Graduate studies began at the University of Waterloo in 1959 with a number of students doing graduate work in Mathematics; one MA and seven MSc degrees were awarded at the first Convocation in 1960. The rapid growth in graduate studies over the next several years led to the appointment of a committee to examine the structure of graduate studies, chaired by T.A. Brzustowski, which reported to Senate in April, 1968. The adoption of that report by Senate established the organization of graduate studies which exists to this day. Many changes have occurred however, since the 1968 report; some of these changes were approved by Senate, others by Senate Graduate and Research Council or by Graduate Operations Committee. It became necessary, therefore, to revise and update the documents pertaining to graduate studies. In early 1995 three subcommittees of Senate Graduate and Research Council were established to review the organization and regulations regarding graduate studies, and to produce guidelines relating to graduate student supervision. The content of the original report was divided into organization and regulations. The present report, which deals with the organization of graduate studies, follows a similar format to the 1968 report, with three additional sections: Graduate Officer, Graduate Operations Committee, and Graduate Student Association. Other sections have been updated and revised to reflect changes approved in the past two decades. In some cases, changes were recommended by the subcommittee following its review. The work of the academic administrators, students and staff who helped with the preparation of this document is greatly appreciated.
1. Senate Graduate and Research Council (SGRC)
Council considers, reviews, and makes recommendations to the Senate on matters pertaining to graduate studies and research, including: (1) the government, direction and management of, or any changes in rules, regulations or policies; (2) financial; (3) new graduate programs, deletion of graduate programs, major changes to existing graduate programs; (4) new centres and institutes. On behalf of the Senate, Council considers and approves: all new graduate courses, deletion of graduate courses, and minor changes to existing graduate courses and programs; new graduate scholarships and awards; and renewals for centres and institutes. Council advises the Vice-President, Academic & Provost on matters relating to graduate studies and research. SGRC is co-chaired by the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and the Vice-President, University Research.
Membership and Terms of Reference
For details on membership and terms of reference for Senate Graduate & Research Council, please review Senate Bylaw 2.
2. Associate Provost, Graduate Studies
The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies must provide the necessary leadership to enable the University to achieve the highest possible standards in graduate studies. The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies 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 to Senate who have satisfied the University minimum degree requirements; for the advocacy of graduate studies in the various administrative councils. The Associate Provost represents the University in various external agencies and jurisdictions affecting graduate study. The Deanship of Graduate Studies should be her/his major activity in the University, and the only administrative responsibility. However, the Associate Provost is expected to continue with graduate student supervision.
Terms of Reference
The terms of reference for the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies are provided in University of Waterloo Policy #44.
The appointment is for a five-year term on the recommendation of a nominating committee constituted by the Vice-President, Academic and Provost, with the possibility of reappointment for a further three-year term.
Duties and Responsibilities of the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies
The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies will:
- Administer all regulations pertaining to graduate studies:
- Approve admissions, degree requirements, examinations, thesis defences;
- Review petitions, e.g., extensions, exemptions, disputes, adjudications, waivers;
- Maintain a case book (with the names removed) on academic offenses, appeals and grievances;
- Initiate policy changes or interpretations of policies;
- Review sabbatical applications, research contracts, etc. as they relate to graduate students;
- Accept Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS) status recommendations, including the authority to remove this status.
- Function as a "University Officer":
- Serve as a member of Deans' Council and Executive Council;
- Chair Senate Graduate and Research Council, Graduate Operations Committee, and co-chair Graduate Student Relations Committee;
- Serve as a member of Senate, Senate Executive Committee, Senate Finance Committee, Senate Long Range Planning Committee, and Senate Research Council;
- Serve as a member of the University Promotions Committee;
- Serve as a member of the Senate Nominating Committee for Honorary Degrees;
- Attend meetings of Board of Governors;
- Recommend degrees for individual candidates from the Faculties to Senate;
- Serve as a member of the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies (CAGS) and the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS), acting as liaison between the University and those agencies;
- Serve as a member or chair of other committees as required.
- Administer Scholarships and Awards:
- Prepare documentation for all external awards, including NSERC, SSHRC, OGS and other awards;
- Secure and allocate University of Waterloo scholarships to Faculties, and final approval of Faculty recommendations;
- Administer other internal and external awards.
- Oversee Operations of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs:
- Delegate responsibility when appropriate to the Director of Graduate Studies Services
- Facilitate the initiation of new graduate programs and the appraisal of established programs:
- Assist departments or groups in the preparation of documentation for submission to Senate and to OCGS for approval;
- Assist new programs to obtain funding approval from the Ministry;
- Assist departments in the preparation of their submissions for periodic appraisal;
- Work with departments if they have consultants who visit, and help prepare University responses;
- Assist departments in the preparation of reports to OCGS.
