Grad student FAQ

What is the role of the Grad Advisor?

The Graduate Advisor (GA) () is a regular faculty member in the department who occupies this position on a rotating basis (usually for a term of 3 years). The GA is the representative of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) within the department.

The GA advises and administers FGS policies, monitors grad student programs, makes recommendations for scholarships and awards (along with members of the GEC – see next item) and assists grad students and faculty with any academic program-related concerns and questions.

On a day-to-day basis, this involves updating students’ CAPP forms (see below); disseminating information about student award and fellowship opportunities; administering the department’s graduate support funding (through UVic fellowships, Donor Awards, etc.); chairing the GEC (see below); advising current graduate students’ on program requirements and department and faculty policies and regulations; approving UCRs (see below); approving thesis and dissertation paperwork for oral defenses; approving candidacy exam and program extensions; program development and curriculum changes, new grad student recruitment and admissions; as well as general problem-solving with faculty and students regarding grad student programs and concerns.

Many of these activities may also involve the Graduate Secretary; a rule of thumb: if your question is academically related, ask the GA; if it is mainly administrative, ask the Grad Secretary (GS).

What is the role of the Graduate Secretary?

The Grad Secretary (GS) – Karen Kienapple () – is a very important person for you to get to know. She is the main administrative secretary in the department office who deals with the administrative side of graduate programs, graduate student questions, requirements, and defenses.

She works closely alongside the GA and can also problem-solve issues in relation to the Graduate Admissions and Records Office (GARO). She is a good first point of contact as she can often advise who to contact, or where to go.

Some of her responsibilities include processing the payment requisitions for teaching assistants (TA) and she can investigate issues related to these payments as well as any academic award funding payments. The GS processes most of the paperwork that goes to GARO such as pro formas, candidacy exams completion forms, extension requests, grade change forms, course change forms, thesis/dissertation defense paperwork, etc. She also arranges for CAPP and supervisory committee updates (which are now done electronically, once they are approved by the GA).

Please bring any kind of paperwork to the GS as she needs a copy for your file and will direct the original forms to their appropriate destination. The GS can also assist with blocked registration issues.

What is the GEC?

The Graduate Executive Committee or GEC is an administrative group of faculty plus one grad student representative who meet regularly to plan and maintain graduate programs in the department.

The GEC reports to the Department Chair and regularly consults with members of the department for major procedure or policy-related decisions. GEC tasks involve graduate curriculum changes, updates to the Graduate Program Regulations, nomination of grad students for scholarships and awards (e.g., UVic Fellowships, UVic and Psychology Donor Awards, SSHRC, NSERC, and Vanier scholarships, etc.).

The GEC is a 7 member committee chaired by the GA and includes the Department Chair as well as faculty representatives (or area coordinators) from the other main program areas (clinical, LS, CaBS, and Social/EN/INDV) and an elected student representative.

What does GARO stand for?

GARO stands for Graduate Admissions and Records Office.

The staff at GARO works closely with the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) and the department Grad Secretary. They are responsible for admissions of new graduate students as well as the maintenance of student records (CAPP) and many other tasks (such as admissions, course registration, fees, etc.).

The Grad Secretary is often the best person to ask first if you have administrative questions on tasks/issues related to GARO.

What is a CAPP and how do I view mine?

CAPP stands for Curriculum Advising and Program Planning. CAPP is a degree evaluation report that allows a student to track their academic progress throughout their University career.

Your CAPP evaluation lists the degree requirements and summarizes the progress based on your academic record. The report shows how University of Victoria courses, transfer courses, and courses in-progress apply toward degree requirements. All students with a declared program have access to their degree evaluation from Mypage.  

When you are reviewing your CAPP there is a link at the top right hand corner of the page which says “CAPP How To” which provides information on how to read your CAPP. The GA will review and update your CAPP prior to your thesis or dissertation defense to ensure that all of your courses have been recorded and grades submitted and that your program requirements have been met prior to graduation.

The GA will also ask the GS to update your record to include the names of your committee members for each degree (therefore, when any changes are made to your committee, you must inform the GA and GS so that your official record can be adjusted).

What is a UCR and when should they be completed?

UCR stands for Undergraduate Competency Requirement and is only applicable to clinical psychology students.

The purpose of the UCR is to ensure that clinical graduate students possess an adequate breadth of knowledge across the main areas of psychology prior to proceeding on to more advanced study during their graduate program. Students are to consult with their supervisors during the first few weeks of their first term to review their undergraduate transcripts and complete the UCR form.

