Program completion for MSc and PhD

The requirements for completing LMP's research stream graduate programs.

MSc completion and thesis defence

If recommended by the thesis advisory committee, you may proceed to an MSc thesis defense. 

Use the MSc Completion Checklist to ensure you meet all the requirements. 

You will submit a MSc Final Defense Request Form (online form) to the LMP Graduate Office at least four weeks before the planned date.

Prepare your thesis and distribute a hard copy to the members of your examination committee at least two weeks before the examination

You also need to send the MSc Examination Chair instructions (PDF) to the Defense Chair. 

Theses that do not conform to the guidelines specified by the SGS will not be accepted. See Producing your Thesis on the SGS website.

At the examination, you will give a 20 minute presentation of your research.

The committee will examine you on your research and general knowledge. You should be prepared to discuss the background knowledge and techniques, as well as defend the scientific aspects of the research. 

After the formal examination, you will leave the room. The Committee will then discuss your:

  • examination
  • written proposal
  • academic record
  • progress in research.

A recommendation to award the MSc degree will not pass if there is more than one negative vote or abstention. 

MSc Thesis format 

The thesis format should adhere to the School of Graduate Study (SGS) requirements.  A template (word doc) is available to help ensure you meet these requirements.

The major sections of the MSc thesis are:

  1. Introduction: provide background information required to understand the rationale, hypothesis and significance of the research. If material, such as model figures, is copied from other sources, the material must be credited and permission must be obtained from the publisher.  The introduction should be between 25 and 35 double-spaced pages. 
  2. Methods: provide enough experimental detail for the work to be independently reproduced. 
  3. Data chapter: An MSc thesis usually has one data chapter. The title page should provide a full citation if the chapter has been published or submitted for publication. Copyright permissions may need to be obtained from the publisher. If the chapter contains data that were not generated by you, then the title page must include a statement indicating the names of the collaborators and the figure panels that they generated. The data chapter does not have an introduction. It should be of publishable quality, but there is no requirement for the work to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. 
  4. Concluding chapter: concluding discussion and future directions. This should contain a brief overview of the main findings of the thesis and an explanation of how your research has advanced the field. It should also propose new hypotheses based on your data and suggest experiments that can address these hypotheses. 
  5. References: should include the title of the article and the entire author list. 
  6. The thesis should also contain an abstract (maximum of 350 words), acknowledgments, a table of contents, a list of figures, a list of tables and a list of abbreviations.   

Examination Committee 

You and your MSc supervisor can choose one of two options for the composition of the examination committee (in both options, the examination committee is composed of the advisory committee plus one additional faculty member): 

  1. The Defense Chair is a member of the LMP graduate faculty who is not a member of the advisory committee. You and your MSc supervisor are responsible for securing an LMP graduate faculty member as the Defense Chair. The remainder of the Examination Committee is composed of your advisory committee. 
  2. The Defense Chair is a member of the LMP graduate faculty AND a member of the advisory committee. In this case, you and your MSc supervisor are responsible for securing a graduate faculty member from any University Department (including LMP) to serve as a member of the Examination Committee. The remainder of the Examination Committee is composed of your advisory committee. 

Forms needed:

Post-examination requirements

After completion of the final examination, you must deliver the MSc Thesis Defence Committee Report to the graduate office.

The committee may accept the thesis as it stands, subject to minor corrections, or subject to minor modifications. 

You will be allowed one week to complete minor corrections or three weeks to complete minor modifications. 

Your supervisor must notify the graduate office, in writing, once corrections to the thesis have been completed. The Department will then forward the Degree Recommendation to SGS. 

You must submit the thesis to SGS, following the instructions on Electronic Thesis Submission

Stipend and fees for MSc students in their final year 

You will continue to receive a stipend and receive Health and Wellness services until you have completed all program requirements. 

Final-year fees on the SGS website for more information. 

Once you complete your MSc

Stay in touch! Sign up to Temerty Medicine Connect to network with the LMP community and alumni.

Make sure you keep you contact details up to date and explore what benefits you will receive as a University of Toronto alumni on the main alumni page and the Temerty Faculty of Medicine alumni page.

PhD completion and Final Oral Examination

You need to prepare a thesis outline and schedule a final committee meeting to receive permission to write the thesis. 

Once you receive permission, you will write a draft of the thesis and submit it to your supervisor for review. 

Once you have edited the thesis to the satisfaction of your supervisor, you send the thesis to the supervisory committee members for review and then incorporate their suggestions. Some members of the supervisory committee may choose to raise the corrections and concerns at the Final Oral Examination (FOE). 

