-time) Master’s program for a student with good preparation varies across the campus, but generally, programs involving a thesis are designed to take longer than those without a thesis. Programs with a thesis typically take sixteen to twenty months. Non-thesis programs are generally shorter in duration.

For students in a regular program, the permissible time for completion of a Master’s degree program is limited to three years from their initial registration in the program. For those students admitted to a part-time Master’s program, and who complete all degree requirements while registered part-time, the permissible time is limited to five years from their initial registration. Please note, students who start as full-time and move to part-time continue to pay full-time tuition and time to completion does not get extended.  Students who start as part-time and move to full-time will then pay full-time tuition and the time to completion will be based on full-time status.  The terms students spent as a part-time student will be adjusted for purposes of time to completion. For more information please see Section 2.5.3  Definition of Full/Part-Time Status.

Students who run past the allotted time for program completion can be considered either Overtime or Out of Time and the terms counts for each are as follows:

Students are considered Overtime when they reach more than:

6 terms for a full-time Masters
9 terms for a part-time Masters


12 terms for a full-time Ph.D.
18 terms for a part-time Ph.D.

Students are considered Out of Time when they reach more than:

9 terms for a full-time Masters
15 terms for a part-time Masters

18 terms for a full-time Ph.D.
24 terms for a part-time Ph.D.

Each student’s progress is reviewed annually by the department and on a more frequent basis by the supervisor. A student whose work is felt to be unsatisfactory (e.g., as determined by unsatisfactory or marginal or supervisory committee reports, failed courses, unsuccessful remediation attempts , failure to successfully complete other mandatory components of their program) may at any time be required to withdraw from the University. In those cases in which a student does not manage to complete the degree before the end of the time limit specified above, the University has no further obligation to provide supervision. Upon consultation with the department and on its recommendation, the student will be shown as having been “withdrawn in good standing due to time limit”.

In the case of a student who had withdrawn in good standing, if a completed thesis is submitted, and is acceptable to the department, the student can be readmitted to defend the thesis. However, thesis program students who have been withdrawn in good standing should be aware that they may be required to complete additional course work before being permitted to proceed to a defence of the thesis. In all cases, the department must first declare that the submitted thesis is ready for defense before the student will be readmitted. Students can only be readmitted to defend at the beginning of the academic term. If a student needs more than one term to complete they should be readmitted to the program and pay regular fees until all the program requirements are complete.

At the time of readmission to defend, the student will be required to pay a fee (equivalent to one term’s tuition at the current part-time level 5 rate - see Section 4.1 ) to compensate for the costs of the defence and subsequent processing of the thesis. If a student needs more than one term to complete they should be readmitted to program and pay regular fees until all the program requirements are complete. All requests for readmission should be directed to the program for approval by the supervisor and program lead. Once approval is received, students are directed to pay the readmission fee and the department should submit the request for approval by the Associate Dean. The readmission decision is not subject to appeal.

A student enrolled in a course work or project program may also be readmitted if this is deemed acceptable by the student’s department. However, course work and project program students who have been withdrawn in good standing should be aware that they may be required to retake courses in which the content is judged by their department to have changed significantly since first completion and/or may be required to take additional courses that are necessary to fulfill current program requirements.

See Section 2.5.1  for information on continuity of registration.

3.3.3 Thesis Defence

A thesis may be submitted at any time but a thesis defence may not be initiated until all other degree requirements are complete. The final date for submitting a thesis to the department for Fall or Spring Convocation is found in the Sessional Dates Section. The thesis will be examined by a committee of not fewer than three members (including the supervisor and an examiner external to the supervisory committee) who will be appointed by the department/program chair; the thesis will be defended by the candidate in an oral examination before this committee. An oral defence is a mandatory requirement for degree completion. The Vice-Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies may appoint members to these committees. The time of the defence will be set by the department/program chair; normally this will be about two weeks after the completed thesis (as an electronic file; see section 2.8) has been submitted to the department for examination. 

