Thesis and Oral Examination

Useful Resources - School of Graduate Studies

Program Completion

Producing Your Thesis

Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters

School of Graduate Studies Calendar*

*The School of Graduate Studies has established deadlines for each Convocation session; it is important to check the dates and plan accordingly.


  • Thesis Preparation
  • MSc Oral Examination
  • MSc-PhD Transfer Examination
  • PhD Qualfying Examination
  • PhD Final Oral Examination
  • Post Thesis Defense Grduate Student Follow Up

Thesis Preparation

There are two formats for the preparation of theses: 1) Traditional and 2) Alternative. Please see the document titled Guidelines for Thesis Format for more information.

Writing the thesis generally requires a few months of intense effort. The student and supervisor must make time to shape the results of the research into a document that will be carefully evaluated. This critical period demands that the student set aside enough time for the task. It is best to be liberal in the time allotted for thesis writing, completing the examination and revising the thesis as needed.

Students must acquaint themselves with the section on Code of Behaviour in the School of Graduate Studies Calendar and be fully aware of the consequences of plagiarism before submitting the thesis to Committee members for the final defense.


MSc Oral Examination

When the Supervisor and Advisory Committee have approved the written thesis, a final committee meeting should be held to prepare the student for the oral examination. The student should practice the 20-minute presentation and answer questions posed by the Supervisor and Advisory Committee Members that will be typical of questions asked during the oral examination.

Getting Started

Students must submit the following to the Graduate Office 6 weeeks before the examination date:

Upon receipt, the Graduate Office will assign a Chair, schedule the exam, and book a room. The Graduate Office will distribute the thesis to each voting member of the Examination Committee. Please note the oral examination will not be scheduled if requested later than six (6) weeks prior to the desired examination date.

Examination Committee

The Examination Committee will consist of 4 to 5 voting members. Although quorum is 4 voting members, it is recommended that the Examination Committee include voting members to ensure the examination proceeds as scheduled.

The Committee must include the following:

  • Supervisor/Co-Supervisor;
  • Appraiser (s/he must have a Graduate Faculty Membership with the School of Graduate Studies, expertise in the field of research, and not a member of the student's Advisory Committee);
  • At least 2 other voting members (normally from the Advisory Committee);
  • External Examiner (the Appraiser can serve as the External Examiner).

Oral Examination

All the necessary forms will be prepared and provided to the Chair by the Graduate Office. The examination typically lasts for 1-2 hours. The student will give a 20-minute presentation, which is followed by questions from the Examination Committee.

Following the examination, the Examination Committee will vote and recommend that the thesis be accepted with a) no revision, b) minor corrections, c) or minor modifications.

If minor corrections or minor modifications are required, the student's Supervisor and at least 1 Advisory Committee member must sign the Thesis Approval Form and submit it to the Graduate Office once all changes have been made and approved.

If major changes are required, a second oral exam may be necessary. There will be no more than two oral examinations for the MSc degree program.

Final Responsibilities

Before submitting the final thesis online, students should review Electronic Thesis Submission.


MSc-PhD Transfer Examination

Students in the MSc program may transfer to the PhD program by successfully completing the MSc-PhD Transfer Examination. The exam takes place within 15-18 months (24 months for Part-time students) of the student's initial registration. The student must have completed at least one graduate full course equivalent with a final grade of A-.

Getting Started

Students must submit the following to the Graduate Office 6 weeeks before the examination date:

Upon receipt, the Graduate Office will assign a Chair, schedule the exam, and book a room. The Graduate Office will distribute the progress report, PhD program proposal, and CV to each voting member of the Examination Committee. Please note the examination will not be scheduled if requested later than six (6) weeks prior to the desired examination date.

Examination Committee

The Examination Committee will consist of 4 to 5 voting members. Although quorum is 4 voting members, it is recommended that the Examination Committee include voting members to ensure the examination proceeds as scheduled.

The Committee must include the following:

  • Supervisor/Co-supervisor;

  • Two Advisory Committee members;

  • External member (external to the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and NOT a member of the student's Advisory Committee; must have an SGS appointment);

  • Internal member (cannot be a member of the Advisory committee and must be a Graduate Faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences).

Oral Examination

  • The student will give a 20-minute presentation summarizing the research and PhD proposal. The working hypothesis to guide the research at the PhD level should be stated.

  • After the summary, the student will be asked questions by the Committee.

  • When there are no further questions, the Chair will ask the student to leave the room.

  • The Committee will discuss the student’s performance, complete the MSc-PhD Transfer Examination Report Form (prepared by the Graduate Office) and vote to recommend transfer to the PhD program. The vote must be unanimous, as one negative vote or abstention constitutes failure.

  • Once the vote is complete, the student will be readmitted to the room and the results discussed.

If successful, the student is transferred to the PhD program and will be given transfer credit for graduate course work completed during the MSc program.

If unsuccessful, the student may repeat the exam before the end of the 21st month of registration in the program. If it is the student’s second attempt or there is not enough time in which to complete a retake, the student will not be transferred to the PhD program.


PhD Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination provides a basis for determining whether a student should continue toward the degree. Students are expected to understand the scientific basis, methodological details and the broad context of their research, as well as the relationship between their proposed research and cognate bodies of knowledge. The aim of the Qualifying Examination is to assure that the student is prepared to carry out the proposed research program and write a defensible thesis within a reasonable period. The Qualifying Examination is based on a defense of the scientific and experimental aspects of the thesis project before a committee.
 
The deadline to hold the exam and a retake, if necessary, is 24 months for the full-time program and 32 months for the flex-time program.

After the first Advisory Committee meeting, the student should plan to present to a Qualifying Examination Committee.

