2011-12 Decanal Memoranda

SGS Calendar Print Reduction

#001 - July 5, 2011
To:     Graduate Chairs, Directors, Coordinators and Administrators
          Vice-Deans and Administrators in Faculty Graduate Offices
From:  Brian Corman, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education
CC: Council of Graduate Deans, School of Graduate Studies Staff
I am advising you that we are reducing the number of printed copies of the SGS Calendar by no longer producing paper copies for every student.
As of the 2011-12 academic year, all graduate students (new and returning) will be directed to the online versions of the 2011/2012 SGS Calendar. They will be advised by SGS via email during the summer that online graduate calendars (current and past) are available via the SGS website. Students will be invited to browse a searchable PDF or surf a hyperlinked HTML version. Print copies will no longer be distributed to graduate students. However, we have arranged a small print run for those students who require a print copy – those students may pick up a copy from SGS free of charge, while quantities last.
Coordinators and administrators in graduate units will each receive a print copy, as will SGS staff and deans.
To increase awareness of the on-line calendar, supplies of printed bookmarks will be distributed to graduate units and will be available in SGS. The bookmarks feature a scan code and the website link to the calendar. Bookmarks will be distributed with the Essential Graduate Guide to new incoming students.

Please contact Lily Yee-Sloan or me if you have any questions (lily.yee.sloan@utoronto.ca).


Joint Educational Placement Agreement for Doctoral Students

#002 - September 6, 2011
To:    Graduate Chairs, Graduate Directors and Graduate Coordinators
From: Brian Corman, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education
CC: Council of Graduate Deans, School of Graduate Studies Staff
AttachmentsJoint Placement Form (pdf), Checklist for Joint Placement (pdf)
I am pleased to announce a new program option for doctoral students, the Joint Educational Placement Agreement for full-time study towards the earning of a doctorate at the University of Toronto and a recognized collaborator institution (hereafter Joint Placement). A student must designate one institution as the lead institution and the second as the collaborator institution. This decision must be made at the time of the signing of this agreement and is binding for its duration.
The University has endorsed the individual agreement model (“cotutelle”) for establishing Joint Placements. The academic and research program of a student enrolled in a Joint Placement should be based on ongoing or developing research collaboration between supervisors and/or research groups in the two participating institutions. A Joint Placement student’s application, enrolment and academic program must meet the doctoral requirements of both institutions as well as the following:
  • Admission: The student must be deemed admissible by the School of Graduate Studies and apply in the same fashion as other standard degree-seeking students. Where the UofT is the lead institution, a student must complete this application prior to achieving candidacy. Joint Placement applications for admission will come to SGS as non-standard Admission requests to be assessed case-by-case. The non-standard admission case must include a completed Joint Placement Agreement (see attached form) which outlines the unique nature of the research collaboration and issues such as intellectual property, stipends and benefits, travel costs, access to research equipment and supplies, research ethics, space etc. and must be approved by the student, collaborator institutions and the identified supervisor/s of each collaborator institution.
  • Registration: The Joint Placement student is registered at both institutions for the duration of the agreement.
  • Fees: Tuition is paid at the lead institution according to that institution’s policies throughout the program. Where U of T is the collaborator institution, incoming students will be assessed incidental & ancillary fees as well as UHIP during their residency at U of T.
  • Coursework: Regardless of whether the University of Toronto is the lead or collaborator institution, all U of T course requirements for the doctoral degree must be met as defined in the graduate unit entry in the SGS Calendar.
  • Dissertation: The dissertation is jointly supervised by two thesis supervisors, one from each institution; the dissertation must meet the thesis requirements of both the lead and the collaborator institutions.
  • Oral Defence: A single Final Oral Examination (FOE) is expected. The FOE is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the lead institution. Where the UofT is the lead institution, all SGS policies and regulations for Final Oral Examinations govern the defence, regardless of where the defence takes place.
  • Funding: Financial arrangements must be outlined in the Joint Placement Agreement.
  • Degree Conferment: The diploma will be awarded by the lead institution. The U of T diploma and transcript will note that degree was awarded under a Joint Doctorate agreement (e.g., “Awarded as a single degree under a Joint Placement arrangement with the (collaborator) institution”.)
The Joint Placement is intended for exceptional doctoral students to pursue research opportunities and acquire research experience in two countries at an early stage in their careers.
In addition to Joint Placements, I would remind you that there are many other opportunities for doctoral students at U of T to gain international experience, including, but not limited to:
  • Exchange Opportunities (Transfer Credit)
Graduate students can receive up to 50% of their course requirements through transfer credit by studying at any institution approved as a UofT Graduate Exchange partner. Graduate students can also pursue language courses and engage in field-research/ graduate research at a partner institution.
  •  Internships
Graduate students can complete an international internship through the CIE administered Students for Development program or through internships arranged through programs or graduate units. 
  • International Scholar as Supervisory Committee Member(s)
Graduate units can arrange for SGS graduate faculty membership in order to appoint an international scholar to serve as a supervisory committee member. 
  • Conference Grant
SGS offers a Conference Grant to assist registered, full-time doctoral-stream students in good standing to present their research at a conference or other academic meeting. Preference will be given to students early in their career who are presenting their research for the first time. 
  • Travel Grant
SGS offers a Travel Grant program to help fund travel for doctoral students within Divisions I and II for whom travel is essential for the completion of their research and doctoral program.
If you have any questions about Joint Placements or other opportunities for international engagement for doctoral students at U of T, please contact the Director of Student Services, Heather Kelly at heather.kelly@utoronto.ca.

