PhD Departmental Oral Exam

Examination Committee Membership

*Students must attend all Oral Examinations in person. Committee members may attend remotely if needed.
Student in person attendance is mandatory for access to a white or black board during a meeting/exam.

The Examination Committee is comprised of:

  • members of the Reading Committee, and
  • 1 to 2 additional Faculty Members, preferably from this Department

The supervisor and student select the members of the examining committee and arrange a date and time convenient for all members.

The Graduate Office will appoint a Chair from the list of Committee members, exclusive of the candidate’s primary supervisor.

Distributing the Thesis

Copies of the thesis and a PDF of the student’s academic record from ACORN must be distributed to the members of the examining committee at least two weeks in advance of the date of the oral exam.  Committee members may refuse to participate in the examination if less time is given for the appraisal of the thesis.

Formal Request for the PhD Departmental Final Oral Examination

Once the committee membership has been determined, a PhD Departmental Final Oral Examination Request must be submitted by email to the Graduate Assistant, providing the following information:

  • Name of each Committee Member
  • Date, Time and Location of Meeting

The form is to be submitted a minimum of one week (5 business days) prior to the examination. Contact the Graduate Office to book an exam room. Please visit Room & Equipment Bookings for details.

Conduct of the PhD Departmental Final Oral Examination

Pre-Oral Review

At the start of the oral the candidate will be asked to leave the room while the following procedures are carried out:

  • The Examination Chair will briefly review the relevant Departmental Policies related to the PhD program
  • The Committee will review the length of time the candidate has been registered in the PhD program
  • The Committee will review the student’s course performance.

Oral Examination

The candidate and any graduate student observers will be asked to enter the room and the candidate will make a 20 minute presentation on his/her research.

The committee members will then question the student on his/her research.  Student observers may also ask questions.

At the end of the question period, the candidate and any observers will be requested to leave the room.

Post-Oral Review

On the basis of the thesis and the oral defense, the committee may recommend that:

  • the candidate proceed to the SGS PhD Final Oral Examination with the thesis as it stands
  • the candidate proceed to the SGS PhD Final Oral Examination with minor corrections to the thesis
  • the candidate proceed to the SGS PhD Final Oral Examination with minor modifications to the thesis
  • the examination be adjourned, to be reconvened at a date decided upon at the examination

The Exam Chair will fill out the Ph.D. Departmental Oral Exam Form and return to the Graduate Office.

Chair’s Discovery Award

The Chair’s Discovery Award (CDA) was established in 2013 to encourage publications by graduate students, to set clear expectations in graduate programs and to help reduce time to completion. See details.

Evaluation and Recommendation

The application is evaluated by the oral examination committee. A nomination form will be submitted to the graduate office following the exam by the exam Chair.


The final approval is made by the Chair of the department