Program by Year

Download the PDF iconVademecum (PDF) for the PhD Program

  • During the first two years, PhD students must take at least three full-year courses or equivalent half-courses, plus MST 1001Y, which must be taken during Year One. Of the mandatory 3.0 FCEs, 2.0 FCEs must be in the chosen Major Area (Art History, History, Languages and Literatures, Manuscript Studies and Textual Cultures, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Theology) and 1.0 FCE in the chosen Minor Area (such as those listed above, plus Musicology).
  • During the first three years, PhD students must take MST1003H.
  • The student is required to maintain an average grade of A-.
  • During the first year the student should begin to consider possible academic advisors who might become members of the Advisory Committee. Students are assigned faculty mentors upon entry into the programme, who will help them choose courses and think about possible members of their Advisory Committee; these mentors may themselves also serve as members but need not do so.
  • During the Fall term the student must consult with the PhD Coordinator regarding  the membership of the Advisory Committee. By the end of December of Year 2, the student should have a full Advisory Committee consisting of a supervisor and two other members. The Advisory Committee must be formally approved by the PhD Coordinator. By the end of December of Year 2, the student who wishes to activate a JEP agreement should notify this wish to the Center by indicating the external Co-Supervisor as the fourth member of the Advisory Committee. No request for activating a JEP agreement made after December of Year 2 will be considered.
  • In this year and subsequent years, the student must meet formally with the members of the Advisory Committee at least once per year and submit an annual advisory report, signed by the supervisor and all members of the Advisory Committee, before the end of April. This annual meeting is organized by the student. The student should also prepare a CV and a timeline to be shown to the Advisory Committee at the annual meeting and submit them with the report.
  • Students should pass the Special Field Examination and submit their Reading Lists by June 30th of Year 2 (see on the Special Field Examination Guidelines). It is unnecessary to have passed all language requirements before working on the Special Field Examination, but all language requirements must be fulfilled prior to taking the Special Field Examination. For these language requirements, see the PhD program requirements.
  • The centre’s language requirements in Level Two Latin, French, and German (all pre-requisites for the Special Field Examination) should be passed by September, but no later than April, of Year Three.
  • Ideally, the student should take the Special Field Examination by April 30th of Year Three. The Advisory Committee, in consultation with the CMS Executive Committee, has the discretion to determine whether or not a student may retake the Special Field Examination in the event of failure. One retake only is permitted, and it must take place within two months of the initial exam and no later than August 31st of the third year of registration. Students who fail the Special Field Examination before the beginning of Year 4 will be recommended for termination of registration in SGS.

These years should be devoted to the writing of the dissertation. Students who need more time to finish may continue in the program through a maximum of six years, beyond which a formal extension is to be requested for each additional year, for a maximum of four years.

Since courses will be completed, the evaluation of the Advisory Committee will be based on the student’s submission of written work: Special Field State of the Literature Statement, Dissertation Proposal, and other writings related to the thesis. The minimum requirement is normally 20 pages per term (Fall and Spring).  The Advisory Committee determines if the submitted material meets the minimum requirements for quality and quantity.

Students Entering after September 2010

For each of the four years that ensue after the completion of the sixth year, a student must petition for an extension (download the extension form from the SGS website [PDF]).  For each of these additional years as well, the student will be required to pay one-half of the regular Canadian fees (plus the whole fee for incidentals). During these years, such students will continue to work on their dissertations. If, within these four years the dissertation has not been submitted and defended, the student’s program is terminated absolutely, the dissertation will never be examined, and the ten years' work will go for nothing. These additional four years will, for all students enrolled in September 2010 onwards, be the only kind of extensions allowed to the length of the PhD program. They are not automatic: students must apply for them, and there are rules, imposed by both the centre and the School of Graduate Studies, for the conditions of granting the extensions.

Students Who Entered before September 2010

Students who entered the PhD program before September 2010 may have opted to follow the new rules (see above), or may have been grandfathered into the previous regulations. Under the latter, students who have not completed the dissertation within the 6-year limit of the PhD program had two options: “going external” (lapsing) or petitioning for an extension. “Going external” means that no more fees need be paid, and the university has no further responsibilities towards the student. The student may, however, work independently to complete the dissertation and then petition for reinstatement. This means that, upon presentation of five copies of the completed dissertation, and at the discretion of the centre’s Executive committee, the centre may ask SGS to reinstate the student for the purposes of setting up a defence. The student would then be required to pay appropriate fees. Since such a reinstatement can be awarded only once, the centre will request it from SGS only when the dissertation is submitted. There is no time limit imposed: a student can bring in a thesis after any number of years.

The second option for students grandfathered into the previous regulations and who have not finished within the six-year limit is to petition the centre for an ‘old style’ extension of their program. This means that the student continues paying full fees and consulting the advisory committee according to the rules of the program. Such a petition can be approved by the centre only if the supervisor supports it, the student’s progress has been deemed satisfactory, and there has been substantial progress toward completion of the dissertation. The student is asked to provide a detailed plan of the timetable for completion.

After such an ‘old-style’ extension, during which the student would have all the advantages of ‘student status’ (residency for student permits, student loans, etc), if the student had not finished, he or she would still have the option of ‘going external’ and of having no time limit set for completion. There would seem to be considerable financial disadvantage in this option, but it offers limitless time for completion.

The School of Graduate Studies has made it clear that switching from the old rules to the new ones is a one-way choice: by accepting the reduced fees, the student has also accepted the time limit. Students who enrolled before September 2010 must make their choice clear the year before they take up the option. All students who have not completed their theses before the end of the sixth year of the program should consult with the administrators about the course of action they intend to pursue.