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Planning for the thesis defense should take into account the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) deadlines for convocation and fees.  In order to arrange for a defense, the thesis must be ready at least eight (8) weeks prior to these dates. Please see SGS Guidelines for Doctoral Final Oral Examination (FOE).


Request to Graduate Department
of Public Health Sciences
to schedule FOE
FOE Date Thesis Submitted Convocation
(fees start to accrue mid-September, after this date, the November convocation deadline is end of September)
October December
(by the final date set by SGS to hold an FOE)
(fees start to accrue mid-January, after this date, the March convocation deadline is end of end of January and the June deadline is mid-April)
March (in absentia) or June
January March mid-April
(the June convocation deadline is mid-April)

Prior to the Final Oral Examination:

Supervisor’s Role:

  1. Complete the Approval of Thesis Form and send it to the student once they have defended, or waived, their Departmental Oral Defense and the thesis is ready for the Final Oral Examination (FOE).
  2. Form a committee for the FOE in consultation with the student, supervisory committee and Program Director. The Examination Committee shall consist of four to six voting members. Because quorum is four voting members, SGS recommends including at least 5 voting members to ensure the exam proceeds as scheduled. At least 2 of the 4 voting members required for quorum, must be arms-length from the student and supervisor. If either the external examiner or the internal examiner are unable to attend, the exam will not proceed. Committees are encouraged to include a third arms-length voting member to ensure that the exam can proceed. Click here for a chart outlining FOE committee membership.

The Committee must include:

      • one to three members of the candidate’s supervising committee. The supervisor must have a full SGS appointment, while committee members must have at least associate SGS membership;
      • two examiners who have not been closely involved in the supervision of the thesis. Eligible for inclusion in this group are the external appraiser, members of the graduate faculty of the candidate’s graduate unit, and members of the graduate faculty of other departments, centres, or institutes of the University. 
          • The internal examiner must be external to the supervisory committee and must not have been closely involved with the supervision of the thesis.
          • The external examiner must be external to the University of Toronto, arms-length from the supervisor, the candidate and the project, as well as be a recognized expert in the field.  Upon approval, the supervisor will send a copy of the thesis to the external examiner at least six (6) weeks prior to the FOE. Supervisor and candidate should determine the external examiner’s intention to participate at the FOE, either in-person or remotely. Travel expenses of up to $500 will be reimbursed to external examiners who attend in-person. All external appraisers can receive a $100 honorarium.
              • If there are concerns about the approval of an external examiner, you may contact the graduate office. However, please note that SGS will only deny an external if there are issues with the following criteria:
                  • The external appraiser must be external to the University as well as to its affiliated teaching hospitals and their research institutes.
                  • The external appraiser must be a recognized expert on the subject of the thesis, and an Associate or Full Professor at their 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.
                  • The external appraiser must be at arm’s length from both the Candidate and the supervisor(s). Normally, this will exclude anyone who: has served as Master’s or PhD Supervisor / Supervisee of the Candidate or the Supervisor; or has, in the past six years, been a departmental colleague of the Candidate or the Supervisor, or has collaborated on a research project, scholarly work or publication, with either of them.
                  • Also, note that an external appraiser should not be used more frequently than once every two years by a single supervisor. Furthermore, an external appraiser should not be used more frequently than once every two years for committees with substantive overlap of members with whom the external has served within the past two years i.e. three or more voting members.

Please note that final approval of the examination committee is made by the Vice Dean of SGS.

Student’s Role:

After you have successfully completed your PhD Departmental Oral Defense, or have had it waived, and received your Thesis Approval Form from your supervisor:

  1. Complete the Final Oral Examination Committee Nomination Form. This form must be submitted at least eight (8) weeks prior to the FOE date. If you intend to hold an FOE in January, please note that you will need to factor in an additional two weeks, for a total of ten (10) weeks, to accommodate the winter closure.
  2. This is an MS Form and you need to login with your UTORID. Please note that you may need to use an incognito browser for the form to work correctly.
      • To complete the form, you will need:
            • a (tentative) date, time, and type (in-person, hybrid, remote). Please note that FOEs can only be scheduled on Monday to Friday from 9AM – 5PM when the University of Toronto is open.
              • If you wish to hold an in-person component in the School of Graduate Studies FOE rooms, please note that they will only have administrative support available between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday to Friday.
            • the Thesis Abstract and Thesis Approval Form
            • the External Appraiser’s details: name, position, institution, address, email, area of specialization and either a PDF of their full CV or a link to their full CV.
            • the name and preferred institutional email address for all committee members who will be attending the FOE.
            • a complete Remote Attestation Form for hybrid or remote exams. The Form is available on SGS’s FOE Guidelines website. It is the second-last document in the Appendices. If applicable, you will submit the form in question 15.
      • To expedite your request, we recommend that you include the following items:
            • the final draft of your thesis. Please ensure that the thesis follows the formatting requirements described on the SGS website.
            • a remote meeting link for hybrid or remote exams. If you plan to have a “hybrid” or “remote” FOE please have your supervisor create a remote meeting.

2. Ensure that the thesis follows the formatting requirements described on the SGS website;
3. Distribute the thesis to all examination committee members, except the external examiner, at least six (6) weeks prior to the defense.

Graduate Office Role:

  1. Submit the FOE On-line Pre-approval form to SGS for approval of the external examiner;
  2. Inform the external examiner of his/her role including the need to prepare a written confidential appraisal.
  3. Inform the external examiner about the honorarium and expense re-imbursement;
  4. Coordinate room booking and equipment with SGS and distribute programs;
  5. Familiarize the student with the examination process and expectations.

At the Final Oral Examination

  1. All members of the examination committee must be present in person or remotely;
  2. The Chair follows clearly established Examination procedures set by SGS;
  3. The examination committee votes on the acceptability of both the thesis and the oral defense, and informs the candidate of the decision;
  4. The student and examination committee will be instructed, according to SGS guidelines, regarding changes to the thesis, if any.

After the Final Oral Examination

  1. The student makes corrections/modifications to the thesis, as required. These are reviewed by the supervisor and the faculty member(s) designated at the end of the FOE;
  2. The designated faculty member(s) informs SGS, in writing, that corrections/corrections have been made and that the thesis is ready to be submitted;
  3. Student submits the final thesis to the digital library repository;
  4. Students failing to complete all steps by the above deadlines will be required to register and pay associated fees.

Questions about Final Oral Examinations can be directed to Priel Buzny,