Any questions as to whether or not a particular course can be used to satisfy the UCR should be addressed to the GA. Typically any additional courses needed to satisfy the UCR are completed within the 1st year of study and must be completed by the end of the 2nd year.

Regular graduate level courses or graduate level directed studies courses or advanced undergraduate courses can be used to meet the UCR (please consult with your supervisor to determine the best way to complete your UCR. (Note: due to registration/licensing requirements it is often preferable that clinical students select a graduate level course to meet their UCRs.)

UCR completion forms clinical

How do I register for my courses?

Before registering for classes, new students will need to get their NetLink ID. You can register for most courses (except those that require a pro forma) online.

See the Graduate Studies Registration page for the steps on how to register.

Note that as grad students, you must maintain your “continuity of registration” – this means that you must be registered for at least 3.0 units each term during the entire 12 months of the year. At UVic, there are two “sessions”: the winter session includes the fall term that goes from September to end of December as well as the spring term that goes from January to end of April and the summer session extends from May through August.

Most students have sufficient courses in the fall and spring terms (3.0 units minimum in each), but it is not uncommon for students to neglect to register for 3.0 units in the summer session. The best approach is to register for thesis (599) in the summer if you are a Master’s student and for candidacy exams (693) or dissertation (699) if you are a PhD student.

How many courses should I expect to take in my first year?

This depends on your program area as it can range from 2 to 4 classes per term. In some programs (e.g., Clinical) there are higher course requirements (particular in the first few years) and in other programs (e.g., Social and Individualized programs) there are fewer regular courses and more directed studies courses.

Consult the Graduate Training Handbook, the Clinical Program Manual, or the University Calendar for specific course requirements for your program.

Most first year Master’s students will take at least 1 statistics course in first year (and another in 2nd year). All new students enroll in PSYC 502 (Research Apprenticeship) in first year (see below). Master’s students usually register for their thesis (PSYC 599) in their first year (by summer of first year if not earlier depending on their program). Doctoral students will register for candidacy exams (693) by their first summer and usually register for dissertation (699) in their 2nd year (or earlier, but not before registering for 693). Consult with your supervisor for advice on when to register for 599 or 699.

How do I find out what courses I am required to take?

First thing you should do is to check the Graduate Training Handbook (available online and in the white binder you receive in your first year). There are sections in the Appendix of the Grad Program Regulations document that list the requirements for each program area (except for the clinical program – see the Clinical Manual instead).

You can also check the online University Calendar for your program requirements.

Check the manual or calendar for the year you first entered either the MSc or PhD program as these are the regulations that will apply to your program. If changes have been made to program requirements after you have started your program you can opt into the new requirements but you must consult your supervisor, the DCT (if you are a clinical student), and the GA in order to get permission to do so.

How many units are required for my degree?

Master’s degree in Psychology: 15.0 units (minimum) total,3.0 units of statistics, 1.5 to 3.0 units of 502 (Research Apprenticeship), 6.0 units of 599 (thesis), Minimum of 4.5 units other courses (depending on program area)

PhD in Psychology: 30.0 units (minimum) total, 3.0 units of statistics/research methods, 3.0 units of 693 (Candidacy exam), 15.0 units of 699 (dissertation), Minimum of 9.0 units other courses (depending on program area)

Note that different programs may require more units than the minimum – see the Graduate Training Handbook or the Clinical Manual (as appropriate)

What is a 502 and how do I register for it?

PSYC 502 is the Research Apprenticeship and all Master’s students (and PhD students who hold a Master’s degree without a thesis) are required to take this in first year.

Clinical students are required to take 3.0 units of 502 (this means two terms, fall and spring, for 1.5 units each term) in first year and most other students take either 1.5 units or 3.0 units (maximum is 4.5 units).

Consult with your supervisor early in September to discuss your 502 and complete a paper pro forma that is signed by you, your supervisor, and the GA prior to being submitted to the GS for processing.

Pay attention to registration deadlines (usually the 3rd week of the term) and completion dates (if you do not finish the course by the end of the last term you are registered for it, you must request an extension (or else receive an N grade on your record – which is equivalent to a failure if it is not addressed).

How do I get an extension of my program deadline?

You have 5 years to complete a Master’s degree and 7 years for your PhD (these are university timelines - if you exceed them, you will be blocked from registering in the next term).

