Student Advisory Committee (SAC)

Every student has a student advisory committee (SAC). Students report to their committee on the progress towards the completion of their graduate program requirements including research progress.


The SAC provides guidance and direction to the student throughout their graduate program. The SAC will:

  • ensure the student's research program and thesis are truly interdisciplinary; that they integrate at least two different disciplinary perspectives.
  • ensure the research and thesis are academically rigorous and that the student is well prepared for the career path they have chosen.
  • review the progress in coursework and research and ensuring the research is well formulated and carried out in a thorough manner;
  • approve changes to the student's program and to the direction of the thesis research.
  • make a recommendation for the thesis defence and for the appointment of external examiners to the Interdisciplinary Committee Chair who, in turn, makes a recommendation to CGSR.

Before the thesis defence can be scheduled, a majority of the members of the SAC (excluding the SAC Chair) must indicate that the thesis is ready for examination. The SAC forms the basis for the examining committee.


The SAC must have at least four members (five for a PhD Committee). The student, in consultation with the research supervisor, will determine the membership of the SAC as part of the application process. One of the members serves as the Committee Chair and one of the members is the student's supervisor and/or co-supervisor (co-supervisors count as one person).

Committee members must represent at least two (2) or more departments or colleges. SACs should generally not be comprised so that all but one of the members comes from a single department.

The SAC Chair should have experience with graduate programs and not be involved in the specific research to be done by the student.

What Can a Student Expect of an SAC?

The SAC committee will meet at least once each year, more often in the lead up to the defence. The committee reviews the student’s progress and reports annually to the Chair of the Interdisciplinary Committee. Members will provide:

  • constructive criticism of the student's ideas and work as the program develops;
  • guidance on the interdisciplinary nature of the research, ensuring the work is integrated into one thesis;
  • feedback on the student's annual progress report and research work, including performance in coursework and research.