Master's of Science Program Requirements and Deadlines

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Submit Thesis Outline & Committee Information Form LINK

Sep. start: Oct.15; Jan. start: Feb. 15; May start: June 15

0.5 FCE either graduate-only course or joint graduate-undergraduate course

Within three years of full-time study

0.5 FCE graduate-only course

Within three years of full-time study

Complete all three components of Seminars in Physiology course (PSL1000H)

Different timelines for each component; see below

First Committee Meeting: Thesis Proposal

Sep. or May start: by Dec. 20th; Jan. start: by Apr. 30th

Annual Supervisory Committee Meetings At least one per year enrolled; details below
Complete and defend a research thesis See below for details


Thesis Outline & Supervisory Committee Selection

Early in the program, work with your Supervisor to complete and submit the Thesis Outline and Committee Information Form to the Graduate Office by: 

September Start: October 15th; January start: February 15 ; May start: June 15th

The Form has two components:

Thesis Outline:

Work with your Supervisor to write a 200 word summary of your proposed project.

Supervisory Committee Information:

How to Form Your Supervisory Committee:

  • When you begin your studies, you will collaborate with your Supervisor to form a Supervisory Committee
  • The Committee will consist of the Supervisor and at least two other professors, one of whom must be appointed to the Department of Physiology (the other can be from another department)
  • Once the Committee is established, and all members have been confirmed, fill out the Thesis Outline and Committee Information form accordingly and submit as per above instructions
  • Begin to plan your Proposal Meeting (see dropdown below for details and deadlines)

What is the Supervisory Committee and what is its purpose?

  • The Committee exists as impartial mediators and advisors to help the student ensure their milestones are met and that their project is progressing at a good pace.
  • The Committee will meet with the student at the beginning of their MSc to review their proposal and provide feedback and recommendations. This is the First Committee Meeting.
  • After the First Committee Meeting, the Committee will meet with the student at least once per year enrolled to review and discuss the student's Annual Report
  • Additional Committee Meetings can be arranged if necessary to help the student achieve their goals.
  • Read more about Supervisory Committees here.


Choosing Courses

  • Click here to view Course Timetables.
  • Courses should be selected in consultation with the Supervisor and/or Supervisory Committee. 
  • Seminars in Physiology (PSL1000H) and research activity (RST9999Y) are preloaded to students' records. Add all other Physiology courses using ACORN.
  • Courses taken in other departments may be counted towards a degree, but only upon approval of the Graduate Coordinator and with no other appropriate courses available in the Department of Physiology.  A Course Permission Form with full explanation must be completed and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office before enrolling.
  • Students are responsible for their course enrollment status at all times.

Completing Seminars in Physiology Course (PSL1000H)

This mandatory course is comprised of:

  1. Attending the Introduction to Scientific Communication lecture that takes place during Orientation
  2. Seminar Requirement: attending at least eight seminars per academic year. Students are required to submit a "Seminar Course Attendance Record" for each seminar they attend. Please print the form, bring it to the seminar, and submit it at the end. It is not permitted to submit forms for other students. See details of eligible seminars below.
  3. Completing the Scientific Presentation Requirement described below.

Timing for each requirement:

  1. Required once, delivered at mandatory orientation
  2. Required each year of enrollment
  3. Required once over course of program

Eligible Seminars for Seminar Requirement:

Department of Physiology Seminar Series, Thursdays 4:00 pm in MSB

  • These seminars are held on a weekly basis and are Platform-based; students can attend any of these seminars for credit. These are announced in Physiolink.

Department of Physiology-sponsored Special Seminars

  • These seminars are held outside of the designated Thursday 4:00 pm seminar times, but are usually to host outside speakers that are here for other purposes. The Special Seminars that are eligible for the course will be indicated in the Physiolink announcement.

Department of Physiology Endowed Lectures – look for announcements in Physiolink

  • Archibald Byron Macallum Lectureship
  • Charles H. Best Lectureship and Award
  • John K. and Mary E. Davidson Lectureship

Distinguished Lectureships in Specific Collaborative Programs associated with the Department of Physiology – Click below for information.

University of Toronto Neuroscience Program Distinguished Lectureship Series 

Banting and Best Diabetes Centre Seminar Series 

Scientific Presentation Requirement:

  • MSc students are required to present their work at least once over the course of their degree program.
  • Ideally this will be an oral or poster presentation at a national and/or international Scientific Meeting.
  • If you are not able to attend a Scientific Meeting while completing your degree, please arrange to present a seminar to your Departmental Platform Research Group with the Platform Leader. This may include an invited Oral Presentation at Frontiers in Physiology (FIP).
  • This presentation should be planned well in advance of your potential defense date to be sure that you have fulfilled all course requirements.
  • Submit a copy of the official poster acceptance, oral talk invitation, or seminar presentation plan from the Meeting Organizers to the Graduate Program Administrator. 

First Committee Meeting: Thesis Proposal

The First Committee Meeting must be held within four months of entry to a graduate program.

