When the thesis is nearing completion both the student and supervisor must review the PhD thesis examination regulations. The supervisor(s) must ensure the External Examiner meets the requirements listed in the regulations.
There are several resources available to students preparing their dissertation:
- Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) has information on how to prepare and submit your thesis. Your thesis formatting must conform to the standards established by the University of Waterloo and Library and Archives Canada.
- The Writing and Communications Centre provides writing support and a healthy space to keep you on track with your thesis.
- The Library website includes more information regarding UWSpace and copyright issues.
- Information Systems & Technology (IST) thesis guide contains everything you need to know about electronic theses.
Selecting your defence date
When scheduling your defence it is important to pay attention to the deadlines found on the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar. In particular, consider fee refund deadlines and convocation dates. Remember, you may need a month or more to finish revisions. Also pay attention to University closures, especially around holidays as these will add to MGO's processing time for your approvals and completion documents.
Blackout dates and holidays
There is a blackout period for defences in the Fall, Winter and Spring terms. There will be no PhD thesis defences during this period. UW Space final uploads are acceptable. The blackout periods are as follows:
The blackout period is necessary and is supported by the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs office as a result of limited faculty member availability to attend and to chair examinations during this time period.
In exceptional cases where committee members and/or external examiners are available only during the blackout period and the examination is required to be completed by the end of the term, the supervisor must contact the Mathematics Graduate Office. All requests to hold an examination during the blackout period must be approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies before they can be scheduled.
Steps to completion
Please see below for a detailed overview of the steps to completion, including the responsibilites of the student, supervisor, and Math Grad Office.
At least 7 weeks before the Oral Defence
- Student and supervisor(s) are to review the program guidelines (to ensure that all required courses and milestones are complete) as well as the GSPA PhD Thesis Examination Regulations. The student should ensure their thesis conforms to the required guidelines.
- Supervisor must obtain pre-approval of the External Examiner (EE) from the Graduate Officer and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies (ADG). The supervisor is to find at least one (maximum three) potential EEs and obtain approval before contacting any of the EEs. The email requesting approval must include the following:
- CV of each potential EE covering the past six years, or a link to the EE's website provided it contains the information required to confirm the criteria as listed in the exam committee section of the regulations (including a six year CV).
- Statement of independence confirming an arm’s-length relationship (see the regulations for details).
- If multiple EEs are presented they must also be ranked in terms of preference.
The supervisor may email the Graduate Officer and CC the ADG when seeking pre-approval with the understanding that Graduate Officer must approve the request first. After the GO and ADG have provided an approval, the supervisor may contact the first ranked EE. If the preferred EE declines the offer then the supervisor may move on to subsequent pre-approved EEs.
- The student and supervisor will select a time and date as well as a teleconferencing platform and/or location (if required). The supervisor books the room, confirms audio-visual equipment (if required), and informs the Graduate Coordinator. It is the supervisor's responsibility to ensure all electronic equipment is functioning properly prior to the defence and have a back-up plan should the connection fail.
- At no point should the student communicate with the EE before the defence. Once the date of the defence is set, all communication with the EE regarding the defence/thesis must go through the Math Graduate Office (MGO). If the EE is attending the defence in person, the department and/or the supervisor may communicate with the EE to make other arrangements not related to the defence (e.g. organizing a research talk). There must be no discussion of the student or their thesis.
- MGO will provide the EE with basic information on travel expenses but the EE is to make their own travel arrangements. Each unit has a budget for reimbursements. The EE is reimbursed according to Policy 31: Travel and the Guidelines for Expenses. Please contact the unit finance officer for more details.
- In the Faculty of Mathematics there are currently three options for conducting PhD defenses: in person, hybrid, or remote. Guidelines for hybrid and remote defences can be found on the GSPA participation through electronic media page. Hybrid and remote defences both require some aspect of teleconferencing with varying levels of technological support based on the platform chosen.
- Microsoft Teams with the help of MFCF/CSCF
- Other platforms, like ZOOM or WebEx. In this case, it is the supervisor’s responsibility to set up a virtual meeting and to ensure that the chair and all members of the committee, including the external examiner, are familiar with the platform and the procedure. Under no circumstances should the student create the virtual meeting.
- *NEW* Submit the Notice of PhD Thesis Submission for Display and Oral Defence form. The supervisor and student are to complete and submit form to their Graduate Coordinator with a copy of the EE approval email and defence information.
At least 5 weeks prior to defence
- Student submits their thesis to their Examining Committee, their Graduate Coordinator, and MGO. At this time, MGO will formally contact the EE and provide them a copy of the thesis and defense information.
At least 4 weeks prior to defence
- Student submits Notice of Receipt of PhD Thesis (PDF) to MGO – After sending the committee their thesis, the student has the members sign the form. The EE does not sign. The student emails the completed form to MGO and CCs their department Graduate Coordinator. Once recieved, MGO will create an Announcement of Thesis submission. The thesis must be on display for a minimum of four weeks before the defence date.
At least 10 days prior to defence
- EE sends their report to MGO – The report will be sent to the supervisor, ADG, and the Grad Coordinator. The supervisor is to inform the candidate of any major criticism of the thesis but the report is not to be shown to the candidate.
- Committee Member Reports – If a committee member is unable to attend in person they may choose to provide a report on the thesis. This is optional but strongly recommended in case of technical difficulties preventing the member from participating fully.
One week prior to defence
For hybrid or remote defences only: MGO will require a copy of the student's presentation slides. The student/supervisor must also provide MGO with a phone number for each committee member so that they may be reached in the event of technical difficulties.
Day of defence
- Prepare the room for the defence – The student should arrive in their defence room 30-60 minutes before their scheduled defence to ensure that all the equipment they need is functional.
After the defence
- Defence results – MGO will email the defence result to the students, the supervisor(s), and the Graduate Coordinator.
- Student makes the necessary change to their thesis – Ideally, the student will complete any changes to their thesis within a month after their defence. If the student should requires more time they must contact the MGO.
- Supervisor(s) approve the changes made to thesis– The supervisor(s) will email MGO once they are satisfied with the edits as required by the committee. MGO will create a Doctoral Thesis Acceptance form that the ADG will sign. The MGO will submit the Doctoral Thesis Acceptance form to the GSPA so that so that the student may upload their thesis onto UW Space. If the title of the thesis has changed since the initial version was provided, MGO must be informed as the thesis may be rejected from UW Space otherwise.
- Student submit thesis to UW Space – The student will upload their thesis to UW Space after MGO has submitted the Doctoral Thesis Acceptance form to the GSPA. The thesis must conform to the standards established by the University of Waterloo. Please see details at the GSPA thesis formatting and the GSPA Thesis Submission webpages for additional information.
- Prepare to graduate. Please see Prepare to Graduate/Convocation for more information.