Supervisory Committee

The role of the Supervisory Committee is to provide support to you and your supervisor by broadening and deepening the range of expertise and experience available, and by offering advice about, and assessment of, your work.

The supervisory committee is responsible for guiding the student in planning the research, and preparing the thesis. The supervisory committee can also be consulted in respect to the selection of coursework.

Graduate students who establish their supervisory committees early in their programs and who meet with their committees regularly, tend to complete their degree programs successfully, and sooner than students who wait to establish their committees.

Generally you, as the graduate student, are responsible for establishing your committee in consultation with your supervisor. You should discuss possible choices of committee members with your supervisor, then check UBC Policies and Procedures to ensure that potential members meet all UBC requirements. This decision is often based in part on the research interests and areas of expertise of individual professors. You should consider approaching professors whose expertise and research area overlap somewhat with the thesis topic.

In nearly all cases, you will be asked to contact potential committee members to determine if they are available and interested in serving on your supervisory committee. You can also ask your supervisor to approach a potential committee member on your behalf.

Composition of the Supervisory Committee

The MSc supervisory committee shall consist of your supervisor and at least one committee member that has expertise in the research area. However, it is recommended that there be at least 2 members in addition to your supervisor.

For PhD students, the supervisory committee consists of your supervisor and at least two faculty members, but it is highly recommended to have at least 3 members. The membership of committees must meet the requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Decisions about supervisory committee members are based on:

– the collective experiences of the people involved
– their ability to contribute to the intended study
– their availability and willingness to serve

UBC has set policies regarding the composition and responsibilities of supervisory committees. Please review these thoroughly before deciding who to invite to your committee.

Note that at least half of the members of the supervisory committee must be members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Your Research Supervisor’s Role

Your research supervisor will be the Chair of your supervisory committee. 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 and forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate 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.

Keep your Supervisory Committee Members informed

Once you start working with your supervisory committee, it is very important to keep its members informed of your research progress. Committee members appreciate receiving the occasional note (or e-mail message) explaining where you are and what you are planning to do next. You should also let them know when they are likely to receive the next installment of the work. This is not only courteous, but also keeps your supervisory committee members up to speed and makes meetings more productive.
You should schedule a meeting (once a year) when you and your supervisor feel ready to share the proposal or drafts of your thesis work with the other members of the committee.
It is generally your responsibility to set up meetings. Ensure that each committee member receives copies of written work at least two weeks before the meeting.

Timing of meetings

The committee should be established as soon as possible after the student has registered and the thesis topic is known and within the first 12 months that a student is in the Experimental Medicine Program.
Meetings of the committee must be held at least once every 12 months and a formal report sent to the Experimental Medicine Program Graduate Secretary (by fax, scan or campus mail).
After a Supervisory Committee meeting is held, the Research Supervisor and student should sign a report and send it to the Experimental Medicine Office. The Supervisory Committee Meeting Report form (SupervisoryCtteReport) may be used.

Non-UBC Faculty members on the committee

It is permitted to have non-UBC Facult members on the Supervisory Committee, but approval is required by
– the Program Advisor for MSc students
– the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies for PhD students.

Requests for the approval of the appointment of a non-UBC Faculty member to serve on a student’s Supervisory Committee must be made at the time of formation of the committee, and must include details of the composition of the committee, a brief rationale for the appointment, and a copy of the individual’s CV.