Guide for Graduate Research and Supervision

Graduate programs are centred in departments or schools. For most graduate students, the first link with the University is through their home department. It is there that students find much of the information and help they need.

There are several common roles that exist within a department or school that support the delivery of graduate programs.  These include:

  • A chair (director) who by University Policy acts as the senior administrator for the unit;
  • An associate chair (director) who is designated by the chair (director) to be the administrative lead for all issues related to graduate studies;
  • A program director who is again designated by the chair or associate chair to be the administrative lead for a single graduate program.  Collectively, associate chairs, associate directors and program directors are commonly referred to as graduate officers.
  • A graduate co-ordinator who is the lead staff person, working with the graduate officer, in support of students and program(s). 

Graduate co-ordinators often have tremendous institutional knowledge and an extensive awareness of Policy and practice which collectively can be enormously valuable in supporting students and faculty.  It is important that academic decisions are made by the department’s academic leads, with support from the graduate co-ordinator as appropriate.

One of the primary roles played by a department or a graduate officer is to match and monitor the relationship between graduate students and their supervisor(s), and the extended supervisory team, sometimes called an “advisory committee.” 

Students should have access to clear information on the composition and duties of the supervisor(s) and the advisory committee (as applicable). In programs without advisory committees (e.g. Master of Applied Science programs in the Faculty of Engineering) the responsibilities ordinarily performed by the advisory committee are to be assumed by the supervisor. Acceptance of a student into a program carries with it an obligation to provide supervision and/or advice to the student with the goals of ensuring academic progress and success, and avoiding the case where a student fails to achieve the requirements of their academic program.  

For more information please refer to the Guide for Graduate Research and Supervision