The department expects Master’s students to complete their degree in 2 years and the PhD in 3 to 5 years (depending on your program). If you know that you are nearing your deadline, you must request an extension in order to be allowed to continue. You must request the extension before your time runs out and your request must be approved by your supervisor, your committee (supervisor can sign on behalf of the committee), and the Grad Advisor before being sent to the Dean of Graduate Studies for further approval.

There is no guarantee that your request will be granted, so a clear and detailed timeline that demonstrates the steps you will take to complete your program must be provided on the request form.

What are candidacy exams and do I need to register for them?

All doctoral students must successfully complete their candidacy examination within the first 3 years (36 consecutive months) of your PhD program. Once completed, the doctoral student will officially be considered as a “candidate” for the degree of PhD.

Since 2010, doctoral students have been required to register for PSYC 693 (candidacy exam) from the point of first entry into the doctoral program and to register for each consecutive term until the exam is completed.

The candidacy exam in Psychology is comprised of a major and a minor exam (or if you are a clinical student, of a clinical exam and a specialty area exam). The major and minor exams are normally completed about 6 months apart. The exam(s) may take the form of an empirical study, a literature review, and/or an oral examination.

The exact format of the exam is determined by the student and his or her supervisor, in consultation with the supervisory committee (the candidacy examination committee is comprised of at least 2 members, one of which is the supervisor and the other is usually one of the supervisory committee members). [The exception is the clinical exam, which is a standardized sit-down exam scheduled each September.] Clinical students should consult the Clinical Manual for details about the clinical program’s exam procedures.

All students receive 3.0 units upon completion of 693 (no matter how many terms you have been registered for 693) and your supervisor is to complete the Candidacy Completion form and submit it to the GA when both exams have been successfully completed (a COM grade is submitted only when both exams are passed).

How do I get an extension for my candidacy exam?

If you started your doctoral program before May 2011, then you are working under the “old rules” and have 2 years to complete PSYC 693 (unless you are a clinical student, then you have 3 years). If you started the doctoral program after May 2011, you have 3 years to complete the exams (if you started earlier, you can opt to go by the “new rules” allowing 3 years but you will need to request an extension).

Similarly, if you are nearing your 3 year deadline and you have not yet completed the exams, you will also need to request an extension using the Request for Candidacy Exam Extension form.

As with program extension requests you must include a detailed timeline for the completion of your exams and should submit your request early to avoid a blocked registration.

What do I do if my registration is blocked?

Your registration may be blocked for a number of reasons (you will likely only find this out when you try to register online and you receive a message back about “blocked registration” or a “hold” on your registration).

The most common reasons are that you have exceeded a deadline (for program completion or candidacy completion – see above), you have an outstanding fee or debt to the university, or a grade has not been submitted thus resulting in an “N” on your record (which will show up as “grade less than B-“ on your record).

The best way to deal with the issue (if you aren’t sure what is wrong) is to contact the GS at and she will assist you.

How do I set up my supervisory committee? How many members do I need?

Master’s committee require a minimum of two members: your supervisor and one other member the second member may be from inside or outside of the psychology department.

Doctoral committees require a minimum of three members: your supervisor, one other department member, and one outside member (from within UVic but outside of the department). The 3rd member of the committee need not be from outside the home department, provided the 2nd member is from outside the home department.

Your committee must be in place by the beginning of your second year in your Master’s or Doctoral program – you and your supervisor should discuss potential committee members and the student usually approaches the potential member to introduce him or herself, their research idea, and to ask the individual to sit on the supervisory committee.

You can have more than the minimum number of committee members as long as all are members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) – ask the GS to check for you if you are not sure (arrangements can be made to appoint an additional member from outside of UVic to your committee although it can take a bit of time to get this approved, so plan for this well in advance and contact the GA for assistance).

What is an External Examiner?

The External Examiner (EE) is not a regular member of the supervisory committee, but is a member of the final examining committee for a thesis or dissertation defense. For master’s defenses, the EE is normally someone from within UVic but outside of the department. For doctoral defenses, the EE is an expert from outside of UVic.

