PhD Comprehensive Exams

Advancement to Candidacy


It is required that all doctoral students be admitted to candidacy within 36 months from the date of initial registration. A student who is not admitted to candidacy within this time period will be required to withdraw from the program. Extensions may be granted under exceptional circumstances and with the permission of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

The basic requirements for a doctoral student to be admitted to candidacy are:

  • all required course work has been successfully completed
  • the comprehensive examination has been passed
  • the research supervisory committee has certified that the thesis proposal has been approved

Comprehensive Exams


For detailed information on the Exam please download the Comprehensive Exam Guidelines

For detailed information on the role of the Chair please download the Chair Guidelines.

The examination consists of preparation of a research proposal (written according to the regulations for an application for a grant-in-aid from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research) on a topic which may be related to the student’s own research project but must be distinct from it.  The proposal is presented and defended orally before an examination committee.

Both your topic and Examining Committee needs to be approved by the Associate Director of Examinations.  Please fill out this form, sign it and have your supervisor sign it and return it to the Graduate Program Coordinator for final approval. The Examining Committee consists of:

  • the student’s research Supervisor
  • a member of the student’s Supervisory Committee
  • two other examiners (at least one of whom is a member of the Department)
  • a Chairperson, typically the same Chairperson of your Supervisory Committee.

Students are expected to take their Comprehensive Examination within 24 – 30 months of registration to Graduate School (this includes students who transfer from the MSc to PhD program).

All PALM Examinations are not to be scheduled during the blackout months of July and August.