Program Outline


Partial fulfilment of the graduate program is subsequently dependent upon satisfactory completion of graduate courses arranged by the student's supervisory committee. These courses are intended to facilitate the student's progress in the program. The minimum number of courses generally required is one didactic course for both MSc and PhD degrees, and one additional reading course for the degree of PhD.  Most or all graduate courses should be completed within the first two years of entering the graduate program.  Emphasis has been on producing research of good, publishable quality, rather than extensive course requirements.

Courses in other related areas, such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, statistics and histology, are desirable but not required. Students who lack background in several of the areas listed above may be admitted as qualifying graduate students and only transferred to a regular program after completion of these courses. Funding for such students is not available from University sources and some external agencies.

Additional courses as part of the graduate program will be decided by the student's supervisory committee in consultation with the graduate student, and will be monitored by the graduate studies coordinator.

Students will be expected to achieve a grade of at least C+ in all required courses and normally maintain a cumulative average of at least 2.7.  If a student has an average between 2.3 and 2.7 in any given year with no more than two failed half courses, the student will be allowed to repeat the failed course(s) or take an equivalent course(s). If a pass is not achieved in the second attempt, the student will normally be asked to withdraw from the program. Students who receive averages below 2.3 or who fail more than two courses will normally be asked to withdraw without a second chance.

Supervisory Committee

The supervisory committee should be formed within the first year of the student entering the program, and should meet regularly with the student to discuss courses prior to the start of term. The supervisory committee is made up of the supervisor and two other faculty members within the university who have expertise in the student's area of research.


Graduate students are also expected to attend departmental seminars and present material at seminars, discussion groups and scientific meetings. Since decisions about career placement are often based, in large part, on oral presentations of research material, this is an important aspect of the student's training. Starting in the Fall of 2008, all students will be required to attend at least 20 seminars per year. Each student will be required to keep a record of the seminars attended. All PhD students are required to present a seminar on their research at the time of their thesis examination. All MSc students are required to give one 30 minute seminar at the time of (usually immediately prior to) their oral thesis defense.


Students who wish to pursue a career in teaching can choose to participate in the Graduate Teaching and Learning Programe  GTL.  This multi-tier program - a collaboration of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, departments and faculties, and the Office of the Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) will deliver new and exciting opportunities for training in university instruction. 

Students completing both levels will receive a letter indicating they have met the Level Two requirements, and the following notation will appear on their transcript:  Graduate Teaching and Learning Program completed.

MSc Program

  • First year: course work, presentation of thesis topic to supervisory committee, initial laboratory research, teaching
  • Second year: thesis research, teaching, final thesis examination and seminar

PhD Program

  • First year: same as for first year of M.Sc., with presentation of thesis proposal and seminar
  • Second year: further course work (if required), thesis research, teaching
  • Third year: thesis research, teaching, candidacy examination
  • Fourth year: thesis research, final thesis examination and seminar