Supervisory Committee

The role of the Supervisory Committee is to provide you and your student by broadening and deepening the range of expertise and experience available, and by offering advice about, and assessment of, the student’s 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 regularly, tend to complete their degree programs successfully, and sooner than students who wait to establish their committees.

Generally the student is responsible for establishing its committee in consultation with their supervisor. The student should discuss possible choices of committee members with their supervisor, then check the 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. The student should consider approaching professors whose expertise and research area overlap somewhat with the thesis topic.

In nearly all cases, the student will have to contact potential committee members to determine if they are available and interested in serving on their supervisory committee. However, a student can also ask their supervisor to approach a potential committee member on the student’s behalf.

Composition of the Supervisory Committee

The M.Sc. supervisory committee shall consist of the student’s supervisor and at least one committee member that has expertise in the research field. However, it is recommended that there be at least 2 members in addition to the supervisor.
For Ph.D. students, the supervisory committee consists of the student’s 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. Students are asked to review these thoroughly before deciding who to invite to their committee.

The Research Supervisor’s Role

The research supervisor will be the Chair of a student’s supervisory committee. The Chair of the supervisory committee has additional responsibilities:

  • While it is up to the student to organize the meetings, it’s a good idea to involve the supervisor in decisions about meetings or other consultations.
  • The research supervisor of doctoral students 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 Studies in a timely manner. The supervisor will also assist the student to comply with any changes to be made to the student’s thesis after their defence.

It is the student’s responsibility to keep its Supervisory Committee Members informed

Once a student starts working with its supervisory committee, it is very important to keep the members informed of the student’s research progress. Committee members appreciate receiving the occasional note (or e-mail message) explaining where the student is and what he/she is planning to do next. The student should also let them know when they are likely to receive the next instalment of the work. This is not only courteous, but also keeps the supervisory committee members up to speed and makes meetings more productive.
The student should schedule a meeting once a year, when they and their supervisor feel ready to share the proposal or drafts of the student’s thesis work with the other members of the committee.
It is generally the student’s responsibility to set up meetings and to 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 Office, the Research Supervisor and student should sign the report. The Supervisory Committee form (SupervisoryCtteReport-2) may be used.

Non-UBC Faculty Members on the Committee

It is permitted to have non-UBC Faculty members on the Supervisory Committee, but approval is required by

  • the Program Advisor for M.Sc. students
  • the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies for Ph.D. 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.