Policies and Procedures

The PHAS graduate program policies and procedures pdf file is the official departmental policies and procedures. This webpage, however, provides additional information and explanation to supplement the official policies and procedures.

Download the PHAS graduate program policies and procedures file (pdf)

Supplementary Information


Supervision

M.SC. AND M.A.SC

Masters students are guided in their research program by a Research Supervisor. As an incoming masters student, you may not have a particular supervisor in mind. We encourage you to visit with all our research groups and talk with our faculty. Having surveyed the research opportunities available, you will be better able to chose a research area, and a supervisor who is best suited for you. Incoming students have up to four months to make this choice. Should you need assistance, or have questions about the process, please contact the Graduate Advisor.

PH.D.

Doctoral students are guided in their research program by a Research Supervisor and a Supervisory Committee. As an incoming Ph.D. student you will normally have already selected, or been assigned, a supervisor. The next step is to form a committee. This should be done as soon as possible after beginning your program. The committee should consist of at least three faculty members in addition to your supervisor. It should contain an experimentalist (or observational astronomer) in addition to a theorist. Also, it should include someone not in your particuarl field of study (for example an astronomer for a physics student). Normally, committee members, and supervisors, must be full-time members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. However, adjunct professors and senior research scientists may serve with permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies. The committee is selected in consultation with your supervisor, and must be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

As a Ph.D. student, you are expected to meet with your supervisor frequently, and with your committee at least once per year. The committee will advise you on course selections as well as your research program. It is not unusual for committees to meet twice per year or more frequently as necessary.

For further information please refer to the Handbook of Graduate Supervision.

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Thesis Submission

Following the Departmental Examination, the candidate makes all of the requested changes and edits to the thesis, usually to the satisfaction of just the Supervisor. In a case where significant changes are warranted, the Committee may decide that the new thesis version will need approval by one or more additional committee members, in addition to the Supervisor. The Supervisor then sends a Report on Departmental PHD Defense to the Graduate Program Chair, stating that the student has passed the Departmental Examination and the thesis is now ready to go to the External Examiner.  Include an account number for the courier charges. Allow a minimum of eight weeks before the final oral examination, ten weeks if the External Examiner is outside North America. An extra week must be added if the thesis is to be mailed instead of couriered.

Upon receipt of this memo, the Graduate Program Chairman (writing on behalf of the Head) will verify that all the degree requirements have been met (coursework, oral examination Comprehensive Exam ) and write to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, certifying that all requirements have been met and that the student is currently registered.   This Head's letter accompanies two bound (cerlox or coil) copies of the thesis, one for the External Examiner and the other for the Chairman of the Final Oral, who will be appointed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

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Graduation Procedures

Graduation

Every student who wishes to graduate must apply for graduation, whether or not participating in the scheduled ceremonies. Application is available on-line through the Student Services Centre. For both May and November convocations, check the final dates for the following:

Students should check to ensure that the following are in order for graduation:

  • Currently registered (where applicable) in PHYS or ASTR 649 (PhD thesis), 549 (MSc thesis) or 599 (MASc thesis)
  • All academic fees are paid in full
  • For MSc/MASc - 30 credits completed (including thesis)
  • For PhD - Advancement to Candidacy
  • Submission of final thesis to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and to the department

Thesis preparation and submission

For thesis submission please refer to the Dissertation/Thesis Submission Checklist to ensure that you are submitting all appropriate paperwork.

For thesis formatting, pleaser refer to Resources for Thesis Checking.

For further information regarding Thesis submission please refer to Submission Procedure.

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Expected Timeline for M.Sc. and M.A.Sc.

M.Sc. / M.A.Sc.

Students are expected to complete their degree within two years, unless they make a direct transfer to the Ph.D. program. Upon arrival at UBC, you will have up to 4 months to select a supervisor. You should use this time to investigate the wide range of research opportunities within the department, meet with individual faculty members, and choose a supervisor. The supervisor must be a full-time Member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FoGS), or be approved by the Dean to co-supervise graduate students. In the latter case an academic co-supervisor is also required, who is a full-time member of FoGS.  Full-time Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors are members of FoGS. Adjunct Professors, Associate Members, Research Scientists, and others are not and therefore require approval. Please consult with the Graduate Advisor if you are uncertain about the status of your proposed supervisor.

Normally, at least 12 credits of coursework are completed during the first year, with the remaining courses and thesis being completed during the second year.

Masters students must give a public presentation of the results of their research. Normally this is done at a department seminar, but a conference presentation may also be acceptable.

The thesis is reviewed by the supervisor and a Second Reader (who has not been involved in the student's supervision). When satisfactory, it is submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies along with an application to graduate.

Direct Transfer to Ph.D.

If a masters student completes 12 credits of 500-level coursework and obtains at least an 85% average in these courses, and the supervisor agrees, he or she may request a direct transfer to the Ph.D. program. This transfer can only be done after the first year, and no later than the end of the second year, of the masters program. To request a direct transfer, the student should first obtain the approval of the supervisor, and then complete a "Recommendation for Direct Transfer to the PhD Program" and contact the Graduate Advisor.

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Expected Timeline for Ph.D.

Ph.D.

Supervisory Committee

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program will normally have a supervisor selected. The next step is to form a supervisory committee. This should be done as soon as possible, and not later than one year after the start of the program.

