The M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs are both research intensive and all students engage in an original, timely and rigorously-executed research project from the start of their studies.
The planning, design and implementation of your research project, culminating in the writing and public oral defense of a M.Sc. or Ph.D. research thesis, is done under the continual guidance and approval of your Research Supervisor in consultation with the other members of your Advisory Committee. Please take a look at important information about setting up your Advisory Committee and the roles and responsibilities of your Research Supervisor and Advisory Committee as well as your own responsibilities as a graduate student.
Graduate students who establish their advisory committees early in their programs and who meet with their committees regularly, tend to complete their degree programs successfully, and more quickly, than students who wait to establish their committees. With this in mind, your Advisory Committee must be established and meet within 6-7 months of the date of your admission (i.e. by the end of March following September admission). Thereafter, your Advisory Committee must meet at least once every 12 months to assess your progress. After each meeting, a report must be forwarded to the Program Coordinator. If your progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory, you will need to develop a formal plan for the correction of any deficiencies in consultation with your Research Supervisor and Advisory Committee.
Your thesis research proposal must be approved by your Advisory Committee within one year of your start in the Program. The key criteria to be applied are whether you have a viable and well-considered research program likely to lead to the generation of a high quality M.Sc. thesis. If your research program is sufficiently well designed, the thesis research proposal is accepted and this is indicated in an Advisory Committee report which is forwarded to the Program Coordinator.
Completion of the M.Sc. program requires the submission of a written thesis and a public oral defense of your thesis work. Details of the procedures can be found here.
Transfer from the M.Sc. to the Ph.D. program. If you want to transfer from the M.Sc. to the Ph.D. program, you must have completed 1 year of study in the M.Sc. program with a minimum 80% average in 12 credits. At least nine of the 12 credits must be from graduate-level courses (500 or above) and at least 9 credits must be of First Class standing (minimum 80%). In order to transfer, all coursework must be completed within 24 months from the date of initial registration. Students who wish to transfer must also demonstrate clear evidence of research ability, as determined by their Advisory Committee. Transfer is not permitted after the completion of the second year in a Master’s program and cannot be retroactive. Transfers will not be processed for students who have outstanding fees.
You should first discuss the possibility of transferring with your Research Supervisor and then at an Advisory Committee meeting. The report of the Advisory Committee meeting must indicate that the Committee approves of your transfer. Remember that if you transfer from the M.Sc. to the Ph.D. program without completing your Master’s degree, the start of your Ph.D. program becomes the date of your first registration in the M.Sc. program. If, for example, you transfer at the end of year 2 of your M.Sc. program, this means that you will have to sit your Ph.D Comprehensive Examination within 12 months of your transfer.
Your thesis research proposal must be approved by your Advisory Committee within two years of your start in the Program (preferably earlier). A detailed research grant proposal is also central component of the Comprehensive Examination. Note that although a detailed research grant proposal is used as a vehicle for the Comprehensive Examination, passing the Comprehensive Examination does not indicate acceptance of your thesis research proposal by your Advisory Committee.
Once you have completed all of your required coursework, your Advisory Committee has approved your thesis research proposal, and you have passed your Comprehensive Examination, you will be Admitted to Candidacy. It is important to remember that doctoral students should be admitted to candidacy within 36 months from the date of initial registration. A student who is not admitted to candidacy within this time period may be required to withdraw from the program!
Completion of the Ph.D. program requires the submission of a written thesis and a formal public oral defense of the thesis which is organized by The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Your Research Supervisor must read the complete thesis in draft form, and you will need to make appropriate revisions before the other members of your Advisory Committee read the thesis and offer their suggestions for revision. The examination copy of the thesis will not be approved by the Director of the CELL Program for submission to the External Examiner until the revisions suggested by all members of the student’s Advisory Committee have been incorporated, as indicated on the PhD thesis approval form. The take home message is PLAN AHEAD! Writing a doctoral thesis and completing all the steps required to defend it takes most students at least 4 months. G+PS has developed a Final Doctoral Examination Guide to help you plan the submission and defense of your thesis. The Guide contains a number of very useful resources, including a number of tools to help you map out your exam timeline.
Ph.D. candidates who entered the CELL Program prior to September 2015 are required to give a formal ‘Exit seminar’ on their research during the time their thesis is in the hands of the External Examiner. This seminar will usually be scheduled one to two weeks prior to the final oral examination.
Ph.D. candidates who entered the CELL Program in September 2015 or later are not required to give an ‘Exit seminar’. Instead, these students are required to present twice in the ‘Cells’ student-led seminar series – the first presentation should be in yr 2/early yr 3 (i.e. prior to the Comprehensive Exam) and the second in yr 4/early yr 5 (i.e. prior to writing up the thesis).