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Master's (MSc) Defense Timeline

(Revised September 2013)

It is the responsibility of the student to prepare the thesis early enough to allow the following:

Your supervisor to review the document (allow two weeks).

  1. Immediate committee members to review the document (allow another two weeks). This is your supervisory committee and does NOT include the internal/external examiner or thesis defense chair.
  2. The student may then need to make required revisions from committee member(s) comments (perhaps two weeks).
  3. Submission to the Psychology Graduate Office for departmental processing prior to your defense date (allow 13 business days).

A student should count on having to have the thesis approved by the supervisor not less than six (6) or seven (7) weeks prior to the ‘desired’ defense date. Even then, the detection of serious revisions by committee members could cause delays. As a result, in order for an MSc student to defend by the end of August they must have the thesis passed by the supervisor no later than mid-July. Extra time may be needed if committee members are out of town or on vacation during this time period. If a committee member is away, that time cannot be counted as part of the two (2) weeks for review. Students should ask committee members well in advance when they will be absent from the department. It is the student’s responsibility to adapt to such absences in a reasonable fashion (e.g., if the faculty member will be away for the entire month of August, the student cannot expect to defend by late August if the thesis is not written, edited to the supervisor’s satisfaction, and delivered to the committee by mid-July at the latest). On the other hand, faculty also must respond reasonably. It is not reasonable to give low priority to reading and providing feedback on a thesis just because other work is pressing. Membership on thesis committees is a responsibility. If revisions are requested and one or more committee members want to examine the revised document prior to approving it for defense, another two (2) week period to review and comment on the second draft is appropriate.

The scheduling of the internal/external examiner (faculty member from another department/unit within Queen’s) before the committee has agreed that the thesis is ready to defend also is inappropriate. This puts pressure on the committee member both to approve the thesis for defense and (sometimes) to return the document in an unreasonably brief time. Faculty should feel free to reject such demands. From the other side, faculty should not demand revisions for minor reasons. Theses can be edited further after the defense.

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to arrange for an internal/external examiner and set a date for the thesis defense. The defense date can only be set once the internal/external and all committee members have agreed to it. To make things run particularly smoothly, the supervisor could also arrange for a chair (faculty member from within the department but from a different program - COG-NEURO, DEV, CLIN, SOC/PER) for the student defending. Chairs also may be from other departments/units.

All information (date, time, and list of all committee members plus internal/external) must be included on the forms submitted to the Psychology Graduate Office in order to ‘officially’ schedule the defense. If the supervisor has recruited a chair, ensure that the date and time are acceptable to the chair as well and include the name and program of the chair on the forms submitted.

  1. The thesis is first given to your supervisor for review. Your supervisor must consider your thesis ready for consideration before it goes to the rest of the committee. It is part of the supervisor’s role to make the major editorial recommendations on the first draft(s) of the thesis such that the burden for other committee members is reduced to fine tuning and looking for issues that were missed by the student and supervisor. Thus, a student should NOT ask committee members for feedback prior to the supervisor declaring the thesis ready to go to the committee. Although, clearly students may consult committee members about specific issues such as statistical analyses, interpretations of specific effects, etc., the committee should not carry the primary responsibility for preparation of the manuscript. You should allow two (2) or more weeks for your supervisor’s review and comments.

  2. Once your supervisor has indicated your thesis is ready for consideration by the committee, the thesis is then given to the rest of the committee. Note: this applies only to your supervisory committee and does NOT include the internal/external examiner or thesis defense chair. Sometimes students have presented committee members with theses (for the first time) and stated that the thesis date has already been established. This is inappropriate. The thesis is submitted to the committee members for their evaluation, including an evaluation of whether or not the thesis is ready for defense. Committee members normally should return theses with comments within two (2) weeks of receiving them.

  3. If you need to make required revisions from immediate committee member comments, you must ensure that all committee members have the most updated version of your thesis.

  4. Approximately thirteen (13) business days prior to your defense two (2) copies of your thesis (one will be sent to the Chair and the other one will be sent to the external/internal committee member from another department/unit in Queen’s) are submitted to the Psychology Graduate Office along with the following two (2) forms ‘MSc Committee Form - Part II’ and the ‘MSc Oral Examination”, which can be found on the department’s Forms and Policies webpage.

    The student also needs to ensure that all immediate committee members have a hard copy of the most updated version of the thesis at least thirteen (13) business days prior to the defense.

  5. Your supervisor is responsible for arranging the room booking for your defense. This is generally booked through the main office (Humphrey Hall) in room H228. Please contact the main office directly to book H228 at least thirteen (13) business days prior to the defense.

Once the forms and two (2) copies of your thesis have been submitted to the Psychology Graduate Office and signed off by the Department Head the Graduate Assistant will send the following emails:

  • Entire committee and student defending receive confirmation of defense details,
  • Student will receive the following forms to be completed and brought to the defense: Permission of Co-Authors (if applicable); UMI Form; and Microfilming Permission,
  • All committee members (minus chair) will receive a request for confidential reports to be submitted,
  • Chair will receive an outline of procedure, notes and checklist for the defense.

After your defense, any revisions to your thesis must be completed before final submission to QSpace. The supervisor must send an email to the Thesis Coordinator in the School of Graduate Studies <> indicating all revisions/changes have been satisfactorily completed.