Program Requirements

The PhD Degree

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is intended for those students planning a career in university teaching, research, or other activities calling for a high degree of scholarly competence.

The IHPST has two full-time PhD programs: a 4 year PhD, and a direct-entry 5-year PhD. IHPST also has a Flex-Time PhD. PhD students are assigned a supervisor who will advise, mentor, and monitor the supervisee on course selection, program planning, and grant applications. The Supervisor will also assist with putting together the student’s Advisory Committee (consisting of the supervisor and two members of the IHPST graduate faculty). The Advisory Committee will support graduate students through the events of the qualifying year (year 2 of the 4-year PhD and year 3 of the 5-year PhD). Finally, the Supervisor will prepare a report detailing the progress of the supervisee through each year of their program of studies. 

PhD Program Requirements

All PhD students must:

  • Arrange their course choices and curriculum in consultation with their Supervisor and with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Ensure that they have an appropriate upervisor for the 1100Y paper. All supervision arrangements are reviewed and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies who assists in the search for a supervisor, if necessary. Proper supervision is a prerequisite for admission to, and continuation in, the program.
  • Maintain a cumulative average of at least A- with no individual grade less than B+. In addition, all students should receive at least an A- on the HPS1100Y research paper. Students falling below these standards may be asked to leave the program.
  • Demonstrate other competencies crucial to conducting research in the student's thesis area, as determined by the Advisory Committee (Supervisor and two members of the IHPST graduate faculty) in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. This may include, for example, competence in another language and/or technical competence in a field of mathematics, the phsyical sciences, life sciences, or social sciences.
  • Pass a qualifying (Specialist Exam) examination in areas related to the field of expected research. This examination is conducted by the student's Advisory Committee. The examination is ordinarily a two-hour oral examination. Students with documented accessibility concerns are able to take a written examination through Accessibility Services.
  • Submit a thesis proposal approved by the student's Advisory Committee and to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Additional Considerations for the Flex-Time PhD:

  • Students in the flexible-time option are required to register full-time for the first four years of the program. Thereafter, they may register part-time.
  • Transfers between the full-time PhD program and the flexible-time PhD option are not permitted.
  • Students in the flexible-time option must satisfy the SGS General Regulation in the SGS Calendar, including good academic standing, supervision, and candidacy regulations.

Roadmap for 4-Year PhD Program (normally, admitted with a Masters degree)

Year 1:

  • Six .5 FCE IHPST courses completed, with an A- average.  
  • One of these .5 FCE courses must be the Proseminar (HPS1000H), which is normally offered in the fall term. [Note: Students are automatically enrolled in HPS1000.] 
  • Two of these courses must be HPS1100Y. The proposal for the HPS1100Y paper (with the approval of the Supervisor) must be submitted to the graduate office by December 1. Guidelines for the HPS1100Y paper (and all forms related to the graduate program) can be found on the IHPST Graduate Student SharePoint Site.
  • The HPS1100Y paper must be submitted to the graduate office by June 30.

Year 2:

  • The Advisory Committee (consisting of the Supervisor and two members of the IHPST graduate Faculty), which oversees events of the qualifying year), is selected. The form Establishment of the Advisory Committee is submitted to the graduate office. Completion date: October 31.
  • The Specialist Exam Form, along with the preliminary reading list, is submitted to the graduate office by the end of the fall term.
  • The finalized reading list is submitted to the graduate office. Completion Date: January 31.
  • Specialist Examination. Completion Date: April 31.
  • Dissertation Proposal is approved by the Advisory Committee. The Thesis Approval Form is submitted to the graduate office. Completion date: July 31.

Year 3:

  • Dissertation research.
  • Research Requirement completed by April 30.

Year 4:

  • Dissertation writing. Completed dissertation must be submitted to the graduate office two months prior to a scheduled dissertation defence. Completing the PhD in the 4 year window requires the submission of the dissertation by June 15.

Roadmap for 5-Year PhD Program (direct-entry)

Year 1:

  • Six .5 FCE IHPST courses completed, with an A- average.  
  • One of these .5 FCE courses must be the Proseminar (HPS1000H), which is normally offered in the fall term. [Note: Students are automatically enrolled in HPS1000.]  

Year 2: 

  • Six .5 FCE courses completed. Two of these .5 FCE courses must be HPS1100Y. The proposal for the HPS1100Y paper (with the approval of the Supervisor) must be submitted to the graduate office by December 1. Guidelines for the HPS1100Y paper (and all forms related to the graduate program) can be found on the IHPST Graduate Student SharePoint Site.
  • The HPS1100Y paper must be submitted to the graduate office by June 30.

Year 3:

  • The Advisory Committee (consisting of the Research Supervisor and two members of the IHPST graduate Faculty), which oversees events of the qualifying year), is selected and the official form (“Establishment of the Advisory Committee”) is submitted to the graduate office. Completion date: October 31.
  • The Specialist Exam Form, along with the preliminary reading list, is submitted to the graduate office by the end of the fall term.
  • The finalized reading list is submitted to the graduate office. Completion Date: January 31.
  • Specialist Examination. Completion Date: April 31.
  • Dissertation Proposal is approved by the Advisory Committee. The Thesis Approval Form is submitted to the graduate office. Completion date: July 31.

Year 4:

  • Dissertation research.
  • Research Requirement completed by April 30.

Year 5:

  • Dissertation writing. Completed dissertation must be submitted to the graduate office two months prior to a scheduled dissertation defence. Completing the PhD in the 4 year window requires the submission of the dissertation by June 15.

