Review Your Progress

Whether you are in a master's or a doctoral program, you need to take time to evaluate your progress when you reach the middle of your program. Most master's programs are two years. Therefore, this evaluation should occur after completing your first year of study. If you are in a one-year master's program, review your progress after the first term. If you are a doctoral student, review your progress at the end of the second year of doctoral studies.

Consult with your supervisor about your rate of progress. Are you on schedule? If not, come up with a plan to make up time.

Master's Degree Students

Issues to consider when appraising progress towards your master's degree

  • Have you arranged to fulfill all necessary course requirements for the master's degree?
  • Have you formed a master's research committee?
  • Have you developed and written your master's proposal?
  • Have your supervisor and committee approved the proposal?
  • Have you developed a timeline for conducting your thesis research?
  • Are you familiar with the requirements for the thesis defense?

Make sure that you will have fulfilled all necessary academic requirements in your program

Check to ensure that you will be able to complete all required courses by the end of the second year.

Be sure that your research supervisor has approved courses taken to fulfill specific program requirements.

If a comprehensive examination is required for a master's degree in your program, obtain information in advance from your research supervisor (for more information see Comprehensives for Master's Degrees)

Examine the latest online edition of UBC's Calendar to review the academic regulations governing graduate study.

Each student's progress should be reviewed regularly, and at least once per year in June by the home department and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. If you have not received a feedback letter from your department, talk with your supervisor or graduate advisor.

For master's students who hope to continue into the doctoral program, ask your supervisor about your department's deadlines for application.

Establish a supervisory committee by the end of your first year

All master's students who are in a two-year thesis program should have formed a thesis committee by the end of the first year.

Typically, the committee will contain at least three faculty members from the student's department, including the primary research supervisor.

Review G+PS Guidelines on Supervisory Committees for Master's Students

Prepare your thesis proposal and get committee approval

Many graduate programs require students to develop a formal thesis proposal and have it approved by the supervisory committee. Check to see if your program has this requirement. If so, follow the steps below.

  1. Begin writing drafts of your thesis proposal as soon as possible.
  2. Circulate drafts of the proposal to your supervisor for feedback.
  3. Present the completed proposal to your supervisory committee for feedback on the research plan.

In many programs, you are required to schedule a formal committee meeting to review and accept the thesis proposal. Check with your supervisor to see if this applies to you. Even if a formal meeting is not required, it is a good idea to meet with your committee to make sure that they support the proposed plan before you begin the work. Use your committee to help strengthen your research.

Establish a timeline for completing your thesis research

Typically, the thesis is completed within the second year of enrollment.

Begin conducting your research as soon as possible. The earlier, the better.

Maintain regular contact with your research supervisor to review your progress and get feedback on issues that arise.

Determine the date for the master's thesis defense.

Familiarize yourself with the requirements for thesis completion

Take note of all deadlines required in the program for completion and defense of the thesis. If any circumstance jeopardizes your ability to complete your thesis on schedule, talk with your supervisor as soon as possible and make arrangements.

Familiarize yourself with procedures and deadlines for thesis completion and submission to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies through these sources:

Use this checklist to review your master's degree progress.

Doctoral Students

Issues to consider when appraising progress toward your doctoral degree.

  • Have you arranged to fulfill all necessary course requirements in your program?
  • Have you formed your dissertation advisory committee?
  • Have you developed the ideas, procedures, and timeline for your research?
  • Have your research supervisor and committee approved the research plan?
  • Have you completed all required comprehensive examinations?
  • Are you ready to advance to candidacy?

Make sure that you have fulfilled all necessary course requirements in your program

Confirm that you have arranged to complete all required courses in your program.

Be sure that your research supervisor has approved courses you have taken to fulfill specific program requirements.

Examine the latest online edition of UBC's Calendar to review the academic regulations governing graduate study.

Form your dissertation advisory committee during the first year of doctoral study

Consult with your research supervisor about proper procedures for forming the dissertation committee. The committee should have at least three faculty members (including the supervisor).

Select committee members who are:

  • interested and knowledgeable about your dissertation topic
  • in agreement with your research plan and procedures
  • available for consultation during your intended period of research.

Review G+PS guidelines regarding Supervisory Committees for Doctoral Students.

Work with your supervisor to develop the ideas, procedures, and timeline for your dissertation research

Meet regularly with your research supervisor to discuss your research ideas and progress.

Begin writing your dissertation proposal as soon as possible.

Set a timeline for conducting and completing your dissertation work.

Make sure that you have mastered all the technical skills necessary to conduct the work.

Review the dissertation plan with your research supervisor and committee members

Circulate the final dissertation proposal to your research supervisor and your supervisory committee for approval before you begin the work.

Some programs require a formal meeting of the advisory committee to approve the dissertation proposal. If so, be proactive in arranging the meeting.

If possible, attend other student dissertation defenses to observe what happens.

Provide regular feedback to your supervisor and committee about your research progress.

Familiarize yourself with procedures and deadlines for dissertation completion and submission to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies through these sources:

Complete all required comprehensive examinations

Comprehensive examinations are normally held after completion of all required course work and are intended to test the student's grasp of the chosen field of study.

They are typically taken at the end of the first year of doctoral enrollment and should be completed by the end of the second year.

Consult your research supervisor and departmental graduate student handbook for details regarding procedures and timelines for completing all required comprehensive examinations.

See also the G+PS guidelines around Comprehensive Examinations.

Advance to candidacy within two years, including formal approval of the dissertation proposal

Doctoral students are normally expected to be admitted to candidacy by the end of their second year of doctoral studies but no later than the end of the third year. To advance to candidacy, you must have:

  • completed all required coursework
  • passed your comprehensive exams
  • have a research proposal approved by your committee.

Use this checklist to review your doctoral progress