PhD Defence Scheduling

Basic Procedure

  1. At least THREE MONTHS before the examination, the supervisor of the thesis should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) about possible external appraisers/examiners and internal/external examiners for the thesis. After it is determined who should play these roles, the supervisor should contact the external appraiser/examiner and obtain their informal consent to participate, and the DGS will contact the internal/external examiner to obtain their consent to participate. The Graduate Administrator will then obtain SGS approval for the external appraiser/examiner and issue a formal invitation.
  1. At least TWO MONTHS before the examination, the supervisor should consult with the student, the thesis committee, the external appraiser/examiner and the internal/external examiner to determine, and then inform the Graduate Administrator about, the desired date and time for the exam.
  1. At least SEVEN WEEKS before the examination, the student should submit a Thesis Submission Form and five (or six if there is a co-supervisor or more than two readers on the committee) coil-bound copies of the dissertation to the Graduate Administrator. The Graduate Administrator will send the bound thesis to the external appraiser/examiner, the internal/external examiner, and all committee members. At this time, the Graduate Administrator will confirm the desired date and time with SGS. Note that the Graduate Administrator cannot formally schedule the exam until they have the bound copies in hand. After receiving the scheduling request from the Graduate Administrator, SGS will secure a faculty member from another department to chair the defence.
  1. The external appraiser/examiner’s report should arrive no later than TWO WEEKS before the examination. Once received, the Graduate Administrator will forward the external appraiser/examiner’s report to the student and all committee members.

Additional information

Appraiser versus examiner

It is desirable to find an external appraiser who can also serve as an external examiner, and so participate as a voting member at the Final Oral Examination, either in person or by phone or Skype. Under current SGS quorum rules, at least two of the five voting members of the Final Oral Examination committee must be from outside the student’s supervisory committee: typically, these two members include the external appraiser/examiner (from outside the University of Toronto) and the internal/external (see above). If the external appraiser cannot participate in the Final Oral Examination (either in person or by phone), then at least two internal externals will have to be appointed to the student’s Final Oral Examination committee to satisfy quorum. A maximum of two people can participate in the Final Oral Examination by telephone or Skype.

Criteria for appointment of the external appraiser/examiner (from SGS)

  1. a)  The external appraiser must be external to the University as well as to its affiliated teaching hospitals and their research institutes.
  2. b)  The external appraiser must be a recognized expert on the subject of the thesis, 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.
  3. 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.

External appraiser/examiner honorarium and travel expenses

The external appraiser/examiner receives an honorarium of $100. The university provides a maximum of $500 in travel expenses for external appraisers who come to the defence in person to serve as examiners. Any additional expenses are to be covered by the supervisor or members of the student’s committee. To minimize confusion, we ask that the supervisor be responsible for collecting receipts from the external appraiser. Please give all receipts to the department’s Business Officer with a note stating clearly which funding sources should be used for which expenses.