Policies and Procedures

Good Standing in the Department

In order to remain in good standing in the department, each student must satisfy each requirement for her or his program by the dates specified. For PhD students, the 4-Year and 5-Year timelines below provide a summary of major due dates.

A student who is not in good standing may be recommended for termination. A student who is not in good standing, even if she or he is allowed to continue in the program, is no longer guaranteed funding of any kind, not even tuition funding. A student who is not in good standing may become ineligible for certain fellowships, and will have the lowest priority for TA/RA positions and bursary assistance.
The School of Graduate Studies has its own discussion of good standing here.

Departmental Policy on Coursework Extensions

(i)   A Departmental extension should be requested in case a student is unable to complete coursework by the instructor’s final deadline.  (Note:  instructor must set a final deadline that will permit him or her to submit final grades by Margaret’s Departmental grade submission deadline.  Margaret’s deadline is always several days before the SGS grades submission deadline, since there is paperwork for her to do before she can send the grades to SGS.)  Thus Departmental extensions require both instructor and Departmental approval.

(ii)  Students may take no more than one Departmental extension per term.

(iii)  The maximum Departmental extension will be for one month after the SGS grades submission deadline for the relevant term.  For example, if fall grades are due to SGS by Jan 13, the maximum Departmental extension of time to submit fall coursework will be to Feb 13.   (The instructor may set an earlier date as he or she sees fit.)

(iv)  Work submitted after the Departmental deadline will receive a grade reduction of one increment  (A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc.) for each week (or portion thereof) past the deadline.

(vi)  Work submitted late without a Departmental extension (i.e., work submitted after the instructor deadline in a course for which the student has not been granted a Departmental extension) will receive a grade reduction of one increment (A, A-, B+, B, B-) for each week (or portion thereof) past the instructor’s deadline.

Please note that you have to submit both the SGS Extension Request Form, and the Philosophy Department’s Extension Request Form to Margaret.

Noteworthy Duties of Faculty Members

Graduate Department policy stipulates various specific duties for faculty members, over and above their course duties, and their duty to be generally available to students for consultation — especially students in one’s classes, or on whose Area Committee or Thesis Committee one serves. The following documents spell out departmental policies and guidelines:

Procedure for Scheduling a PhD Oral Defense

(1)  At least 3 months before the examination, the supervisor determines at least two, but preferably three, dates and times (morning vs afternoon is specific enough) when the student and everyone on the thesis committee can be present. The supervisor provides the graduate director with these dates and times, the title of the student’s thesis, and the names of 3 possible external appraiser/examiners, in ranked order. The supervisor also provides the graduate director with suggestions of at least two colleagues who could serve as “internal externals” — members of the Department who have not served on the candidate’s thesis committee.

Please note that the external needs to be officially invited and approved by SGS* before scheduling can proceed, and please note that it is very desirable to find an external who can participate in the Final Oral Examination, either in person or by phone. Under current SGS quorum rules, at least two voting members of the Final Oral Examination committee must be from outside the student’s supervisory committee: typically, these two members include the external scholar (from outside the University of Toronto) and the “internal external”. If the External cannot participate  in the Final Oral Examination (either in person or by phone), then at least two internal externals will have to be appointed to the student’s Final Oral Examination committee to satisfy quorum.

A maximum of two people can participate in the Final Oral Examination by telephone.

*From the SGS website:
Criteria for appointment of the external appraiser:

(a) The external appraiser must be external to the University as well as to its affiliated teaching hospitals and their research institutes.

(b) The external appraiser must be a recognized expert on the subject of the thesis, and an Associate or Full Professor at his/her home institution. An appraiser from outside the academic sector must possess the qualifications to be appointed to an academic position at this level.

(c) The external appraiser must be at arm’s length from both the candidate and the supervisor(s). Normally, this will exclude anyone who: has served as PhD Supervisor/Supervisee of the Candidate or the Supervisor; or has, in the past six years, been a departmental colleague of the candidate or the supervisor, or has collaborated on a research project, scholarly work or publication, with either of them. The Vice-Dean (Programs), in considering nominations of external appraisers, will assess whether the nominee is at arm’s length.[1]

(2) Because of our new quorum rules, we very strongly advise finding an external scholar who is willing to participate in the Final Oral Examination and vote. However, it is possible for an external scholar to be an appraiser and not an examiner, as long as we have two non-supervisory faculty lined up to participate in the defense.  Either way, the external scholar writes a report and receives an honorarium of $100.  The University provides a maximum of $500 in travel expenses for external scholars who come to the defense in person to serve as examiners.  Any additional expenses are to be covered by the supervisor or members of the student’s committee.  To minimize confusion, we ask that the supervisor be responsible for collecting receipts from the external scholar.  Please give all receipts to Suzanne Puckering with a note stating clearly which funding sources should be used for which expenses.