Final Oral Examinations

#003 - November 21, 2011

To:     Graduate Chairs, Directors, Coordinators, and Administrators

          Vice-Deans and Administrators in Faculty Graduate Offices

From:  Brian Corman, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education

CC:     Council of Graduate Deans

          School of Graduate Studies Staff

Date: November 21, 2011

I am writing to update you on changes to the composition of the Final Oral Examination (FOE) Committee and to remind you of the SGS regulations and best practices for the scheduling of the Final Oral Examination and the appointment of external appraisers.


At the Graduate Education Council on Tuesday, 15 November 2011, the following change was approved, effective 1 July 2012.

Increase the required number of voting members of the examination committee who have not been closely involved in the supervision of the thesis from at least one to at least two.

This change does not affect any of the following: 

  • the number of voting members of the examination committee (four to six members);

  • the number of voting members required for quorum (four voting members;

  • the number of voting members who have served on the supervisory committee (one to three members).

This change does affect: 

  • the composition of the examination committee required for quorum. As of July 1, 2012, there must be at least two voting members who have not been closely involved in the supervision of the thesis.

This change reflects current practice in many graduate units, ensuring that the examination committee has at least two members who are at arm’s length from the thesis.

SGS recommends that one of the arm’s length members should be the external appraiser.

In order to ensure quorum, SGS recommends that the proposed examination committee consist of three arm’s length members plus at least two members of the supervisory committee. These numbers can be adjusted as appropriate as the day of the exam draws near.


Although the SGS Calendar describes an eight (8) week lead time for the Final Oral Examination[1], SGS is exercising flexibility for the scheduling of Final Oral Examinations in line with our guidelines

 . . . at least six weeks before the date that the examination is to be held, inform the Doctoral Examinations Office that the thesis is ready to go forward for defense, specifying the examination date and time.[2]

Graduate units are free to establish their own schedule for the submission of the dissertation, provided that they adhere to the six week time frame. The graduate unit schedule must reflect the fact that the external appraiser must be approved by SGS before the thesis is sent out. The Final Oral Examination online pre-approval system greatly facilitates this process and, generally, SGS is able to respond within 48 hours.

Graduate units should allow sufficient time for the process of arranging and scheduling the Final Oral Examination and clearly communicate to students the length of time that is generally required in the unit to make the necessary arrangements.


To ensure a speedy response to the nomination of an external appraiser, please consider the following regulations: 

  • The supervisor of the thesis will propose a list of three or more names of possible external appraisers to the Graduate Coordinator or Chair, who will choose one and send the recommendation to SGS for approval.

