Getting the Most From Your Supervisory Committee

When professors agree to sit on your supervisory committee, they are agreeing to be available for consultation and discussion about your thesis. Committee members with different types of expertise may have a more objective perspective of the progress of your thesis than you and your supervisor do. Ask your committee for comments and advice on your thesis proposal and ideas, and contact them regularly when you are collecting data or developing ideas to ensure that you are on the right track. They will also serve on your examination committee during your thesis defense.

You can get feedback from your committee by meeting with individual members, sending out print materials or calling a meeting of the entire committee. Your supervisor can help you decide when and what form of meeting or consultation is needed.

Supervisor’s Role

Your supervisor will often be the Chair of your supervisory committee, although this varies from one program to another. The Chair of the supervisory committee has additional responsibilities:

  • While it is up to you to organize meetings of the supervisory committee, it’s a good idea to involve your supervisor in decisions about meetings or other consultations.
  • If you are a doctoral student, your supervisor must ensure that recommendations for external examiners are made to the graduate program advisor or head of department and forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in a timely manner. Your supervisor will also assist you to comply with any changes to be made to your thesis after your oral examination.