The examination committee will review the thesis and conduct an oral examination designed to test the candidate's knowledge of the thesis subject and of related fields.
The supervisor shall chair the thesis oral examination. The chair is responsible for ensuring that the examination proceeds according to the FGS guidelines & procedures for “Oral Examinations for Theses and Dissertations”.
It is essential that all members of the examination committee participate in the examination for which the committee is charged. If the FGS has advance warning that the supervisor or an examiner cannot attend the examination, the following can occur:
In cases of emergency, where there is little or no notice of the absence of a committee member (i.e., sudden illness), the situation will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the supervisor and/or FGS.
Normally, the oral thesis examination will be considered an “open” session, at which faculty members and students from the student's academic unit may attend. The student completes the “Announcement of Final Oral Examination” which includes their thesis title, abstract, and lists of awards and publications received and submits this to FGS. The FGS will utilize this information in advertising the oral examination on the FGS website. It is the responsibility of the supervisor, who is also the chair, to notify the students and faculty of the student’s academic unit of the oral examination and the necessary teleconferencing arrangements. This is normally done approximately two weeks in advance of the oral examination.
The oral examination may be closed, for example, when the results of the thesis must be kept confidential for a period of time. In such cases, the examination committee and academic unit graduate program designate shall recommend such action to the FGS, who shall then approve that the final examination be closed to all but the examination committee, the chair, and the Dean of FGS.
Individuals interested in attending the oral examination must register with FGS at least 72 hours prior to the oral examination and must be approved by FGS and the supervisor. At the oral examination, the guests, (a) may participate in the questioning only by permission of the chair; (b) are not permitted to participate in the discussion of the student’s performance, (c) must enter the session early and cannot exit and re-enter during the oral examination, and (d) must withdraw before the committee deliberates on the outcome of the student’s thesis and oral examination. At the completion of the questioning period, the committee will deliberate in private. The supervisor, with all the committee members present, will inform the student of the adjudication results immediately after the deliberations. Refer to the guidelines and procedures for “Oral Examinations for Master’s Theses and Dissertations” for the roles of the guests, the proctor, and the supervisor/chair.
The decision of the examination committee will be based both on the a) written thesis and b) candidate's ability to defend it. The examiners will consider the merits of the oral examination and the written thesis. They will also determine the nature of and procedures for approval of any revisions that will be required prior to submission to FGS. All examination committee members must sign the “Master’s Thesis and Oral Examination Final Report”, indicating their decision.
The decision shall be that of the majority, with the external committee member having decision-making authority equal to the rest of the examination committee. Each of the committee members will hold one vote, including each of the co-supervisors. If a decision cannot be reached, the supervisor shall record the recommendation of each committee member on the “Master’s Thesis and Oral Examination Final Report”. This is submitted to the FGS who will determine an appropriate course of action.
Depending upon the reason for the Fail in the oral examination or the thesis, the committee may recommend to FGS that the student be allowed a second attempt on the oral examination or the final written thesis. If the FGS agrees with this recommendation, at the second attempt the examination committee must select one of two adjudication categories, Pass or Fail. Students will not be allowed to resubmit their thesis at the second attempt. Any student who is granted permission for a second attempt and receives a Fail on either the final thesis or the oral examination will receive a Fail on their transcript. Under extraordinary circumstances, the student may obtain an Adjourned, Repeat Oral on the second attempt.
The supervisor, who is the chair, is responsible for making arrangements to procure signatures from all examination committee members at the time of the examination, or as soon as possible after the examination. All committee members must sign the “Master’s Thesis and Oral Examination Final Report” or indicate by an email, their decision regarding the thesis and oral examination.
It is the duty of all the examiners to read the thesis and report on its merits according to the following categories at the oral examination:
Examination committee members approve the thesis. It may or may not require minor revisions.
Since these are minor revisions/modifications, the supervisor may decide to withhold only their signature until the revisions/modifications have been made. The nature of the changes and the withholding of the signature to ensure that the changes have been made should be indicated in the report.
The revisions to the thesis are sufficiently substantial (e.g., further research or experimentation, or major reworking of sections, are required, or the committee is not satisfied with the general presentation of the thesis), requiring a reconvening of the full examination committee.
The thesis is unacceptable.
Students must pass an oral examination on the subject of the thesis and matters relating thereto.
The presentation accurately described the research, and the student was able to accurately and articulately answer the questions.
The student can proceed to graduate if they received a Pass on their thesis.
The presentation of the research was poor with inadequate description of the study; the student answered the questions poorly, indicating a lack of knowledge in the research they conducted.
The final oral examination should be adjourned in compelling, extraordinary circumstances.
Updated July 19 2017 by Student & Academic Services