After a discussion of the examination, the student will be dismissed for the deliberation period and the Chair will ask for a vote on the success or failure of the defence. If the examiners approve the defence, the Chair will ask the examiners to complete the Examination Report by initialing appropriately. The student will be invited back into the exam for a decision. In the event that minor revisions are required to the thesis, the Chair of the examination committee is responsible for ensuring that (1) the candidate is advised of the revisions, (2) the candidate receives and understands the ‘Final Thesis Submission form’ to be used by the Supervisor to confirm that the revisions have been made, and (3) the supervisor is also aware of the form. The Chair will complete and sign the Examination Report and return it to the School of Graduate Studies.

However, if there are two or more negative or abstaining votes, with at least one of these votes being from a member of the supervisory committee, the candidate will be deemed to have failed the defence, and a reconvened oral defence must be held at a later date. The candidate should be told as clearly as possible by the Chair and the examining committee what he/she must do to improve the defence. The reconvened defence is the candidate’s final opportunity to complete the degree. Membership on the reconvened examining committee should be the same as that for the original defense, except that one or two substitutions are permitted in order to expedite scheduling of the reconvened defence. If the defense fails a second time, that decision is final, and is not open to appeal.

Please note: when a thesis is submitted and published to MacSphere students must be aware that their name will appear as author of the document. In exceptional circumstances a pen name may be used subject to written approval of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies.

3.3.4 Project

In departments where there is the option of submitting a project, the department regulations must be observed. If the project is to be submitted to the University Library, preparation of the associated report shall follow the rules governing theses. Projects can be treated as courses or milestones rather than theses in this Calendar and their associated evaluation component is due by the end of term.

3.4 Regulations for the Doctor of Philosophy Degrees

The regular doctoral programs at McMaster have been designed for students who can devote full time to their studies. However, some departments at McMaster University will consider individual applicants to undertake Ph.D. studies on a part-time basis.  No Department or Program is obligated to offer part-time Ph.D. work. Consult the department listings for information as to whether a part-time program is available in any particular department, or correspond with the department directly.

3.4.1 Program Requirements

Each graduate program has to establish its own minimum course requirement, subject to the approval of the appropriate Graduate Curriculum and Policy Committee, and Graduate Council.

A student’s supervisory committee or Departmental Chair may also require a student to take courses in addition to the minimum prescribed by the program’s regulations. These additional courses must be relevant to the student’s program. They may be taken in another program and may be at either the undergraduate or the graduate level.

Students will be required to meet any additional requirements of the program, including special seminars or colloquia. All departmental assessment rules and practices are subject to consideration by the appropriate Faculty committee on Graduate Curriculum and Policy, and approval by Graduate Council.

Approved assessment procedures must be clearly communicated to graduate students at the earliest opportunity after registration, generally in the program handbook.

3.4.2 Program Progression

The minimum time in which to complete a Ph.D. program at McMaster is 9 terms beyond the bachelor’s level or 6 terms beyond the master’s level. However, the minimum time may be reduced by up to one year for graduate work beyond the Master’s level taken in a university or research institution approved by the Faculty Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study or Associate Dean.

Completion of the Ph.D. degree is normally limited to 18 terms from initial registration in a regular doctoral program at McMaster. The time for completion of the Ph.D. program for those admitted to a part-time program is normally limited to  24 terms from initial registration at McMaster as a Ph.D. student. 

Each student’s progress is reviewed annually by the department and on a more frequent basis by the supervisory committee. The committee will assess the student’s progress in their program.  Students must receive a grade of at least satisfactory.  If the committee reports that progress is marginal one or more times the student may be required to withdraw from the University. A student who encounters difficulties arranging a meeting of this committee should consult the chair, director, or graduate coordinator of the graduate unit in advance of the relevant deadline for doing so.

In those cases in which a student does not manage to complete the degree requirements before the end of the time limit specified above, the University has no further obligation to provide supervision. Upon consultation with the department and on its recommendation, the student will be shown as having been “withdrawn in good standing due to time limit”.

Please note, students who choose to move from part-time to full-time or from full-time to part-time will be governed by the time to completion and fees associated with the degree to which they were admitted. For more information please see Section 2.5.3  - Definition of Full/Part-Time Status.

If a completed thesis is submitted, and is acceptable to the department, the student can be readmitted in order to defend the thesis. Students who have been withdrawn in good standing should be aware that they may be required to complete additional course work before being permitted to proceed to a defence of the thesis. In all cases, the department must first declare that the submitted thesis is ready for defence before the student will be readmitted. Students can only be readmitted to defend at the beginning of the academic term.

