Transfer from MSc to PhD


11.1. Rationale Students registered in the MSc program who show exceptional promise in their research may apply for transfer to the PhD program without completing their MSc thesis. This procedure is in place to rapidly advance qualified students to the doctoral program. The student is still required to complete all courses required for the MSc program but these need not be completed before transfer to the PhD. There are both pros and cons to transferring to the PhD as outlined on our information sheet.

To be considered for promotion to the PhD program, students must meet the following criteria:

  •  completed at least one term of the MSc program, full time, and have completed at least two graduate course (two half courses). Normally students will complete one full year of graduate studies before requesting this transfer
  •  have an overall first class average in graduate courses completed,
  •  have an undergraduate honours degree with a minimum upper second class standing or equivalent,
  •  meet departmental criteria for demonstrating promise and ability at research,
  •  apply to the Graduate Council for the Sciences (GCS) after one term of enrollment in the MSc program but prior to the end of the fifth term.

11.2. Procedure for Application to Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) The student will meet with the supervisor and the supervisory committee to agree upon whether he or she should transfer to the PhD program without completing the Master's thesis. During this meeting the ramifications of the transfer to the doctoral program are to be clearly defined for the student. If approved by the Graduate Studies Committee an application will be prepared for submission to the GSC.

The following documents are required for submission to the School of Graduate Studies :

  • all undergraduate and graduate transcripts (photocopies of originals are acceptable)
  • a letter of support from the Graduate Coordinator
  • a letter from the student to acknowledge that she/he agrees with the proposal to promote her/him and that she/he knows she/he cannot revert to the Master's program at a future date
  • a letter of support from the current research supervisor that addresses the student's outstanding research potential, as well as a statement of expected financial support and evidence that the current Master's project has the potential to be developed into a PhD dissertation
  • at least one other letter of support from a faculty member other than the current supervisor who has recently taught or supervised the student.  A report from the Departmental supervisory committee is acceptable in lieu of this letter
  • completed paper application (including 2 letters of reference) for admittance to the doctoral program (the fee is waived) including a decision sheet (the Biology Graduate Studies Assistant provides this form) for acceptance into the PhD program.

The request for promotion must be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the last business day of the first term in which the PhD program will commence.

The application will be forwarded to the Chair of GSC who will either sign the decision sheet, thereby accepting the student into the PhD program, or will bring it to the next GSC meeting for discussion. Both the departmental Graduate Coordinator (or delegate from the Biology department) and the supervisor must attend the GSC meeting when this application is discussed.

11.3 Timing. Transfer to the PhD program will be made official at the start of the term following approval by the GSC.

11.4. PhD Qualifying (i.e. Comprehensive) Exam for Students promoted to the PhD program. The PhD Qualifying (i.e. Comprehensive) exam should be taken as soon as possible after promotion to the PhD program but must be completed within 12 months after the start of enrollment in the PhD, following the procedures outlined in section 12 of this document.

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