A thesis supervisor plays a crucial role in the academic career of graduate students by ensuring successful progress in their program of study.

Effective supervision of Graduate students necessitates close interactions between the graduate student and their supervisor. The supervisor must fulfill three essential roles in this process:

  • to advise
  • to monitor and;
  • to act as a mentor

In addition, supervisors are uniquely positioned to provide feedback and guidance regarding the progress of their students.

Supervisors need to be aware of, and respect, the conditions necessary for the proper oversight of their graduate students. In particular, supervisors must:

  • Be cognizant of all Departmental, Faculty and University regulations, policies and procedures relevant to Graduate Student training, and ensure their implementation in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Be available to advise students on their program of study (including course selection and degree requirements), and the development of an appropriate research question/research project.
  • As appropriate, provide infrastructure, materials and equipment for data gathering and analysis.
  • Help students with the interpretation of raw data and findings.
  • Make sure that copies of raw data, lab books, etc. related to the student’s research are being maintained.
  • Be available for discussions with students and ensure appropriate support mechanisms are available during absences (for instance, telephone number and e-mail address).
  • Provide at least minimal financial support throughout the tenure of their studies as mandated by the Graduate Program.
  • Provide feedback related to the student’s academic and research progress. Constructive suggestions for improvement should be provided to help students develop in the context of the graduate program. The frequency of the meetings will vary but should be often enough for the student to feel supported.
  • With the student, decide appropriate membership for a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC), and ensure proper and timely flow of communication between the student and their TAC (i.e., scheduling of meetings, submission of progress reports).  Thesis supervisors are expected to ensure that the student understands the roles of their TAC.
  • Give timely responses to written materials (research papers, chapters of thesis) submitted by students—normally within two weeks, unless alternative arrangements have been mutually agreed upon.
  • Assess the student’s self-evaluation reports. Complete and sign each progress report in a timely manner (as defined above).
  • Inform students when their progress is unsatisfactory and advise them on what can be done to improve it.
  • Assist and counsel students applying for scholarships and financial support. This includes writing quality letters of reference.
  • Ensure that the work environment is free from harassment, discrimination and conflict and compliant with Health and Safety protocols.
  • Create and promote opportunities for students to practice dissemination of results.
  • Ensure the development of critical thinking skills through the facilitation of active discussions of research findings and relevant literature
  • Provide mentorship and career building opportunities in line with the learner’s aspirations and strengths. Create space to discuss career ambitions.
  • Encourage timely completion of the degree and ensure proper recognition of future publications that include a student’s work.
  • Inform the student, Graduate Office and TAC at the earliest opportunity if exceptional conditions necessitate their withdrawal from their supervisory role.  Examples of such situations include personal or professional conflicts, or illness necessitating a prolonged absence.