Graduate Programs Admissions and Regulations

1.0 General Admission

Application information is available at the Apply to Graduate Programs web site or from the Office of the Registrar. The requirements for admissibility include, but are not limited to, an acceptable academic standing (see 1.3.2), acceptable letters of reference, the availability of a supervisor within the program concerned, and the availability of adequ​ate space and facilities. All documents submitted to the Office of the Registrar must be in the original language in which they were produced. Documents not produced in the English language must be accompanied by a notarized translation into English. Documents submitted in support of an application become the property of the University of Northern British Columbia and will not subsequently be released.

Application for A​dmission Deadline* Dates

Please refer to Apply to G​raduate Programs web site for update or changes and information on late applications.

Certificate (Alphabetical by Subject) Application Deadline According to Preferred Semester of Entry
September January May
Aboriginal Child Youth and Mental Health December 15 May 1 December 15
Degree (Alphabetical by Subject) Application Deadline According to Preferred Semester of Entry
September January May
Applied Science in Engineering (MASc in Engineering) (Pending approval from BC Degree Quality Assurance Board) December 15 May 1 December 15
Business Administration (MBA) December 15 no intake no intake
Business Administration (MSc) December 15 no intake no intake
Development Economics (MA) December 15 May 1 no intake
Disability Management (MA) December 15 no intake no intake
Education (MEd -- Counselling Specialization) December 15 no intake no intake
Education (MEd -- Multidisciplinary Leadership Specialization) December 15** no intake December 15**
Education (MEd -- Special Education Specialization) December 15 no intake no intake
English (MA) December 15 no intake no intake
First Nations Studies (MA) December 15 no intake no intake
Gender Studies (MA) December 15 May 1 no intake
Health Sciences (MSc) December 15 no intake no intake
Health Sciences (PhD) December 15 no intake no intake
History (MA) December 15 September 15 no intake
Integrated Wood Design (MEng) no intake Ongoing no intake
Interdisciplinary Studies (MA and MSc) December 15** May 1 December 15**
International Studies (MA) December 15 May 1 no intake
Mathematical, Computer, Physical, and Molecular Sciences (MSc) December 15 May 1 no intake
Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (MA) December 15** May 1 December 15**
Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (MNRES) December 15** May 1 December 15**
Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (MSc) December 15** May 1 December 15**
Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (PhD) December 15** May 1 December 15**
Nursing (MScN)  December 15  May 1 no intake
Nursing (MScN: FNP) December 15 no intake no intake
Political Science (MA) December 15 May 1 no intake
Psychology (MSc) December 15 no intake no intake
Psychology (PhD) December 15 no intake no intake
Social Work (MSW) December 15 no intake no intake

* Applications for admissio​n should be submitted as early as possible to the Office of the Registrar. Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadlines will be considered late and may not be processed in time to permit admission. ** Applications for admission are accepted for one semester only. Applicants must indicate whether they are applying to the May or September Semester.

Admission to a Graduate Program is valid only for the semester indicated in the letter of offer of admission.

The University of Northern British Columbia specifically reserves the right to exercise its sole, absolute, and unfettered discretion in admitting individuals to the University, its programs, or courses.

Applicants who have been offered admission to a graduate program must indicate, in writing, their intention to accept or decline the offer of admission within 30 days. Failure to notify the University may result in cancellation of the offer of admission.

In order to be considered for admission to Graduate Programs, all applicants must provide the following to the Office of the Registrar by the deadlines noted above:

  1. Application form for admission to Graduate Programs.
  2. Application fee.
  3. Three assessment reports (letters of reference) sent directly to UNBC from the referees.
  4. Official transcripts (one copy) from all post-secondary institutions attended.
  5. Statement of Academic Interests (letter of intent).
  6. Official English Language Test Scores (required for applicants whose first language is NOT English) sent directly to UNBC from the testing agencies.

The following programs require the submission of additional application material in order to complete the application: Applied Science in Engineering; Business Administration; Community Health Science; Development Economics; Disability Management; Education (Counselling); English; Health Sciences; History; Interdisciplinary Studies; International Studies; Mathematical, Computer, and Physical Sciences; Natural Resources and Environmental Studies; Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner; Psychology; and Social Work. See individual program listings for further information.

1.1 English Lang​uage Requirements

English is the primary language of instruction and communication at UNBC. Consequently, it is expected that an applicant be able to demonstrate an acceptable level of proficiency in the use of English in order to receive and participate in classroom instruction and discussion as well as to complete written assignments.