September Start: by December 20th; January start: by April 30th; May start: by December 20th

Before the Meeting:

  • Produce a Research Proposal with help from their Supervisor
  • Submit this Proposal to the rest of the Committee members at least a week before the meeting
  • Prepare to present the Proposal at the meeting; be sure to identify any problems you’ve encountered so far

At the Meeting:

  • Present your Proposal and discuss it with the Committee; this is your chance to ask questions and receive feedback about things to consider to ensure your project’s success.
  • Complete a Supervisory Committee Meeting Report form in collaboration with the Committee
  • Discuss when next you should meet.

After the meeting:

  • Submit the following to the Graduate Administrator: FILL THIS IN.


    Annual Supervisory Committee Meetings

    • Regardless of the start date of their program, all students must submit an Annual Report by June 30th each year of their enrollment.
    • The Annual Report typically forms the basis of Committee Meetings subsequent to the First Committee Meeting described above.
    • In addition to the First Committee Meeting, all students must have at least one Committee Meeting per year of their enrollment.

    Completing Annual Reports and Subsequent Meetings:

    • This report builds on your Research Proposal and details...blah blah WILL FINISH THIS
    • To ensure the approval is granted, make sure you include a roadmap detailing how you will complete the work as part of your Annual Report (SEE TIPS AND GUIDELINES FOR MORE INFO)
    • Prepare this report and send it to the other Committee Members at least one week before the Committee Meeting you have scheduled.
    • Prepare, present and discuss the Report at the meeting.
    • Submit the Annual Report with the correct forms ADD LINK to the Graduate Administrator by June 30th.

    Additional Supervisory Committee Meetings:

    • The student, Supervisor, or Graduate Coordinator can request that additional Committee Meetings as needed.
    • These can be used to further discuss problems and/or progress in the student's research.
    • Should the student and Supervisor fail to reach an agreement on major aspects of the student's research program, the student can ask the Graduate Coordinator to call and chair a Committee Meeting.
    • A Supervisory Committee Meeting Report form must be submitted to the Graduate Administrator for each additional meeting.

    Your Thesis: Getting Started

    As you progress through the program, the “story” of your thesis will evolve based on the data you collect and the limitations presented by certain techniques and experiments.

    Typically, students have most of their data collected with sixteen to eighteen months of the start of the program. Once you have the data, it’s time to map out, write, and defend your thesis. 

    Here are the steps:

    1. Discuss with your Supervisor:

    • Discuss your work with your Supervisor and determine what experiments or data are still needed to have a complete “story” (i.e. what is still needed to make your project defendable?). 
    • Be aware of the timeframe you are working with and reduce the possibility of new experiments as much as possible.

    2. Decide on your deadline:

    • Based on the discussion with your Supervisor, decide which thesis submission deadline you are aiming for. You can find the current ones here, set out annually by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS)
    • Keep in mind that the stipend is only guaranteed for 24 months, and that missing an SGS session deadline will cost you additional tuition.
    • Once you have decided on that date, work backward from there to schedule the next steps, ensuring you have time to get permission, write, and defend.

    3. Request permission to defend from your Supervisory Committee:

    • Students typically request to defend their thesis at their second Annual Supervisory Committee Meeting (see above for details on these meetings)
    • To ensure the approval is granted, make sure you include a roadmap detailing how you will complete the work as part of your Annual Report (SEE TIPS AND GUIDELINES FOR MORE INFO??)
    • Get the committee to check the box

    Your Thesis: Write, Defend, Submit

    Write your Thesis:

    See How to Write Your Thesis in the Academic Resources section for full guidance. 

    Arrange your External Defense Committee:

    Your committee must consist of: 

    • 1 Committee Chair (a member of your Departmental Research Grouping, but not a member of your Supervisory Committee
    • 1 External Member (from outside of the Department, not a member of your Supervisory Committee)
    • 1 Examination Member (a field expert within the Department) 
    • 1 Supervisory Committee Member 
    • 1 Non-voting Member (your Supervisor)

    Schedule your Defense: 

    • Four months before defense: Reach out to your External Defense Committee to make sure you have no scheduling conflicts 
    • 2-3 weeks (at least 10 business days) before defense: Submit copies of your thesis to all members.
    • 2 weeks (10 business days) before defense: Complete the MSc – Arrangements for Thesis Defense form and submit to the Physiology Graduate Office, MSB 3217.
    • 2 weeks (10 business days) before defense: Book your room. The defense can take place on or off campus.

    Prepare Your Presentation:

    • The presentation of your thesis should be 20-25 minutes in length.
    • Try to tell a cohesive “story” when you present the results of your experiments
    • Speak to how your work will change and/or fit into the current literature
    • Detail the implications and significance of your findings 


    • Present your thesis as above, and answer questions from the committee
    • The “MSc - Thesis Defense Report” must be completed by the chair of the examination committee. The committee should give reasons for its recommendation. 
    • Amendments or corrections may be required by the Committee before the Department's recommendation can be sent to the School of Graduate Studies. 
    • The form, including all signatures and comments should be submitted to the Department of Physiology, MSB 3209.

    Edit and Submit: