Responsibilities of graduate studies administrators

Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs

The Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs must provide the necessary leadership to enable the University to achieve the highest possible standards in graduate studies. The Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs is responsible for the successful operation of the Senate Graduate and Research Council and the various graduate programs of the University; for submission of Faculty recommendations of degree candidates who have satisfied the University minimum degree requirements to Senate; for the advocacy of graduate studies in the various administrative councils. The Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs represents the University in various external agencies and jurisdictions affecting graduate study. Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA), reporting through the Director, Graduate Academic Services to the Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, administers graduate award programs; processes applications, admission records, theses, registration, and graduation of graduate students.

Associate Deans (Graduate Studies)

The Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs appoints an Associate Dean of Graduate Studies whose responsibilities include graduate funding, scholarships and awards. The Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, chairs the Advisory Committee on Graduate Scholarships and Awards, and represents Graduate Studies on various University-wide committees. 

Each Faculty also appoints an Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research. In exceptional circumstances the responsibilities may be divided between two individuals. The Associate Dean is expected to provide leadership and ensure that the responsibilities for graduate studies in the Faculty are properly discharged. Further, the Associate Dean should communicate relevant items from the Graduate Operations Committee to the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. In addition, the Associate Dean should work to harmonize the graduate interests within the various departments of the Faculty. From time to time the Associate Dean may work on other University-wide committees where there are overlapping interests.

Graduate Officer

The Graduate Officer/Associate Chair Graduate Studies (referred to hereafter as Graduate Officer) is expected to provide leadership and ensure that the responsibilities for graduate studies in the department/school (referred to hereafter as department) are properly discharged, including quality supervision. In addition, the Graduate Officer should keep the Graduate Studies Committee of the department informed of relevant items from the Graduate Studies Committee of the Faculty. The Graduate Officer, on occasion, may have to work on inter-departmental committees of the Faculty to deal with special issues on graduate studies.

The Supervisor

Each graduate student is assigned a Faculty supervisor whose minimum responsibility is to ensure the student's awareness of all degree requirements and regulations governing his or her activities and to prepare for him or her a program of study, submitting it for approval as required. The supervisor is further responsible for ensuring that students performing experimental research have been instructed in the safe operation of all apparatus and been advised of any hazards in their departments. Beyond this, it is impossible to specify what amount of guidance and advice a supervisor should offer to a student because this is a matter of relationship between two individuals.

When supervisors are to be absent from the University for any significant period of time, it is their responsibility to arrange that during their absence students receive substitute supervision from faculty members competent in the students' particular area of work. The length of a supervisor's absence during which substitute supervision must be arranged is a function of the individual student's needs. However, no student should be left without supervision for more than two months.

Graduate students who intend to request a change of supervisor should first meet with their supervisor(s) and Department Graduate Officer to discuss their petition to change supervisor(s) and any issues related to changes in research topic or funding. A Change of Supervisor form must be completed by the student and approved by the current supervisor(s), proposed supervisor(s), Department Graduate Officer and the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.

Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS)

The reputation and quality of an established Faculty depends in large measure on the quality of its PhD programs. In turn, this quality is very sensitive to the qualifications of the individuals to whom the Faculty delegates the responsibility for supervising PhD students. Identification as an Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS) is the personal accreditation of an individual faculty member and is based on his/her activity. The individuals so identified constitute the ADDSs in each Faculty.

Other faculty members may co-supervise PhD students along with a faculty member with ADDS status, and may serve on PhD Committees. Information on recent changes in the availability of ADDS can be obtained from the Graduate Officer of the particular department.

The Faculty

The University of Waterloo is organized under a number of academic units which offer a variety of academic programs leading to degrees at the graduate and undergraduate level. These units include the Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology and the following Faculties: Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Mathematics and Science.

The Faculties are responsible for the activities of the departments in which their students are enrolled. In addition, the Faculty is specifically responsible for ensuring that anomalies in degree requirements and financial assistance do not arise among the various departments in the Faculty; that changes in Faculty regulations do not jeopardize the status of graduate students admitted under previous regulations, and that changes in University regulations which jeopardize the status of students previously admitted are brought to the attention of the Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. The Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) is the official Faculty representative to graduate students.

The Department

Within the Faculty framework are various academic departments and schools. Each graduate student is enrolled in a department which is responsible for the activities of his or her supervisor. The department is responsible for ensuring that all students have been correctly informed on academic, financial or other matters pertinent to their work and that changes in departmental regulations do not jeopardize the status of graduate students admitted under previous regulations. The Department Graduate Officer is the official representative of the department to its graduate students.

Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA)

Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) provides academic support for the Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs including secretariat responsibilities for the Graduate Operations Committee. GSPA is responsible for registrarial support including the administrative services and activities related to the provision and maintenance of graduate student records (e.g., applications, admission, grades, awards, recruitment, registration, theses, convocation, course scheduling, ADDS/PhD Examination Committee Chairs, Graduate Studies Calendar and other publications). GSPA is the central administrative unit working in co-operation with Faculties and departments to administer graduate programs, prepare data for internal groups, and submit data to various government and external agencies.

The Director, Graduate Academic Services manages the activities of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) on behalf of the Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.