Supervisory Committees for Doctoral Students

Faculty Regulations


The doctoral student’s supervisory committee is responsible for guiding the student in selecting any required courses, planning the research and preparing the dissertation. The committee should be established as early in the student’s program as possible.


  1. Chair of the Supervisory Committee

The student will obtain the agreement of a full-time, full member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to chair the supervisory committee. Normally, the supervisor chairs the committee, and has had experience on doctoral committees. The chair of the supervisory committee is responsible for determining the composition of the committee, subject to the regulations of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

If the Chair leaves the University but the dissertation is close to completion the chair may, with the permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies, continue. In this case, a co-chair who is a full-time, full member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will be appointed. If the Chair is on study leave or any other leave exceeding 2 months, it is highly recommended that an interim co-chair who is a full member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies be appointed.


  1. Supervisor’s Roles and Responsibilities

The principal role of the supervisor is to help students achieve their scholastic potential and to chair the student’s Supervisory Committee. The Supervisor will provide reasonable commitment, accessibility, professionalism, stimulation, guidance, respect and consistent encouragement to the student.

The supervisor should consult with prospective supervisory committee members about any proposed coursework before the dissertation topic has been decided.

Clinical assistant professors, associate professors and professors actively engaged in research programs at UBC and experienced with graduate education may apply to their Head, Director or Dean who, in turn, may recommend to the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies that they be approved to act as sole supervisors.

If an approved Adjunct Professor acts as the co-supervisor (research), a full member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies is required as co-supervisor (academic) who chairs the committee.


  1. The committee must include at least two additional members, beyond the supervisor, normally faculty members at least at the rank of Assistant Professor, who may be from other graduate programs.

The supervisory committee membership may include senior instructors, professors emeriti, honorary faculty, adjunct faculty, off-campus professionals as well as faculty members from other universities. A request for approval for these members submitted to the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies must include a copy of the individual’s curriculum vitae and a letter from the Director of the Graduate Program.

Normally, a supervisory committee will be comprised of 3 members, though they may have more than 3 if . At least half of the committee must be a member of UBC’s Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.


  1. Supervisory Committee Roles and Responsibilities

The supervisory committee members are to be available for help at every stage of the student’s program, from selection of course work to formulation of the dissertation research proposal by establishing the methodology and discussing the results, to presentation and publication of the dissertation.

It is the responsibility of the supervisory committee to provide constructive criticism and assessment of the student’s ideas as the program develops, thereby broadening and deepening the range of expertise and experience of the graduate student.

The supervisory committee must meet with the student at least once a year to discuss and assess progress on the dissertation and provide feedback on work completed. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to organize committee meetings.

While the Supervisory Committee should be an important source of advice and aid to the student, it is not responsible for the final quality of the dissertation, nor for its final disposition by the Committee which examines the dissertation.  Its responsibility is to see that the student does the best job of which he/she is capable within a reasonable period of time, and then to decide, after discussion with the student, whether or not the dissertation should be placed before an examination committee for evaluation.  The Supervisory Committee must be convinced of the quality and acceptability of the dissertation before approving its submission for public examination to the University Dissertation Examining Committee.