Supervisory Committee Meetings

Every Graduate Student in our program will have an appointed Supervisory Committee that must meet at least annually. The student’s supervisory committee is responsible for:

  • Providing general supervision of the student’s research and academic studies for PhD and MSc students.
  • Overseeing the comprehensive examination for PhD students.
  • Reviewing the student’s program of studies and the composition of the Committee. Transmit to the Graduate Advisor any recommended changes in the program or in the Committee.
  • Reviewing and approving the student’s Research Proposal.
  • Reviewing the student’s progress. Confirm that there is sufficient material for inclusion in the thesis.
  • Certifying to the Department that the student’s thesis is ready for the final examination for the MSc and PhD degrees.

The committee should be established as early in the student’s program as possible. The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Sciences requires that you have your first Supervisory Committee meeting with yourself, your supervisor and your Chair within the first three months of being admitted to the program. The purpose of this meeting will be to:

  1. Introduce the student to the committee chair.
  2. Review the current courses being taken and recommend courses for the next semester.
  3. Discuss the general discipline and strategy for the proposed research (Note: A full research proposal and presentation is not required at this meeting).
  4. Identify additional members of the supervisory committee.
  5. Read and sign the agreement of expectations for supervisor and student: GS Expectations.
  6. Review the required commitment of supervisor and student to PATH 535/635 course.
  7. Set a provisional date for the next meeting.
  8. The chair of the meeting must complete the Initial Chair's Report and submit it to the Program Coordinator.

Generally you, as the graduate student, are responsible for establishing your committee in consultation with your supervisor and committee chair. Supervisory committee members must be officially invited by the Program.. The student must enter these names along with the other required information here:Supervisory Committee Member Additions Form.

The Supervisory Committee must have a minimum of four members including:

  • The supervisor (or co-supervisors, if appointed);
  • A faculty member from the Department of Pathology;
  • A faculty member from either the Faculty of Medicine or the Faculty of Science who is not a full member of the Department of Pathology;
  • A Chair who is appointed by the departmental Graduate Advisor.   This individual will be be a member of the Graduate Studies Sub-Committee for responsible student supervision.
  • An additional faculty member is strongly recommended for PhD Supervisory Committees.  The faculty member can be either from the Department of Pathology, the Faculty of Medicine, or the Faculty of Science who is not a full member of the Department of Pathology
  • A quorum of members can only be obtained with the supervisor(s) present at the meeting.

  • New students must meet initially with their supervisor and chair within three months of their start date as described above.
  • Committee meetings must occur prior to June 14th of the first school year, and thereafter every 6 months for MSc's, and every year for PhD's for the duration of program registration.
  • All PALM Supervisory Meetings are not to be scheduled during PATH Day and the blackout months of July and August.

Annual Meetings of the supervisory committee must take place every 6 - 12 months and are designed to be a supportive endeavor through which the students can demonstrate progress in their studies and research. However, it is also an important tool for helping the student who is experiencing difficulties with their research project or academic progress. It should be clear to all that the mandate of the committee is to help the student in as many ways as possible. It is critical that the meeting should not be delayed for any reasons; especially, if the student or supervisor are experiencing difficulties. Many committees meet every 6 months, especially MSc students who wish to transfer to the PhD program. We have also developed a tips document to assist you with the success of this meeting: PALM Annual Supervisory Committee Meeting Tips

In preparation for the meeting, the student should distribute the following to each of the committee members, graduate advisor, and the graduate coordinator 4 days before the meeting:

  1. A complete progress report – you must use the following form: Graduate Student Annual Progress Report
  2. Additional documents including papers in press and accepted abstracts.
  3. The presentation to be used at the meeting (in draft form).

In addition, both the student and the supervisor are required to complete the Student/Supervisor Relationship Forms and return them to the Graduate Coordinator prior to the annual meeting.

The purpose of the annual meeting is to review the student’s progress. At that time the student must report on their academic progress and research. The student should outline further research work necessary to complete the project. The Supervisory Committee reviews and evaluates the academic and research progress of the student. A recommendation for re-registration should be made based on satisfactory progress and should be substantiated by appropriate comments. It is the function of the Chair of this committee to submit a written report to the Graduate Coordinator immediately after the meeting. This must be in place by June 14th every year.

