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Faculty of Graduate Studies updates examination policies

Policy changes affect all thesis-based programs at the university
October 10, 2014
The changes in thesis examination and candidacy regulations are intended to further the university’s strategic goal of becoming one of the top five research universities in Canada, by strengthening the graduate learning and research process. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The changes in thesis examination and candidacy regulations are intended to further the university’s strategic goal of becoming one of the top five research universities in Canada, by strengthening the graduate learning and research process. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) recently announced important changes to the thesis examination and candidacy regulations. The changes took effect Sept. 1, 2014, and will affect graduate students, supervisors, graduate program administrators and directors across all thesis-based programs offered at the University of Calgary. Any student admitted prior to the fall 2014 term will have the option to choose between the old and new regulations for their examinations. These students are encouraged to consult with their supervisors and program administrators before making a decision.

“These new polices will support our graduate students and faculty members in continuing to cultivate the practices that will help us move forward to our Eyes High goals," says Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic.)

Learn how the changes may affect you

These changes to regulations are intended to further the university’s strategic goal of becoming one of the top five research universities in Canada by strengthening the graduate learning and research process. One important change requires students with supervisory committees to get approval from the full committee before moving forward with the thesis defense, ensuring that the student benefits from the full expertise available. The definition of the "internal external" examiner will also change: programs may opt to allow for examiners from within their program, but the internal external must have experience evaluating graduate exams and relevant subject-matter expertise. The new regulations will also ensure that graduate students will receive exam outcomes that will detail the extent of revisions that are required along with a timeline for completing them.

General Faculties Council also passed new candidacy regulations that will allow each graduate program to specify its candidacy requirements. All PhD students will be required to write a thesis proposal approved by their supervisory committee, and will have to pass a field of study exam that will be defined by the graduate program. To ensure that students have experience with both oral and written work, all program requirements will include at least one oral exam and one written component.

Lisa Young, dean and vice-provost, Graduate Studies, says, "With the new candidacy rules, graduate programs have an opportunity to give careful thought to what competencies they are testing for, and to design their candidacy requirements accordingly. This should help our doctoral students complete their candidacy as they will have a clear understanding of what is required of them.”

The review process incorporated an extensive consultation with all faculties inviting their feedback and ideas for improvement. Lisa Hughes, associate dean (policy), says that it was “fascinating to meet an array of faculty members and to bring a community together through this initiative.” The council heard from program directors, students and staff whose commentary was acknowledged in the development of the new policies and regulations.

All students and staff are encouraged to review and become familiar with the changes and understand how the new regulations will affect them. The Examinations page on the FGS website details the changes to the thesis examination policies. Since the new candidacy regulations will be mostly program specific, check with graduate program administrators to learn more. To provide support for faculty and staff, FGS will be conducting seminars to discuss the changes in more detail. Please contact Lorita Chiu for more information.