The research supervisor is key to the success of a PhD student. This partnership and collaboration are further supported by an advisory committee, which helps guide the student and whose members normally act as examiners of the PhD thesis proposal (in the second year) and as examiners at the final PhD thesis defence (end of fourth year).

Research supervisor

PhD students must be supervised by an Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS), although co-supervision arrangements are possible.

As a research degree, it is important to position doctoral studies to align with the supervisor’s research program or broader interests. Research activities are specific to each group and each professor. SEED lists some current research opportunities and it is crucial for prospective students to understand the research areas of potential supervising professors.

Supervisors often contribute in small or large parts to a student’s funding package. Funding is determined on an individual basis, with students drawing on external scholarships and internal sources, including some combination of Graduate Research Assistantships, Graduate Research Scholarships or Teaching Assistantships. Funding of a SUSM PhD student is guaranteed by the University and may include support from the Dean’s Doctoral Scholarship.

The University publishes a Guide for Graduate Research and Supervision that helps define the relationship between student and professor.

Advisory committee

After the qualifying examination, the student and the supervisor(s) will discuss additional advisory committee members. The supervisor(s) can then approach these members to form the committee. Normally, the membership of the SUSM PhD advisory committee aligns with University requirements of the PhD thesis examining committee (excluding the external examiner), with four members:

  • Supervisor or Co-supervisors
  • Internal Member (from SEED)
  • Internal-external Member (internal to the University but external to SEED)
  • Other Member(s)

The first meeting of the doctoral advisory committee is to be held within 3 months of the qualifying examination. A PhD advisory committee for is completed and signed by all committee members and the student, and submitted to the Associate Director, Graduate Studies.

In year two, members of the advisory committee act also as examiners of the student’s PhD thesis proposal. Members normally remain on the doctoral advisory committee through to the completion of the thesis, and then act as members of the PhD thesis examining committee (subject to approval by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies).

Progress reports

The student and the supervisor shall complete an annual progress form to be submitted to the Associate Director, Graduate Studies.