Commitments that Conflict With Degree Completion

Students often pursue other academic endeavors after completing a M.Sc. or Ph.D. Arrangements for the commencement of these endeavors are sometimes made by students prior to the scheduling of the thesis defence date, or even before formal permission is given by the supervisory committee to write the thesis. This may result in a desire to complete the degree in what may be an unrealistic time frame. The supervisor and thesis committee members are sometimes put in a position of choosing between upholding the academic standards of the Department or being sympathetic to the student’s career plans. In these situations, it is important that all concerned consider the following:

  • It is the supervisory committee’s primary role to assist in educating the student in the art of doing science and all that this entails, including upholding the standards that have given our Department its excellent reputation.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that any external deadline is met.  If completion of the M.Sc./Ph.D. degree is not possible within the proposed timeline, the student must defer entrance to the post-graduate program.
  • The student should consult the supervisor and supervisory committee regarding planned time to completion of a degree before making commitments with a fixed deadline to other academic programs.
  • The student should be aware of the time allowed for a supervisory committee member to critique their thesis . These timelines do not include any vacation time that a committee member might take. Professors cannot be expected to read theses while on vacation.
  • The student should be aware that many faculty members submit grant applications to CIHR or other agencies at various times throughout the year. These faculty members typically focus exclusively on grant writing for a month or more ahead of each deadline. Hence, finding non-supervisory members willing to sit on the student’s examining committee can be a challenge during these periods.

The minimum time required by our Department to approve and finalize an oral exam after the Student Services Assistant receives the appropriate form, is 3 weeks for a M.Sc. and 7 weeks for a Ph.D. This timeline is not negotiable. It is set by SGS to enable the external examiner and examining committee to properly review the thesis and, for the external examiner, to submit a critique of the thesis.