The written evaluation of each student by his or her supervisory committee will be reviewed by the Graduate Advisor. A student whose progress either in academic or research activities is deemed unsatisfactory may be required by the Graduate Studies Committee to withdraw from the graduate program.

For PhD students, the last committee meeting before the students proceed with the university defense may be run in either of the following ways:

  • It should normally be held as an “in person” committee meeting at which a quorum agree that the thesis has been adequately revised and is ready for the final university defense. A quorum will be the chair, the supervisor and two other members. Under extraordinary circumstances, the meeting may be held as a telephone conference.
  • The meeting may be run in a defense format if the student and the supervisor would like to have it serve as a practice for the university defense. No new examiners are required and the thesis committee chairman will chair this more informal defense.
  • After the thesis has been deemed suitable for the University defense to the satisfaction of the thesis committee, the committee must sign and complete the Supervisory Committee-PhD Thesis Report and return it to the Graduate Coordinator.
  • The committee meeting or internal defense must be held at least one week prior to the Graduate Studies deadline for “Candidate to submit two copies of the doctoral thesis with Departmental memo to the Faculty of Graduate Studies” .


For more information, please refer to the PhD completion of degree checklist.

  • Ensures that the initial supervisory meeting take place within 3 months of registration in the program.
  • Presents research proposal to the Supervisory Committee during the first year of the student’s registration in Graduate Studies. It is strongly advised that this proposal be presented to the Supervisory Committee before the end of the second term of registration.
  • Schedules all required meetings of the supervisory committee. If this is proving difficult, please contact your Graduate Advisor.
  • Students should submit a summary report of progress and any supporting material one week prior to the meeting to assist the Supervisory Committee.
  • Notifies the Graduate Coordinator of dates and time of scheduled meetings.
  • Completes the student evaluation form and send it to the Graduate Coordinator.
  • Ensures all necessary paperwork outlined on this page is completed by your Chair and your Supervisor and are sent to the Graduate Coordinator at the Annual Meeting.


  • Assists with research and educational program, and offers stimulation, respect and consistent encouragement.
  • Assists the student with the selection and planning of a suitable and manageable research topic.
  • Keeps research and tasks aligned to agreed upon research topic.
  • Be accessible for consultation and discussion of academic progress and research.
  • Help establish the supervisory committee which will meet at least once a year to review progress and provide guidance for future work.
  • Responds thoroughly and in a timely fashion to submitted written work.
  • Ensures that sufficient resources needed for thesis project are available.
  • Ensures that your research environment is safe and free from harassment and conflict.
  • Help to be aware of program requirements, deadlines, etc.
  • Encourages presentations of research results within and outside the University.
  • Attends at the students presentations at Path 535/635.
  • Assists in planning research program, setting a time frame, and adhering as much as possible to the schedule.
  • Acknowledges contributions, when appropriate, in published material and oral presentations.
  • Ensures that the minimum stipend (currently $20,000 per year) is received.
  • Assists with the comprehensive exam and final defense process.
  • Completes the Supervisor evaluation form and return it to the Graduate Coordinator.

  • Moderates the discussion in meetings and examinations.
  • Summarizes the opinions of the committee.
  • Helps the committee come to consensus decisions.
  • Files a written report for the student’s file.
  • For PhD students completes and submits the Comprehensive Exam report detailing a pass, conditional pass, or fail.
  • Contributes to the discussion and to the examination.
  • If there is a lack of consensus, the chair helps determine an appropriate course of action, for example, taking an average of suggested marks (in the case of a Master’s defense), scheduling additional meetings, etc.
  • In the case of significant disputes or problems, the Graduate Advisor should be informed.

The chair is also asked to ensure that annual (or more frequent) meetings take place in the event that the graduate coordinator is unable to obtain compliance from the parties involved.

All forms listed above can also be found on the Forms page.