While you are completing your revisions, you should:

  • identify an external appraiser
  • set up the FOE committee
  • determine the FOE date and time
  • complete a PhD Final Oral Examination Booking Request (online form) eight weeks before the date of the FOE - this will notify the graduate office.

Once your request has been approved and you have completed the revisions to the thesis, you will send the thesis to the external appraiser and members of the FOE committee (at least six weeks before the examination). 

Then you can concentrate on preparing for the oral examination. 

Use the PhD Completion Checklist to ensure you meet all requirements. 

Approximate time limits

  • Writing the first draft of the thesis: 8 weeks 
  • Review by supervisor: 3 weeks; and subsequent edits: 2 weeks 
  • Review by the remainder of the supervisory committee: 2 weeks; and subsequent edits: 1 week 
  • Submission of FOE booking request to day of exam: 8 weeks 

Timeline (diagram below)

  • Month 1 and 2: write these after gaining permission
  • End of month 2: submit draft to your supervisor
  • Month 3: your supervisor reviews the thesis and you complete the edits.
  • Month 4: submit to the supervisory committee and then complete edits.
  • End of month 4: submit your oral examination booking request.
  • Month 5: submit the final thesis to the  Final Oral Examination (FOE) committee.
  • Month 6: receive the external appraisal, hold public seminar and complete final oral examination.

If you or the supervisory committee greatly exceed these time limits without a reasonable justification (such as illness), you need to let the graduate coordinators know. 

Final committee meeting  

You must prepare a thesis outline for the final committee meeting. 

It should contain:

  1. a table of contents and list sub-headings of the introductory chapter
  2. titles of the data chapters
  3. lists of figure/table titles for each data chapter. 

The outline will help the supervisory committee decide whether you are ready to write the thesis. 

Research content of the PhD thesis 

There are no rules that dictate how much original research is sufficient for a PhD thesis. This is because it is difficult to devise a set of rules that can account for the wide variety of research that is performed in the department. 

You should draw on the experience and expertise of the supervisory committee to determine how much original data would be adequate for a PhD thesis and when to start writing the thesis. 

In general, most PhD theses have two to three data chapters.

  • Each chapter should address a research question and contain well-controlled experiments that support a conclusion to the question. 
  • A chapter should be of similar scope and quality as a first-author publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but it is not necessary, although encouraged, for data chapters to be published. 
  • Data chapters may contain work from collaborators, but you must clearly identify this work at the beginning of the chapter. 
  • The data chapter should not refer to ‘data not shown’ – there are no page limits, so all the data referred to in the chapter should be presented. 

PhD thesis format 

The thesis format should adhere to the School of Graduate Study (SGS) requirements.  A template (word doc) is available to help ensure you meet these requirements.

The major sections of the PhD thesis are:

  1. Introduction: a focused review of published research that is relevant to the data chapters. It is meant to allow the reader to understand the research field and to appreciate the significance of your work. If you use material, such as model figures, from other sources, you must credit the material and obtain permission from the publisher. The final page of the introduction provides a clear rationale for your research and the major hypotheses of the thesis. The length of the introduction should be between 30 and 50 double-spaced pages.
  2. Methods: details experimental design for the entire thesis and may be included as a stand-alone chapter. Alternatively, you can include methods sections in each data chapter. 
  3. Data chapters: if the chapter has been published or submitted for publication, you should provide a full citation on the title page of each data chapter. You need to obtain copyright permissions from the publisher. If the chapter contains data you did not generate, then the title page should have a statement that indicates the names of the collaborators and the figures or figure panels that they generated. The introduction of a data chapter should not repeat at length information that was provided in the thesis introduction, this may require you to condense the introduction from a published manuscript. You should incorporate figures and tables into the text, rather than at the end of the chapter. If the chapter is based on a manuscript that contains supplementary data, you may place the supplemental figures at the end of the chapter. Keep figure legends on the same page as the figures, where possible.   
  4. Concluding chapter: a brief overview of the main findings of the thesis and an explanation of how your research has advanced the field, including discussion and future directions. You may include a small amount of new data that extends the findings of the data chapters and that forms the basis of future work. It should propose new hypotheses based on the original data presented in the thesis and suggest experiments that can address these hypotheses. 
  5. References:  you may include these at the end of each data chapter, or a combined set of references at the end of the thesis. You can decide on the style of referencing used, as long as the entire author list and title are included in the reference. 
  6. Abstract (maximum of 350 words), acknowledgments, a table of contents, a list of figures, a list of tables and a list of abbreviations
  7. Appendix (optional): you can include a well-controlled and cohesive set of experiments that:
    • does not reach a defensible conclusion;
    • leads to a negative result;
    • details the development of a novel method; or
    • does not fit thematically with the rest of the thesis. 

