How to schedule and submit a PhD defense


Since the approval of PhD external examiner, the submission of the dissertation, and the oral defense of the dissertation all happen in succession, you will need roughly 9 weeks total to complete this process.

  • 2 weeks to establish your external examiner and submit the initial paperwork to the Graduate Studies Coordinator, who will require an additional two weeks for the approvals of the department and of the faculty
  • 25 full business days (5 weeks) for your thesis to be on display prior to the date of your defense. It is during this period that your committee will read your thesis.

Student Checklist

9 weeks prior to the Defense

  • Begin discussing possible dates for your PhD Defense with your supervisor and committee.
  • Make sure all your degree requirements (course requirements and milestones) are complete.

8 weeks prior to the Defense

  • Have your supervisor assist you in determining an external examiner. You will need a copy of the proposed external examiner’s CV, and an agreement that he or she will be able to attend the proposed date of your PhD defense. The external examiner's CV should contain a publications list for at least the past six years as well as a list of current and previously supervised PhD students. Your supervisor and your external examiner should attend the oral defense in person.
  • If your external examiner cannot attend in person, please submit a rationale for why they cannot attend in person when submitting your paperwork. This will need to be reviewed and approved by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Engineering.

7 weeks prior to the Defense

  • Fill out the Nomination of PhD Thesis Committee Examining Form; input the data requested in each field. Book a room (if in-person) with the Department Assistant ( and include this room in the "location" field. 
  • Email the form and send it to the Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies ( along with the rest of the required paperwork (e.g. the external examiner's CV). The Administrative Coordinator will submit the form to the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies for review.
  • Once the form has been approved at the department level, the Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies will send your form to the Engineering Graduate Studies Office for approval by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Engineering.

6 weeks prior to the Defense

  • If your form is approved, you and your committee will receive e-mail confirmation from Administrative Coordinator - PhD in the Engineering Graduate Studies Office that the date and location of your defense are now formally scheduled. In this same e-mail, you will receive a Thesis Receipt Form that you must print off.
  • It is the responsibility of the student and supervisor(s) to send an outlook calendar invite to the committee members to schedule the defense in their calendars. Please discuss this with your supervisor(s) to arrange who will be sending this. 
  • Once your form is approved, send a copy of your PhD thesis to each member of your committee. Have each member sign the thesis receipt form (either with an electronic signature or via email confirmation).
    • If confirmation is collected via email, make sure to attach it to your thesis receipt form.

5 weeks prior to the Defense

  • Send the final copy to the Administrative Coordinator - PhD in the EGSO, along with the Thesis Receipt Form. They will indicate the start and end of your display period and keep your Thesis Receipt Form on file. The PhD Thesis must be on display for 25 business days prior to the date of your defense.
    • Please note that holidays and days when the University is closed (e.g. over winter break) do NOT count towards the display period.
  • Apply for graduation through Quest.
    • Navigate to My Academics > Graduation > Apply for Graduation > Select the Expected Graduate Term from the drop down list > Review the Graduation Instructions and then Continue

3 weeks prior to the Defense

  • If your external examiner will not be present and this has been discussed and approved by the Engineering Graduate Studies Office, you will need a teleconference phone, as Skype cannot be your main source of communication (Skype can be used only as an visual feed but is not reliable enough for audio).
    • You may book a teleconference phone from the Department Assistant in E2-2336. You will also be responsible for ensuring your external examiner has all the appropriate information to conference in on the day of the defense. This information can also be acquired from the Department Assistant.

    • Ensure you have your external examiner's Skype username for the visual feed.

  • It is highly recommended that you set up time prior to your defense to test the teleconference phone and Skype connection with your external examiner. You can arrange this with the Department Assistant (

1 week post-Defense

In order to receive a PhD degree you must complete all of your program's degree requirements. For a complete list of your program's degree requirements you should consult the Graduate Academic Calendar for the term in which you were admitted.

Note: Collaborative programs have different degree requirements than the regular MASc program.

If you have any questions regarding the degree completion process, you should contact the Administrative Coordinator.