Getting Started

Students must submit the following to the Graduate Office 6 weeeks before the examination date:

Upon receipt, the Graduate Office will assign a Chair, schedule the exam, and book a room. At this time, the student may request that the Qualifying Examination be open to the public. The Graduate Office will distribute the thesis proposal and CV to each voting member of the Examination Committee. Please note the examination will not be scheduled if requested later than six (6) weeks prior to the desired examination date.

Examination Committee

The Examination Committee will consist of 4 to 5 voting members. Although quorum is 4 voting members, it is recommended that the Examination Committee include voting members to ensure the examination proceeds as scheduled.

The Committee must include the following:

  • Supervisor/Co-supervisor;

  • Two Advisory Committee members;

  • External member (external to the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and NOT a member of the student's Advisory Committee; must have an SGS appointment)

  • Internal member (cannot be a member of the Advisory committee and must be a Graduate Faculty member in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences).

Oral Examination

  • The format of this examination is similar to a thesis defense. The procedure for the exam is as follows:

  • At the beginning of the examination, the student will make a 20-minute presentation based on the proposal distributed to the Qualifying Examination Committee.

  • After the presentation, each member of the Qualifying Examination Committee will ask the student questions related to the proposed thesis research. The student is expected to demonstrate that s/he has an appropriate understanding of the scientific basis of the research, the methodological approaches, and the technical details. The student will also be expected to answer questions concerning the relation between the thesis research and the scientific field in which it is based, as well as its relation to cognate sciences.

  • When there are no further questions, the candidate will be asked to leave the exam room.

  • The Qualifying Examination Committee will discuss the student's performance with the research supervisor and complete the PhD Qualifying Examination Report Form.

  • The Committee will then vote on whether to pass or fail the student. More than one negative vote and/or abstention will result in failure.

  • The student is readmitted to the room and notified of the outcome of the exam.

If the student passes the Qualifying Examination, s/he may continue toward the PhD degree.

If the student fails the Qualifying Examination, s/he may repeat the exam prior to the end of 24 months in the full-time program and 32 months in the flex-time program. In this case, the Committee will provide a written evaluation of the student’s performance that details the areas of improvement. If a student fails the QE twice or cannot pass the QE prior to the end of 24 months in the program, enrolment in the PhD program is terminated. For students without a MSc degree, termination will result in either reclassification to the MSc program or withdrawal from the graduate program. Students who hold a MSc degree from another department may reclassify to the MSc program in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Students who hold a MSc degree from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences will not be allowed to continue further studies in the Department.


PhD Final Oral Examination

Final Advisory Committee Meeting

The final step towards completion of the PhD program is the presentation and defense of the research thesis at the Final Presentation and Oral Examination. In order to proceed to the presentation and exam, the student must successfully complete a final Advisory Committee meeting.

A final Advisory Committee meeting is required prior to the Final Presentation and Oral Examination. At this meeting, Advisory Committee Members must:

  • Complete the Advisory Committee Assessment Form which clearly indicates the student may proceed to the Final Oral Exam;

  • Complete the Thesis Assurance Form. The Thesis Assurance Form must be signed by the student, supervisor, co-supervisor (if applicable) and at least two other Advisory Committee members.

Final Oral Presentation & Examination

A Final Oral Presentation is held immediately preceding the Oral Examination. (Students who started the program prior to January, 2015 and opt to give an Exit Seminar are NOT required to give a final Oral Presentation before their Exam).

The Oral Presentation is 40-50 minutes in length and is open to the public. The examination that immediately follows is a closed exam attended by the student and Examining Committee.

Eight (8) weeks before the proposed Final Oral Examination, the student must submit the following to the Graduate Office:

No arrangements will be made for the final Oral Exam until the signed forms are submitted. The thesis must be distributed to all Committee Members no later than six weeks prior to the date of the exam. The Graduate Office will submit the thesis to the External Examiner.

The Examination Committee must have a minimum of four voting members for quorum. Students can have a maximum of 6 members (3 from the supervisory committee and 3 as non-supervisory members). A minimum of TWO non-supervisory members must be present (in person or by phone) in order to proceed with the exam and to achieve quorum of four members in total. It is acceptable to have an Examination Committee with only ONE supervisory member and four or five non-supervisory members. If the student has more than  three supervisory members, the extra member(s) may participate as non-voting member(s). All members should have graduate appointments with SGS, except for the External Examiner who must be external to the University of Toronto. It is recommended that students check the Committee Members' status before submitting their selections.

Final Oral Examination (FOE) Committee Composition (Effective July 1, 2012)

Quorum: Four Voting Members

FOE Committee: Maximum of Six Voting Members**

At least TWO voting members

must not be from the supervisory committee

 

Not From Supervisory Committee

External Appraiser

Non-supervisory committee member

Non-supervisory committee member

At least ONE voting member

must be from the supervisory committee

 

From Supervisory Committee

Supervisor

Supervisory committee member

Supervisory committee member

*A minimum of two non-supervisory members must be present (in person or by phone) to achieve quorum of four members in total

**We strongly recommend there be a minimum of three non-supervisory members – you may include the External Appraiser as one of the three – when you book an FOE.

The External Examiner must submit a brief, written report to the PhD Examination Office, School of Graduate Studies and also to the Graduate Department. This report must be submitted 10 working days prior to the date of the exam.

An Examination Chair is appointed by the Associate Dean of Division IV of the School of Graduate Studies (the Chair will be a Graduate Faculty member from another department). The scheduling of the Chair for the exam is the Department's responsibility.

Final Responsibilities

Before submitting the final thesis online, students should review Electronic Thesis Submission.


Post Thesis Defense Graduate Student Follow up

It is the student's responsibility to submit the completed Post Thesis Defense Graduate Student follow-up form.