Appendix E: Some Terms and Acronyms (Official and Unofficial)

Administrative Assistant (Departmental)

The member of the University Staff who manages the main office of the Department, and reports directly to the Chair of the Department. He or she, informally known as the "head secretary", hands out all cheques picked up in the main office.

Advisor (also known as Program Advisor)

The Faculty member who most closely works with a graduate student and advises him or her about all aspects of their program, including supervision of thesis or major paper.

It is the responsibility of the student to contact all members of his/her advisory committee to set up meetings as required. The student and the Advisor should also agree to meetings to discuss progress, research, and other issues. The Advisor chairs all meetings of the student's advisory committee and writes an official student's progress report at the end of each semester (with copies to various offices).

Advisory Committee

This committee, headed by the Advisor, has to be in place no later than the end of the first semester after entering the graduate program. This committee usually consists of two people, and may include faculty who are not members of the Department. Members of the Advisory Committee are usually specialists in the area of specialization reflected in the thesis or major paper of the student.

Board Of Graduate Studies

The governing body for the Faculty of Graduate Studies, which sets policies. Its members are appointed by senate.


The International Development Studies program, one of the interdisciplinary MA programs.


There are many kinds of long-term (five year) as well as temporary positions that include the word "chair" in their titles.

Department Chair

The chief executive officer of a department, also known as the Head of the Department. S/he also chairs departmental meetings and several committees.

Chair Of MA Thesis Examination Committee (Administrative Chair)

A person from the Department appointed to run the oral examination, or defence, for a thesis. This person, who is not a member of the advisory committee does not necessarily read the thesis or direct questions to the student. His/Her duties consist of: arranging to have the appropriate forms at the defence, managing the thesis defence, deciding the order of questioners, and moderating the discussion.

Graduate Chair

This unofficial label is occasionally used to refer to the Departmental Graduate Coordinator (see below).

Course Credits

The numerical weighting given to different courses. A semester course is worth 0.5 credits. A student in our department needs a minimum of 2.0 course credits (4 courses) with a thesis and 3.0 credits (6 courses) with a major paper (1.0 credit).


See Thesis Oral Examination.

Examiner (For Thesis)

Each thesis defence must have an Examiner, selected by the student’s advisory committee in consultation with the student, who would consist of a faculty member who is external to the student’s advisory committee, but who would normally be internal to the Department or the PIA program. The examiner must be a tenured faculty member. Duties of the examiner are: to read the thesis, to indicate in a short written report the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis, to be submitted to the thesis Advisor at least one week prior to the scheduled defence date, to attend the thesis defence, to direct questions to the student in the defence, and to vote in the defence process.

Graduate Committee (Departmental)

The working committee in the department which oversees the Department's Sociology graduate program. Its members, including the departmental graduate coordinator who chairs this committee, are elected by the faculty of the Department.

Graduate Faculty

All faculty designed as either regular or associated graduate faculty (as defined by the Board of Graduate Studies). See the graduate calendar.

Graduate Program Coordinator (Departmental)

Manages the day to day operation of the Departmental Sociology graduate programs, and is sometimes referred to as the chair of the Departmental Graduate Affairs committee. The program coordinator is also in charge of allocating all TAships to students registered in graduate programs in the Department.

Graduate Program Assistant (Departmental)

Also known as the Departmental Graduate Program Assistant, this member of the University Staff is in charge of running the Departmental Graduate Office. He or she keeps the files, and takes care of most of the paperwork having to do with various forms and reports. Students have a lot of contact with this person.

Office Of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

The University Office (in the University Centre) which oversees all graduate programs at Guelph. This office consists of a staff of a half dozen people under the supervision of Dean and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

PIA Graduate Coordinator (Public Issues Anthropology Program Coordinator)

This is the program director. He or she manages the day-to-day operation of the PIA program, and is sometimes referred to as the chair of the PIA Graduate Committee. The PIA Graduate Coordinator appoints the chair of the thesis oral examination (defence) on behalf of the Chair of the Department. He or she signs most forms required for a student's program activities in the PIA program.

PIA Graduate Committee

This working committee in the PIA program oversees the PIA graduate program. The members of the committee, including the PIA Graduate Coordinator who chairs this committee, are elected by the departmental faculty members.

PIA Graduate Student Representative

A student in the PIA graduate program is elected to represent all of the other PIA students on various committees.

Human Subjects Protocol (Ethics Form)

This form must be filled out by any graduate students planning to study or undertake research on or with people, regardless whether s/he is working on a Major paper, a Thesis, or work related to a course.

Leave Of Absence

A period of time (one or more semesters) when a student temporarily leaves the program for financial or personal reasons (e.g. illness). The student must sign a form (for authorization) and continue and finish the program when he or she returns to campus.

Master's Examination

See Master's Thesis Defence Committee

Progress Report

Graduate students are required to initiate a progress report at the end of each semester through the GryphForm portal.

Thesis Oral Examination (officially known as Master's Examination)

This exam is more commonly referred to as the thesis defence. A special examination committee (which includes members of a student's advisory committee) is appointed for this exam. The chair of this defence is not a member of the advisory committee. See the graduate calendar.


Acronym for Graduate Teaching Assistant/Graduate Research Assistant/Graduate Service Assistant.

Withdrawal Notice (form)

This form is required if a student requests to permanently withdraw from the MA program prior to completion. It is also used if a student has registered for a semester and later decides to take a leave of absence. The student must complete a Withdrawal form (to withdraw from the semester) as well as a Leave of Absence form.