Department Oral Examination (DOE) of PhD Thesis

The departmental oral examination of the PhD thesis may be scheduled once the candidate and the supervisor agree that the research, experimental work, and written dissertation are complete.

A committee of professors will examine the PhD thesis and the candidate’s oral defense of the thesis. The committee must read the thesis and have sufficient knowledge of the content to examine the candidate and to judge the acceptability of the thesis for the PhD degree.

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

  • The committee will consist of three professors, including the supervisor. Where there are two supervisors, the committee will consist of four professors, including the two supervisors.
  • Normally, all professors on the committee will hold a graduate faculty appointment in ECE. However, should the scope of the thesis fall outside ECE, professors from other departments within the University of Toronto may also serve on the committee (as a complement to the committee members from ECE).
  • At least two professors on the committee must hold a full graduate faculty membership in ECE.
  • Each professor must hold an appropriate graduate faculty membership (GFM) at the University of Toronto. To serve on this committee the professor must typically hold a full, associate (unrestricted), or emeritus GFM; an associate member with restricted duties can serve only if their graduate faculty membership specifically includes the privilege to serve as a member of a doctoral thesis committee.

The candidate must distribute the thesis to the committee at least three weeks prior to the examination.

The candidate must submit the PhD Departmental Oral Examination Booking Form to the ECE Graduate Office ( at least two weeks prior to the examination.

The ECE Graduate Office will book a venue, prepare the relevant documents, and distribute the notice of examination to the ECE Department.

All professors on the committee must be present for the examination to proceed. The order of questioning from the professors should be agreed upon at the beginning of the examination, after which the supervisor can initiate the examination.

During the examination, the candidate will make a twenty-minute presentation concerning their research, which will be followed by questions from the committee. The presentation and question period are open to all graduate students and professors in ECE. After the question period, the committee will vote to determine whether the candidate has passed the examination. The committee may approve the thesis “as is”, or with “minor corrections”, or with “minor modifications.” Any corrections or modifications must be completed prior to scheduling the final Ph.D. oral examination. Where the thesis or the candidate’s oral defense of the thesis are deemed unsatisfactory, the committee may also vote to reconvene the examination.

The supervisor will return the examination report to the ECE Graduate Office immediately after the examination.

A chair is not required for the PhD Departmental Oral Examination. However, the candidate or the supervisor may invite a professor to attend the examination as an objective, third-party observer to conduct the examination; this professor will not examine the student nor vote on the outcome of the examination. The additional professor should be added to the PhD Departmental Oral Examination Booking Form.