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The following information and guidelines are intended as advice and, with the exception of explicit references to Graduate General Regulations and University Policies, do not have official status.
The information on this page is primarily geared towards students who are in research-based programs – whose degrees will fall within the parameters of Graduate General Regulations 1.7.2a, 1.7.2b, or 1.7.3.
Your academic unit will also provide program-specific supervisory information.
Regulations Related to Supervision
Graduate General Regulations related to Supervision can primarily be found under GGR 1.6.
The following areas may also be helpful when reviewing reasonable expectations with a supervisor over the course of a student’s program:
- Program Requirements (GGR 1.7)
- Progress and Withdrawal (GGR 1.8)
- Enrollment and leave (GGR 1.4)
- Time Limit for Program Completion (GGR1.12)
Being familiar with this information will help to frame your studies, and your supervisory agreement (see below).
Supervisor and Committee Selection
Selection of a Supervisor is extremely important and should be a well-informed decision. Your supervisor should normally be selected prior to your second term of study, as per GGR 1.6.3.
In many cases, your supervisor is assigned at the time of your offer of admission. If a supervisor is not assigned prior to commencement of study, an interim supervisor should be assigned to you. In the absence of this, the departmental Graduate Program Chair supervises and counsels you prior to the assignment of a supervisor.
Selection of a Senior Supervisor and other members of the Supervisory Committee should occur as early as possible in your program. (Note that a Professor Emeritus/Emerita may serve as a supervisor - see item 49.31 in the Collective Agreement, here.
You and your supervisor should identify and recruit other members of the supervisory committee. Once the committee is identified and approved, a meeting should occur, including details of when meetings will take place going forward, and preferred communication channels (email, phone, in person) for all parties.
Expectations that are set early and are clear, explicit and mutually agreed upon are the basis of a good supervisory relationship. These expectations should include a supervisory agreement.
Your progress toward degree completion should be monitored closely through the establishment of a realistic timetable of milestones and communication with your supervisor/faculty advisor, graduate program assistant, and/or supervisory committee.
We recommend that this take the form of a Supervisory Agreement. Completing a Supervisory Agreement and using this checklist will reduce misunderstandings/communication issues, and expedite your degree completion. The Supervisory Agreement Template addresses common expectations and potential areas of misunderstanding. (link to that template). Evaluation criteria and benchmarks for satisfactory progress should be clear. It can be modified to suit any details specific to your academic unit of study, as needed.
Template Supervisory Agreement
This template is meant to be modified to accommodate the specific needs of you/your academic unit and your research.
Click to download
Your supervisor is responsible for filing your annual progress evaluation (GGR 1.8.1) within your department; having regular communication checkpoints will inform that evaluation.
Comprehensive Exams, Candidacy Exams, and Thesis Proposal Exams
The full supervisory committee should be involved in these examinations, both to ensure broad supervisory involvement in key milestones, but also full committee awareness of progress.
- The Supervisor and the student share the responsibility of ensuring that required examinations are arranged in a timely way.
Faculty members who feel they cannot or can no longer, evaluate a student's work in an unbiased way should arrange to have another qualified person evaluate the work. Students who feel their work is not being evaluated fairly should notify the Graduate Program Chair in their department and seek resolution. If satisfactory resolution cannot be reached at this level, the Graduate Appeal Procedures may be applicable.
Changes of Committee or Supervisor
Change in membership of the Supervisory Committee may be initiated by the student, any member of the Supervisory Committee or any member of the academic unit’s Graduate Program Committee, as described in GGR 1.6.6.
A graduate student may wish to change his or her Supervisor and/or committee member(s) for any number of valid reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, change in direction of research, change of interests and irreconcilable academic or personal conflicts.
If you feel you wish to initiate a change of supervisor for your graduate studies, contact your Graduate Program Chair. Each academic unit will have internal steps and mechanisms for mediation, should the issue be differences between yourself and your supervisor.