Ph.D. Thesis Proposal

Each student who successfully completes the Ph.D. qualifying examination is required to write a Ph.D. thesis proposal, and present and defend the proposal orally before a committee.


Please note the relevant deadlines for completion of the Ph.D. thesis proposal:

  • September starters must complete the Ph.D. thesis proposal by November of the following year.
  • January starts must complete the Ph.D. thesis proposal by March of the following year.

Format and Content of the Proposal

Please review the following guidelines and suggestions for the format and content of the Ph.D. thesis proposal. The Ph.D. thesis proposal should contain two fundamental components:

  • review of the “state of the art” in a reasonably focused contemporary area of electrical and computer engineering research;
  • outline of known problems to be solved or original developments that might be anticipated, accompanied by a line of approach to these problems or developments.

The “state of the art” review must refer explicitly to the relevant literature, with all references listed at the end of the proposal. The list of references need not be long, but it should be carefully considered. The list and review should show clear evidence that the student has sufficient knowledge to continue immediately into doctoral level research that will potentially lead to new results, without needing to do further background preparation in the area.

The outline of problems or developments must show that the student can formulate a line of research, including initial methodologies to be used, which should lead to significant contributions and new knowledge.

It is neither necessary nor expected that the Ph.D. thesis proposal contain new research results, though such would be welcome. It is only necessary to be convincing that the chosen proposed area and topic of research has a very good chance of leading to new results.

Ph.D. Thesis Proposal Committee

The supervisor will select professors to serve on the Ph.D. thesis proposal committee according to the following regulations:

  • The committee must consist of at least three professors, including the supervisor.
  • Each of the professors must hold a graduate faculty membership at the University of Toronto.
  • Ideally, all committee members will hold a graduate faculty membership in ECE.
  • One of the committee members may hold a graduate faculty membership in a unit other than ECE, where appropriate for the thesis topic.

Ph.D. Thesis Proposal Presentation

  • The supervisor will schedule the presentation. All members of the Ph.D. thesis proposal committee must attend the presentation.
  • The written proposal must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks prior to the presentation.
  • The student will make a presentation at the meeting and orally defend the Ph.D. thesis proposal.
  • If the committee does not consider the proposal to be satisfactory, the student must present and defend a new Ph.D. thesis proposal within four months. If the new proposal is also unsatisfactory, the student’s registration in the Ph.D. program will be terminated.
  • The supervisor must submit the Ph.D. Thesis Proposal Report to the ECE Graduate Office within one week of the presentation.
  • Upon the successful completion of the Ph.D. thesis proposal, the student will have achieved “Ph.D. candidacy.” The date of Ph.D. candidacy will be recorded on the student’s U of T transcript.

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