Applicants whose first language is not English, regardless of citizenship or country of origin, must submit evidence of English language proficiency prior to admission. French-speaking Canadians and Canadian First Nations language speakers are exempted from this requirement.

Students who have completed a degree program entirely in the English Language at a recognized institution from a country approved by UNBC where English is an official language may be exempted from this requirement. A listing of English Language Proficiency test exempt countries is maintained by the Office of the Registrar.

Acceptable evidence of English language proficiency may be any one of the following:

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 90 or higher in the internet-based test, with not less than 20 in any of the Reading, Listening, Writing or Speaking components; or equivalent other TOEFL score. UNBC's institutional TOEFL code is 0320.
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Academic score of at least 6.5 overall, with not less than 6.0 in any of the four modules.
  • CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language Assessment) or the CAEL CE : overall 70, with no subtest below 60.
  • CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) - CELPIT-A (Academic Reading and Writing): 4H - CELL (Listening): 4H - CELTOP (Speaking): 4H
  • MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery): 85 final score, with 3 in the speaking test.
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English - Academic): 65 overall score, with a score of not less than 60 in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • A final grade of 3.00 (B) or better in both the UNBC English Language Studies 50 and English Language Studies 170, obtained concurrently and prior to application for Graduate admission.
  • A final grade of 3.00 (B) or better in an articulated BCCAT EAP 4 program, prior to application for Graduate admissions.

In order to be considered valid, results must be sent directly from the testing agency/institution to the Office of the Registrar. Scores are valid for a period of two years.

Some graduate program may require higher English Language proficiency scores. Please consult the Program section of the calendar for additional requirements.

The University of Northern British Columbia reserves the right to consider, in addition to test scores, any factors that it considers appropriate in making a final determination of the English language proficiency of an applicant.

1.2 GRE Requirement​ for Graduate Programs

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is prepared and scored by the GRE Board and Educational Testing Service. UNBC's institution code is 0320. The GRE is used widely by universities to supplement undergraduate records and other qualifications for admission to graduate study.

GRE requirements are prescribed by individual programs. For some programs, completion of the examination may be mandatory. Applicants are advised to check program listings for detailed information. However, the University of Northern British Columbia reserves the right to require a GRE score (on Subject and General Tests) for any applicant. Voluntary submission of a GRE score may facilitate the admission process.

1.3 Admission to Master's Degrees

1.3.1 In general, an acceptable academic standing will be a four-year (120 credit hours) Baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from a recognized institution.

1.3.2 A grade point average of at least 3.00 ("B") in the work of the last 60 credit hours (approximately the last two years) leading to the Baccalaureate degree is required for entry. Note: Higher entrance standards than those outlined in this section may be set by individual programs.

Courses used in the calculation of the admission grade point average cannot be used as credit toward a graduate degree program.

1.3.3 A faculty member who wishes to supervise an applicant who has a four-year (120 credit hours) Baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) that does not meet the GPA requirements stated above and who obtains the recommendation of the appropriate program must have approval from the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate who admits the applicant. The applicant must have significant formal training and relevant professional experience to offset such GPA deficiencies.

1.3.4 Evidence is required, in the form of three letters of reference that are submitted directly to the Office of the Registrar from qualified referees, of the student's ability to undertake advanced work in the area of interest.

1.4 Admission to the Master's Degree as a Conditio​nally Admitted Mature Student

Five years after completion of a Baccalaureate degree as defined in 1.3.1, applicants whose academic record is such that they would not be admissible to a Master's program may be admitted conditionally as mature students, provided they are recommended by the appropriate Program. Such recommendations must be made in writing by the Program and approved by the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate.

The minimum grade point average for admission to a Master's program as a conditionally admitted mature student is 2.67 ("B-").

A student conditionally admitted to a graduate program must earn a grade point average of at least 3.00 ("B") in each of the first two 3 credit hour graduate courses taken. The first two courses will be determined by the Program and approved by the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate. If this condition is successfully met, the student's status will be changed to regular graduate student status. If it is not, the student will be required to withdraw from the program.

Students admitted in this category normally will not receive transfer credit for any courses completed prior to enrolling in their Graduate Program.

1.5 Admis​sion to Non-degree Course Work

Non-degree graduate students are those taking graduate courses, but not for credit toward a degree at the University of Northern British Columbia. Such students are admitted under one of three categories defined in 1.5.1, 1.5.2 and 1.5.3.

1.5.1 Visiting graduate students are those on a Letter of Permission which specifies courses allowed for credit toward a graduate degree at another university. Applicants in this category must complete the Application for Admission to Graduate Programs and provide a letter of permission from their home institution. No other supporting documentation is required. Students must request that an official transcript be sent directly to their home institution upon completion of course work.

