Thesis and Defence

Keep in mind to submit any forms in the correct signature convention

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Composition of Exam Committee

Exam Committee is not equivalent to Supervisory Committee.

According to General Graduate Regulation 1.2, supervisory committee helps the student define and develop a program of studies and reports on the student’s progress to the graduate program committee. The supervisory committee forms part of the student’s final examination committee.

The examining committee is to ensure that the student receives a fair and rigorous examination and that the University's policies and requirements are met. 

Please ensure you have updated your supervisory committee by submitting the paperwork before requesting for defence. Any inconsistency of the exam committee with the supervisory committee WILL CAUSE DELAY in processing the defence request.

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Masters Defence Exam Committee

According to General Graduate Regulation 1.9.1, The masters examining committee for examinations shall have the following minimum composition:

  1. A non-voting chair who is a faculty member at SFU, while is not a member of the student’s supervisory committee.
  2. All members of the student’s supervisory committee.
  3. An examiner who is a member of faculty, or a person suitably qualified, who is not a member of the student's supervisory committee. 

PhD Defence Exam Committee

According to General Graduate Regulation 1.9.3, the PhD examining committee for examinations shall have the following minimum composition:

  1. non-voting chair who is a faculty member at SFU, while is not a member of the student’s supervisory committee.
  2. All members of the student’s supervisory committee.
  3. An examiner who is a member of faculty, or a person suitably qualified, who is not a member of the student's supervisory committee. 
  4. An external examiner who shall be specifically qualified in the field of the thesis and not be a faculty member at SFU.

The minimum composition for the supervisory committee consists the supervisor (or co-supervisors) and at least one committee member chosen in consultation with the student. The committee member must be internal to Simon Fraser University serving as a faculty member, adjunct professor or research associate. A suitably qualified individual who is not in those positions (eg. professors external to SFU) may be eligible to serve as an additional committee member (i.e. you must have an internal committee member to include an external committee member)

Defence Process

Scheduling defence is a rigorous process with lots of deadlines. Please allow at least 3 business days of turnaround time for the graduate program committee chair's signature for any forms. Therefore, we encourage you to include the turnaround time into the deadlines mentioned in this section, or submit any finalized paperwork and forms as soon as they are ready. 

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If you wish to defend, discuss with your supervisor and the following documents should be submitted by your supervisor on behalf of you. 

  1. Signed Examining Committee for Oral Examination form
  2. Finalized Version of Student's Thesis for PhD, or Thesis Abstract for MASc

  3. Examiner's Documents  (only applies to defence with external or non-faculty examiner)
    • A full, comprehensive external examiner CV if the examiner is not from SFU; or
    • A bio for non-faculty committee members being added
  4. Research Ethics (if applicable)
    • All research plans involving human or animal subjects must receive ethics approval. Read more on GS' website.
  5. Minimal Risk Approval Letter (if applicable; please submit a current copy of the letter, with study number, dates, etc. as proof)
    • A project will be scheduled for Research Ethics Board (REB) review only when the Office of Research Ethics (ORE) determines that the information and materials submitted are sufficient to enable the REB to make an informed review of the ethical acceptability of the research.
    • The letter should expire after proposed defence date, or else the request will not be approved. 

For MASc students, completed paperwork must be provided to the Graduate Program Assistant a minimum of 4 weeks prior to your defence. 

For PhD students, completed paperwork and your thesis must be provided to the Graduate Program Assistant a minimum of 6 weeks prior to your defence.

*The deadline for PhD defence is a HARD DEADLINE; we will need to allow as much time as possible for the external examiner to review the thesis since their participation is voluntary. 

There is no guarantee your request will be approved if the request is submitted less than 4 - 6 weeks prior to your proposed defence date. We encourage you to submit the paperwork early for admirative processing. For more information, please visit GS’s website: Masters Defence  PhD Defence.

Do not forget to apply for graduation. The deadline to apply for graduation can be found on GS's website.


The request will follow the process below:

  1. Graduate Studies (GS) will the review and approve the request and confirm the thesis is ready to be defended.

  2. The Graduate Program Assistant will proceed with room booking if the defence is held in-person.

  3. Thesis Distribution
    • For PhD defences, GS will distribute the thesis to the exam committee. 
    • For MASc defence, the supervisor should distribute the thesis. 
  4. Graduate Program Assistant will send reminder to exam committee and advertise the defence to the School one week prior to the defence. 


  1. You will revise your thesis and get approval from your supervisor about the revision completion.

  2. Your supervisor will sign the Results, Approval & Degree Recommendation (RAD) from and return the form to the Graduate Program Assistant for the Graduate program Committee chair's signature. The assistant will send a copy of the signed form to you afterwards.

  3. You will submit the finalized version of your thesis to the library's Thesis Registration System by deadline, along with the RAD form. For the Fall term, the deadline is the last working day before the holiday closure (usually December 23 or 24) at 12 noon (PST). 
  1. The RAD form will be prepared and send to the exam committee chair by the Graduate Program Assistant prior to the defence.

  2. The student completed the defence. The exam committee shall provide comments to the student thesis and vote for the result.

  3. The exam committee chair shall collect the signatures of all exam committee members during the defence on the RAD form "examination result" section, then return the signed form to student's supervisor

  4. The supervisor shall sign under "approval & degree recommendation" section and send the RAD to Graduate Program Assistant at

  5. The Graduate Program Assistant will return the RAD form signed by the graduate program committee chair to the supervisor and the student.

  6. The student makes the subsequent changes to the thesis with the exam committee's comments and submit the finalized thesis.

As per the Library and Graduate Studies' update, the graduate program committee chair's signature is NOW REQUIRED upon students' thesis submission. 

For assistance with defence procedures, please email the Graduate Program Assistant at


Thesis publication postponement 

postponement will delay the inclusion of a thesis in the institutional repository for a period of 12 months from the end of the term in which the thesis is submitted to the Library, in order to protect confidential commercial information, patentable material, pending application, or where immediate commercial publication in a restrictive venue is anticipated. 

A postponement request should be made in writing at least 30 days prior to submission of the thesis to the Library. The submission process and timeline remains the same, however, a copy of the thesis or project shall not be made available in the Library institutional repository during the restricted period.

In order to receive a postponement, please complete the Thesis postponement of publication request form and email it to If approved, this form needs to be included in your submission to the library thesis registration system and “Postponement being requested” must be selected to “yes.” Please also email with your approved postponement form attached so that the library can set the postponement.

Note: If these steps are not followed, your thesis will be published and accessible online.