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PhD Programs (Full-time & Flex-time)
- Degree Deadlines and Time Limits
- Overview of PhD Program Requirements (full-time and flex-time)
- Graduate Supervision and the Advisory Committee
- Qualifying Examination
Thesis Preparation and Thesis Oral Defense
Degree Deadlines and Time Limits
|MSc-PhD Transfer Examination||PhD Qualifying Examination||Time to Achieve Candidacy||Time Limit||Maximum Extension|
|MSc (full-time)||15-18 months||n/a||n/a||3 years||+3 years|
|MSc (part-time)||15-18 months||n/a||n/a||6 years||+3 years|
|PhD (full-time) after completing a MSc||n/a||24 months||By end of 3rd year||6 years||+4 years|
|Direct-Entry PhD or PhD transfer from MSc (full-time)||n/a||Direct Entry: 24 months Transfer: n/a||By end of 4th year||7 years||+4 years|
|PhD (flex-time)||n/a||32 months||By end of 4th year||8 years||+ 4 years|
 Doctoral students are subject to the School’s policy on “Timely Completion of Graduate Program Requirements”. To achieve candidacy, a PhD student is expected to have completed all program requirements exclusive of thesis and seminar courses.
 Students must submit an annual request for program extension beyond this time limit.
Overview of Program Requirements
To qualify for the PhD degree (full-time or flex-time), all degree requirements must be successfully completed:
1. Courses: Students who enter with a MSc degree must complete two full course equivalents (2 FCE) for by the end of the third year of registration. Students who enter into the Direct-Entry PhD program must complete three full course equivalents (3 FCE) by the end of the fourth year of registration. Students who transfer from the MSc to PhD program will be given transfer credit for graduate course work completed during the MSc program.
2. Research Ethics Workshop: Attendance and participation in at least one session for Graduate Students. Students who completed this requirement while registered in the MSc program are not required to attend a second workshop.
3. Seminar attendance and participation (see the guidelines here):
a. Graduate Departmental Seminars: students must attend a minimum of eight (8) seminars each academic year for two years. Part-time students may negotiate each year with the Graduate Program Chair for a reduction in the number of required seminars (to a minimum of four (4) per year) based on their professional experience and other factors related to their ongoing work.
b. Attend Student Group Seminars each academic year four (4) years (or five (5) years for Direct-Entry PhD students).
c. Give a 20-30 minute oral presentation in the Student Group Seminars in Year 2-4 (or -5 for Direct-Entry PhD students) of the program. Students are not required to present during Year 1 of the program.
d. Give an Exit Seminar before the Final Oral Defense.
4. Graduate Research in Progress Symposium (GRIP): Students who enter the program with a MSc degree must present one (1) poster at GRIP. Students who enter the Direct-Entry PhD program or transfer to the PhD program must present two (2) posters, one must be at GRIP and the second may be at GRIP or at a peer-reviewed conference (documentation required for approval by the Chair).
5. The annual Advisory Committee Meeting must be completed on or before August 29 of each academic year.
6. A Qualifying Examination must be successfully completed within the first 24 months of the program for full-time students and 32 months for flex-time students. It is recommended that this examination be scheduled early to leave time for a re-try if necessary.
7. Write a thesis based on original research in an area related to Pharmaceutical Sciences and successfully complete the Final Oral Examination (PhD Defense) with the regulations of the School of Graduate Studies of the University of Toronto.
Completion of the Program:
The full-time program should be completed within four years.
The direct-entry program should be completed within five years.
The flex-time program for students with a MSc degree should be completed within eight years.
1. Graduate Departmental Seminars
The aim of the Graduate Departmental Seminars is to provide students with the opportunity to acquaint themselves with different areas of research in pharmaceutical sciences and related fields, and to assist them in communicating with professionals in these areas. Students are encouraged to attend the Graduate Departmental Seminars on a regular basis.
Requirements: Students must attend a minimum of eight Graduate Departmental Seminars each academic year for four years (or less if all other program requirements are completed). Flex-time students may negotiate with the Graduate Office for a reduction in the number of required seminars (to a minimum of four per year) based on their professional experience and other factors related to their ongoing work.
Note: Students in the Clinical, Social, and Administrative group will attend Graduate Departmental Seminars and/or "Blue Star" seminars in the Clinical, Social, and Administrative Seminar Series to fulfill their requirement.