(3) AT LEAST 7 WEEKS BEFORE THE DEFENSE, the student gives a filled-in Thesis Submission Form and 5 (or 6 if there is a co-supervisor or more than 2 readers on the committee) coil-bound copies of the dissertation to Margaret Opoku-Pare. (Margaret must have the thesis well in advance of the defense to ensure that the desired date and time are available in the SGS calendar.  She cannot formally schedule the exam until she has the bound copies in hand.)  Margaret will send the bound thesis to the external scholar and then forward the scholar’s report to the student and all committee members as soon as it arrives.

(4) After receiving the scheduling request from Margaret, SGS will secure a faculty member from another department to chair the defense.  The chair’s name will be sent to the student and all committee members in advance of the exam.


[1] The SGS website provides detailed information about the constitution of the examination committee, number of voting members required, etc., here.

Program Extensions

Graduate Education Council has approved changes to the lapsed status rules.  Students who begin their doctoral program in September 2010 will no longer have the option to lapse their registration and apply for reinstatement later.  Instead, students can apply to extend their registration beyond the time limit for their program for up to four years. PhD students must be registered in the year prior to the year in which the extension would occur. No registration beyond the four-year extension period will be permitted. Fees charged during this extension period will be calculated at the rate of 50% of the annual domestic fee, for both domestic and international students (plus incidentals).  Academic fees for the final extension year (“Final Year PhD Fees”) will be prorated, based on 50% of the annual domestic fee for the 12-month academic year plus sessional incidentals. PhD students who do not register after the time limit and who request an extension later, but within the four-year extension period, may be approved for extension. Students receiving approved extensions under these circumstances are subject to fee payment for extension years in which they did not register in addition to fees for the approved extension year.

Students who commenced a PhD program prior to September 2010 will be eligible to “opt into” the new extension arrangements.

Please note that all students who sign on to the new arrangements cannot go back to the old rules; for instance, they will not be permitted to lapse and seek reinstatement in the future.

PhD students who began their doctoral program prior to September 1, 2010 and do not “opt-into” the new extension arrangements may lapse and seek reinstatement according to the regulations of the year in which they were admitted. Students who do not “opt-in” and seek a program extension will be assessed full-time program fees for the program extension period.

Program Extension forms are available on the SGS Student Services website.

PhD Residency Requirement

PhD students in Philosophy must register as full-time on-campus students and, consequently, reside in such geographical proximity as to be able to participate fully in the Department’s activities at least until they (i) have completed all of the course requirements for the degree, (ii) have satisfied the breadth requirement for the degree, (iii) have completed their area requirement, and (iv) have submitted to the Graduate Office their thesis topic and names of faculty members who have agreed to serve as supervisor and adviser. A student may register as an off-campus student only if the student’s thesis supervisor and adviser confirm that the candidate has commenced work on the thesis and consent to the student’s registering as an off-campus student.

Graduate Governance

The Graduate Department of Philosophy consists mostly of undergraduate Philosophy faculty at the University of Toronto’s three campuses, St. George, Mississauga and Scarborough. There are also members from other units at the U of T. The Department is led by a graduate Chair, appointed by the School of Graduate Studies. The Graduate Chair appoints a Graduate Coordinator, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Department’s graduate programs.

The normal policy-making body of the Graduate Department of Philosophy is the Graduate Executive Committee (GEC), which normally meets in the Fall and the Spring. The GEC has fifteen members: six graduate student members, elected to one-year terms by the graduate students; six faculty members, elected to two-year terms by the graduate faculty (there will also be two faculty alternates); and three ex-officio members, the graduate chair, the graduate coordinator, and the placement officer. A majority vote in the GEC will suffice to pass a motion, though if a majority of either the student GEC members or of the faculty GEC members present at a meeting request it, a vote on the motion will be postponed until it has been taken to the Graduate Plenary for consultation.

All faculty members of the Department, and all students enrolled in degree programs within the Department, are full members of the Graduate Plenary with the right to speak and to vote. If a motion has been sent from the GEC to the Graduate Plenary, then the motion will be decided by a majority vote at the plenary, unless the motion is opposed by 3/5 of the faculty members attending the meeting. No business can be raised at a meeting of the Plenary unless it has previously been discussed by the Executive Committee.

The Graduate Department also maintains a Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee (GDAAC). The faculty members of the GDAAC will consist of the four senior elected members of the Graduate Executive Committee (GEC) — where seniority is determined by number of years at the University of Toronto, where the year of the PhD is used as a tie-breaker, and where a decision of the graduate chair breaks remaining ties as needed. The Chair of the GDAAC will be the most senior faculty member. The remaining two faculty members of the GEC as well as the alternate members of the GEC will be the faculty alternates on the GDAAC. The student members of the GEC will recommend to the graduate chair one of themselves to be the student member of the GDAAC as well as one of themselves to be the alternate student member of the GDAAC.

If a student wishes to dispute a matter, such as a grade, and if informal mediation is unsuccessful, then the student may make a formal appeal to the GDAAC. For the School of Graduate Studies’s policy on appeals, see here.