Masters Thesis Submission and Defence

Most of the regulations concerning the Masters thesis submission and defence are covered by the SGPS thesis regulations and the timeline.  The terms "thesis defence" and "thesis examination" are used interchangeably here.

masters thesis timeline

Q1: What do I need to do first once my thesis is ready? 

A1: Set a defence date - 6 weeks prior to defence

In terms of the timeline approaching the defence, it is most useful to work backwards from a target thesis examination date.  Keep in mind that you, in collaboration with your supervisor, need to initiate the process.  You should have an abstract of the thesis ready at this time to send out to potential examiners.  You should also be very close to having approval from your supervisor to proceed to exam.

Q2: When do we form a thesis examination board?

A2: 4-5 weeks prior to defence

After a defence date or a list of possible defence dates is identified, the thesis examination board formation process should be initiated by the candidate and  supervisor at least 5-6 weeks prior to the expected thesis examination date and needs to be finalized no later than 4 weeks prior to the examination date. Leave time to arrange the university examiner in particular and have an abstract of the thesis ready to provide potential examiners.

Q3: When do I submit my thesis?

A3: 3 weeks prior to defence

See the thesis regulations section.

Q4: When will I know if the thesis is clear for oral defence?

A4: 2-4 days prior to defence

Two to four days prior to the defence, the Thesis Coordinator (SGPS) will advise, via email, whether the examination will proceed as scheduled. Beware though that proceeding to oral defence does not mean you have effectively passed.  All evaluations are provisional and the evaluation of the written thesis form and content can be reversed based on the evaluation of the oral defence.

Q5: When is my public defence/examination?

A5:  You have a choice to have a closed or public Master's thesis defence. Regardless of your choice, you will give a 10 minute presentation at the start of the defence to review your findings.

The 10 minute presentation should briefly cover the research context, research problem, research questions and methodology; however the emphasis should be placed on the main findings and contributions of the thesis. This presentation is made at the start of the examination immediately after the Chair confers privately with the examination committee. If you have elected to have an open defence, the order of events will be as follows:  1) the audience and candidate will not be present while the committee decides the order of questioning, although the candidate should set up for their presentation prior to the examination board meeting; 2) the audience and candidate will enter the room after the board meets; 3) the committee will begin the examination; the audience is not permitted to ask questions (or speak) during the examination.  The audience is permitted to ask questions for 10 minutes at the end of the examination subject to available time; 4) the public and candidate will be asked to leave the room after the thesis defence is over, and for the examining board's deliberation; and 5) the candidate will be invited back into the defence room once the examining board has reached a decision.

A6: Questions on anything relating to the thesis.

Details about the format of the oral examination can be found in the SGPS thesis regulations section.

Q7: How much time do I need to make changes to my thesis?

A7: Maximum two weeks after a successful defence

The thesis guidelines state that to "pass with minor revisions" (a common scenario) you are able to complete the revisions and have the document submitted to SGPS within two weeks.  Allow time for approval by your thesis examination board (usually the supervisor withholds the final signature).  


Please contact the Graduate Administrator with any questions regarding the graduate program.

Phone: 519-661-2111, Ext. 85033;