Supervisory Committee

PROGRAM >> Supervisory Committee

The PhD Committee

Students will identify and contact potential thesis supervisors. Any research faculty member of the Department, Dunlap, or CITA can serve as a supervisor. The supervisor arrangement should be finalized by October 31st of the 2nd year.

Once the supervisor is established, the student and supervisor should start to confer on the composition of the PhD Supervisory Committee which is comprised of the supervisor and two other faculty members, not all of whom need to be in the same area of specialization as the student. (In instances where there is a co-supervisor arrangement, two other faculty members are still required for the composition of the committee.) The supervisor should approach the agreed upon committee members to serve in this capacity. The supervisory committee arrangement should be finalized by December 15th of the 2nd year.

Supervisory Committee Meetings

The department requires students in their third year and above to hold PhD supervisory committee meetings twice a year, in October and April of each academic year, which is tied to enrollment in the AST4000Y Research course series, starting with AST4003Y and is incremented by one digit each subsequent year through Year 5 – e.g. AST4004Y, 4005Y. The course spans the fall and winter sessions and is associated with thesis research progress. It carries course weight (1.0 FCE) and is graded  based on the average of the two PhD supervisory committee meetings. The default grades for committee meetings are A (satisfactory progress), A- (mainly satisfactory progress with a few stumbling blocks) and B (unsatisfactory progress). If a student receives two B’s in a row, the student will be required to withdraw from the program.

The supervisor will be responsible for calling and scheduling the meeting and for ensuring that a formal written report of the meeting is submitted promptly to the Graduate Administrator for filing in the student’s departmental file.

The student is required to email a thesis progress report to the committee at least one business day in advance of the meeting. The report should summarize thesis research progress, provide an outline of pending work, analysis of critical areas and possible difficulties (2-3 pages maximum) and a timeline of progress toward the PhD with clearly defined plans for completion of the thesis. Any significant changes or anticipated delays should be detailed. For students who intend to continue beyond the funded cohort, it is extremely important to discuss this with your supervisor, as this decision directly impacts them and their research group. Students in the 4th year or above should also submit a current CV in order that the committee be up to date on publications, conference attendance, etc.

The report of the supervisory committee meeting should contain the following items and be emailed to grad.sec@astro.utoronto.ca with a copy to the student and grad.coord@astro.utoronto.ca:

  • indicate those present;
  • thesis progress grade;
  • an honest assessment of the student’s progress toward the degree, which should be discussed in the meeting — especially for fourth-year students and up;
  • timeline to completion (provided in student progress report);
  • if there are any substantive issues, then the committee should summarize concerns/challenges and proposed action.

Please note the following on Good Standing & Satisfactory Progress from the School of Graduate Studies:

Your eligibility for funding and registration in the program may be affected if you do not remain in good standing or if you do not make satisfactory progress, so it is important to meet with your supervisor regularly.