PhD Program

Time Limits:

12 terms from a MSc degree

The number of terms specified in these time limits apply regardless of whether the student is registered full-time or part-time.

Students who run over their time limit may not be guaranteed financial support. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that he/she has completed all the requirements and written his/her thesis within the time limit.


Regular Option

Students in the PhD program must successfully complete two additional one term courses beyond those required for the Master’s degree, pass an oral comprehensive examination, present a 30-minute seminar, and submit and defend an acceptable thesis. Half of the graduate courses must be taken within the Department of Chemistry. One of the two graduate courses may be taken through other departments within their registered University or students may request a transfer credit for a course taken from another University to meet the course requirements. Students are advised to consult with their supervisor in the selection of courses.


Admission Standards

The minimum academic requirements normally consist of a Master’s degree in Science from a recognized university. Strong emphasis is also placed on the letters of recommendation received in support of the student’s application. Students from foreign countries where English is not the language of instruction are also required to prove their proficiency in English through a TOEFL or IELTS exam. GRE (Graduate Record Examination) Subject Test scores are not required.


All graduate courses in GWC2 have final examinations, unless prior to the start of the course, the course instructor has proposed an alternate rigorous method of assessment to the Director. Although the overall method of evaluation is left up to the individual professors, general monitoring has shown the method of assessment to include assignments, a mid-term and final examination. All graduate courses are evaluated by the students each semester with respect to the course content and to the performance of the professors. These evaluations are kept on file in the Centre Office and are made available to the instructors for their information.

PhD Thesis

Students are required to seek out the advice of the Advisory Committee during the preparation of the thesis and provide them with a copy of the thesis to the Advisory Committee before it is submitted to the Examining Committee. The Advisory Committee has a minimum of two weeks to review the thesis. Once the Advisory Committee agrees that the thesis is ready for submission a date for the defense can be set.

Doctoral Seminar Requirement

This seminar [Chemistry 795(0)] is a credit (CR) requirement. Students must complete this requirement after successful completion of the Oral Comprehensive exam, and must be held no later than the end of term 7. It is about a 30 minute presentation, and is usually based on the thesis research topic. As with the MSc seminar, the goal is not the presentation of new data, but an explanation of the thesis research area which should be geared to a general audience of chemists. At the conclusion of the open discussion period following your seminar presentation, you may have your annual Supervisory Committee meeting. Please note it is a Faculty of Science policy that all PhD students are required to hold a Supervisory Committee meeting once a year following the Doctoral Seminar to informally present and discuss the progress made in your research project.

Doctoral Oral Comprehensive Requirement

The examination will normally be of the oral type. To facilitate the selection of topics to be covered, the student is required to hold a committee meeting at the end of term 1 or within the first six weeks of term 2 for regular students and within 4 months after returning from their work term for PhD Co-op students. Immediately following the committee meeting, the student’s PhD Advisory Committee, in consultation with the student’s supervisor(s), will define the topics to be covered. The Comprehensive/Qualifying Examination will be scheduled to occur within six (6) to twelve (12) weeks of the committee meeting but must take place in the second term. The candidate is given the exam 30 minutes before the examination and allowed to collect his/her thoughts, write down formulae, etc. In general, the student will be asked to complete 6 questions, 2 from each section, chosen from among the 9 on the examination paper. There will be an approximate time limit of 15 minutes per question. The student may, if he/she so desires, request one 10 minute break in the proceedings to gather his/her thoughts.

Timing of PhD Seminar and Comprehensive Exam

For regular entry PhD students, the Comprehensive Exam is held in the second term of their program, and the Seminar after successful completion of the exam but no later than the end of term 7.  For PhD Co-op students, the exam is held no later than 6 months after returning from their work term.

For PhD Direct Entry students, it is the fifth term for the exam. For the PhD Direct Entry students, the first three terms are the equivalent of a MSc program, thus the 4th term is the equivalent 1st term of the regular PhD program and thus the 2nd term falls on their 5th term.

For a PhD transfer from an MSc program, the student can apply in their 3rd or 4th term as a MSc Student to the PhD program. If accepted, they start their 1st term as a PhD student in their 4th or 5th term and thus their equivalent 2nd term as a PhD student is their 5th or 6th term.

To reward strong performances in seminar presentations, a prize of $200 is awarded annually on each campus of the Centre for the best Masters and Doctoral seminar.