Updated Thesis Supervision Guidelines

Dear Students Approaching Supervision:

In an effort to clarify and strengthen our procedure regarding thesis supervision, we are setting in place a few new guidelines.  We know that the process of securing a thesis supervisor can sometimes be intimidating.  As it happens, the process goes smoothly in almost every case.  But there can be misunderstandings or threads left untied now and then that cause difficulties for students and additional work for staff.  We want to try to reduce the possibility of such problems.

As in the past, theses for students in supervision at the MA level will be normally supervised by EGS Fellows.  The normal supervision period is one year.  In some cases, professors are willing to supervise MA theses, but such arrangements need to be communicated promptly to the Dean or Assistant Dean and approved.   The supervisory period begins approximately one month after the completion of course work, and students should communicate with the Dean or Assistant Dean regarding their projected topics so that the supervisory structure can be properly secured.  The responsibility rests with the student to be in contact with the administration.

Some students complete their MA theses in two years, particularly if they are going on for PhD study; if a thesis is submitted by September 15 of the second year of study, there is no third-year supervision fee.

Please note that students must complete their MA theses before entering the PhD program.

For the PhD thesis:  The supervision period begins September 15 for those students who complete their course work in the summer session.  Those students who have already arranged for supervision with a particular professor will be expected to begin their work at that time.  They should consult with their advisor regarding that advisor’s expectations regarding a proposal, an outline, and an ongoing procedure in communication.

Students are not obliged to have a supervisory arrangement in place by the time they finish their course work.  But at that time, they should normally have a sense of which professors might be suitable advisors for them.  The Dean and Assistant Dean can help in setting up this arrangement if it has not been formalized.

In those cases where the student is not yet prepared to name a possible supervisor and has not settled on a topic, the Dean will function as the default supervisor and help the student define the topic and identify the supervisor.  (The Dean can continue in the supervisory capacity if the student so wishes.)  Once again, for students who complete their course work in the summer session, the supervisory period starts on September 15.  The student should then be prepared to submit a thesis proposal by December 1.  This proposal will be used by the Dean in helping to secure the advisor.  Students who complete their course work in the fall session will begin their supervision period on November 15.  They should have their proposal ready by the end of January in the next calendar year.

At both the MA and PhD levels, therefore, supervision begins automatically after completion of the required coursework: September 15 for students who complete their work in the summer session and November 15 for students who complete their work in the fall session.  Students will be invoiced accordingly.

Let us note again that the PACT Division cannot guarantee that a student will get their preferred supervisor (the same is true in most graduate institutions).  Certain professors are extremely busy, and they must agree to undertake the project.  But we have found that the pairing procedure normally goes quite well.  The Dean and Assistant will do their best to facilitate the process.

Dean Christopher Fynsk