1.5.2 Exchange graduate students are those covered by the Western Deans' Agreement (see 2.7 for the Western Deans' Agreement) or other formal exchange agreement. If a student is admitted under the Western Deans' Agreement or other formal exchange agreement, all tuition fees at UNBC will be waived; however, ancillary student fees will be charged. Applicants in this category must submit a completed Application for Admission to Graduate Programs and the completed and duly signed Western Deans' Agreement form at their home institution (if applicable) certifying the applicant as an exchange student, under the provisions of the Agreement. Courses to be taken toward their degree must be specified in the documentation. No other supporting material is required. Students must request that an official transcript be sent directly to their home institution upon completion of course work.

1.5.3 Non-degree students are normally those who wish to improve their academic background. Applicants under this category who do not hold a Master's degree must normally meet the same entrance requirements and follow the same application procedure as outlined in section 1.3, with the exception of 1.3.4 (letters of reference). Holders of a Master's degree (or equivalent) from a recognized institution in the same discipline as the course work applied for must complete an application form for admission to Graduate Programs, and provide proof of conferral of the Master's degree.

A maximum of three graduate courses may be taken under this category. Individual programs may impose further restrictions. International Students studying in Canada may be eligible to complete courses as non-degree students. Please see Graduate Studies homepage.

1.5.4 If a student admitted as a non-degree student is later admitted to a graduate degree program, course work taken as a non-degree student may be applied to the graduate program subject to the recommendation of the supervisory committee and the approval of the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate.

1.6 Auditing Graduate Courses​

An individual who is either a graduate student in a UNBC Graduate Program or a non-degree graduate student as defined in Section 1.5 may be permitted to audit up to three credit hours of graduate courses in a semester. A continuing student should add the audit course to his or her Graduate Registration Form. A new applicant auditing a course should submit a Graduate Registration Form to the Office of the Registrar clearly indicating the course name and number with an Application for Admission to Graduate Programs together with proof of degree conferral.

Neither full-time nor part-time graduate students in a UNBC Graduate Program will be charged for auditing graduate-level courses as long as auditing the course is required by the graduate supervisor/supervisory committee. If any course audit is not already included as part of a student's approved graduate program, then a Graduate Program Revision Form must be completed. The supervisor must provide a rationale for the course audit, explaining how the course is related to the student's research. The appropriate signatures must also be included on the Graduate Registration Form and/or the Add/Drop Form.

Registration as an auditor is subject to the following conditions:

1.6.1 Admittance to the class is dependent on the class size and other factors that the Instructor and the Program establish.

1.6.2 The degree of participation in the course is at the discretion of the Instructor.

1.6.3 Attendance and participation shall grant no entitlement to an academic record of such attendance and shall not be considered as meeting admission, prerequisite or course requirements for any graduate program.

1.7 Upgrading for Admission to Graduate Programs

Individuals wishing to apply to graduate programs may not meet the normal requirements for admission. Such cases normally fall into either of the following categories:

1.7.1 Admission requirements satisfied but course background inappropriate or prerequisites lacking Upon the recommendation of the Program concerned, the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate may approve the inclusion of the missing background or prerequisites as part of the requirements for the Master's degree.

1.7.2 Pre-Entry Program When admission requirements are not satisfied and upon the recommendation of the Program concerned, the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate may approve a pre-entry program of undergraduate course work totalling at least 12 credit hours of upper division courses. An average of not less than 3.33 (B+) must be achieved in the course work, and no course must be completed at a level below 2.67 (B-). Courses taken for a pre-entry program may not be used for credit towards a graduate degree. Students approved by the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate for a pre-entry program are guaranteed admission to the appropriate Graduate Program upon successful completion of the recommended courses.

1.7.3 Graduate course challenge is not permitted.

1.8 Integrated Delivery Graduate and Undergraduate Courses​

1.8.1 An "integrated delivery" course is one in which a graduate course is co-taught with a 400-level undergraduate course which in turn is indicated as being offered at an advanced level. At the graduate level, normally learning experiences qualitatively and quantitatively distinctive from the undergraduate experience build upon the undergraduate course content. Nevertheless, courses taken specifically to meet the registration requirements of professional bodies may have the same content at each level.

1.8.2 All courses which are integrated on a continuing basis are so indicated in the Graduate Calendar by way of stated preclusions.

