Masters Thesis Submission and Defence

Most of the regulations concerning the Masters thesis submission and defence are covered by the SGPS thesis regulations.  The terms "thesis defence" and "thesis examination" are used interchangeably here.

Q1: What do I need to do first once my thesis is ready? 

A1: Set a defence date - 6 weeks prior to defence

In terms of the timeline approaching the defence, it is most useful to work backwards from a target thesis examination date. Keep in mind that you, in collaboration with your supervisor, need to initiate the process. You should have an abstract of the thesis ready at this time to send out to potential examiners. It is the supervisor's responsibility to contact potential examiners, not the student's.

Q2: When do we form a thesis examination board?

A2: 4-5 weeks prior to defence

These details need to be finalized no later than three weeks prior to the proposed defence date. Once the examiners and date have been established, provide the information to the Graduate Administrator for completion of the Examination Request form.

Q3: When do I submit my thesis?

A3: 3 weeks prior to defence

See the thesis regulations section.  Please notify the Graduate Administrator when you are ready to upload your thesis.

Q4: When will I know if the thesis is clear for oral defence?

A4: 2-4 days prior to defence

Two to four days prior to the defence, the Thesis Coordinator (SGPS) will advise, via email, whether the examination will proceed as scheduled. Beware though that proceeding to oral defence does not mean you have effectively passed.  All evaluations are provisional and the evaluation of the written thesis form and content can be reversed based on the evaluation of the oral defence.

Q5: When is my defence/examination public (open)?

A5:  You have a choice to have a closed or open Master's thesis defence. Regardless of your choice, you will give a 10-minute presentation at the start of the defence to review your findings.

The 10-15 minute presentation should briefly cover the research context, research problem, research questions and methodology; however, the emphasis should be placed on the main findings and contributions of the thesis. This presentation is made at the start of the examination immediately after the Chair confers with the examination committee.

The order of events will be as follows:  1) the committee will decide the order and duration of questioning; 2) the candidate will give their presentation (10-15 minutes); 3) the committee will conduct their questioning of the candidate; 4) the candidate will be asked to leave the room while the committee deliberates; and 5) the candidate will be invited back into the defence room once the committee has reached a decision.

Closed Defence:
If the candidate has elected to have a closed defence, up to 10 invited guests may enter with the candidate and remain until the end of the presentation. The audience is not permitted to ask questions.

Open Defence:
If the candidate has elected to have an open defence, the audience will enter with the candidate. They are not permitted to ask questions (or speak) during the examination. The audience may be permitted to ask questions at the end of the examination, subject to available time. The public will leave with the candidate while the committee deliberates. Only the candidate will be invited back into the defence room once the committee has reached a decision.

Q6: Questions on anything relating to the thesis.

A6: Details about the format of the oral examination can be found in the SGPS thesis regulations section.

Q7: How much time do I need to make changes to my thesis?

A7: Maximum two weeks after a successful defence

The thesis guidelines state that to "pass with minor revisions" (a common scenario), you are able to complete the revisions and have the document submitted to SGPS within two weeks.  Allow time for approval by your thesis examination board (one member of the examination board [not the supervisor] withholds the final signature) and will approve the final edits once uploaded by the student.  


Please contact the Graduate Administrator with any questions regarding the graduate program.
Phone: 519-661-2111, Ext. 85033;