2. Student Group Seminars
The aim of the Student Group Seminars is to give graduate students in specific areas of research an opportunity to meet regularly with their peers for presentations and discussions.
a. Students are required to attend all Student Group Seminars each academic year for four years (or less if all other requirements are completed). If a student cannot attend a seminar, he/she must let the seminar coordinator and the Graduate Office know. Make-up work may be assigned.
b. Students must give a 20-30 minute oral presentation of their own research work as part of the Student Group Seminars every year for four years (or less if all other requirements are completed). Students are not required to present during the first academic year of the program.
3. Exit Seminars
An Exit Seminar can be given during the regular Graduate Departmental Seminars within 60 days of the defense date. The seminar is 40-50 minutes in length followed by a question period. The seminar is open to all faculty and graduate students.
N.B. This option is only available to students who started their program prior to January, 2015. Students who started in January, 2015 or later will give an oral presentation immediately preceding the Final Oral Examination.
To assist in preparing for presentations students are advised to seek the counsel of their supervisor.
SGS has published a document titled Guidelines for Students, Faculty, and Administrators that students are encouraged to read.
The supervisor directs the student’s program with the advice of the Advisory Committee, which enables the student to draw on a range of expertise. For full-time students, the student and supervisor must select the Advisory Committee within the first three months of the program. For part-time students, the student and supervisor must select the Advisory Committee within the first nine months of the program. The names of the committee members must be recorded on the Advisory Committee Members Form and forwarded to the Graduate Office for the Graduate Chair’s approval.
Composition and Responsibilities of the Advisory Committee
- Thesis Supervisor/Co-Supervisor.
- At least three Graduate Faculty members other than the supervisor and co-supervisor: one of the three members should be from the Graduate Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; the other two members from another graduate department at the University of Toronto. All members must have full or associate graduate faculty appointment with the School of Graduate Studies.
If the composition of a committee changes, a new Advisory Committee Members Form must be submitted to the Graduate Office for the Graduate Chair’s approval.
The student can seek advice from the Advisory Committee members at any time.
The Advisory Committee provides the student with advice and guidance; however, the ultimate decision of the research paths to be pursued rests with the student and supervisor.
The Committee also ensures that the student is taking appropriate courses, is receiving training to carry out the research, is familiar with the research literature and is preparing for the oral defense.
Annual Advisory Committee meetings must be held by August 29 each year. Exemptions: a) Students who start in January must hold their first meeting before December 31. All subsequent meetings must be held by August 29.
The Graduate Chair reserves the right to require the Advisory Committee to meet more frequently.
For an outline of the expected format and content of these meetings, please refer to Guidelines for Student Advisory Committee Meetings.
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.
Students must submit a completed PhD Qualifying Examination Nomination Form to the Graduate Office SIX (6) WEEKS prior to the exam. At this time, the student may request that the Qualifying Examination be open to the public. The Graduate Office will assign a Chair, schedule the exam, and book a room. The exam will NOT be scheduled if the Nomination Form is handed in later than six weeks prior to the exam.
The Examination Committee consists of four to five voting members. Although quorum is FOUR voting members, it is recommended that the examination committee include FIVE voting members to ensure the examination proceeds as scheduled.
The Committee must include the following:
- 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).
One to two weeks before the exam, the student must distribute a proposal and a CV, including any publications, to the Qualifying Examination Committee members.
- 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.
Thesis Preparation and Oral Defense
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.
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.
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 weeks before the proposed Final Oral Examination, the student must submit the following to the Graduate Office:
- Completed Advisory Committee Assessment Form, which clearly indicates the student may proceed to the Final Oral Exam;
- Completed Thesis Assurance Form;
- Completed PhD Examination Committee Nomination Form;
- The names of the Examination Committee members;
A 2-week range of dates in which th exam will be scheduled (the Graduate Office will schedule the exam and book a room).
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
Non-supervisory committee member
Non-supervisory committee member
At least ONE voting member
must be from the supervisory committee
From Supervisory Committee
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 for the Thesis
The Department and School of Graduate Studies have requirements for completion of the final thesis, as detailed below.
Before submitting your final thesis to the School of Graduate Studies, you should read Producing Your Thesis, which provides you with important information on preparing and submitting your thesis.
The School of Graduate Studies has established deadline dates for each convocation session; you may find these deadlines in the School of Graduate Studies calendar or on the School of Graduate Studies website, www.sgs.utoronto.ca.
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.