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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

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.

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

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.

Forms for Faculty

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.

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 the Recommendation to Transfer from Master's to PhD form.

Faculty forms

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

Student forms

* 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.