The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies may, from time to time, delegate some or all of these responsibilities to an Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.
3. Faculty Graduate Studies Committee
The Faculty Graduate Studies Committee has responsibility for the academic quality of graduate studies in each Faculty. It represents Faculty-wide concerns about graduate studies to Senate Graduate and Research Council, and provides advice to the Faculty and Senate Graduate and Research Council on issues related to graduate studies. The membership and terms of reference of the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee are specified below:
- Graduate Officers from each graduate program
- Two graduate students from the Faculty
- Additional faculty members as required (e.g., members of the Senate Graduate and Research Council)
Terms of Reference
The Faculty Graduate Committee:
- Approves Ph.D. Advisory Committees and Examining Boards;
- Approves new programs and courses, changes to programs and courses, deletions of courses, etc.;
- Has responsibility for all matters related to graduate studies within the Faculty.
4. Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research
Each Faculty will appoint an Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research. In exceptional circumstances the responsibilities may be divided between two individuals.
Terms of Reference
- The Associate Dean is appointed/re-appointed by the Dean of the Faculty, in consultation with the department chairs of the Faculty, the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and the Vice-President for Research.
- The duration of the appointment may be two or three years at the discretion of the Faculty Dean with opportunity for re-appointment.
- The Associate Dean is accountable to the Dean of the Faculty and, with respect to graduate activities, to the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies.
- The Associate Dean is the chair of the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee.
Dual Portfolio and Role
The responsibilities for graduate studies and research are seen to be complementary, hence the joint position. The daily portfolio of the Associate Dean is dominated by the extensive list of activities (noted below) on behalf of graduate students, departments, and the Faculty. 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. In view of the decentralization of graduate studies to the various Faculties, it is essential that the Associate Dean maintain a strong link with Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. The Associate Dean will represent her/his Faculty, even though there will be occasions (e.g., Senate Graduate and Research Council) when her/his perspective should embrace the entire University. Typical research responsibilities include representing her/his Faculty on the Senate Research Council and identifying candidates for SSHRC and NSERC committees. The Associate Dean will also help to facilitate opportunities for dialogue between successful research grant/contract applicants and junior faculty to provide them with assistance with research applications.
Breadth of Activities
The tasks of the Associate Dean extend from routine daily administrative activities, through extensive committee work, to cyclical and occasional duties including those required by the Faculty and the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies. They may include:
- Routine daily administration: approve student course and program changes, grade/mark revision forms, time extensions, petitions; appoint Examining Boards for Ph.D. dissertations.
- Committee work: Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, Faculty Administrative/Policy Council, Graduate Operations Committee, Senate Graduate and Research Council, Senate Research Council, sub-committees within the Faculty, ad hoc committees outside the Faculty, Graduate Student Support Advisory Committee and Graduate Student Relations Committee.
- Cyclical activities: review convocation lists; assess admission files; allocate scholarships; serve on NSERC/SSHRC ranking committee; coordinate calendar submissions; approve ADDS; recommend candidates for certain scholarships and awards.
- Occasional activities: assist with OCGS appraisals and new program development; deal with student grievances, petitions and appeal cases (Policy #70) and student academic discipline (Policy #71).
5. Graduate Officer/Associate Chair Graduate Studies
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. The Graduate Officer is a member of the Graduate Studies Committee of the Faculty and works with the Associate Dean on department and Faculty graduate studies issues. 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 Graduate Officer is appointed/reappointed by the department Chair in consultation with the faculty members of the department.
- The duration of the appointment may be two or three years at the discretion of the Chair with opportunity for re-appointment.
- The Graduate Officer is accountable to the Chair of the department and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research of the Faculty.
- The Graduate Officer is the chair of the department Graduate Studies Committee.
- The Graduate Officer is the official representative of the department to its graduate students.
Roles and Responsibilities of Graduate Officers
The Graduate Officer must:
- Ensure that all graduate students have been correctly informed on academic, financial and other matters pertinent to their work;
- Ensure that changes in departmental regulations do not jeopardize the status of graduate students admitted under previous regulations;
- Inform graduate students of departmental, Faculty and University safety regulations to maintain a safe working environment.
Breadth of Activities
The tasks of the Graduate Officer include routine daily administrative activities through some committee work to cyclical and occasional duties. These may include:
- Routine administration: approve course changes, grade/mark revisions, petitions, time extensions; appoint Ph.D. comprehensive examination committees; recommend Ph.D. thesis committees; monitor student progress.
- Committee work: Department Graduate Committee, Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, Department Admissions Committee, Department Executive Administrative Committee.
- Cyclical activities: review course requirements for the convocation list, admissions; allocation of finances; rank of scholarship applications; review calendar submissions; assist the Chair of the department with recommendations for ADDS status.
