PhD Program

Supervisory Committee and Research Supervisor


The program of each student is overseen by a committee of no fewerthan 3 committee members (normally at least at the rank of Associate Professor), one of which is  the student’s Research Supervisor. One of the committee members (not the supervisor) should be designated as the chairperson. This role will apply to the supervisory committee and also to the Examining Committee.

The supervisor provides academic guidance directed toward the completion of Ph.D. dissertation of high quality, and assists with the financial planning associated with the program. In case of absence from the campus of a month or more, the supervisor must appoint an acting supervisor for each of his/her Ph.D. candidates.


The research supervisor or a co-supervisor must be a full-time, regular faculty (at least at the rank of Assistant professor) or associate faculty member in the School. Emeritus or Associate faculty is normally required to appoint a full-time regular or associate faculty member as a co-supervisor. Further information is at

Other members of the supervisory committee are nominated by the student’s supervisor. The committee should be as diverse as possible, including faculty members with primary appointments in Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Applied Science.

The supervisory committee membership may include senior instructors, honorary faculty, adjunct faculty, off campus professionals as well as faculty members from other universities. A request for approval for these members submitted to the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies must include a copy of the individual’s curriculum vitae and a letter from the graduate program supervisor.


Other members of the supervisory committee are normally set before the research proposal defense, and certainly no later than the student’s admission to candidacy. It is the best interests of the student, and a G+PS requirement, for the student to schedule a meeting with the supervisory committee every year, especially after admission to candidacy. The majority of cases with a very difficult doctoral examination or extended completion time occur when there are not regular meetings with the supervisory committee.

Annual Meetings

It is required that the supervisory committees meet regularly to ensure student’s progress. Annual meetings require 3 people (of which the supervisor is one). If a committee member cannot attend, they will organize a one-on-one meeting with the student.

Below is the minimum required timeline for annual meetings:

 TypeFrom start of program
First MeetingInitial meeting with student and committee6-12 months
Second MeetingComprehensive Exam18-24 months
Third MeetingPre-defense meeting36 months
Final meetingDefenseIf the defense does not happen by the fourth year, committee must meet yearly (month 48, 60, etc) until thesis defense

Expectations Document

All incoming MASc and PhD students and their supervisors will be given a set of expectation documents. Students are required to meet with their supervisors at the onset of their program to discuss the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of both student and supervisor.

Supervisors of students with program start dates prior to September 2018 are encouraged to use this document as well to facilitate a discussion on the graduate student-supervisor relationship.