Supervisor and Committee

The Supervisory Committee for Graduate Students

Any Masters candidates in a thesis, project, exhibition, or recital program will have a supervisor and a supervisory committee (or possibly a panel). Masters candidates in practicum programs will have a supervisor. All Doctoral candidates will have a supervisor and a supervisory committee.

The supervisor, along with the supervisory committee, assists the student in the selection of courses, helps the student to develop a research project, guides and implements the research, and directs the planning and writing of the thesis (project or report) or the development of the exhibition or recital.

Selection of Supervisory Committee

In some academic units, a student will have a supervisor from the beginning of the program. In other academic units, the supervisor may not be known until the student has been in the program for a short time and has become acquainted with the faculty members and their research interests. In either case, students should have both a supervisor and a supervisory committee before they register in thesis or project hours. For Doctoral candidates, it is expected that the committee will be established within the first four semesters of the student’s program.

The selection of a supervisor is by mutual agreement between the faculty member and the student, and usually requires approval of the head of the academic unit. In some instances, it may be to the student’s advantage to also have a co-supervisor. The selection of the supervisory committee is also by mutual agreement between the student and supervisor/co-supervisor.

Supervisors, co-supervisors and committee members must be accredited with FGSR.

Below are the minimum requirements set by FGSR for a supervisory committee. Additional committee members may be added, and individual academic units may have additional requirements for the structure of graduate committees.

A Masters Supervisory Committee consists of at least the following members:

  1. Student’s supervisor (must be from the student’s academic unit).
  2. Student’s co-supervisor, if applicable.
  3. One additional member of the student's academic unit (this member cannot be an external adjunct member of FGSR, unless there is a pre-existing formal agreement or permission has been granted by the Dean of FGSR).

A Doctoral Supervisory Committee consists of at least the following members:

  1. Student’s supervisor (must be from the student’s academic unit).
  2. Student’s co-supervisor, if applicable.
  3. Two additional members of the student's academic unit (these members cannot both be external adjunct members of FGSR, unless there is a pre-existing formal agreement or permission has been granted by the Dean of FGSR).
  4. One member from the university who is from an academic unit other than the student’s academic unit (This member serves as the “internal-external member”. For students in Education and Engineering, the internal-external member must from outside of the student’s faculty. Professors who are adjunct or associates in the student’s academic unit are not eligible to serve as the internal-external committee member. A co-supervisor cannot fulfill the role of the internal-external member).

 Additional Comments on the Structure of Committees:

  • Supervisors, co-supervisors and committees members may change over a student’s program. Changes must be agreed to by the student and the members of the committee. Change of supervisor or co-supervisor must also be approved by the head of the academic unit.
  • For Doctoral students, a list of the committee members is included in the Annual Progress Report. For Masters students, the list of committee members is only sent to FGSR when the student submits their thesis. Any concerns about the structure of a student’s committee will be addressed at this this time.
  • On every committee there must a member, other than the supervisor, who is an internal member of the student’s unit on the committee (this is the intent of item c) of each list).
  • Individuals from other universities or from external agencies or groups with specialized knowledge of the research field, may be invited to serve on the Committee. FGSR accreditation is required.
  • There cannot be a conflict of interest (or even a perceived conflict) between members of a supervisory committee and the student. (See U of R policy GOV-022-010 for details).
  • The Dean of FGSR may reject a recommended Committee for any reason that the Dean believes will compromise the academic integrity of the student’s program.

Roles and Responsibilities:

In general, the role of the committee is to support and guide the student in their program and research. Regular meetings between Masters students and their committee are strongly recommended. PhD students must meet with their entire committee at least once a year. Additionally, PhD students must also submit an annual progress report to FGSR. This report must be signed by the student’s supervisor and will be distributed to all committee members. FGSR may request a meeting with the student and their committee if it has concerns about a student’s progress.

Supervisor’s and Co-supervisor’s Role:

  1. Committing to guide the student through their program and their research. This includes assisting with the selection of courses and the development and implementation of a research project. 
  2. Overseeing the research and writing of the thesis (or project) and giving timely feed-back to the student (between one and two weeks).
  3. Monitoring the progress of the student and informing the student immediately if their performance in either courses or research falls below the required standard.
  4. Offering and teaching research hours (901 or 902 classes) as required by the student.
  5. Communicating to the student and the committee on the student’s progress and any concerns.
  6. In the case of the supervisor, completing administrative duties with regards to the student’s progress. For PhD students, this includes approving the student’s annual progress report.
  7. In the case of the supervisor, distributing copies (electronic copies is assumed, but if a committee member requests a paper copy, the student must provide one) of the completed thesis to the supervisory committee in a timely manner (two weeks before submission to FGSR is recommended).
  8. The supervisor is responsible for completing the Thesis Committee Release Form, the External Examiner Nomination Form and the Checklist for Submission of Thesis Form and ensuring that all defense forms are submitted to FGSR.

 Supervisory Committee’s Role:

  1. Providing additional support to the student in their program, if needed. 
  2. Assisting with direct supervision of the student when the supervisor is unavailable.
  3. Assisting with managing any concerns or conflicts between the supervisor and the student.
  4. Recommending changes to the student’s program or research as needed.
  5. Reading the student’s final thesis, project or report before it is sent to the external examiner. Giving timely feed-back (within two weeks, unless prior arrangements have been made).

 Responsibilities of the Head of the Academic Unit (or designee):

  1. Ensuring that the courses required by students within the unit are provided, so that the students can complete the coursework portion of their programs within a reasonable time frame. 
  2. Signing the Admissions Recommendation Form for the student; thus, agreeing to the admission of the student to the program, and the choice of the student’s supervisor.
  3. Ensuring that the supervisor and committee are working well.
  4. Signing off on the final version of the thesis before it is sent to FGSR and signing the following forms: Thesis Committee Release Form, Checklist for Submission of Thesis and External Examiner Nomination form.

For students in faculties with departments, their academic unit is the department. For students in Education or Engineering, their academic unit is their program area. All other faculties and schools are considered to be the academic unit for their students.