Composition of the Committee

The student’s supervisory committee is composed of his/her supervisor and two other faculty members, one of whom must be a member of the Department of Biochemistry. It is preferable, but not required, that one member of the supervisory committee is from a geographical node of the department that is distinct from that of the student.

If the student’s project involves a collaboration within the University of Toronto, at least one member of his/her committee must be at “arms length” from the project. Students will find it helpful if at least one member of their supervisory committee is a “senior” faculty member who knows departmental and School of Graduate Studies policies.

Back to top

Approval of the Committee

The composition of the committee is subject to approval by the Graduate Coordinator, so the student must inform her/him of the suggested composition of the committee before scheduling the first committee meeting.

Any change to the composition of the committee must have the approval of the supervisor and the Graduate Coordinator.

Back to top

How to Choose Committee Members

It might be quite clear to the student whom he/she would like to invite to serve on his/her committee. In this case, the student may just get approval from his/her supervisor and then ask these faculty members if they are willing to serve.

If the student is not sure whom he/she would like to invite to serve on the committee, he/she may solicit suggestions from his/her supervisor and other students in the lab or cognate labs. The student should make a list and discuss these potential committee members with his/her supervisor to decide on the two most appropriate faculty members to ask to serve.

If a faculty member whom the student would like to have on his/her committee is actively engaged in the student’s research through collaboration with his/her supervisor, this individual should be listed as a co-supervisor and an additional committee member selected (for a total of four committee members).

Back to top

Frequency of Committee Meetings

BEFORE your first meeting:

Prior to scheduling the first committee meeting, the student must obtain approval of his/her supervisory committee members from the Graduate Coordinator (

FIRST meeting:

Within six to eight months of initial registration.

  • If you started in September your first meeting should be scheduled between March – May.
  • If you started in January your first meeting should be scheduled between July – September.

SECOND meeting:

Within 14 to 16 months into the program.

M.Sc. students, this will be the meeting to decide if you will complete a M.Sc. or Reclassify into the Ph.D. program with a Transfer exam

SUBSEQUENT Committee Meetings:

Students completing the Master’s degree must meet at least once every six months after the second committee meeting until the degree is completed.

Students that have successfully completed a Transfer or Qualifying Exam must meet at least once every 12 months.

Beyond year five, Ph.D. students must have a committee meeting every six months until the student has been given permission to write their dissertation to help ensure that the degree is completed in a timely fashion. The committee meeting held at the 48-month mark must clearly address the issue of what remains to be done to complete the Ph.D. degree. The Committee Meeting Report must spell out the expectations and time lines for completion explicitly.

FINAL Committee Meeting and Permission to Write:

For both M.Sc. and Ph.D. students, the committee gives the student permission to write up the thesis at the final committee meeting. All students who have approval to begin writing their thesis must complete and submit a Permission to Write Form.

The Permission to Write Form should be completed no later than three months after a committee meeting IF AND ONLY IF it is explicitly written in the last committee meeting report, that the committee will give ‘Permission to Write’ upon completion of a small number of specified experiments. Students must attach a copy of the last committee meeting report and a summary of the results of the requested experiments prior to obtaining signatures.Beyond three months the Supervisor must also include a letter of explanation of the delay.

Forms will not be accepted beyond 5 months of the last committee meeting.   Another Committee meeting must be scheduled.

Back to top

Committee Meeting Form

Once you have confirmed a committee meeting date, please contact (, who will prepare your Supervisory Committee Meeting Report Form that you will need to bring to the meeting.

After your Committee Meeting, you will need to return the original completed Committee Meeting Form and a hard copy of your Progress Report to the Graduate Program Administrator.

Back to top

Progress Report

The purpose of the committee meeting progress report is to effectively and efficiently update your committee with your progress to date.  While the first committee report will likely have more introductory material to effectively present the scientific problem and the reason for your project, subsequent reports can likely be more limited in introduction, but still provide enough information to understand the aims and progress. It should also mention proposed experiments for the future.

Please adhere to the following format.

No more than 4 pages of single spaced text
No more that 4 figures of data appended (they can be multi-panel if appropriate)
No more than 1 page of references, but the report should be referenced.

Remember, it is to be a scholarly document that represents your progress during your training.

The report should be provided to your committee no less than 2 ‘working’ days before the meeting. Most PIs prefer electronic versions, but offer to provide a paper copy.

Back to top