Committee Meeting Descriptions

First Meeting 

At the first meeting, the student should outline the broad objectives of their project and the specific short-term goals to be achieved in the first year. The student should demonstrate a grasp of the key issues in the project and some knowledge of important background information. A student’s initial project should be sufficiently technically feasible such that within one year it is possible to judge the student's technical and intellectual abilities as they bear on continuing in the graduate program. It is the responsibility of the student, the supervisor and the supervisory committee to guide the choice of the research project. A primary concern in the choice of an M.Sc. project is that it could be developed further if the student reclassifies into the Ph.D. program. For both M.Sc. and Ph.D. projects, such factors as whether the problem poses an interesting hypothesis or seeks to answer an important biological question are considered. Other factors include the degree of novelty of the project as well as the degree of risk, and the presence of "fall-back" projects if the primary project fails.

Second Meeting 

By this meeting, the student should have demonstrated intellectual and technical ability along with a good grasp of the general project area. A greater command of background knowledge will be expected at this meeting. The committee should be satisfied at the second meeting that the problem chosen has a reasonable likelihood of leading to an acceptable reclassification proposal or M.Sc. thesis.

Third Meeting: The Pre-Reclassification (Or Pre-Qualification) 


  • Like all committee meetings, the student’s progress is evaluated and constructive advice is provided about the project.
  • The student’s capability of successfully completing the Ph.D. program is evaluated and they are advised accordingly.
  • The student is provided with useful feedback on what to put into the reclass/qual proposal, and what areas should be studied.


Compared to previous meetings, the student’s background knowledge and their ability to think scientifically will be probed more deeply to ascertain the likelihood of success at the reclass/qual exam. At the end of the meeting, the committee will recommend a course of action to the student. In rare cases, the committee will recommend that the student not proceed with the exam. However, provided that at the pre-reclass/qual meeting, the student does not receive an overall score below 70% for the second time in a row on their meeting evaluation, the final decision as to whether to proceed with the exam is the student’s. The decision not to follow the committee’s advice should only be made after reflection and consultation with the student’s supervisor (and if need be, the Graduate Coordinator). A decision by the student to proceed with the exam, despite advice to the contrary, should be made after the conclusion of the meeting, but at least two weeks before the deadline to hand in the reclass/qual proposal


The prereclassification/prequalification committee will be composed of the regular supervisory committee and an Examination Committee member. The prereclassification meeting is conducted in the same manner as other committee meetings. The student prepares a committee meeting report in the same manner as in all other committee meetings.However, one additional page must be added to the report to present an outline of the reclassification/qualification proposal. The outline should also be covered in the student’s presentation during the meeting.

Fourth Meeting: The Reclassification Or Qualification Exam

Reclassification and qualification examinations are scheduled in the last three weeks of May of a student’s second year (October for students admitted in January).


Committee meetings after reclassification/qualification must be held at least once per year or more often as specified by the Supervisory Committee. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that committee meetings are held on schedule. YEARLY COMMITTEE MEETINGS ARE AN ABSOLUTE, NON-NEGOTIABLE REQUIREMENT OF OUR PROGRAM AND THE SCHOOL OF GRADUATE STUDIES. A student who fails to have committee meetings each year will not be able to register in the fall, and will ultimately be asked to withdraw from the program.

Time To Completion (TTC) Meeting For Ph.D. Students

The Department of Molecular Genetics has put in place policies and procedures designed to reduce the time to completion of our Ph.D. program. Specifically, it is expected that, except in unusual circumstances, a Ph.D. should be defended no more than 5.5 to 6.0 years after commencing graduate studies in the Department. The “time-to-completion” (TTC) committee meeting is designed to assist in ensuring timely completion of the Ph.D. After 3.5 to 4.0 years in the graduate program, every Ph.D. student must have a TTC Committee Meeting. (See Time To Completion Meeting). The student is given the opportunity to discuss their career plans with the committee and get their advice on how to achieve their career goals.  This is optional and the student can decline to have this discussion.

Doing Science Outside Of Toronto

A student’s thesis research might occasionally require them to do work at a site outside of Toronto for an extended period of time (e.g. field work, work at a company, work at another University). For work that requires the student to be away from Toronto for more than a month, the student must schedule a committee meeting before committing to that work in order to get the committee's approval. In addition, the student must fill out the SGS Off-Campus Registration form (available on the School of Graduate Studies web site) and get it signed by the Graduate Coordinator before committing to the work outside of Toronto.