Program Completion


Thesis Defense (MSc Students)

Upon the recommendation of the thesis advisory committee, the student may proceed to an MSc thesis defense.

The student will submit a MSc Final Defense Request Form to the LMP Graduate Office at least four weeks before the planned date. The student will prepare the thesis and distribute a hard copy to the members of his/her examination committee at least two weeks before the examination.  The student will also send instructions to the Defense Chair.  Theses that do not conform to the guidelines specified by the SGS will not be accepted. Click here for SGS Thesis Guidelines.

At the examination, the student will give a 20 minute presentation of his/her research. The committee will examine the student on his/her research and general knowledge. The student should be prepared to discuss the background knowledge and techniques as well as defend the scientific aspects of the research.

After the formal examination, the student will withdraw from the room. The Committee will then discuss the student's examination, written proposal, academic record, and progress in research. A recommendation to award the MSc degree will not pass if there is more than one negative vote or abstention.

MSc Thesis Format

The thesis format should adhere to the School of Graduate Study (SGS) requirements.  A template is available to help ensure that these requirements are met.

The major sections of the MSc thesis are the introduction, methods, data chapter, concluding chapter and references.  The thesis should also contain an abstract (maximum of 350 words), acknowledgments, a table of contents, a list of figures, a list of tables and a list of abbreviations.  

The introduction should provide background information required to understand the rationale, hypothesis and significance of the research. If material, such as model figures, is copied from other sources, the material must be credited and permission must be obtained from the publisher.  The introduction should be between 25 and 35 double-spaced pages.

The methods chapter should provide enough experimental detail for the work to be independently reproduced.

An MSc thesis usually has one data chapter.  The title page should provide a full citation if the chapter has been published or submitted for publication.  Copyright permissions may need to be obtained from the publisher.  If the chapter contains data that were not generated by the student, then the title page must include a statement indicating the names of the collaborators and the figure panels that they generated.  The data chapter does not have an introduction.  The data chapter should be of publishable quality, but there is no requirement for the work to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The concluding discussion and future directions chapter should contain a brief overview of the main findings of the thesis and an explanation of how the student’s research has advanced the field.  This chapter should also propose new hypotheses based on the student’s data and suggest experiments that can address these hypotheses.

The references should include the title of the article and the entire author list.

Examination Committee

The student and MSc supervisor can choose one of two options for the composition of the examination committee:

Option 1: The Defense Chair is a member of the LMP graduate faculty who is not a member of the advisory committee.  The student and MSc supervisor are responsible for securing an LMP graduate faculty member as the Defense Chair.  The remainder of the Examination Committee is composed of the student’s advisory committee.

Option 2: The Defense Chair is a member of the LMP graduate faculty AND a member of the advisory committee.  In this case, the student and MSc supervisor are responsible for securing a graduate faculty member from any University Department (including LMP) to serve as a member of the Examination Committee.  The remainder of the Examination Committee is composed of the student’s advisory committee.

See the Forms page for the Final Defense Request Form, and MSc Departmental Committee Defense Report. Click here for Defense Chair Instructions.

Recommendation to SGS

After successful completion of the final examination within the graduate department and before submission of the thesis to the School of Graduate Studies, the student's supervisor must notify the Department, in writing, that corrections of the final thesis and all requirements have been completed.  The Department will then forward the Degree Recommendation.

Stipend and Fees for MSc students in their final year

Students will continue to receive a stipend and receive Health and Wellness services until all program requirements have been completed.

Information regarding fees can be found here.

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Final Oral Examination (PhD Students)

Completion of the PhD program: an overview

The student should prepare a thesis outline and schedule a final committee meeting to receive permission to write the thesis.  Once permission has been received, the student will write a draft of the thesis and submit it to their supervisor for review.  After the student has edited the thesis to the satisfaction of the supervisor, the thesis should then be sent to the supervisory committee members for review. The student will then incorporate the suggestions of the supervisory committee members.  However, some members of the supervisory committee may choose to raise the corrections and concerns at the Final Oral Examination (FOE).

As the revisions to the thesis are being completed, the student should identify an External Appraiser, set up the FOE committee, and determine the FOE date and time; the graduate office is notified by completing a PhD Final Oral Examination Booking Request eight weeks before the date of the FOE. Once the request has been approved and the revisions to the thesis completed, the student will then send the thesis to the External Appraiser and members of the FOE committee at least six weeks before the examination.  The student can then concentrate on preparing for the oral examination.