  • The graduate unit will certify that the external appraiser has an arm’s length relationship to the candidate and supervisor.

  • The external appraiser should be a recognized expert on the subject of the thesis and should be external to the university as well as to its affiliated teaching hospitals and research institutes.

  • Such an individual must be an associate or full professor at the home institution or, if the individual comes from outside the academic sector, must possess the qualifications to be appointed to an academic position at this level.[3]


Further information on best practices on eligibility can be found in the SGS Guidelines for the Doctoral Final Oral Examination available at:


Please contact Liz Smyth, Vice Dean, Programs, for further information or clarification on any of the items described above. 

[1] http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/calendar/2011-12/genreg/supervision/FOE.htm

[2] http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/Assets/SGS+Digital+Assets/governance/policies/FOEGuidelines2010.pdf

[3] http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/calendar/2011-12/genreg/supervision/FOE.htm


SGS Annual Audit of Student Files 2011-2012

#004 - April 27, 2012

To:     Graduate Chairs, Graduate Directors and Graduate Coordinators

From:  Brian Corman, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education

CC:     Cheryl Misak, Vice President and Provost

          School of Graduate Studies Staff

Attached is the report on the SGS annual audit of graduate student files undertaken by the School as part of our responsibility for the oversight of graduate programs and their administration.

Graduate units have the primary responsibility to make and communicate admission decisions and maintain official student files. For its part, the School of Graduate Studies has the responsibility to ensure that minimum admission standards and proper documentation are maintained, and that student records are properly managed. The annual audit also allows SGS to provide in-person support and advice regarding particular problems faced by graduate units.

SGS Student Services Officers and Assistants conducted our audit of student files during February and March from 16 randomly selected graduate units. This audit has been conducted annually for the past thirteen years, and this most recent audit completes the third year of our third five-year cycle.

Highlights include a decrease in the number of errors compared with the averages in both the first and second cycles. The individual findings for the graduate units that were audited will be forwarded to the respective Graduate Chairs with a copy to the relevant Graduate Coordinators.

The attached report shows that this year's audit focused on two aspects of the maintenance of student files: admission criteria and registration/in-program documents. Also scrutinized are five diagnostic reports generated from ROSI, which indicate noncompliance in data entry.

Based on the findings of the audit, I ask you to ensure that these practices are followed in your graduate unit:
  • An annual progress report must be submitted by the supervisory committee for all Ph.D. students beyond their second year in program and recorded in the student file and on ROSI. This requirement was approved at SGS

  • Council in 1996 and has been outlined in previous correspondence. A useful strategy to ensure that annual reports are submitted is to designate a certain time of the year (e.g. “May Monitoring”).

  • Register without payment forms should be used to register a student without payment on the basis of a student loan, approved award or TA-ship.

  • Admission recommendation forms should be used to document the decision to admit a student using the correct ROSI admission codes.


Forms may be found on the SGS website.

On a related note, when assessing international credentials, please address any questions or concerns to your Student Services Officer at the School. Our staff members have considerable expertise in this area and are happy to examine any questionable documents or to provide other feedback about foreign credentials.


Graduate Supervision; Guidelines for Students, Faculty, and Administrators

#005 - June 28, 2012

To:     Graduate Chairs, Directors, Coordinators and Administrators

From:  Brian Corman, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education

CC:     Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost
          School of Graduate Studies Staff

I am pleased to announce the availability of the new edition of the SGS document entitled Graduate Supervision; Guidelines for Students, Faculty, and Administrators. This, the second edition, supplants the first edition published in 2002. It will only be available in digital form, both PDF and HTML.

The second edition represents a substantial revision of the original, with new material and updated resources.

Please note that its URL (www.sgs.utoronto.ca/Assets/SGS+Digital+Assets/current/current+pdf/supervision+guidelines.pdf) remains the same. However, if you reference material from the original Guidelines in your web site or other promotional material, we suggest you revise appropriately.

If you have any questions, please contact the SGS Director of Student Services, Heather Kelly at heather.kelly@sgs.utoronto.ca.