Program Requirements 

Annual Progress Reports 

An Annual PhD Progress Report is submitted to the graduate office. This report is due August 30. It is prepared by the the student's Supervisor, in consultation with members of the student’s Advisory/Supervisory. This report details the students’ progress and any achievements of the previous year, and is required of all students enrolled in the PhD program. Permission to continue  to register in the program depends on a satisfactory report.

HPS1100Y Requirement 

No later than December 1 (year 1 of the 4-year PhD; year 2 of the 5-year PhD), the proposal for an advanced research paper (required for HPS1100Y) must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies. The research paper itself is to be submitted by June 30th in the same academic year. The proposal will be signed by the student’s Supervisor. All supervision arrangements are to be  reviewed and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Progress through the Program

All required courses, including HPS1100Y, are to be completed by June 30 in year 1 of the 4-year PhD and year 2 for the 5-year PhD. All students are expected to maintain a cumulative average of at least A- with no individual grade less than B+. In addition all students are expected to receive at least an A- on the HPS1100Y research paper. Students falling below these standards may be asked to leave the program.

Specialist Examination 

All students must pass a specialist examination in areas related to the field of expected dissertation research. The Specialist Examination is a written examination. In preparation for this exam, students are to prepare a reading list in consultation with members of their Advisory Committee. This Specialist Examination must be completed by April 30 (year 2 of the 4-year PhD; year 3 of the 5-year PhD). This examination is to be administered by the student's Advisory Committee (the student’s Supervisor and two members of IHPST’s graduate faculty).

To meet this requirement, it is necessary that the student put together an Advisory Committee that is approved by the Director of Graduate Studies by the end of October (year 2 of the 4-year PhD; year 3 of the 5-year PhD).

With the support of this Advisory Committee, the student will shape the field for examination and prepare a tentative reading list by December 15. This reading list will serve as the benchmark for the specialist examination.

The Advisory Committee will bring in one of the following verdicts:

  • Passed, either simply or with distinction
  • Passed, conditional upon certain deficiencies being remedied (to be certified by a member of the committee)
  • Adjourned, to be reconvened by the first week of September at the latest. Only one adjournment is allowed.
  • Failed, resulting in the student being asked to leave the program.

Advisory Committee 

With the support of their Supervisor, students should arrange an Advisory Committee (consisting of their Supervisor and two member of the IHPST graduate faculty) in the fall of their qualifying year. All members of this committee must be appointed to SGS. The purpose of this committee is to give students the advise and support that is needed to fulfill the requirement of the qualifying year in a timely, issue-free manner, and to prepare students for dissertation research and writing. Members may be added or replaced with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. The Advisory Committee may be convened at the students or supervisor's request.  

Thesis Proposal and Establishment of the Supervisory Committee 

Before work on the dissertation commences, a thesis proposal must be approved by the student's Advisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies. The proposal is to be submitted 3- months after the student takes the Specialist Examination, and in any case not later than September 1 of year 3 (4-year PhD) or year 4 (5-year PhD).

Students should discuss their thesis proposal with members of their Advisory Committee and obtain consent to serve on the student’s Supervisory Committee before the submittion of the thesis proposal to the Director of Graduate Studies. Once this proposal is accepted by the Supervisor Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies, the student will have achieved candidacy (ABD status), and will have reached the final stage of the PhD process, namely, research and writing the PhD dissertation.

The thesis proposal should adhere to the following format and include the following information:

  • The length of the proposal may vary depending on the field and topic, but will general be 3000-5000 words, and will make a detailed case for the feasibility of the research project and a timeline for completion.
  • It must include: (i) a title. (The title may be revised in the final version of the thesis); (ii) the name of the supervisor and membership of the student’s Supervisory Committee; (iii) a statement of the research problem and the approach the student will take in tackling that problem. This will include chronological, disciplinary, and geographical limits of the thesis. The research problem should be well-situated in the scholarly literature. The student should justify the need for this research and show how this work will be an original contribution to knowledge; (iv) a plan for completion, including comments on the sources, both archival and published, their location and accessibility, say whether additional foreign languages will be required, indicate how much travel and residence away from Toronto may be necessary, and demonstrate that the thesis is feasible in the time available for its completion in a timely manner.

Research Requirement 

This requirement must be satisfied by in year 3 of the 4-year PhD and year 4 of the 5-year PhD. It can be satisfied in a number or ways: (a) a reading knowledge of a language other than English, but only if this second language is a tool that is needed to carry out the research and writing of  the dissertation; (b) familiarity with research methods that are required to successfully complete the writing of the dissertation not typical of IHPST (e.g., randomized control trials, cohort studies, mathematical modelling); and (c) through IHPST course work. The determination of this require- ment is made by the Diriector of Graduate Studies in consultation with the Supervisor and the student.

Dissertation Defense 

The supervisor is responsible for submitting three or more names of potential external examiners to the Director of Graduate Studies who identifies an appropriate examiner and submits this individual’s CV to SGS for approval. The quorum for the dissertation defence is four, with five the maximum number of voting members. Two additional non-voting members can be present at the defence at the discretion of SGS. At least one of the voting members must have had no or very minimal prior involvement with the dissertation (this condition will usually be fulfilled by the external examiner).

In addition, the School of Graduate Studies will appoint a disinterested external Chair whose responsibility is to conduct the examination under the rules and guidelines of the School. The Chair cannot be an Affiliate of the Institute, nor can this person have any prior knowledge of the candidate or the dissertation.

Students must understand that it takes some time to make these arrangements. Naturally, having submitted a completed, formal copy of their dissertation, students want to hasten through the final act of their doctoral career as quickly as possible. It takes a minimum of eight weeks from  the point where the complete dissertation and a list of acceptable names of examiners are submitted before an oral examination can take place. Often it takes longer, especially during the months of July and August or over winter holidays.