Approximate time limits:

Writing the first draft of the thesis: 8 weeks

Review by supervisor: 3 weeks; and subsequent edits: 2 weeks

Review by the remainder of the supervisory committee: 2 weeks; and subsequent edits: 1 week

Submission of FOE booking request to day of exam: 8 weeks

If these time limits are greatly exceeded by either the student or the supervisory committee without a reasonable justification (such as illness), the graduate coordinators should be informed.

Final Committee Meeting 

A thesis outline should be prepared for the final committee meeting.  It should resemble a table of contents and list sub-headings of the introductory chapter, titles of the data chapters, and lists of figure/table titles for each data chapter.  The outline will help the supervisory committee to decide whether the student is ready to write the thesis.

Research Content of the PhD thesis

There are no rules that dictate how much original research is sufficient for a PhD thesis.  This is because it is difficult to devise a set of rules that can account for the wide variety of research that is performed in the department.  The student should draw on the experience and expertise of the supervisory committee to determine how much original data would be adequate for a PhD thesis and when to start writing the thesis.

In general, most PhD theses have two to three data chapters.  Each chapter should address a research question and contain well-controlled experiments that support a conclusion to the question.  A chapter should be of similar scope and quality as a first-author publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but it is not necessary, although encouraged, for data chapters to be published.  Data chapters may contain work from collaborators, but this work must be clearly identified at the beginning of the chapter.  The data chapter should not refer to ‘data not shown’ – there are no page limits, so all the data referred to in the chapter should be presented.

PhD thesis format

The thesis format should adhere to the School of Graduate Study (SGS) requirements.  A template is available to help ensure that these requirements are met.

The major sections of the PhD thesis are the introduction, methods, data chapters, concluding chapter and references.  The thesis should also contain an abstract (maximum of 350 words), acknowledgments, a table of contents, a list of figures, a list of tables and a list of abbreviations.  An appendix is an optional chapter that some students include in the thesis.

Introduction

The introduction should provide a focused review of published research that is relevant to the data chapters.  It is meant to allow the reader to understand the research field and to appreciate the significance of the student’s work.  If material, such as model figures, is copied from other sources, the material must be credited and permission must be obtained from the publisher.  The final page of the introduction often provides a clear rationale for the student’s research and the major hypotheses of the thesis.  The length of the introduction should be between 30 and 50 double-spaced pages.

Methods

A methods section that details experimental design for the entire thesis may be included as a stand-alone chapter.  Alternatively, methods sections may be included in each data chapter.

Data Chapters

The title page of each data chapter should provide a full citation if the chapter has been published or submitted for publication.  Copyright permissions may need to be obtained from the publisher.  If the chapter contains data that were not generated by the student, then the title page should have a statement that indicates the names of the collaborators and the figures or figure panels that they generated.  

It is preferable that the introduction of a data chapter does not repeat at length information that was provided in the thesis introduction.  This may require the student to condense the introduction from a published manuscript.

The figures and tables should be incorporated into the text, rather than placed at the end of the chapter. If the chapter is based on a manuscript that contains supplementary data, the supplemental figures may be placed at the end of the chapter.  Figure legends should be on the same page as the figures, where possible.  

Concluding Chapter

The concluding chapter (discussion and future directions) should contain a brief overview of the main findings of the thesis and an explanation of how the student’s research has advanced the field.  In addition, the concluding chapter may contain a small amount of new data that extends the findings of the data chapters and that forms the basis of future work.  The concluding chapter should also propose new hypotheses based on the original data presented in the thesis and suggest experiments that can address these hypotheses.

References

References may be included at the end of each data chapter, or a combined set of references may be placed at the end of the thesis.  The student may decide on the style of referencing used, as long as the entire author list and title are included in the reference.

Appendix

Appendices may be included in the thesis.  An appendix may contain a well-controlled and cohesive set of experiments that 1) does not reach a defensible conclusion; 2) leads to a negative result; 3) details the development of a novel method; or 4) does not fit thematically with the rest of the thesis.  Questions pertaining to appendices may be asked during the FOE.

