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Interim Academic Advisors

Upon admission, students are assigned an Interim Academic Advisor. The Interim Academic Advisor is not expected to become the student’s supervisor but will meet with the students to:
1. Assist them in course selection.
2. Connect them with other faculty and students with similar interests; and,
3. Identify faculty who might serve as potential supervisor, or supervisory committee members.


Thesis Supervisor


Students must select a supervisor by June 1st of the first year in the program and notify in PhD Annual Report, the, the PhD Program, PhD Program Director, and the Administrative Coordinator, Admissions and Programs (ACA) of this selection. Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to consult with the supervisor to design a study plan and fulfill the program requirements.


Expectations of Supervisor

When a faculty member assumes the responsibilities of supervising a doctoral student, it is expected that the supervisor will be available for the duration of the student’s program, including during the final Thesis Oral Examination process. This means that the supervisor is accessible and responsive to student’s needs and makes arrangements for supervisory tasks during sabbatical or research leaves.

The matching process seeks to maximize opportunities for the student and aims for a good and viable relationship for the faculty. This match is not binding, however. As students become involved in designing their individual programs, some shifts in areas of interest may take place and thus a shift to a new supervisor may be necessary. Similarly, other considerations such as personality, work style, and shifts in methodology may dictate the selection of an alternate supervisor. The student and supervisor may wish to involve the PhD Program Director to facilitate this transition. In any case, the Administrative Coordinator, Admissions and Programs (ACA) is to be informed of the change in supervisor and a record of the transition is to be placed in the student’s file and recorded on ACORN.

PhD students and graduate faculty supervisors are expected to refer to these guidelines for
information about program requirements and procedures for addressing each component of the PhD program, e.g., course requirements, Comprehensive Exam Proposal,
Comprehensive Exam, Thesis Proposal, Thesis, the Final Oral Examination, and the expected timelines for the completion of each of these components.

Reporting procedures by both the student and the supervisor form an important part of the supervisory process. Following each meeting with the supervisor, the student is expected to write a brief report on the decisions made during this meeting. A copy of this report is sent to the supervisor.
For the Thesis Proposal, the supervisor will complete a report on the Supervisory Committee’s deliberations using the format outlined in this PhD Manual. A copy of the report is sent to the student, committee members, and to the Administrative Coordinator, Admissions and Programs (ACA) for inclusion in the student’s file.

Supervision includes:

• In consultation with the student, developing a suitable timetable for the completion of all the requirements of the PhD program.
• Assisting the student with course selection.
• Helping the student with developing a focus for the Comprehensive Exam.
• Assisting the student with the selection of a Thesis research topic which can be completed within the timetable of the PhD program.
• Assessing and supplying constructive responses to student’s concerns and/or material submitted.
• Responding to student’s submissions within specified timeframes.
• Assisting students with applications for research scholarships.
• Encouraging students to present papers at conferences and to publish articles in the
appropriate refereed academic journals; and,
• Introducing the student to members of the academic community involved in similar research areas within and outside the University.


Responsibilities of the Student

The student chooses a supervisor on the basis of research interests that are compatible with the supervisor.

For incoming students and those who have not yet advanced to the Thesis stage, the student is expected to:

• Establish a timetable for the completion of the program in accordance with the guidelines of PhD Program.
• Use these guidelines to understand all the requirements of the PhD program, including the number of course credits, required courses and electives.
• Consult with the supervisor when choosing elective courses and deciding on a topic
of research.
• Develop an in-depth understanding of the Comprehensive Proposal and Paper.
• Become familiar with the Thesis Proposal, Thesis completion and Final Oral Examination guidelines.
• In collaboration with the supervisor, structure the membership of a Supervisory Committee.
• Discuss any concerns regarding participation and progress in the program.
• Initiate contact with the supervisor, at minimum, once each term for the duration of the program.
• Prepare for meetings with the supervisor by organizing materials and a general outline of what the student wishes to discuss.
• Maintain a record of the focus of the discussion and decisions made at each meeting.
• Prepare a report on the meeting and send a copy of the report to the supervisor following each meeting (can be used for Annual Progress Report); and,
• Make a concerted effort to present her/his research at conferences and publish articles in the appropriate refereed academic journals.

