MSc Thesis Defense Policy & Procedures

thesis defense

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The MSc degree requires an oral RSI defense.

Thesis Approval & Procedure

  1. The supervisor and Supervisory Committee must verify that all course work and research has been completed by the student. When the supervisor and Supervisory Committee have approved the written thesis, a final committee meeting should be held to prepare the student for defense. (Please see Producing your Thesis on the SGS website). When the supervisor and supervisory committee approve the completed written thesis, the Final Supervisory Committee Meeting Form is signed by all the committee members and sent to the RSI office.
  2. The supervisor must contact the examination committee members (including external) to ensure their willingness to participate and to arrange the defense date (two alternate dates and times should be arranged). Student and supervisor must complete the List of Examiners Form (MSc) and submit to the RSI office. The office will arrange for the Associate Director to sign off.
  3. Two weeks prior to the defense date the student must submit to the RSI office:
    1. The signed Final Supervisory Committee Meeting Form
    2. A completed List of Examiners Form (MSc) – signed off by Graduate Coordinator
    3. A copy of the completed thesis
  4. The RSI office will officially invite the examiners, obtain a Chair, and book a room and audiovisual equipment. There is also an option to book a virtual MSc oral defense. The RSI will notify all participants, in writing, about the date, time, and location of the thesis.
  5. Prior to the defense, the external examiner will be asked by the RSI office to sign an Approval to Proceed to Oral MSc Thesis Defense Form.
  6. The SGS Calendar should be consulted for the details of the final thesis requirement.

The student and supervisor are responsible for delivery of the thesis to all examiners. All Examination Committee members must have a copy of the thesis at least two weeks in advance of the actual examination date. This is necessary to allow ample time for the reading of the thesis by the examiners.

All figures, photographs and data must appear in legible and, if possible, original format with clear, descriptive legends.

Producing Your Thesis

Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) are theses or dissertations prepared as text based PDF files. ETDs can contain non-text elements such as sound, video, and hypertext links.

Please also note that thesis submissions are no longer submitted to T-Space, rather they are now to be submitted electronically via the ProQuest Digital Library Repository.

Electronic theses have many advantages. As well as the capacity to include various non-text modalities, they offer vastly improved accessibility and ease of use, which increases your readership and benefits those interested in your work. Electronic publication has proven to vastly increase citation rates. According to Library & Archives Canada, authors receive 50% to 250% more citations when they make their articles publicly available!

For more information, please visit the following links:


Master's Candidates Office

School of Graduate Studies
63 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1V7
Tel: (416) 978-2377

Visit the Producing Your Thesis page on the SGS website for more information.

Examination Committee

The Examination Committee for MSc departmental defense is composed of:

  1. The Chair (appointed by RSI)
  2. The Supervisor (and co-supervisor if applicable)
  3. One to two members of the Supervisory Committee
  4. One External Examiner (see below)
MSc Examination Committee MSc Examination Committee

The Chair

The RSI will designate a Chair of the Examination Committee (see responsibilities below).

External Examiner

The supervisor and student are responsible for selecting the external examiner. This individual must have an appointment in the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. In exceptional cases, an external examiner may be proposed who does not hold an SGS appointment. In that case, the supervisor must contact the RSI Associate Director for approval and provide a strong rationale for why this individual would be uniquely qualified. Approval is not guaranteed.

The external appraiser must be at arm’s length from both the student and the supervisor(s). Normally, this will exclude anyone who has served as the Masters or PhD Supervisor/Supervisee of the Candidate or the Supervisor (note: a supervisory relationship does not have an end date) or who has collaborated with the supervisor and/or student on a research project, scholarly work or publication, within the last 6 years.

The supervisor and/or student must declare any potential conflict of interest to the Associate Director at the time the Examination Committee membership is submitted for approval. The Associate Director will assess whether the nominee is at arm’s length. The Associate Director may alter the proposed membership of the Examination Committee, adding or removing members as deemed appropriate.


The Approval to Proceed forms must be received no later than three working days before the examination, or the examination may be postponed.

Final Defense Dates and Tuition Fees

Fall Session

Your Fall 2023 session registration and fees are cancelled if your degree recommendation and final master's thesis (if required) are submitted to SGS by September 29, 2023. If you are not recommended by September 29, 2023 you will be required to register and pay fees for the Fall session.

Winter Session

You do not register or pay fees for the Winter 2024 session if your degree recommendation and final master's thesis (if required) are submitted to SGS by January 19, 2024. If you are not recommended by January 19, 2023 you will be required to pay fees for the Winter session.