At the time of readmission to defend, the student will be required to pay a fee (equivalent to one term’s tuition at the current part-time level 5 rate - see Section 4.1 ) to compensate for the costs of the defense and subsequent processing of the thesis. If a student needs more than one term to complete they should be readmitted to program and pay regular fees until all the program requirements are complete. All requests for readmission should be directed to the program for approval by the supervisor and program lead. Once approval is received, students are directed to pay the readmission fee and the department should submit the request for approval by the Associate Dean. The readmission decision is not subject to appeal.

3.4.3 Comprehensive Knowledge

All Ph.D. candidates at McMaster are expected to acquire, during the course of their studies, a comprehensive knowledge of the discipline or sub-discipline to which their field of research belongs. The School of Graduate Studies does not prescribe any particular way to assess this knowledge, whether by a Comprehensive Examination or by some other format. All doctoral programs are expected to assess and provide feedback to the Ph.D. candidates, as early as possible and as frequently as possible, on the breadth or depth of their knowledge, critical thinking and independent research skills. This assessment and feedback will normally begin between the 12th and 20th month after the student begins doctoral-level work at McMaster University, with an upper limit of 24 months. For a part-time Ph.D. student the upper limit is 36 months. The approach to assessment and its administration are the responsibility of the program in which the student is registered, not of the student’s supervisory committee.

A Comprehensive Examination or alternative assessment of comprehensive knowledge must include a provision for second opportunity for assessment should the student fail the first attempt. This second assessment is given in place of any “re-read” of a comprehensive evaluation, which is explicitly excluded from the Student Appeal Procedures. The second opportunity will normally occur between one to six months after the student was notified that they had failed the original assessment. A failure at the second assessment will require the student to withdraw from the program.

Departments may hold transfer, qualifying, or entrance exams at the start of a student’s doctoral program, but those exams are distinct from the assessment of comprehensive knowledge

3.4.4 Thesis Defence

An oral defence conducted by an examining committee is a mandatory requirement for degree completion.  Normally the thesis will be distributed to committee members and examiners in an electronic format (see Section 3.2 - Theses). The oral defence will not be arranged until a majority of the supervisory committee has approved the thesis for defence and an agreed date of defense has been received.

Please note that thesis defences may not be initiated until all other degree requirements, including Comprehensive Examinations, have been completed.

Selection of the Examining Committee

Normally the examining committee will consist of the following members: the student’s supervisor, at least two members of the supervisory committee and an external examiner The Examining Committee must not exceed five voting members. If there are more than four members on the student’s supervisory committee, the additional members are welcome to attend the defence and ask questions in the time allotted for audience members. Ahead of the oral defence the external examiner will provide a written report to the Vice-Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies judging whether the written thesis is satisfactory for defence. . An Examining Committee Chair will also be present at the defence but is not considered part of the examining body. An eligible Examining Committee Chair is a tenured faculty member (or Professor Emeritus) who has supervised a doctoral student to completion, and who has also participated previously in the McMaster Ph.D. defence process.

Selection of an external examiner is the responsibility of the Vice-Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies or their delegate. To aid in that selection, the supervisory committee may be required to provide, through the student’s supervisor or Chair of the Department (or equivalent), the names and contact information for potential examiner/s. In all cases the nominees must be approved by the Department Chair (or equivalent).

The nominees for external examiner must have no current primary appointments at McMaster University/affiliations or within the past 6 years, and must be at arm’s length from all members of the supervisory committee and the student. The definition of ‘arm’s length’ is as follows: The nominees should not have been a research supervisor or student of the supervisor or the student within the last 6 years; should not have collaborated with the supervisor or the student within the past 6 years, or have made plans to collaborate with these individuals in the immediate future. There also should be no other potential conflicts of interest (e.g., personal or financial).

Scheduling and Conducting the Oral Examination (Oral Defence)

There are blackout periods over the course of an academic year that affect defences coordinated by SGS.  Please refer to the SGS sessional dates to prepare your defence appropriately.

Dates scheduled for doctoral defences assume that the external reviewer will conclude that the written thesis is acceptable and ready for oral examination. When the external reviewer concludes otherwise, the defence date may no longer be held on the planned date and the situation reviewed in accordance with the process around a negative external report as outlined below. Any travel and/or employment arrangements made by the candidate based on the original defence date are entirely at their own risk.