The role of the EE is to provide an informed or expert and objective appraisal of the thesis or dissertation as well as the student’s performance at the oral defense. Consult with your supervisor to determine who would be a suitable EE for your defense. Because the EE must be “at arm’s length” from the student, the supervisor, and the research being defended, the student does not contact the potential EE. Instead your supervisor will make the contact and confirm the EE’s availability to attend the defense (if from UVic, the EE is expected to attend in-person; if from elsewhere, the defense is normally conducted by audio or videoconferencing to allow the participation of the EE).

The EE will receive your thesis or dissertation at the same time that you submit it to FGS (when requesting your oral examination). Master’s students can deliver a paper copy on campus or send an electronic copy (pdf) to the EE by email, while FGS will arrange to send the doctoral dissertation to the EE (by courier or pdf). See this Faculty of Graduate Studies link on theses/dissertations for information about setting up your defense.

What is the difference between the External Examiner and an Outside Member of the committee?

The External Examiner (EE) is not a member of the supervisory committee, but is a member of the examining committee. This means that the EE is not part of the development of the thesis or dissertation research but is an evaluator of the research after it is complete. This is why the EE has to be at “arm’s length”.

An “outside member” is an actual member of the supervisory committee and is involved in the student’s research right from the start. The outside member is from within UVic but outside of the department. The outside member is appointed to the supervisory committee and appears on your official record as well as being listed as a committee member on the face pages of your thesis/dissertation (the EE is not listed on the thesis or dissertation).

Master’s students do not require an outside member (although it is optional to have an extra member – who might be an outside member – on your committee beyond the two departmental members). Doctoral students are required to have an outside member as a member of the supervisory committee (in addition to the supervisor and one other departmental member).

I’m ready to defend my thesis/dissertation – how do I arrange this?

You must plan well in advance for your final thesis or dissertation defense. See this document for information on setting up your defense (including deadlines).

Be sure that you have applied for graduation on time:

Final Registration / Thesis Defense Application for Graduation Deadline Convocation Ceremony
Fall (September-December) 15 November Spring (June)
Winter (January-April) 15 February Spring (June)
Summer (May-August) 15 July Fall (November)

Which option should I choose on the “Thesis withholding form”?

Many students in Psychology elect not to submit the thesis withholding form. The form is not required and if you don't submit it, then your thesis will go directly into “open access” through UVicSpace (the electronic thesis/dissertation repository). This is the most common option selected by Psychology students.

If you think that having your thesis available through open access would be detrimental to your plans to publish your research (discuss this with your supervisor), then you could submit the withholding form and elect to withhold it for one year with access only within UVic (this also allows for an annual renewal).

The most restrictive option (embargoed collection) is to opt for only a brief record to show online to identify the topic and author of your thesis, however, this option is rarely necessary for Psychology students (it could be useful for researchers who need to maintain control over their thesis/dissertation for the purpose of publishing or due to concerns over intellectual property rights). More often, the thesis/dissertation is made available only to those on the UVic campus. For either option, the thesis/dissertation may only be withheld for a year at a time (with annual renewal) and will eventually be placed in open access.

What are the deadlines for graduation?

For fall convocation, all degree requirements must be met by August 31; for spring convocation, the deadline is April 30th.

However, in practical terms, this means that your defense must occur no later than August 15th or April 15th, respectively.

For more detailed information on deadlines, see Preparing to Defend your Thesis and the Graduate Studies site.

What is ETD and how do I submit my thesis electronically?

All graduate students are now required to submit their final, post-defence version of their thesis or dissertation electronically through UVicSpace. Once it has been submitted, it cannot be resubmitted, so be sure you have completed all of your revisions prior to the submission.

For instructions on ETD (Electronic Theses and Dissertations), see the EDT Submission Steps.

Can I have a committee member who is from outside of UVic?

Yes, it is possible to have someone from outside of UVic sit as a member of your supervisory committee. If you want to do this, you should plan well in advance as it may take some time to get the approval in place.

Here are the things to consider: Is the individual already a member of the UVic Faculty of Graduate Studies (i.e, a Regular, Associate, or Affiliate member on the FML)? If they have sat on any other UVic supervisory committees, then it is likely that they are already a member of FGS – the graduate secretary can check).

Do they have either a Regular appointment in another department at UVic, or an Adjunct appointment in Psychology at UVic, or an Associate membership on the FML (for Psychology)? If in another department at UVic (with no other status in Psychology), they could serve as an outside member. If they are an Adjunct in Psychology, or have an Associate membership on the FML (for Psychology) they could only serve as a department member on the committee.

