Supervisory Committee

From PNB Graduate Handbook
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Forming your Supervisory Committee

Students should form their supervisory committees before the end of the fall term of their first year, and aim to hold their first supervisory committee meeting before the end of April in the winter term of their first year. This is important so that your committee can provide guidance prior to the first Progress Report deadline on May 15th.

Once your supervisory committee is formed, please complete the Plan of Study form to record the composition of your committee. Also be sure to talk to the Graduate Program Assistant (Emily Thomas) to tell her the members of your committee. This is very important because committee membership must be entered into the McMaster School of Graduate Studies system.

Occasionally, for reasons of providing expertise in a specific area to your supervisory committee, a committee member might be someone from a different university, or someone who does not normally serve on supervisory committees. The School of Graduate Studies has an application form for these experts:

Supervisory Committee Meetings

Please note that there are two different annual reports: Supervisory Committee Meeting Reports (described here), and Progress Reports (due May 15th annually).

Your first supervisory committee meeting should occur before end of April of your first year. Subsequent to the first year, every student must hold a supervisory committee meeting once every academic year (e.g., September to August), at minimum (many committees meet more often). These reports must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies before the end of November every year.

Each meeting is documented via the Supervisory Committee Meeting Report (form). There are now two different procedures for masters and doctoral level students.

Doctoral students: NEW! To initiate your committee meeting, send an email to Emily Thomas PRIOR to the date of the meeting. Emily Thomas will initiate your meeting online using graduate administrative tools. After Emily Thomas initiates the meeting you will receive an email with a link so that you can complete your portion of the form. This has the same sections you are used to seeing on the paper form. After you submit this information your supervisory committee members will each receive an email asking them to complete their portion of the form, which they will do following the committee meeting. The online system lets you check the status of responses. Once all the responses have been received you will have the opportunity to read the feedback.

  • NEW March 2020 – Non-Graded PhD Supervisory Committee Meeting Report. This version of the PhD Supervisory Committee Meeting form may be used by some PhD students returning from a Leave of Absence who wish to have a record of a meeting with their supervisory committee without formal ratings by the committee. This form/meeting does not replace the annual meeting, but can be used to help establish goals which could then be reflected upon in the annual Supervisory Committee Report. This form/meeting is not mandatory but is strongly encouraged to help students feel supported.

Masters students: The committee meeting report for masters students has not changed. Complete all the relevant student sections and bring ONE copy of the form to your committee meeting. Your supervisor, in consultation with the other members of your committee, will complete the remaining sections. The completed and signed form is then submitted to Emily Thomas. You can find the form here:

COVID-related delays: reporting for supervisory committee meetings

The School of Graduate Studies has shared modified Master's and PhD supervisory meeting forms to allow students and supervisory committees to describe the impact of COVID on the student's thesis work, where needed.

PhD non-grading supervisory form: This is a paper form meant to be used for a "special" committee meeting to discuss COVID-related delays. It is not graded, but will be included in the student's record in SGS. It is a paper copy (the process will not involve the email system used for regular graded committee meetings for PhD students, although SGS might incorporate it into the email system at some point). It is fine to incorporate this "special" COVID-delay meeting within the regular supervisory meeting - in which case committees will complete both the paper non-grading form and the series of electronic forms that are triggered by emails.

Masters supervisory form: This is a paper form that can be used instead of the regular paper form that Masters committees use. The grading part of the Masters form has not changed.

Plan of Study

The PNB Plan of Study:

  • records the composition of your [Supervisory Committee#Forming your Supervisory Committee supervisory committee] (to be done by end of first term of first year), and
  • provides a structure to plan required courses, modules, and the Comprehensive Exam. The plan should be worked out in consultation with your supervisory committee, and approved by your committee and the graduate chair.

We suggest that you start the conversation about your Plan of Study at your first committee meeting; you won't likely know all the courses you want to take yet, but you can start thinking about options with your committee. It is useful to review your Plan of Study at each supervisory committee meeting.

  • Each time you update your Plan of Study you can enter the changes online:
  • Plan of Study form

The online Plan of Study will ask you for:

The advanced statistics courses, independent study modules, comprehensive exam topic(s), and additional half course should be chosen with the aim of achieving a reasonable balance between breadth of knowledge across the relevant discipline and depth of knowledge within the student's sub-discipline of specialization. See Course Requirements.

Progress Reports

This link will take you to a detailed description of Progress Reports, which are due every year on May 15th.