Planning for your doctoral thesis defence


  • View this as a 3 month planning process (so if you are planning to defend in December – start this in September!)

IMPORTANT NOTE: These timelines are necessary to ensure that all the steps required at the Department/School and the Faculty Graduate Office can be completed.   In addition, the timeline provides the necessary time for the external examiner to properly review and prepare a report that must arrive 1 week prior to the defence.

12 weeks before the anticipated defence date (recommended)


  • Discuss with your supervisor the planning process, particularly the need to identify and contact a potential external examiner


  • Contact potential examiner  

(Note this selection can be done in consultation with the student – but the student is not to contact the potential examiner)

8 weeks before the anticipated defence date (required)


Immediately following approval of external examiner:


  • Secure possible dates and times for the final defence from your examination committee.  Advise FGC of date/time; FGC will secure a room.

FGC will arrange for an independent Chair.

5 weeks before the scheduled defence date (required)


  • Provide copies of thesis to examination committee including internal/external and 2 copies to FGC (one for display and one for external examiner)


NOTE: If for some exceptional reason there are complications that prevent the thesis from being ready 5 weeks before the defence then the supervisor is required to:

  1. Email a request to Associate Dean, Graduate Studies for approval for the delayed submission and then following approval,

  2. Solicit emails (forwarded to Faculty Grad Office/Associate Dean) from the examiners and committee obtaining their approval for a shortened period for appraisal. 

Failure to meet these requirements will result in a necessary rescheduling of the defence.

1 week before scheduled defence date (required)


  • Provide confidential written report to the FGC who will share with supervisor. (Without receipt of the report, the defence may have to be postponed). Report remains confidential until after defence has taken place.

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