The External Appraiser

The student should send an email to the graduate office that indicates their choice of External Appraiser and the title of their thesis.  The graduate coordinators ensure that the nominated External Appraiser meets SGS guidelines.  When the choice of External Appraiser has received Departmental approval, it is recommended that the supervisor contact the Appraiser to determine whether he or she is willing to appraise the thesis and to serve on the FOE committee.  The supervisor should then obtain a CV from the External Appraiser and send it to the graduate office.  The graduate office will send the CV to SGS and notify the student and supervisor when SGS approval has been received.

According to SGS guidelines, the criteria for the external appraiser are:

a) The external appraiser must be external to the University as well as to its affiliated teaching hospitals and their research institutes. 

b) The external appraiser must be a recognized expert on the subject of the thesis, and an Associate or Full Professor at his/her home institution, and experienced as a successful supervisor of doctoral candidates through to defense. An appraiser from outside the academic sector must possess the qualifications to be appointed to an academic position at this level. 

c) The external appraiser must be at arm’s length from both the Candidate and the supervisor(s). Normally, this will exclude anyone who: has served as Masters or PhD Supervisor / Supervisee of the Candidate or the Supervisor; or has, in the past six years, been a departmental colleague of the Candidate or the Supervisor, or has collaborated on a research project, scholarly work or publication, with either of them. The Vice Dean (Programs), in considering nominations of external appraisers, will assess whether the nominee is at arm’s length.

The written appraisal of the thesis will be distributed to the student and examination committee at least two weeks before the examination.  The student must not communicate with the External Appraiser until the examination begins.

Funds are available from the department to defray travel and accommodation costs for the external appraiser to attend the FOE.  Assistance with accommodation arrangements will be provided by the graduate office upon request.

FOE Committee

The student, in consultation with the supervisor, should decide on the composition of the FOE committee.

A quorum of four voting members is required for the examination to take place, but it is recommended that the FOE committee be composed of five to six members to ensure the examination takes place in the case of a last-minute cancellation.  No more than two members of the FOE committee may participate by teleconference.  The FOE committee includes:

1) a minimum of one, and up to three, members of the supervisory committee

and

2) a minimum of two examiners who are external to the supervisory committee (one of whom may be the External Appraiser, although the External Appraiser is not required to be a member of the FOE committee).  Three external examiners are recommended.

The Chair of the FOE will be appointed by SGS.  The Chair is not a voting member.

PhD Final Oral Examination Booking Request

Once the FOE committee has been chosen, the student should consult with the committee members to finalize a date and time for the FOE.

If the student opts to hold the public seminar and examination in the Medical Sciences Building, the student will inform the graduate office.  The graduate office will book the rooms.  If the FOE is to occur off-campus, it is the responsibility of the student to book the rooms. 

The student should then submit a PhD Final Oral Examination Booking Request form to the graduate office at least 8 weeks before the FOE.

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all members of the committee receive a copy of the thesis at least six weeks before the FOE. 

The Final Oral Examination

The student will give a ~45-minute public seminar that describes the thesis research.  Audience members may ask questions after the seminar, with the exception of members of the FOE committee.

Following the public seminar, the student and FOE committee members will proceed to the oral examination. The examination covers both the thesis and the oral defence of the thesis.  The student will pass the examination if there is no more than one negative vote or abstention.

Post-Examination Requirements

SGS will send the student the “Post Exam Instruction Form” and “Examination Results and Graduation Information Form”.   Information on how to complete degree requirements can be found here.

Before submission of the thesis to the School of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Department must be notified, in writing, by the Supervisor that the corrections or modifications recommended for the thesis have been completed.

Stipend and Fees for PhD students in their final year

Students will continue to receive a stipend and receive Health and Wellness services until all program requirements have been completed.

Information regarding fees can be found here.

Additional Information

Information on graduation and convocation can be found here.

Information on being a U of T alumnus can be found here.

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Thesis Submission Guidelines

Students submit the final thesis to SGS online - see details on the SGS website. (Note: The LMP Department does not require a copy of the final thesis.) Students may request to Restrict Thesis Release for up to two years after convocation.

Theses must be submitted with the appropriate forms and according to the SGS Guidelines before the specified convocation deadline (October, January or April). Thesis submission forms are available from the SGS website.

 

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