The external appraiser 

Send an email to the graduate office giving your choice of external appraiser and the title of yourthesis. The graduate coordinators will ensure the nominated external appraiser meets SGS guidelines.

Once the department has approved your choice, the graduate office will contact the appraiser to determine whether he or she is willing to appraise the thesis. The graduate office will send the external appraiser's CV to SGS and let you and your superviser know once SGS has approved the appariser. 

According to SGS guidelines, an external appraiser must be: 

  • external to the University as well as to its affiliated teaching hospitals and their research institutes.  
  • a recognized expert on the subject of the thesis, and an Associate or Full Professor at his/her home institution, and experienced as a successful supervisor of doctoral candidates through to defense. An appraiser from outside the academic sector must possess the qualifications to be appointed to an academic position at this level.  
  • at arm’s length from both you and your supervisor. Normally, this will exclude anyone who has, for you or your supervisor, been: a Masters or PhD Supervisor / Supervisee; a departmental colleague (within the last six years); or has collaborated on a research project, scholarly work or publication. The Vice Dean (Programs) will assess whether the nominee is at arm’s length. 

The appraiser will send their written appraisal of the thesis to you and the examination committee at least two weeks before the examination.

You must not communicate with the External Appraiser until the examination begins. 

The department will cover travel and accommodation costs for the external appraiser to attend the FOE (up to $600). The graduate office can assist with accommodation arrangements upon request. 

FOE Committee 

You, in consultation with your supervisor, decide on the composition of the FOE committee. 

We require a quorum of four voting members for the examination to take place, but we recommend five to six members to ensure the examination takes place in the case of a last-minute cancellation. No more than two members of the FOE committee may participate by teleconference. 

The FOE committee includes a minimum of: 

  1. one, and up to three, members of the supervisory committee; and
  2. two examiners who are external to the supervisory committee (one of whom may be the external appraiser, although the external appraiser is not required to be a member of the FOE committee). Three external examiners are recommended. 

All University of Toronto Faculty serving on your FOE Committee must have an active Graduate Faculty Membership.  

SGS will appoint the Chair of the FOE. The Chair is not a voting member. 

PhD Final Oral Examination booking request 

Once the FOE committee has been chosen, you should consult with the committee members to finalize a date and time for the FOE. 

If you decide to hold the public seminar and examination in the Medical Sciences Building, you need to inform the graduate office who will book the rooms. If you want to hold the FOE off-campus, it is your responsibility to book the rooms.  

Submit a PhD Final Oral Examination Booking Request form (online form) at least 8 weeks before the FOE

It is your responsibility to ensure all members of the committee receive a copy of the thesis at least six weeks before the FOE.  

The Final Oral Examination (Regular)

You will give a ~45-minute public seminar that describes the thesis research. 

Audience members may ask questions after the seminar (members of the FOE committee will not ask questions at this time). 

Following the public seminar, you and the FOE committee members will proceed to the oral examination. The examination covers both the thesis and the oral defence of the thesis. 

You will pass the examination if there is no more than one negative vote or abstention. 

The Final Oral Examination (During COVID-19 Pandemic)

As a result of the current global pandemic, all Final Oral Examinations will take place remotely.

You will give a 20 minute presentation directly to your FOE committee. The examination covers both the thesis and the oral defence of the thesis. 

You will pass the examination if there is no more than one negative vote or abstention. 

Post-examination requirements 

SGS will send you the “Post Exam Instruction Form” and “Examination Results and Graduation Information Form”. 

Completing Degree Requirements for Thesis Programs on the SGS website outlines the full requirements.

Before you submit your thesis to the School of Graduate Studies, your supervisor must notify the Graduate Department, in writing, that you have completed the corrections or modifications recommended for the thesis.

Stipend and Fees for PhD students in their final year 

You will continue to receive a stipend and Health and Wellness services until all program requirements have been completed. 

Final-year fees information on the SGS website. 

Once you have completed your PhD

Congratulations on completing your PhD!

See what information you need about graduation and convocation

After you graduate on the SGS website on preparing for the future.

Make sure you keep you contact details up to date and explore what benefits you will receive as a University of Toronto alumni on the main alumni page and the Temerty Faculty of Medicine alumni page.

Stay in touch! Sign up to Temerty Medicine Connect to network with the LMP community and alumni.

Thesis submission guidelines

You submit your final thesis online to SGS with the appropriate forms and according to the SGS Guidelines before the specified convocation deadline (October, January or April).

(The LMP Department does not require a copy of the final thesis.)

You may request to Restrict Thesis Release for up to two years after convocation.