- Occasional activities: assist in the preparation of OCGS documentation; deal with student grievances, petitions and appeal cases (Policy #70) and discipline (Policy #71).
6. Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS)
The Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS) status is governed by a series of regulations governing how faculty members gain the privilege of sole-supervising PhD students. As such, they are regulations whose authority is vested in the Senate, and any changes to them are to be discussed at Faculty Relations Committee, Graduate Student Relations Committee and the Faculties, and then approved by Senate Graduate and Research Council and by Senate.
These regulations set out the qualifications necessary for faculty members to supervise PhD students. Faculty members who demonstrate the qualifications set out in these regulations will receive Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS) status, and only they will be:
- permitted to independently supervise PhD students;
- eligible for membership on the Graduate Studies Committee of a Faculty;
- eligible for membership on the University of Waterloo Senate Graduate and Research Council;
- eligible to be Graduate Officers, Faculty Associate Deans, Graduate Studies, or Associate Provost, Graduate Studies;
- eligible to chair PhD Examining Committees.
Qualification for ADDS Status
Faculty members who qualify for ADDS status must:
- Be a faculty member at the professorial rank at the University of Waterloo (this includes clinical faculty);
- Normally hold a PhD degree or a terminal degree in their field;
- Demonstrate continuing competence and achievement in research or scholarship appropriate for the discipline;
- Demonstrate appropriate familiarity with University of Waterloo policies and procedures on PhD supervision. This is preferably achieved by the faculty member attending a University-provided workshop or receiving training on supervisory procedures at the Faculty level;
- Demonstrate appropriate supervisory experience: this can be achieved by the faculty member choosing one of the following:
- Successfully completing a workshop series organized by the office of the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and facilitated by CTE on graduate supervision, over the course of one year;
- Successfully supervising to completion at least one Master’s thesis;
- Having co-supervised or supervised a PhD thesis to completion (see Guidelines for Best Practice in Co-Supervision).
The above criteria are meant to ensure that faculty members have acquired the appropriate knowledge to facilitate becoming excellent PhD supervisors at Waterloo. For new faculty, ADDS status is to be awarded on potential excellence since building a proven track record of successful graduate supervision requires many years, numerous students and, depending on the discipline, can extend beyond the granting of tenure.
Acquiring ADDS Status
The process of acquiring ADDS status for a faculty member in the tenure-stream at the University of Waterloo is defined as follows:
- Faculty members satisfying all 5 criteria for qualification listed above can request consideration for ADDS status by their Department Chair;
- The Chair must confirm all 5 criteria are met and then pass along the request and any written comments to the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies for approval;
- If the Chair deems that any of the 5 criteria are not met, s/he will provide the faculty member in writing information as to which criteria are not met and guidance as to how to satisfy those criteria in order to become eligible. Faculty members can appeal the Chair’s negative decision to the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and (in the event of a negative decision from the Faculty Associate Dean) to the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies;
- Individual Faculties may opt to constitute an appropriate advisory committee to the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies to adjudicate ADDS status requests;
- After the application is approved by the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies the recommendation for the granting of ADDS status will be forwarded to the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies for approval;
- If either the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies or the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies does not approve ADDS status at the present time, s/he will provide in writing guidance as to what is needed for the faculty member to become eligible. Faculty members can appeal denial of ADDS status by the Faculty Associate Dean to the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies.
Those faculty members who are supervising doctoral students when they retire may continue to sole-supervise these students until these students complete their degrees.
Adjunct Faculty and Research Professors
Co-supervision with a regular faculty member with ADDS status is normally a requirement for Adjunct Faculty and Research Professors. The Faculty Associate Deans, Graduate Studies, have the authority to waive the co-supervision requirement for a specific student, on the recommendation of the Department/School.
Revoking ADDS Status
When circumstances appear to warrant the revocation of ADDS status of a faculty member; the process for doing so is as follows:
- The Chair/Director of the faculty member's unit will recommend revocation of ADDS status to the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies. Justification for the recommendation should be provided in writing, along with information on efforts that have been made for remediation, and the faculty member in question should be notified in advance of the recommendation and the reasons for it;
- The Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies may reject the recommendation but must provide a written explanation for doing so;
- In some cases information may come to the attention of the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, suggesting that revocation of ADDS status should be considered. In such circumstances, s/he should approach the Chair/Director to investigate, and if appropriate initiate the process;
- If the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies accepts the Chair/Director’s recommendation, the faculty member may appeal the decision to the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, whose decision is final; the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies shall provide reasons for his/her decision in writing;
- If ADDS status is revoked/ the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies will notify Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs to update the University list;
- Faculty members whose ADDS status has been revoked have the opportunity to requalify for ADDS status, if they can demonstrate the appropriate competencies required.