The external examiner must provide a report to the School of Graduate Studies with a written assessment of the thesis at least one week before the scheduled defence. If the report is not received in time, candidates will be given the option to postpone their defence. Whether the assessment is positive or negative, the School of Graduate Studies will send the report of the external examiner to the supervisory committee.  The committee must provide a copy of the report to the student. Should the assessment be negative, the appropriate Associate Dean will communicate with the supervisory committee and student to discuss the outcome of the review. This is normally followed by a supervisory committee meeting to discuss the situation and proposed plan going forward if the external examiner indicates that the thesis is not acceptable for defence. The supervisory committee and candidate (in consultation with the Associate Dean) may wish to revise and resubmit the dissertation and proceed proceed to the defence with the participation of the same external examiner. A second possible outcome of the review is that the associate dean will recommend to the Vice-Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies that the thesis (in its original format or revised) be reviewed by a different external examiner. A candidate may revise and resubmit the thesis only once. In all cases, despite a negative assessment, a candidate has the right to proceed to a defence.

If the external report has not been received five business days before the defence, the candidate and the committee will be notified that the defence is at risk of being cancelled.

If the external report has not been received two business days before the scheduled examination, SGS will notify the candidate that the defence will be rescheduled.

Subsequent to the receipt of the external examiner’s report, an oral defence will be convened by the Vice-Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies, chaired by themselves or their delegate and conducted by all members of the Examining Committee. Quorum for the examination will be the Chair of the examining committee and the supervisory committee plus one additional examiner. Normally, the presence of the external is mandatory at the defence, either in person or electronically. The oral defence will be open to members of the university community and the public who wish to attend as observers, unless the student requests a closed defence. The Ph.D. defence presents the culmination of a number of years of scholarly work which are publicly funded. It is important, therefore, that in all but exceptional circumstances the student presents the result of this effort to the public. The examination proper will be conducted only by the members of the examining committee. When they have completed their questions, the Chair may permit a few minutes of questioning by visitors. Normally the student will attempt to answer visitors’ questions, but these are not to be considered part of the examination for the degree. Normally, examination of the candidate will not take more than two hours.  In no case should it take more than three hours. The Candidate and observers will withdraw prior to the committee’s deliberations on the student’s performance at the defence. After a discussion of the examination, the Chair will ask for a vote on the success or failure of the defence.

If the examiners approve the defense, the Chair will ask the examiners to complete the Examination Report by initialing appropriately. The student will be invited back into the exam for  a decision. In the event that minor revisions are required to the thesis, the Chair of the examination committee is responsible for ensuring that (1) the candidate is advised of the revisions, if any, (2) the candidate receives and understands the ‘Final Thesis Submission form’ to be used by the Supervisor to confirm that the revisions have been made, and (3) the supervisor is also aware of the form. The Chair will complete and sign the Examination Report and return it to the School of Graduate Studies.

On the other hand, if there are two or more negative or abstaining votes, with at least one of these votes being from a member of the supervisory committee, the candidate will be deemed to have failed the defence, and a reconvened oral defence must be held at a later date. The candidate should be told as clearly as possible by the Chair and the examining committee what he/she must do to improve the defence. The reconvened defence is the candidate’s final opportunity to complete the degree. Membership of the reconvened examining committee should be the same as that for the original defence, except that one or two substitutions are permitted in order to expedite scheduling of the reconvened defence. If the defence fails a second time, that decision is final, and is not open to appeal.

After a successful defense, the candidate must make the revision suggested by the examining committee to the satisfaction of the Supervisor and then submit an electronic copy to the School of Graduate Studies via MacSphere (see Section 3.2.5). Students are normally expected to submit their final thesis within four weeks of a successful defence.

Tuition fees continue to be assessed until all degree requirements are met, including the successful submission of the final approved thesis to MacSphere. If a student uploads their final thesis mid-term or -month, their tuition will be assessed to the end of that month and any future enrolment will be removed during the clear to graduate process (e.g., student uploads in February, they will be refunded for March and April).  

Please note: when a thesis is submitted and published to MacSphere students must be aware that their name will appear as author of the document. In exceptional circumstances a pen name may be used subject to written approval of the Vice-Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies.