Frequently asked questions about graduate study | College of Arts

Frequently asked questions about graduate study

The following are answers to frequently asked questions for MA and PhD students. For more detailed information, please see either the MA Regulations or the PhD Regulations.

Who will help me with my question?

Depending on what your question is about, the first person to approach is as follows. (Note: Please do not email multiple recipients with the same question. This causes duplication of administrative work and, at times, confusion. If in doubt, contact the Graduate Coordinator first.)

Department Chair, Professor Patricia Sheridan
GTA and GSA assignments; scholarship allocations.

Graduate Coordinator, Professor Peter Eardley
Program requirements; course selection; setting up a final oral examination or oral qualifying examination.

Graduate SecretaryJanet Thackray
Registration matters; scholarship-payment matters; fees-payment matters; graduate forms to be completed

Departmental Administrative Assistant,Vanessa Joy 
Payroll; paperwork for applying for, or accepting, GTA positions.

Departmental Graduate Awards Officer, Professor Peter Eardley
Applications for external funding (OGS, SSHRC, CGS).

Departmental Placement Officer, Professor Joshua (Gus) Skorburg

Going on the academic job market.

How does my advisory committee come into existence?

The deadline for doing this is “the mid-point of the student’s second registered semester” for both MA and PhD students.

In its simplest form the process of forming a committee goes like this:

  1. The student approaches professors to discuss their research project and find out about those professors’ approaches to graduate advising. (It is also a very good idea to talk with a professor’s current students to get their perspectives on that relationship.)
  2. The student emails the Graduate Coordinator (GC) to propose a committee. (The relation to step 1 is that the proposed members should be among those with whom the student has met.)
  3. The GC consults with proposed members about their ability and willingness to serve on the committee. They all readily agree, and the GC asks the would-be advisor to sign the Advisory Committee Appointment Form and have the student sign it.
  4. The GC signs the form and forwards it to the Office of Graduate Studies. (Only at this point does the committee exist.)

However, things seldom do occur in their simplest form. For example:

  • The student can fail to perform step 1.
  • The student can fail to perform step 2.
  • The GC can fail to perform step 3.
  • Things can become complicated at step 3 in any number of ways that reflect not at all on the calibre of the student or the proposed project. It would be tedious to try to list all these ways. Suffice it to say that the GC consults as widely as possible, and tries to satisfy all (proper) desires as much as possible. 95% of the time, the committee that is eventually formed is what the student had in mind at step 2.

Some people have thought that once the student has informally secured someone’s services as an advisor, then that professor does the rest of the work involved in setting up the committee. But that’s an awkward way to proceed: putting the would-be advisor in this role of intermediary (between the student, the GC, and the prospective committee members) introduces new possibilities of miscommunication, and there are already more than enough of these. (It's a fine thing for the would-be advisor to suggest faculty for the student to talk with, but the impetus for putting them on the committee should still come from the student, as per step 2.)

How do I register for a graduate course at another Ontario university?

You fill out an Ontario Visiting Graduate Student Application, then give or email it to Janet Thackray. Janet will obtain departmental signatures and forward it on to Graduate Program Services. Graduate Program Services takes care of your registration in the course once they receive approval from the other university—you cannot sign up using Webadvisor. In the case of philosophy graduate courses at McMaster and Wilfrid Laurier universities we have an agreement to waive the fees that are otherwise required.

Will I have to fulfill a competency requirement for my PhD degree?

Probably, but that is a decision that is made by your advisory committee at the end of your first year. If a competency is required, then your advisory committee will tell you what you need to do and, together with the Graduate Coordinator, the committee will make the appropriate arrangements.

By when must I pass an Oral Qualifying Examination (for the PhD)?

The Graduate Calendar states: “As early as possible and in no case later than the final semester of the minimum duration requirement [which is five (5) semesters for students with an MA], the student is required to pass an examination to assess his or her knowledge of the subject area and related fields.” Note: “pass,” not “take.”

How do I set up my Oral Qualifying Examination (for the PhD)?

This is done by the Graduate Coordinator in consultation with your advisory committee, normally at the end of the 5th semester.

How do I set up my Final Oral Examination?

The process differs between the Master's and PhD degrees.

Master's degree  The procedure is described in “Thesis Schedules and Procedures for the Master’s Degree.”  Please note that it is your advisor’s responsibility to begin making arrangements for the defence “at least eight weeks prior to the anticipated date of the defence.” Also see the regulations in the Graduate Calendar §IV, “Degree Regulations, Master of Arts, Thesis.”

Doctoral degree  The procedure is described in “Thesis Schedules and Procedures for the Doctoral Degree.” Please note that it is your advisor’s responsibility to begin making arrangements for the defence “at least eight weeks prior to the anticipated date of the defence.” This includes suggesting possible external examiners. Also see the regulations in the Graduate Calendar §IV, “Degree Regulations, Doctor of Philosophy, Thesis.”

What do I do with my thesis after I pass my defence?

As of July 2011, the University of Guelph requires the electronic submission of all theses. Electronic theses are commonly referred to as ETDs. Theses are deposited and accessible in the University's institutional repository known as the Atrium. Please refer to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Guide located on the Graduate Studies page, University of Guelph Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Guide. The Philosophy Department requires one bound copy of your thesis for our records.

If I defend my thesis early in the semester, can I get a rebate on fees paid?

Yes. The Graduate Calendar states: “In certain circumstances, those students who complete the requirements for their degree programs early in a given semester may apply for a partial rebate of tuition fees paid for that semester. The rebate is pro-rated according to the date of final completion (see refund schedule, above). For more information regarding this option, contact Graduate Program Services. In order to qualify for the rebate, the student must have been registered in the immediate preceding semester.”

You'll need to fill out the Early Completion Rebate Application.