Flexibility II: Program of Studies

Within the first year of a student’s registration in a graduate program, a Program of Studies must be developed by the student and the Advisory Committee. It is the dual responsibility of the student and the Advisory Committee to ensure the proposed Program of Studies meets academic unit, CGSR and degree requirements.

The Program of Studies will be entered on GSIS, approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee/ Graduate Chair, and a copy provided to the student. It is the responsibility of the Advisory Committee to amend and Graduate Chair to approve the Program of Studies when a change in coursework or other requirements, research area, supervisor or Advisory Committee membership occurs.

When approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee/ Graduate Chair, the Program of Studies forms a contract between the University and the student, such that successful completion of specified courses and other requirements, passing required examinations and defence of the thesis (in programs requiring a thesis) will result in conferring of the degree. It is the responsibility of the student to successfully fulfill all requirements specified on the Program of Studies.

Instructions for completing the Program of Studies

1. List the names of all the committee members:

Advisory Chair - May be the Graduate Chair, Head of the academic unit (Dean in the case of non-departmentalized colleges) or designate

Supervisor - A member of the faculty of the CGSR or an adjunct professor but cannot be a Professional Affiliate.

Co-Supervisor, if applicable - Persons who are not members of the faculty of CGSR, or who are not adjunct professors may be granted permission to be a co-supervisor by the Dean, CGSR. (Note: supervisor and co-supervisor share a vote in decision-making at the oral defence, thus count as one member)

Additional Members - [need a minimum of 1 for a Masters and 2 for a Ph.D.]. Must be members of the faculty of CGSR, adjunct professors, professional Affiliates or be granted permission by the Dean, CGSR. The list of faculty, adjuncts, professional Affiliates can be found in the front of the academic calendar.

Cognate Member - [need 1 for a PhD program]. Must be a member of the Graduate Faculty, CGSR or granted permission by the Dean, CGSR.

Responsibility for naming the members of a student’s Advisory Committee lies with the department head or Graduate Chair, or designate, in a formal meeting with the department’s Graduate Affairs Committee. The Dean of the CGSR is an ex officio member of the Advisory Committee. The Master’s Advisory Committee consists of at least three members; the Ph.D. Advisory Committee consists of at least five members.

When one of the proposed members of the Advisory Committee is not a member of the Graduate Faculty of University academic community, the proposed member’s C.V. and a written rationale as to why the person should be involved must be included in the student’s file (see section 2.1.4. of the Policy and Procedure manual). Please note this is a one-time exception for that person to serve on this one committee.

All those involved in student project or thesis research should be familiar with the Calendar, CGSR publications, Guide for the Preparation of a Thesis as well as other relevant CGSR and University policies and publications.

  • Indicate whether Ethics Approval is necessary and when it has been granted.
  • Ensure that the number of credit units listed matches the number of course credits required by the program.

Number of Undergraduate courses allowed in a graduate program:

Thesis with minimum req’ts of ≤ 9 c.u. Thesis with minimum req’ts of 10-15 c.u. Thesis with minimum
req’ts of > 15 c.u.
Project with minimum req’ts of ≤ 15 c.u. Project with minimum req’ts of > 15 c.u.


Maximum number of allowable undergraduate c.u.


Students may take more undergraduate courses than tabulated above, if desired, but these will not be credited towards the minimum credit units for the graduate degree. A department may, on a case-by-case basis, exceed the above guidelines if the Graduate Chair provides to the CGSR a memorandum of explanation which is accepted and approved.

  1. Ensure that any core or compulsory courses are listed, and that selected courses match required program courses. For any exceptions, contact the Director of Graduate Programs, CGSR.
  2. List the student’s project (992), paper (993), research (994/995/996) and seminar (990), if required.
  3. Provide class titles for any Special Topics Classes listed.
  4. Indicate whether Qualifying/Comprehensive Exams have been scheduled and/or the dates passed.
  5. Indicate any additional requirements such as Animal Care, Laboratory Safety, Radiation Safety etc.
  6. If transfer of credit from another University is requested, indicate under ‘transfer credit’ and submit the original transcripts.
  7. If a transfer to another program or academic unit is requested, include advisory committee meeting minutes indicating approval.
  8. If the Program of Studies is modified by the Advisory Committee, a new Program of Studies should be developed and approved.

Information on the Qualifying and Comprehensive examinations

A Master’s student who is recommended for transfer into a Ph.D. program must pass a Qualifying examination, which can only be taken once for this purpose. The departmental graduate affairs committee sets the format for this exam; if the student fails this exam, s/he cannot be transferred to a Ph.D. program but must complete the Master’s degree requirements and then be considered for admission into a doctoral program.

A student entering a Ph.D. program after completion of a Master’s degree must pass a Qualifying examination early in the program. The departmental graduate affairs committee sets the format for this exam. This examination may be repeated once after an initial failure. This examination may be waived at the discretion of the graduate affairs committee.

Comprehensive examinations are also set by the department. A doctoral candidate must pass the Comprehensive exam as part of the requirements for the Ph.D. If a student fails the Comprehensive exam, the department may submit a request for a second Comprehensive examination to the Dean.

Completion of requirements on the Program of Studies

In preparation for defence (in programs requiring a thesis) and graduation (in post-graduate diplomas, course-based and project degrees), the CGSR will check the Program of Studies including coursework, language requirement, Qualifying and Comprehensive examinations, ethics approval, any other requirements (e.g. Animal Care, Radiation Safety, etc.), registration, time in program, and Advisory Committee membership against academic unit, CGSR and degree requirements before defence and/or graduation proceeds. Any deficiencies or mismatches will delay the defence and/or graduation.

Grades Required to Pass

For a Master’s student
For a Ph.D. student
Undergraduate class
none allowed
Graduate class
Average needed