Supervision

For the relevant Senate policy, see http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=12,204,350,773

Every student in a doctoral or thesis-based master’s program must have a research supervisor and a supervisory committee. The supervisor’s principal role is to help students achieve their academic potential. The supervisor will provide commitment, accessibility, professionalism, stimulation, guidance, respect, and consistent encouragement to the student. The committee should be established as early in the student’s program as possible. For further information and guidance on supervision, please see “Supervising Graduate Students”.

Members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies have full supervisory privileges. They are listed in the UBC Calendar under the Degree Programs with which they are associated. Appropriately qualified individuals who are not members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (such as clinical faculty, faculty with partner appointments, adjunct faculty, professors of teaching, senior instructors, visiting faculty, honorary faculty, faculty members from other universities, and off-campus professionals who are academically qualified to advise graduate students) may be approved to supervise, co-supervise, or serve on the supervisory committees of graduate students. For information about recommending approval to supervise or co-supervise a graduate student by individuals who are not members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, see Supervision of Graduate Students by Non-members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. For information about recommending approval to serve on a graduate student supervisory committee by individuals who are not members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, see Non-members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as Supervisory Committee Members.

Members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies may continue as members upon retirement, provided they are approved by their disciplinary Faculty (or functional equivalent) for membership in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and continue to meet the criteria established by their graduate program for membership in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. A retired member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies may supervise, co-supervise, and serve on the supervisory committees of graduate students with the approval of the disciplinary Faculty.

Changes to Supervision

  • If the supervisor leaves the University with the thesis or dissertation close to completion, the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies may permit the supervisor to retain this position. In this case, a co-supervisor must be appointed.
  • If the supervisor is on study leave or any other leave exceeding two months, arrangements must be made to ensure continuity of supervision. It is highly recommended that an interim co-supervisor be appointed.
  • When a faculty member approaching retirement accepts an assignment as supervisor, the faculty member and the head of the department must ensure that provision is made for an alternate supervisor if or when the need arises.
  • A number of circumstances may lead to a termination of the student–supervisor relationship. Resolution of the situation is dependent on a variety of factors but, if the student is in good academic standing, every effort should be made by the program to identify a new supervisor.

Supervisory Committees: Roles and Responsibilities

Supervisory committee members are to be available for help at every stage of the student’s program, from selection of coursework to formulation of the research proposal by establishing the methodology and discussing the results, to presentation and publication of the thesis or dissertation.

It is the responsibility of the supervisory committee to provide constructive criticism and assessment of the student’s ideas as the program develops, thereby broadening and deepening the range of expertise and experience of the graduate student. The committee is required to approve the final thesis or dissertation before examination.

The supervisory committee, whether master’s or doctoral, must meet at least once a year to monitor and direct the student’s progress. Generally, it is the student’s responsibility to organize the committee meetings.

Supervisory Committees: Composition

Doctoral supervisory committees must have at least three members (including the supervisor).

Master’s supervisory committees must have at least two members, and should have at least three members (including the supervisor).

For both doctoral and master’s students, committee members must be Members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies or have been approved by the appropriate bodies (see Non-members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as Supervisory Committee Members and Supervision of Graduate Students by Non-members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, as appropriate, for approval processes). It is recommended that at least one committee member be from a graduate program other than the student’s. At least half of the members of the supervisory committee must be members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

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