UBC Graduate Student Guidance and Supervision


Upon recommendation of acceptance of an applicant, the Area Admissions Committee will recommend to the Graduate Coordinator the assignment of a faculty Advisor. When students are admitted to a program, the advisor is identified in the notification letter. Prior to admittance into a program, if a student has had contact with a Department member that he or she wishes to have as an advisor, this should be indicated in the application for graduate studies. The student should contact the advisor and arrange for a meeting soon after being admitted to a program.  Students are expected to consult on a continuing basis with their Advisor regarding the supervision of their graduate program. The Advisor serves as the student’s initial contact with the Department and Area of Specialization. The responsibility of the advisor is to provide the student with information regarding Department and program requirements and procedures, and to aid the student in developing an initial Program of Graduate Study(PGS). A plan for timely program completion should be agreed upon early. The plan should consider required and elective courses and other program requirements to be met, sequence and frequency of course offerings, and a timeline for completion of program requirements. The student and advisor should also discuss how often they will meet and establish regular meeting times as appropriate.

The advisor may become the student’s advisor for the duration of the program, including the thesis research, or may facilitate the student identifying a more appropriate research supervisor. In agreeing to serve as advisor for a graduate student, the faculty member is making the commitment to assist that student in completing all of the requirements for the degree. Students are advised therefore to select their advisors and research topics with care and discretion. Students should consult with their advisors about the selection of courses and the identification of other committee members, as well as on general academic matters. The advisor may be called upon to write supporting letters for scholarships and other purposes during and after the program. If a student wishes to change program advisor, such a change should be made as early as possible in the program. In developing a thesis topic, students may identify a Research Supervisor who is different from their assigned advisor. In this case, the student should inform the Graduate Coordinator in writing. The new advisor will be identified on the student’s PGS form. Students should feel free to request a change of advisor at any time by submitting a request to the Graduate Coordinator.

Student’s Advisory Committee

Coursework for each master’s student will be determined and supervised by the student’s Advisory Committee. Each Advisory Committee consists of not fewer than two faculty members and is chaired by the Advisor. The Advisor in consultation with the student will appoint the additional faculty member(s).
Changes may be made in the Advisor and in the membership of the student’s Advisory Committee at any time. The student or committee member may initiate such changes in writing to the Graduate Coordinator. All changes must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the name of the new advisor or committee members recorded on the student’s Program of Graduate Studies (PGS) form (as described below). When a Research Supervisor has been selected and a Research Committee formed, the Research Committee assumes the role and responsibilities of the Advisory Committee.

Students are referred to the booklet, “Guidelines for the Various Parties Involved in Graduate Student Thesis Research”, prepared by the Faculty of Graduate Studies for details regarding the duties and responsibilities expected of students and their advisory faculty members.

Program of Graduate Studies (PGS)

The Program of Graduate Studies (PGS) is a document that specifies the coursework that a student must complete in order to graduate within their chosen area of study. Information concerning the particular courses required by the degree/department/area of specialization are readily available on the ECPS website. The particular courses specified on the PGS are determined by the requirements of the Department and the student’s chosen Area of Specialization, with consideration of the student’s own background and experience. The PGS also identifies the faculty members (e.g., Advisor, Advisory Committee, Research Supervisor and Research Committee members when known) who are responsible for overseeing the student’s academic progress throughout his/her program (as described above).

A PGS must be filed by each student, within their first registered term in ECPS, in the Department Graduate Office, indicating the coursework to be completed and the approval of the faculty members who will serve in an advisory capacity for the student. Once the Graduate Coordinator approves the PGS, it is placed in the student’s file.

Any subsequent changes recommended by the student’s program advisory committee are approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the file copy of the PGS is updated. The current PGS provides the reference point for assessing student progress toward completion of their degree program requirements.

Upon acceptance, a Program of Graduate Studies form will be provided to each student with their offer of admission. The form may already list the required courses, or not, depending on the area of specialization. The student will consult with his/her Advisor and Advisory Committee to complete the Program of Graduate Studies (PGS). It is the responsibility of the student to initiate discussion regarding the PGS. Information concerning the particular courses required by the degree/department/area of specialization are readily available on the ECPS website.

It is the responsibility of the advisor and the Advisory Committee to ensure that the student’s PGS is best suited to the individual’s background and study interests and that it meets the requirements of the degree and specialization. All Advisory Committee members must sign the PGS. The approved PGS (i.e., signed by Advisory Committee) is then forwarded to the Graduate Coordinator for final approval. Once signed by the Graduate Coordinator, final copies will be sent to the student and members of his/her Advisory Committee. The original PGS form will be retained in the student’s Department Graduate file. The PGS form is normally completed prior to the end of the first term of the student’s program.

Independent study courses (e.g., EPSE 580, Investigation and Report of a Problem in Education) may be undertaken only with the approval of the student’s Advisor and Graduate Coordinators. Requests for approval of EPSE 580 courses are made on an EPSE 580 form available from the Department Graduate Office.

The addition or deletion of courses to a student’s PGS must be approved (in a written memo) by the student’s Advisory Committee, and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator. All amendments to the PGS will be recorded on the original PGS form retained in the student’s Department Graduate file. Students or committee members may request a copy of the current PGS from the Department Graduate Office.


Specific coursework requirements for the student‘s graduate program are determined on a case-by-case basis, as outlined in the individualized Program of Graduate Studies (PGS) developed for each student, in consultation with his/her Advisor and Advisory Committee. The PGS specifies the kind and number of courses to be taken by the student for his/her degree, with consideration of degree requirements specified for all master’s students, the requirements specified for the student’s intended specialization, and the student’s own background, research interests and prior academic preparation. A representative program would normally include coursework, seminars, directed readings, thesis or graduating seminar and, where appropriate, practical and fieldwork related to the student’s major area of interest. Typical coursework and program requirements for each area of specialization are identified below. Note that these outlines present typical requirements for each degree program and area of specialization. Each student and advisory committee develop the specific requirements for the student in an individualized Program of Graduate Study, and will need to establish an appropriate plan and timeline for completion of coursework and other program requirements appropriate to the student’s situation.

Annual Review of Progress and Plans

The Faculty of Graduate Studies requires that Departments annually review Graduate Student Progress and report on the progress of students to the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies. In order to facilitate this, in the spring of each year, graduate students are required to submit a report of their progress in coursework and other requirements completed during the past 12 months and on plans for the next 12 months. The purpose of these annual reports is to provide a formal mechanism through which student progress toward his/her degree requirements, as well as educationally relevant experiences outside of the Department, can be reviewed on a regular basis. In addition, these annual reports allow for the continual up dating of each student’s Department file.

Material relevant to this annual report is mailed to each student in April of each year, and students must review and complete the reports and return them to the Department Graduate Office by the 1st of May. The student’s program/research advisor reviews the report and makes a determination about whether or not progress has been satisfactory and whether or not the plan for the next 12 months is satisfactory. The student’s advisor completes the form and reports on the outcome of the review to department Graduate Program Assistant.

If the student’s progress or plan is not satisfactory, the advisor, or Graduate Advisor will notify the student in writing and explain in what respects the progress or plan is not satisfactory prior to the start of Fall classes. The student will be asked to provide a written response with a revised plan for completing program requirements. The Graduate Advisor will then consult with the student’s advisor and program co-ordinator and a determination will be made about the student’s continuation in the program.

If a student is required by the department to withdraw from the program because of unsatisfactory progress, this decision may be appealed to the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Failure to submit an annual report may jeopardize a student’s subsequent registration, effectively halting continuation in the program until such a report is submitted.