Final Oral Examination (FOE) of Ph.D. Thesis

The final oral examination (FOE) of the Ph.D. thesis may be scheduled upon successful completion of the DOE. Students must remain registered throughout the FOE process; registration ends only when the final corrected thesis is uploaded to the digital library repository.

The supervisor will select professors to serve on the FOE committee according to the following regulations:

  • The committee will consist of four to six professors who will attend the examination and vote on the Ph.D. thesis and the candidate’s oral defense of the thesis. The committee members will include the supervisor(s) and external examiner.
  • The FOE committee may not include more than three professors who have been closely involved with the supervision of the Ph.D. thesis.
  • The FOE committee must include at least two professors who were not closely involved with the supervision of the Ph.D. thesis. The external examiner counts toward this requirement.
  • An external appraiser may be appointed instead of an external examiner. In such cases, the appraiser does not count as a voting member of the committee.
  • The external examiner or external appraiser must hold the rank of at least associate professor, or its equivalent.
  • The external examiner or external appraiser must have an “arm’s length” relationship with the supervisor and candidate. Normally this will exclude anyone who:
    • Has served as a Master’s or Ph.D. supervisor of the candidate or their supervisor.
    • Was supervised as a Master’s or Ph.D. student by the candidate’s supervisor.
    • Has been a departmental colleague of the candidate or supervisor in the past six years.
    • Has collaborated on a research project, scholarly work, or publication with the candidate or supervisor in the past six years.
  • The external examiner or external appraiser must not have served on an FOE committee in ECE within the past two years.
  • If there are any potential concerns about the external examiner or appraiser’s qualifications or their arm’s length relationship with the candidate and/or supervisor, the supervisor must disclose them and submit a letter of rationale with the FOE booking form.
  • SGS will assign a professor from outside ECE to chair the FOE. The chair will oversee the conduct of the FOE, but will not read the thesis or examine the student.

The supervisor and candidate are responsible for scheduling the FOE in consultation with the exam committee. The candidate must submit the FOE booking form to the ECE Graduate Office (janine.harper@utoronto.ca) at least six weeks prior to the FOE (exclusive of the December/January closure). The Graduate Office will not process an FOE request unless all of the following information and documentation is included:

  • A complete booking form, including the day, date, and time of the FOE.
  • A CV for the external examiner, either as a PDF or as a link to an online CV. This document must include information on their current faculty appointment (and year attained) and a complete publication list. Please note: SGS will not accept Google Scholar pages for publication lists.
  • If applicable, a statement from the supervisor concerning the suitability of the external examiner or external appraiser and/or an explanation for any potential conflicts of interest.
  • An abstract for the candidate’s Ph.D. thesis.

Upon receipt of the FOE booking form, the ECE Graduate Office will confirm the examination with SGS and seek SGS approval for the committee. The ECE Graduate Office will notify the supervisor and candidate when SGS approval is obtained. At that time, the supervisor may forward the Ph.D. thesis to the committee.

Students are advised to consult the SGS website for additional details on the final oral examination process.

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