- All faculty members of a Faculty Graduate Studies Committee should hold ADDS status. (Departments/Schools not offering PhD programs would be exempt.)
- Faculty members from departments that do not have a PhD program may acquire ADDS status and supervise graduate students from other departments within their Faculty where departmental regulations permit.
7. Graduate Operations Committee (GOC)
The Graduate Operations Committee is concerned with the development and implementation of operating procedures for graduate studies. The Committee is convened by the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies to facilitate discussions among the various Faculties and the Director of Graduate Studies Services. The Committee will consider both University and Faculty-specific issues relating to the operation of graduate studies. Normally the Committee operates by consensus or by majority vote in those instances where consensus cannot be reached.
- The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies serving as Chair
- The Associate Deans, Graduate Studies
- The Director of Graduate Studies Services
The Graduate Operations Committee serves two major functions: First, it provides the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, the Associate Deans and the Director of Graduate Studies Services with an opportunity to disseminate information about current operating procedures and seek advice or report experiences with graduate operations. The Graduate Operations Committee (which may meet in extraordinary session for this purpose) provides an opportunity for Associate Deans to seek the advice of their colleagues in a confidential forum. Second, the Graduate Operations Committee provides an opportunity for the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, the Associate Deans, or the Director of Graduate Studies Services to initiate discussion or respond to proposals from the Faculties or from Senate Graduate and Research Council with respect to graduate studies at the University of Waterloo. These discussions normally are limited to operating and/or implementation procedures. Graduate operating procedures have previously been interpreted broadly to include, for example, admission policies, standards and procedures; thesis examination procedures; regulations with respect to ADDS; scholarships, teaching assistant and research assistant rules, procedures and functions; and discussions on student discipline matters. The agenda for the Graduate Operations Committee is set by the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies with the advice of the Associate Deans and the Director of Graduate Studies Services. Occasionally, topics are brought to Graduate Operations for information only. Any proposals for changes to current policies must be taken by the Associate Deans to their Faculty Graduate Studies Committees or to specific Faculty departments, as appropriate, for further discussion at the Faculty level. Following such discussions, the proposals and Faculty responses will be revisited by the Graduate Operations Committee and Associate Deans will be given an opportunity to report on Faculty responses. Proposals to change policies will be taken by the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies to the Senate Graduate and Research Council for further discussion and a vote
8. Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA)
Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) serves two major functions: First, it provides academic support for the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies including secretariat responsibilities for the Graduate Operations Committee and graduate program appraisals. Second, 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, admissions, grade reporting, registration, recruitment, awards, theses, convocation, course scheduling, ADDS/Ph.D. 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 of Graduate Studies Services manages the activities of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs on behalf of the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies.
Specific activities of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs include:
- Advising the University community on all aspects of graduate studies including rules, regulations and procedures. GSPA provides advice on Canadian and international educational systems, their equivalent academic standards and English language proficiency testing information.
- Interpreting and implementing Senate regulations as delegated by the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies.
- Assisting Faculties and departments with admission inquiries and final approval of admissions. GSPA is responsible for the administration of the application fee.
- Producing the Graduate Studies Calendar and other graduate studies publications and documents.
- Administering internal and external awards, competitions, and other special funds, e.g., University of Waterloo Maternity and Adoption Bursary program.
- Receiving the final copies of theses, arranging binding services and submitting copies to the National Library of Canada.
9. Graduate Student Association
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) of the University of Waterloo was founded in 1964 and is the official group representing graduate students on campus.
Broadly defined, the three major roles of the GSA are:
- To represent graduate students and advocate on their behalf concerns and issues to University administrators and external agencies (e.g., research councils, governments, etc.);
- To communicate and provide information to graduate students about the impact of University and external regulations on them and to comment on these;
- To provide a central location for graduate students to meet and in some form to provide a social setting for graduate students.
- The GSA President is an ex-officio member of Senate, Senate Graduate and Research Council and Senate Research Council; the graduate student representative on the Board of Governors of the University;
- The GSA President co-chairs the Graduate Student Relations Committee with the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies;
- The GSA nominates graduate students to serve on regular and ad hoc committees of the University, e.g., Senate Graduate and Research Council, Graduate Student Relations Committee, etc.;
- The GSA participates in formulating recommendations for various working condition requirements and salary levels for Teaching Assistants through the Advisory Committee on Graduate Student Support;
- The GSA works on an informal basis with various University Faculties and administrators to resolve issues affecting graduate students in their roles as researchers, teachers, and students at the University of Waterloo.
Approved by Senate in April 1996. Revisions approved by Senate in February 1997, February 1999, June 2010, June 2015.