Graduate Student Handbook: MSc Defense Preparation and Timeline

Master’s Students (MSc) – Preparing Your Draft Thesis and Preparing for Your Oral Defense

Congratulations on getting to this point in your program! This means you have completed all other degree requirements, tutorials, etc. and have written your draft thesis for consideration t to proceed to oral defense. The following outlines the steps and timeline associated with those steps from starting the approval process to defend your thesis orally, to applying to convocate following a successful oral defense.

Draft Thesis Approval Submission and Timeline

Students are required to follow SGS Thesis Format requirements.

Theses from the Department of Psychology must also adhere to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) Thesis Format or another thesis format that is generally accepted in the relevant field of specialization

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

Submit the Draft Thesis to Your Supervisor for Review/Approval

The draft 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 work with the student by making any major editorial recommendations on the first draft(s) of the thesis. Allow two weeks for your supervisor to review and provide approval of your draft thesis.

Submit Your Approved Draft Thesis to Committee Members for Review/Approval

Upon approval from their supervisor that the thesis is ready for evaluation by the examining committee, the student may distribute their draft thesis to their thesis advisory committee members for review, editing requirements, and approval (the thesis is not distributed to the internal/external examiner or the chair at this time). Committee members perform their evaluation and return their findings complete with comments within two (2) weeks of receipt of the supervisor-approved draft thesis. 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 above two (2) weeks for review so students are advised to confirm examiners’ possible away times to avoid delays.

Edits to Draft Thesis

The student may then need to make required revisions identified by committee member(s) comments (this may require another two weeks to complete).

Permission to Defend

Once the supervisor and thesis advisory committee have approved the draft thesis, the student asks them to complete the MSc Permission to Defend Form FILLABLE (PDF, 60 KB). The student then submits the signed and dated Permission Form to the PSYC Graduate Program Assistant via email to: This step is completed before the student begins to set their oral defense date and identify their defense committee membership.

Identify Oral Thesis Defense Committee Membership

Following submission of the approved Permission to Defend Form, the supervisor and student work together to identify the oral thesis defense examining committee members. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to arrange for the internal examiners and an internal/external examiner and set a date for the thesis defense. Supervisors may also identify the head’s delegate. The supervisor may identify a chair or request that the PSYC Grad Program Administrator secure one. It is preferred that the chair be either from another PSYC program or be from another Queen’s unit.  

Thesis Examining Committee Membership

  • Chairperson

  • Head of the Department (or their delegate)

  • Supervisor

  • at least one other faculty member in the Department

  • at least one faculty member from another Queen’s Department

Guidelines for Selecting Internal-External Examiners

It is the responsibility of the student’s supervisor to recommend to the Head a suitable external examiner. Appropriate internal-external examiners in the Department of Psychology meet the following criteria:

  • They are “at arm’s length” which means in this context that (1) they have no stake in the project; and (2) they are capable of independent judgment regarding the thesis. Individuals who are or who have recently collaborated with the thesis supervisor are usually excluded from consideration.

  • They are a faculty member in another department at Queen’s University.  In the exceptional case, where a suitable faculty member of another department within Queen’s University cannot be found, a member from another nearby institution may be recommended to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for approval.

  • Their area of expertise is sufficiently related to the thesis topic to permit informed judgment beyond that of an intelligent lay person.

  • They have not seen the thesis prior to its submission for oral defense.

Selection of Chair

Where the supervisor has recruited a chair, the supervisor will ensure that the date and time identified are acceptable to the chair. Where the supervisor requests that the Grad Prog Administrator secure a chair, the Administrator will add the chair’s name and ensure they are available to serve at the time indicated by the committee.

Preparation and Submission of the Thesis Oral Defense Form to the PSYC Grad Office

In order to comply with SGS regulations, the following oral defense preparation steps must occur no less than thirteen (13) business days prior to the actual date of the defense (may occur earlier if possible):

THE SUPERVISOR emails the PSYC Grad Program Administrator at: and provides the following information:

  • Name of student defending

  • Date and time of defense

  • Committee membership including the name of the head’s delegate and chair if confirmed – or – requests that the PSYC Grad Program Administrator secure a chair following SGS processes

THE STUDENT who is defending provides the following information to the PSYC Grad Program Administrator via email at:

  • their signed Permission to Defend form

  • an MS Word or PDF version of their advisory-committee approved thesis document

THE PSYC GRAD PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR then has two (2) working days to:

  • Review the student’s progress in their degree to determine their eligibility to proceed to oral defense

  • Prepare the oral defense form with the information provided by the supervisor

  • Secure both the supervisor and the PSYC Coord of Graduate Studies’ signatures on the defense form

  • Provide a confirmation of permission to proceed to defense email to the committee members and attaches the signed oral defense form, the approved thesis, and other oral-defense related documentation no less than eleven (11) working days prior to the oral defense

  • Send the defending student an email with instructions on “things to do before/after your defense”

  • Provide the PSYC Weekly Newsletter with a defense announcement

Co-Authorship Form for Completion by Student

The student will receive a “things to do before/after your defense” email of instructions from the PSYC Graduate Program Assistant via email as part of the defense confirmation process. The student will be given instructions on how to complete and submit the Co-Authorship Form in preparation for the defense.

Remote Oral Defense Instructions

At this time all oral defenses occur remotely either via Zoom or Teams. The chair of your committee will advise which format is being used and will provide all committee members with the appropriate link to connect to the defense. Chairs are advised to refer to How to Use Teams for Thesis Defenses (115 KB) to assist with setting up the oral defense.

Oral Thesis Examination Outcome Categories

At each oral thesis examination, the examining committee will reach one of the three outcome categories as stipulated by the School of Graduate Studies:

  1. Passed;

  2. Referred; or

  3. Failed

Evaluation of Thesis Form Submission

The PSYC Graduate Program Administrator provides each examiner with a PSYC Evaluation of Thesis form. Examiners complete their form and submit it to the PSYC Graduate Program Administrator via email to: at the end of the oral defense or shortly thereafter. Evaluation forms are retained in the PSYC Graduate Office for consideration for the annual competition.

Chair’s Responsibilities After the Defense

Following completion of the Result Form, the Chair returns all oral defense documentation to the PSYC Grad Program Administrator for final processing to SGS. 

Supervisor’s Approval for Submission of Final Approved Thesis to QSpace

Once the student has made any revisions required to their thesis as identified by the examining committee, they submit this final version to their supervisor for final approval. When the supervisor determines the final thesis meets the requirements as identified by the examining committee, that supervisor sends an email to: and copy the student indicating that: All edits required by the thesis examining committee at the oral examination have now been met and this thesis is APPROVED and eligible for loading to QSpace. 

Student’s Upload of Final Approved Thesis to QSpace

SGS will provide the student with instructions on how to load their final approved thesis to QSpace following receipt of the supervisor’s APPROVAL email as noted above.

UMI and Permission Forms Completion

These processes are performed by the student online as part of the upload to QSpace of the final approved thesis. 

SGS Confirmation of Permission to Convocate

SGS will provide the student with instructions will forward a letter of degree completion to the student and copy the department; provide information about any tuition refunds where applicable; provide information about how to apply to convocate, and any other completion details as required immediately following the permission to load final thesis to QSpace notification.



Giovanna Crocco
Graduate Program Administrator

Department of Psychology, 62 Arch Street
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6