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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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PhD thesis and candidacy

Handbook and Guidelines


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Templates and Formatting

The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) requires discipline-specific standards with respect to thesis format (including electronic format), organization, manuscript (co)authorship and any other requirements.

For more information on these specific requirements and to ensure standards are met, refer to the Thesis Checklist and Formatting Guidelines (PDF).

A thesis template (.docx format) has also been created for your ease of use and/or reference.

Students are responsible for informing themselves of any special formats or standards required by their program or discipline.

If you need assistance, there are many resources available to assist you with your writing.


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Timelines and Deadlines

There are PhD thesis deadlines each term in order to guide students through each step of the examination process. The objective is to help students meet requirements for specific program end dates or for graduation ceremonies.

If you are a doctoral student or research supervisor looking to plan a final examination within the next year, please use the following material for guidance. First, review the PhD Thesis handbook, which describes each step in the examination process, and then prepares a plan of action using our example timeline and checklist.

  • Timeline and checklist (under construction): example doctoral timeline of what must be done and when prior to oral defence.
  • Deadlines: list of doctoral deadlines in order to complete all program requirements by the end of an academic term. 
  • Doctoral Thesis Deadline Calculator (updated 2021): Use this calculator to determine when specific tasks should be completed in order to defend your PhD by a particular examination date.

Students who defend and submit the final thesis package to SGPS prior to the end of an academic term may be eligible for a partial tuition refund


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PhD Candidacy

Each student in a doctoral program is required to prepare a written research proposal and pass a candidacy exam. Full-time students are normally expected to do this within 18 months of their initial registration. The examination is to determine whether the student has the appropriate knowledge and expertise to undertake a thesis in the selected field of study.

The candidacy examination is comprised of the three components described below:

  • A written thesis proposal.
  • An oral presentation of the PhD research plan (20 to 30 minutes).
  • Open questioning of the student by the candidacy committee to ascertain the readiness of the student to carry out the proposed research. The examiners may ask questions which allow them to judge the student's mastery of relevant background knowledge for their thesis topic, including an appropriate breadth of knowledge in the discipline and the student's ability to undertake independent and original research.

Each program may have slightly different requirements for the PhD Candidacy (for example, comprehensive exam). The supervisory committee/faculty will provide guidelines for the format and content of the written proposal and oral presentation.

For details regarding the composition and responsibilities of the PhD candidacy committee and possible outcomes of the examination, see Doctoral Candidacy Examination policy. 

The roles and responsibilities of all parties and forms and procedures related to the examination are described in the Handbook for PhD Candidacy Exams.

Deadline and Timelines

  • PhD Candidacy Examination Timeline (under construction): example candidacy examination timeline of what must be done and when prior to the examination.
  • PhD Candidacy Examination Deadlines: list of candidacy examination deadlines in an academic term.

Forms for Faculty

Transfer From a Master's to a PhD Program

Exceptional students in a master's thesis program may request to transfer from the master's to the PhD program before they have completed their master's degree. Admission to the PhD program is conditional upon satisfactory completion of the program's PhD Candidacy Examination and approval from the Dean of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. 

For transfer criteria, see the Transfer from a Thesis-based Master's Degree Program to a Doctoral Degree Program policy.

The procedure to be followed in this case is described in the Handbook for PhD Candidacy Exams.

In addition to the three forms for faculty noted above, the student's supervisory committee must first complete:


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Faculty forms

*Form also found under student forms; can be initiated by a faculty member or student.


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Student forms

  • Form 1 - Establishment of Supervisory Committee*: Form is completed by the GPD in consultation with the student and the research supervisor(s), normally to be completed by the end of the student’s second semester.
  • Research Progress Reports*: The student completes the research progress form with the supervisor and/or supervisory committee member(s). Research progress is evaluated at the end of each semester for every student in a program with a thesis, project or major paper, starting when the student is engaged with research. 
  • Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA)*: Students must complete this agreement (if applicable) in order to protect certain confidential information related to the student’s research.
  • Checklist for Final Thesis Package (revised September 2022): Completed checklist submitted with final thesis package to SGPS. SGPS checks contents of package against checklist for any missing components or obvious formatting errors.
  • Submission of Master's or PhD Thesis: Students must complete this form and submit it to SGPS with the final, post-defence thesis package.
  • Theses Non-Exclusive License: A license to allow the thesis to be reproduced by the National Library of Canada must be submitted with the final thesis package.
  • ProQuest Publishing Agreement: Library and Archives Canada submit an electronic thesis for processing to ProQuest, to become available online on AMICUS. ProQuest requires a separate license form. It is a free publishing service and has potential royalties.
  • Request for Approval to Withhold a Thesis from Publication*: The supervisor(s) and student must complete this form and obtain necessary signatures if they would like to request a delay in publication of the thesis (embargo) on the Library website.
  • Early Completion Tuition Refund Form: Students who defend and submit the final thesis package to SGPS prior to the end of an academic term may apply for a partial tuition refund.
  • Thesis Binding: Students/Faculty who would like a thesis bound can submit their thesis to an outside company. Details are available on the Library website.

* Form also found under faculty forms; can be initiated by student or faculty member.

 More forms required in the thesis process are found in Faculty Forms.


Note: For an alternative format of any form or document on this thesis webpage, contact