Any faculty member wishing to serve as a supervisor or co-supervisor must have a formal appointment at UVic (i.e., Regular or Associate member on the FML [in Psychology] or an Adjunct Appointment in Psychology). Any faculty member from outside of UVic wishing to serve on a supervisory committee would need Affiliate membership on the FML (in Psychology).

If they are not a member of FGS, this can be arranged, with the approval of FGS. The graduate secretary can arrange this.

Remember that if you include them as a committee member, then they cannot serve as the External Examiner (EE; the EE for a doctoral defense is normally from outside UVic and from outside the department, for a master’s defense). You might be better off keeping the person for your EE (especially if you are in a research area that is very specialized) if you think it could be difficult to find someone else to be the EE (also see the FAQ on the difference between the EE and the outside member).

Can I take PhD classes in the same term that I am defending my Master’s thesis?

This depends on whether you are in the clinical program or not and whether the classes you want to take are restricted to the doctoral program.

For students in the clinical program, we may allow you to take restricted doctoral courses in the fall term only if you have your final Master’s defense scheduled to take place in the month of September. This means that you need to have submitted your thesis and ROE to Grad Studies in July or August with an identified defense date on or prior to Sept. 30th. This is to ensure that students are not held back from enrolling in required doctoral courses when their thesis is complete but only the defense will occur in September.

Enrollment in these courses is not automatic and you will not be allowed to register until the thesis and ROE has been submitted – you will need to inform the Grad Advisor regarding the specific courses you want to take in order to have this approved and for the Grad Secretary to be asked to remove the restrictions on the courses so that you can register.

Note that you will continue to be a Master’s student in the fall term and will not enter the doctoral program until January.

There are no restrictions on non-clinical Master’s students in regard to taking PhD classes (as long as they are not restricted in any way, e.g., to clinical students only, or by instructor’s permission) as long as the student has the proper prerequisities. As always, consult your supervisor or the GA if you are not sure.

What if I can’t schedule my defense by the end of term and it is delayed to the start of the following term?

Normally students are expected to defend prior to the end of the term (by end of April, December, or August), however there are some circumstances in which the defense cannot be scheduled within the last few weeks of a term. Students are now allowed to hold the defense in the first 15 days of the subsequent term (without having to pay the full term registration fee) – a Completion Postponement Fee Adjustment ($250) will apply (along with a full term of ancillary fees). This should occur only when the thesis has been completed and approved and the reason for a late defense is due to scheduling of the committee for the oral. Existing deadlines for convocation will still apply (that is, you will not be eligible to convocate until the next ceremony; e.g., Students defending after April 30th, will not be able to attend Spring convocation).

Students must have:

  • Paid their minimum total program fee prior to the term in which the oral examination takes place (see Standard Tuition Fee for Degree Programs).
  • Registered in the term in which the oral examination takes place.
  • Submitted all documents necessary for graduation to Graduate Admissions and Records by 3:00 pm on the last business day of that month.”

How will my program be funded?

Entrance fellowships are allotted to eligible incoming students for their first year of study at the time of admission; you will be informed of the amount of funding you will receive in your admission letter and/or an email from the Grad Advisor. Usually, this will be a UVic Fellowship ($10,000 to $15,000) or a UVic Graduate Award (up to $10,000) for your first year. Normally, only students with an incoming GPA of 7.0 and above are eligible for UVic funding. Students are expected to apply for external funding (e.g., tri-council awards: SSHRC, CIHR, or NSERC CGS-M) prior to admission or in the fall of their first year of studies. If a CGS-M is received for the first year of studies, that will take the place of any previously awarded UVic Fellowship. This also applies to new doctoral students who receive an external award of > $15,000 (e.g., SSHRC-D, NSERC-D, CIHR-D, Alzheimer’s Society, IMPART, etc.). A President’s Research Scholarship (PRS = $4,000) is normally awarded to the CGS-M holder and may be available for some doctoral tri-council awards only (not the larger CGS-D). Those holding a CGS-M for first year may be offered a UVic Fellowship (around $10,000) for their second year of studies (this must be confirmed by the Grad Advisor). If a student is awarded two years of UVic Fellowship funding (whether at the Master’s or Doctoral level) and an external award (as described above) is received in the second year, that award replaces the UVic award. All awards are subject to budgetary availability and the approval of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

For further details see how to receive and retain UVic graduate funding

Where can I get more information?

FAQ’s from the Faculty of Grad Studies: