Selecting University Examiners

Two University Examiners approved by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies must be present at the Final Oral Defence in order to meet the requirements for quorum. G+PS does not cover the travel expenses of University Examiners.

Role of the University Examiners

  • Assess the quality and significance of the dissertation.
  • Evaluate the performance of the Candidate at the Final Oral Defence.
  • Contribute to the recommendation to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies on the conferral of the degree.

Eligibility Requirements for University Examiners

  • Both University Examiners should have expertise in a field closely related to the dissertation research.
  • Both University Examiners should hold a primary academic (not clinical, adjunct, etc.) appointment as a Full, Associate, or Emeritus Professor at UBC-V or UBC-O.
  • Both University Examiners should hold a formal affiliation with a graduate program that offers doctoral degrees in the UBC-V Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies or the UBC-O College of Graduate Studies. At UBC-O those programs are Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Engineering (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical), Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Kinesiology, Mathematics, Medical Physics, Nursing, and Psychology.
  • At least one of the two University Examiners must not be affiliated with the graduate program of the Candidate or the department(s) of the Research Supervisor(s).

An Assistant Professor may be approved if they have passed initial re-appointment and have previous experience with the doctoral examinations process. Please contact the Doctoral Exams team to discuss the nomination of an Assistant Professor or any other nominee who does not clearly meet the above eligibility criteria prior to submitting the Approval of University Examiners for Doctoral Dissertation form.

Arm's Length Requirements for University Examiners

  • University Examiners must not be (or have been) members of the Supervisory Committee, or have been connected with the dissertation research in any way, including having previously examined the work at a departmental defence.
  • They should not have been associated with the Candidate, outside of usual contact in courses or other non-thesis activities within the University, nor be related to the Candidate or Research Supervisor(s).
  • Except in special circumstances (fully justified in writing) they should not be or have been research collaborators and/or co-authors with the Supervisor(s) within the past 6 years, regardless of whether the collaborations relate to the Candidate’s dissertation work.

Please consult with the Doctoral Exams team in advance if you are unsure whether a prospective University Examiner satisfies the arm’s length requirements.

Confirming the University Examiners

The completed Approval of University Examiners for Doctoral Dissertation form must be received by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies a minimum of four weeks prior to the scheduled Final Oral Defence. Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies reserves the right to postpone the examination if this form is not received on time.

The consent of the proposed University Examiners to serve in this role and their availability to attend the Oral Defence must be confirmed by the Research Supervisor prior to the submission of the form. The Doctoral Candidate’s graduate program is responsible for recommending well-qualified, objective examiners who have agreed to serve in this role. A brief rationale of how the proposed examiners’ fields of expertise relate to the Candidate’s area of research must be provided.

Once approved by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, each University Examiner will receive a confirmation e-mail. This email will be copied to the Candidate, Research Supervisor and Graduate Program Staff.

Independence of Assessment

All examiners are expected to formulate an independent opinion of the work. University Examiner must maintain an arm’s length relationship from the Candidate and Research Supervisor(s) throughout the examination process. They must not discuss the Candidate's research with either the Candidate or any member of the Supervisory Committee until the Final Oral Defence begins.

Distributing the Dissertation

It is the responsibility of the Research Supervisor to ensure that the University Examiners and members of the Supervisory Committee receive a copy of the dissertation, which is identical to the copies submitted for the External Examiner, at least 4 weeks before the examination.


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Next: Scheduling the Oral Defence