After the student advances to the Thesis stage, the student is expected to:

• Prepare materials for distribution to the Supervisory Committee at least 2 weeks prior to each meeting.
• Set an agenda for the Supervisory Committee meetings in collaboration with the Supervisor and provide all committee members with a draft copy of the minutes of the meeting within a reasonable time frame following the meeting.
• Be responsive to the mutually agreed upon recommendations of the supervisor and Supervisory Committee with regard to the design and implementation of the thesis research.
• Submit draft chapters to Supervisory Committee members at least 2 weeks prior to the date on which feedback is expected; and,
• Allow sufficient time for the Supervisory Committee Members to read all parts of the Thesis in its final form.


Please note that the final review of the Thesis takes a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks. If this
review is successful and the Thesis is approved, the student will advance to the Final Oral Examination stage. It is the student’s responsibility to proofread the final copy of the completed Thesis and the student is permitted to engage an editor for this purpose.


Supervisory Committee


The School of Graduate Studies requires that from the commencement of thesis supervision, all PhD students should have a Supervisory Committee in place, and that committees meet with the students at least once a year thereafter. The supervisor selects members of the Supervisory Committee and can consult with the student regarding how to best resource the student’s committee. Committee members are chosen on the basis of their known expertise in the student’s area of research. Up to four members can be selected for the student’s Supervisory Committee.

As stated earlier, the second member is usually the faculty member who has earlier assessed the Comprehensive Exam. A third member is chosen from outside the Faculty but must be a Member of the School of Graduate Studies of the University of Toronto. It is possible to appoint a committee member from another university who has similar graduate faculty status at the committee member’s university. In this instance, the supervisor obtains a copy of the outside member’s CV and forwards it to the Administrative Coordinator, Admissions and Programs (ACA). The CV is reviewed by the internal FIFSW, comprised of the Dean, Associate Dean, Academic, and PhD Program Director. If approved, the individual is recommended to SGS for a three year Graduate Faculty appointment. The Chair of the Supervisory Committee is to record all committee meetings, dates, and times. The minutes of the supervisory meetings should be included in the Annual Progress Report. This information must now be recorded on ACORN and is tracked by SGS.


When all committee members have been selected and have agreed to serve, the supervisor completes the Supervisory Committee Membership Form, a copy of which is forwarded to the PhD Program Director and subsequently placed in the student’s file.


Responsibilities of the Supervisory Committee

The Supervisory Committee is responsible for the assessment and approval of the student’s Thesis Proposal. The student consults with the supervisor as well as the committee members during the preparation and various revisions of the Thesis Proposal. When a final version of the Thesis Proposal has been produced, the student distributes copies, along with the copies of the Thesis Proposal Assessment Criteria Form, to the supervisor and each of the Supervisory Committee members. These will be reviewed prior to convening a Supervisory Committee meeting to discuss the proposal.

The supervisor assumes the responsibility for arranging this meeting and chairs the meeting during which the student responds to committee members’ questions about the proposal. Where necessary the committee members make recommendations for specific revisions to the proposal. If the revisions are considered to be minor corrections or modifications, the committee may approve the proposal without reconvening a meeting. If the revisions are considered major, then the proposal is revised by the student and redistributed to the committee members for a second review. A second meeting is convened for final approval of the proposal.

It is the responsibility of the Supervisory Committee Chair (the supervisor) to prepare a Summary Report of the Supervisory Committee’s discussion that includes the specific recommendations made to the student. The Supervisory Committee Chair is also responsible for the completion of the Thesis Proposal Recommendation Form. Copies of the Summary Report and the completed Thesis Proposal Recommendation form are distributed to the student, the committee members, and the PhD Program Director. It is the responsibility of the student to distribute to all committee members a copy of the final revised and approved copy of the Thesis Proposal.

The Supervisory Committee is convened by the Chair (supervisor) to meet with the student to discuss the progress. These meetings occur, at minimum, once each academic term. The student provides progress reports to the committee members prior to the meeting and comes prepared to discuss progress and problems with the thesis research. The committee members provide consultation, suggestions, and specific recommendations for dealing with the problems.

The committee members assess drafts of chapters of the Thesis as they are prepared by the
student. They provide feedback with regard to the quality of the document. The
Supervisory Committee Chair and the Committee members provide feedback on individual chapters of the Thesis within a 2-week time frame.

The committee members evaluate the final draft of the Thesis and provide specific
feedback to the student as to the revisions needed prior to the oral defense.

It is the responsibility of the Supervisory Committee Chair (supervisor) to write a Supervisory Committee Progress Report of each Supervisory Committee Meeting; to distribute copies of the report to the student and the committee members; and to place a copy of each report in the student’s file.

Three of four supervisory committee members function as examiners at the Final Oral Examination of the Thesis.