Advisory Committee

The PhD student’s advisory committee will consist of no fewer than three members of the graduate faculty. The faculty advisor, who must be from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, is normally the chair of the committee.

One other committee member must be from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. It is recommended that one committee member be from outside the student’s home department. This person could be from another university; in such instances, this individual must be designated as graduate faculty by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (the Graduate Program Assistant will prepare the necessary documentation).

The advisory committee is formally established once the Advisory Committee Appointment form is submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies.


The advisor plays a critical role throughout the student's program. Selection of an advisor is a joint decision of the student and the faculty member involved, and is based upon the research topic, the student’s interests and background preparation, and the faculty member's areas of research expertise. The student will select members of the advisory committee in consultation with the advisor.

In the event that a doctoral student's primary advisor does not hold a PhD in Sociology, at least one other committee member must hold a PhD degree in Sociology.


Students may request that one of their advisory committee members serve as co-advisor. This situation would normally arise under one of the following circumstances:

  • The student and the advisor recognize that another faculty member has a valuable complementary area of expertise essential to the student’s work, and that the student would prefer to work with that faculty member on a more regular basis than is customary in the case of a regular committee member.
  • In the course of pursuing their degree, the student finds that it is advantageous to consult with an advisory committee member considerably more than was foreseen when the committee was originally struck. In this case, it may be appropriate for this advisory committee member to be reclassified as co-advisor. A new Advisory Committee Appointment form would need to be submitted.

Student Progress Report

Towards the end of each semester, each registered student will receive an email related to the online Student Progress Report. If you haven’t already done so, will be required to create a Student Profile and initiate the progress report process for the completed semester. Prior to meeting with their advisor (and/or advisory committee), graduate students are expected to fill in the student comments portion of the progress report form, indicating what they’ve accomplished during the semester (refer to Table 1 to get a sense of expected student’s progress through the program) and what they hope to accomplish in the subsequent semester.

Table 1: Expected Timeline for completion of PhD Program (S#=registered semester number)
YEAR Fall Semester Winter Semester Summer Semester

S1: Coursework

S2: Coursework

S3: QE reading guided by Contextual Statement & Reading List


S4: QE Written Component then QE Oral Component

S5: Proposal (& REB-if required)

S6: Data Collection/ Analysis


S7: Data Collection/Analysis

S8: Analysis/Writing/ Revisions

S9: Analysis/Writing/ Revisions


S10: Writing/Revisions

S11: Writing/Revisions

S12: Defense

Based on progress through the program, the advisory committee will determine whether the student’s progress is deemed satisfactory, some concerns, or unsatisfactory (e.g., see Box 1). A student who does not meet expectations will be given a rating of “some concerns” and this rating will be reported to the Office of Graduate Studies, with a plan of action for the student to follow for subsequent semesters. A student who fails to meet expectations after a rating of “some concerns” may be given a rating of “unsatisfactory” and this rating will also be reported to the Office of Graduate Studies. In such cases, the department will prepare a statement as to what action is being taken at the department level or is required of the Assistant Vice-President of Graduate Studies.

Box 1: Below are some examples of criteria used to determine whether a student’s progress is deemed acceptable within a given semester.


  • successfully completed their courses
  • is on track within the program (see Table 1)
  • has met with their advisor/advisory committee at least once during the semester being reported on

Some concerns:

  • has failed to check in with their advisory committee during the semester being reported on, and/or
  • has demonstrated insufficient progress in their program
  • during the semester (e.g., is one or two semesters behind their expected progress through their program).


  • fails a course, or
  • fails a QE component (i.e., a written or oral attempt), or
  • is more than two semesters behind their expected progress through the program, or
  • fails to meet expectations noted in Plan of Action after a rating of “some concerns”

Please see Appendix I for details on administrative forms related to your program.

It is the responsibility of the student's advisor (or interim advisor) to ensure that the progress report is signed electronically by the student and all members of the advisory committee at the end of each registered semester. The Graduate Coordinator will then review the progress report prior to signing. The student will have access to the signed progress report through the Gryph Forms Portal.

Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

As noted in the graduate calendar: “Regardless of the best intentions of all involved, conflict can arise in the course of graduate studies. Depending on the type of conflict and the issues involved, different resolution mechanisms will be appropriate. Four types of conflict can arise in the course of graduate studies. These are:

  1. Interpersonal conflict between the student and the advisor.
  2. Dispute about evaluation of progress, qualifying or oral examination; includes procedural irregularity.
  3. Disruptive, abusive, or destructive behaviour on the part of the advisor.
  4. Disruptive, abusive, or destructive behaviour on the part of the student.”

Leave of Absence

Graduate students must maintain continuous registration or receive permission for a leave of absence. The leave of absence must be for a specified period of time, not to exceed one year, and must be approved by the department and by the Office of Graduate Studies. Students must submit an Application for Leave of Absence and Withdrawal form, which is available from the Graduate Program Assistant or on the Forms and Documents website.

While on leave of absence, you may not function as a graduate student, including all research/writing activity and completion of any incomplete courses, and may not make use of university resources, either personnel or physical in connection with your graduate program. You are expected to check your university e-mail account on a regular basis for important notices.

If you require more than a one-year leave of absence (i.e., more than 3 semesters of leave), we recommend withdrawing from the program and reapplying when you are able to commit the time required to complete your PhD program.