Maintaining Good Standing

Understanding Good Standing & Satisfactory Progress

This page is intended to provide general information that should help you understand the important concepts of Good Academic Standing and Satisfactory Academic Progress as presented in the SGS Calendar.

As a graduate student, you are required to remain in “good standing” in your graduate program and to make “satisfactory progress” toward the completion of your degree requirements.

You are in good standing when you maintain the requirement of minimum grade performance in coursework and successfully complete written and oral examinations, as well as all other degree requirements.

Satisfactory progress refers to the timeliness of progression through degree requirements such as coursework, examinations, and research, while demonstrating quality of performance established by the university and your graduate unit.

Good standing and satisfactory progress typically encompass either all or some of the following, depending on the program:

  1. Satisfactory completion of all graduate courses.
  2. Regular satisfactory evaluations of overall academic progress, including research progress, by the supervisory committee.
  3. Timely achievement of candidacy, including all required examinations (e.g., comprehensive, or qualifying exams) as well as the formation of the supervisory committee, led by a supervisor, and selection of the research topic.
  4. Completion of thesis and its defense within the time limit of your graduate program.

Your eligibility for funding and registration in the program may be affected if you do not remain in good standing or if you do not make satisfactory progress.

Coursework Completion

All graduate students are required to complete their courses with at least a B-, unless a higher grade is required by your graduate unit (e.g., as specified in your Graduate Handbook). If you receive a lower than required grade, you will lose your status of good standing and may be recommended for termination of registration. If you are allowed to continue in your program, you will be required to retake the course (or an alternative course recommended by your graduate unit and approved by SGS) and achieve a satisfactory grade.

Supervisory Committee Meetings and Evaluations

If you are a research-stream master’s or doctoral student, the quality and timeliness of your academic and research progress is reviewed regularly by your supervisory committee. You are required to meet with your supervisory committee at minimum once a year, or more often if required by the graduate unit or your supervisory committee. Your committee will assess your progress in the program since your last committee meeting as well as your performance against prior objectives and provide advice on future work. The committee will provide you with a report detailing its observations, a copy of which will also be placed in your student file; if you wish, you can respond to the committee’s report and this response will also be included in your student file. Demonstrating sufficient progress to complete your program within the program’s time limit is required for a satisfactory evaluation. If you neglect to schedule a supervisory committee meeting as required by the program, you will be considered to have received an unsatisfactory progress report.

You can and should meet or consult with your supervisor or academic advisor regularly beyond the context of supervisory committee meetings to seek feedback on your progress and the quality of your work.


All doctoral students are subject to a candidacy requirement. To achieve candidacy, you must complete all requirements for the degree exclusive of thesis research and courses such as ongoing research seminars that run continuously through the program. You must also have an approved thesis topic, supervisor, and supervisory committee. Upon achieving candidacy, completion is noted on your transcript.​

Candidacy is achieved as noted below:

Degree ProgramCandidacy Achieved
PhD, four-year programEnd of 3rd year
PhD, five-year program (direct-entry)End of 4th year
Flexible-time PhD program optionEnd of 4th year
Flexible-time PhD program optionEnd of 3rd year
Professional doctoral program, part-timeWithin four years of initial registration
Table: Outlines candidacy requirements for doctoral students by type of degree program.

Students who do not achieve candidacy by these deadlines will be denied further registration in their program and will have their registration terminated.

If you would like to request an extension, complete the Extension to Achieve Candidacy form found on the Candidacy Extensions page and submit it to your graduate unit for review along with a letter explaining the cause(s) for the delay and evidence that the remaining candidacy requirements will be completed within the period of the extension requested.

Thesis Defence and Program Completion within the Program Length & Time Limit

At U of T, “thesis” is generally used to refer to the culminating project for either a master’s or a doctoral degree. It encompasses a body of research that makes an original contribution by advancing knowledge in your field, as outlined in the Student Guidelines for the Doctoral Thesis. You will need to complete your thesis work with quality and rigor as set forward by your research field.

In addition, all work must be completed within the program length and time limit. You can find both the program length and time limit for your program listed in your Graduate Calendar program entry. You can also consult with your graduate administrator who will know the specific program length and time limit of your degree program.

Program length refers to the period of time (in sessions and/or academic years) for an academically well-prepared student to complete their program requirements. If you finish your degree program prior to the end of your program length, you are required to pay a minimum degree fee.

All graduate program requirements must be completed within a specific period of time. The time limit for a degree is the maximum number of years permitted for the completion of the program. If you do not complete your degree program within the time limit, you will not be permitted further registration without an approved program extension. The time limit of a degree program will be extended by the duration of any approved leave of absence.

The time limit for all graduate degrees and combined programs are as follows:

Degree ProgramTime Limit to Complete Program
Professional doctoral5 to 6 years (depending on program)
Part-time master’s6 years
Full-time master’s3 years [exceptions: MArch (4 years); Dentistry MSc (3 to 5 years)]
Flexible-time PhD program option6 to 8 years (depending on program)
Doctoral6 years (except for the Dentistry PhD: 7 to 8 years depending on specialty)
Direct-entry doctoral7 years
Combined degree programsTime limit is established for each combined degree program. The time limit will be set at one year (or two for doctoral programs) beyond the established combined program length.
Table: Outlines time limits for program requirements completion by type of degree program.

Many graduate programs have their own guidelines and handbooks setting out details about maintaining good academic standing in those programs. Please consult with your graduate unit regarding the specific requirements, including milestones and timelines of progression through your program.