MA and MES Committee

Student, supervisor, committee responsibilities

As per the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar, a Reading Committee is required for masters programs with a thesis. The Committee consists of the student’s supervisor and two other faculty members (a committee member and a reader). The supervisor and at least one other Reading Committee member have to be faculty members from the School of Planning.


The roles of the student, supervisor and Reading Committee are described in A Guide for Graduate Research and Supervision at the University of Waterloo. The following School guidelines derive from this Guide:

Supervisor: It is expected that students work closely with their supervisors on an on-going basis. The supervisor is expected to provide advice on the selection of research topic, method and data sources, to be reasonably available for consultation, and to provide timely feedback as required.

It is the responsibility of the student and supervisor to agree upon a mutually convenient and satisfactory schedule of meetings. The frequency of meetings will vary depending on student/supervisor preferences, student needs, and stage of research among other factors.

Committee member: The committee member is identified by the student, in consultation with the supervisor, in the second or third term of the program. The student should set up an initial meeting with the committee member to discuss and seek general input on the thesis topic and approach.

It is recommended that the student keep the committee member informed of progress throughout their program—but the degree of involvement of committee members will vary on a case-by-case basis. A committee member would not normally review draft chapters, and the approval regarding thesis topic, approach and methods ultimately rests with the supervisor.

As per the Graduate Studies Office guidelines, the committee member normally provides feedback on a final draft before a defence is scheduled. This is to ensure that the student can incorporate comments before the thesis is sent to a reader. The final decision to approve a thesis for defence rests with the supervisor.

Reader: The supervisor identifies the reader when the thesis is ready for defence. A reader needs to be a faculty member and should be arm’s length from the student’s thesis work. The reader provides written comments, which are shared with the student and supervisor at an oral defence.  

Task Completion Date (individual progress may vary Student's Role Supervisor's Role
Thesis topic Term 1 Initiates meeting with supervisor, conducts literature search to identify suitable topics and data needs Helps refine topics and research questions; provides guidance as required
Identify committee member Mid-March, term 2 Initiate discussion with supervisor, contact committee member Provide guidance on selection of committee member
Communicate with committee member to discuss research approach April, term 2 Approach committee member  
Secure an internship position April, term 2

Finalize internship arrangement, or keep searching if necessary

Professional development and internship February onward, term 2 Apply to employment positions  
Apply for Ethics approval and/or Field Work Safety April-May, term 3 Student initiates and submits Ethics approval and/or Field Work Safety forms Supervisor provides guidance as required
Provide general progress update to committee member September, term 4 Provide succinct update to committee member (email)  
Identify a reader for the thesis defence Early term 6 Provides input on selection of reader if requested by supervisor Makes decision on reader, final approval by Grad Officer
Initiate defence scheduling process (min. 3 weeks prior to defence date) Early June, term 6   Contact Graduate Program Administrator
Schedule time/date for a defence June-July, term 6 Forward availability to supervisor Consults with student, committee member and reader to coordinate time/date
Send final thesis defence copy and necessary paperwork Three weeks before defence date. Hard copy of thesis must be on display at least two weeks before the defence. Student completes paperwork, including the MA/MES Thesis Completion Form, and submits along with thesis (hard copy and PDF to Graduate Program Administrator).  
Upload approved (post-defence) copy of thesis to UWSpace After completing revisions and formatting changes (if required) Uploads thesis after obtaining final approval from supervisor Approves final thesis copy; notifies Graduate Program Administrator that thesis has been approved and is ready to upload