As a graduate student, you are making a commitment to devote the time and energy needed to engage in research and write a thesis. Your supervisor has a right to expect substantial effort, initiative, respect and receptiveness to suggestions and criticism.

The principal role of the supervisor is to help students achieve their scholastic potential. They will provide reasonable commitment, accessibility, professionalism, stimulation, guidance, respect and consistent encouragement to the student.

For research students, the supervisory committee should be in place by the end of the first academic year.  Details on graduate student-supervisor relationships and expectations can be found in the Handbook of Graduate Supervision.


Expectations Documents

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 roles, responsibilities, and expectations of both student and supervisor. Mutual understanding of expectations between students and their supervisors is critical to achieve excellence in research, and to the overall success of a graduate program. This document is intended to be read and discussed by students and their supervisors at the onset of the students’ programs.

Ideally, supervisors and students will discuss the document, retain copies of the document, and have a copy of the document placed in a student’s file. Discussion of expectations can foster open communication between supervisors and students and prevent misunderstandings that might otherwise arise. This document is not a replacement for University rules. To the extent that any statements in this document contradict University of British Columbia policies, rules, or regulations, the University of British Columbia policies, rules and regulations prevail. Ultimately, successful completion of a graduate program of study is the student’s responsibility.

After the documents have been reviewed and signed, please return to BRC 251.

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.

MASC Expectations

PhD Expectations


Changing Supervisors

It is possible that changing circumstances and life events may lead either you or your supervisor to consider ending the working relationship. A change of supervisors may be the best option for both the student and the supervisor:

  • Supervisor leaves the university
  • Incompatibility of the graduate student and supervisor
  • Funding
  • Student changes area of interest

Changing supervisors is a big step that may be stressful and time consuming. Before a student or supervisor takes this step, consult the Handbook on Graduate Supervisor for suggestions on the decision making process.


Department Procedure for Changing Supervisor

  • Attempt to resolve the issue through discussion with the Graduate Advisor and the original supervisor
  • Ensure that both the “old” and “new” supervisors are part of the decision
  • Notify the department by emailing