The committee should have a minimum of three members in addition to the supervisor, including at least one theorist one experimentalist and a member who works in a field that is removed from that of the student's research (eg. an astronomer for a physics student). Members of the supervisory committee must be full-time Members of the Faculty of Graduate Studes, or be approved by the Dean. Full-time Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors are members of FoGS. Adjunct Professors, Associate Members, Research Scientists, and others are not and therefore require approval. Please consult with your supervisor, and the Graduate Advisor when selecting a committee, and complete an "Approval of PhD Committee Membership" form.

The student meets formally with the supervisory committee at least once per year. In these meetings, the student reports on progress with courses and research work, and receives advice from the committee. The committee may question the student on areas pertinent to the research area, and in some cases may require that specific courses be taken or specific research tasks be completed. The results of the meeting, and the committee's recommendations, are recorded by the supervisor on a "PhD Progress Report" form, which is submitted to the Graduate Advisor. A copy of this form will be given to the student.

Comprehensive Examination

The university requires that every Ph.D. student pass a comprehensive examination. In our department, students have the option of either a written or oral exam. The exam can be taken more than once, and the student can switch from written to oral and vice versa. The written exams is currently offered once per year. Oral exams can be arranged at any time by consulting the Chair of the Comprehensive Examination Committee(o...@phas.ubc.ca). When an oral comprehensive exam is conducted, a "Report on Oral Comprehensive Examination" form is submitted by the Chair of the examining committee.

See PHAS Graduate Program Comprehensive Exam Guidelines for Ph.D. Students

Students are required to take a comprehensive exam within the first 12 months of the Ph.D. program. If the exam is not passed, it must be retaken at least once before the end of the second year of the program.

Candidacy

Within two years of entry into the Ph.D. program, students are expected to advance to candidacy. Candidacy is granted when:

The supervisor then completes and submits a "Recommendation for Advancement to Candidacy" form.

Thesis Preparation

The thesis should be completed in the third or fourth year of the Ph.D. program. Requirements for the preparation and submission of the thesis can be found here.

Nomination of External Examiner

The final steps involve preparation for the Final Doctoral Examination. At least three months prior to this, the Faculty of Graduate Studies requires the nomination of an External Examiner. This person must be capable of judging the acceptability of the thesis at a university comparable to UBC, and is normally a full or associate professor, or equivalent. Two, or preferrably three, names are submitted using an External Examiner form. The candidate, research supervisor, or department head, must not make personal contact with the External Examiner.

Departmental Oral Examination

When the thesis is complete, the candidate must schedule the Departmental Oral Examination. It should include all members of the supervisory committee, but at minimum at least the supervisor (or his/her delegate) and two committee members. For students that have two co-supervisors (research and academic), both must be present. This is a public event, open to all interested faculty and students. The Graduate Coordinator needs notice of the event at least a week in advance, so that it may be properly advertised. Copies of the thesis should be given to committee members at least two weeks in advance.

The form of the Departmental Oral Examination is similar to that of the final doctoral examination. It is chaired by the supervisor (or academic co-supervisor). The candidate first presents a summary of the research, which should be about 20 minutes in length, and must not exceed 30 minutes. This is followed by a round of questions from the committee, with the supervisor last, a possible second round of questions, then questions from the audience. Following this, the candidate and audience leave and a private discussion is held by the committee to determine whether the candidate, and the thesis, are ready to proceed to the final examination.

Thesis Submission

Following the Departmental Examination, the candidate makes all of the requested changes and edits to the thesis, usually to the satisfaction of just the Supervisor. In a case where significant changes are warranted, the Committee may decide that the new thesis version will need approval by one or more additional committee members, in addition to the Supervisor. The Supervisor then sends a Report on Departmental PHD Defense to the Graduate Program Chair, stating that the student has passed the Departmental Examination and the thesis is now ready to go to the External Examiner.  Include an account number for the courier charges.  Allow a minimum of eight weeks before the final oral examination, ten weeks if the External Examiner is outside North America.  An extra week must be added if the thesis is to be mailed instead of couriered.

Upon receipt of this memo, the Graduate Program Chairman (writing on behalf of the Head) will verify that all the degree requirements have been met (coursework, oral examination Comprehensive Exam ) and write to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, certifying that all requirements have been met and that the student is currently registered.   This Head's letter accompanies two bound (cerlox or coil) copies of the thesis, one for the External Examiner and the other for the Chairman of the Final Oral, who will be appointed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

University Examiners

The Research Supervisor must nominate two willing University Examiners, one from within the Department and one from another department.  They must both be of senior rank, either Full or Associate Professor, and at arms-length from the candidate.  Their consent and availability at the schedule time of the final oral must be obtained by the Supervisor prior to submitting a University Examiner Appointment form.

Final Doctoral Examination

The Research Supervisor is responsible for arranging a mutually convenient time for all members of the Examining Committee (although often the candidate can be given this task and it can be done by e-mail), and for booking a room with the Doctoral Oral's program assistant at the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

At least four weeks before the Final Doctoral Examination, the candidate is responsible for delivering to each member of the Supervisory Committee as well as the University Examiners a copy of the thesis in approved form.

At least four weeks before the Final Doctoral Examination, a typed version of the final Examination Program must be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. This is the candidate's responsibility, but it must be approved by the Research Supervisor.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies appoints the Chairperson of the Final Doctoral Examination (normally someone from another UBC department), and the Chairperson will be given instructions on how to conduct the proceedings. They are also available on the FOGS website.   Usually, the Supervisor will put the questions posed by the External Examiner to the candidate, if the External Examiner is not present at the examination.

For further details, and deadlines, please refer to the "Final Doctoral Examination Guide".

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Deadlines

The Faculty of Graduate Studies maintains a complete list of graduate student deadlines.

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