1.8.3 Integrated delivery courses are taught by faculty members who are approved to teach graduate level courses.

1.9 Permission for Undergraduates to Take Graduate Course Work

1.9.1 Students in their final year of a Bachelor's degree program at the University of Northern British Columbia who have a grade point average of at least 3.33 (B+) in the last 30 credit hours of course work attempted and have completed all required lower-division course work may be permitted to register in a maximum of 6 credit hours of graduate courses at the Master's level with the permission of the Instructor and the Graduate Program concerned and with the approval of the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate. If a student is subsequently admitted to a Graduate Program, graduate courses used for credit toward an undergraduate program cannot be used for credit toward a graduate program.

This policy gives academically strong undergraduate students the opportunity to experience graduate-level instruction without commitments being made by either the student or the University about admission into graduate programs, or academic credit being awarded for the courses if a student is subsequently admitted to a graduate program.

Please see the Graduate Studies Officer in the Office of the Registrar for further information.

1.9.2 Simultaneous enrolment in a graduate program and an undergraduate, diploma or certificate program is not permitted.

1.10 Admission as a Visiting Research Student

Admission to this category is restricted to graduate students covered by the Canadian Graduate Student Research Mobility Agreement or other approved research agreements. A Visiting Research Student must register in the course GRAD 950-0 Visiting Research Student for each semester covered by the Agreement. Visiting Research Students are not permitted to take other courses at UNBC.

1.11 Misrepresentation of Application Information

Misrepresentation of application information constitutes fraud or misconduct and may result in acceptance and registration being cancelled. The applicant may also be disqualified from consideration, not only in the year of application, but in all subsequent years. If discovered in a subsequent semester, such representation may result in expulsion from the university.

Application fraud or misconduct includes the following:

  1. Failure to declare attendance at another post-secondary institution;
  2. Presenting falsified academic documentation or causing or encouraging another person to falsify records through translation or data changes;
  3. Presenting falsified personal documentation (e.g., using a false name, date of birth, country of origin, etc.);
  4. Presenting falsified or fictitious reference documentation;
  5. Cheating on or having another person write a standardized entry exam such as TOEFL or GRE;
  6. Presenting another person's standardized test score as one's own to falsify a test result; and
  7. Failure to report suspensions from another post-secondary institution.

2.0 R​egistration Procedures and Status

2.1 Initial Registration​

All students admitted to a Graduate Program must normally register during the dates specified for such registration. All letters of admission that are not used to register in the semester to which they apply are automatically cancelled. Students who are issued a letter of admission for the September Semester may not use this document for entry in the January Semester. Any requests for deferral of admission to a graduate program must be made in writing to the UNBC Graduate Admissions in the Office of the Registrar, along with payment of the Admission Deferral Fee.

2.2 Enrollment and Re-registration

2.2.1 Continuity of Registration All students are required to either register in every semester (September, January, May) from the time of admission until the requirements of the degree have been met, or formally withdraw in accordance with regulation 2.5 below. Students are required to pay minimum tuition fee units (see Fees section).

2.2.2 Re-registration Students who are missing one semester or more of registration and who have not been withdrawn from their graduate program must:

  1. Pay any outstanding fees
  2. Register for those semesters not previously registered in
  3. Pay any new tuition fee units

Students who have registered at another university or college since last in attendance at the University of Northern British Columbia are required to state the names of all educational institutions of post-secondary level attended and to submit an official transcript of their academic records at these institutions to the Office of the Registrar.

2.2.3 Reinstatement Students who have withdrawn with permission from their graduate program and later wish to return can only do so if, inclusive of their time away from their graduate program, they have not exceeded the time limit applicable to their graduate program (See Regulation 7.7); and have supervisory support for reinstatement.

Students who have not exceeded the time limit must do the following:

  1. Submit a new Application for Admission to Graduate Programs Form and pay the reapplication fee
  2. Provide a letter to UNBC Graduate Admissions in the Office of the Registrar stating their rationale for wishing to return to their graduate program
  3. Provide proof of supervisory support for their reinstatement

Students who have registered at another university or college since last in attendance at the University of Northern British Columbia are required to state the names of all educational institutions of post-secondary level attended and to submit an official transcript of their academic records at these institutions to the Office of the Registrar.

Students who have exceeded the time limit period or who have been withdrawn without permission please see section 2.2.4 (Reapplication).

2.2.4 Reapplication Students who have either a) been withdrawn without permission or b) whose time limit has expired must re-apply to UNBC as new applicants and pay the reapplication fee. If admitted, students must start anew; normal program requirements apply, including time limitations regardless of previously completed coursework accepted (see 4.2.1) and minimum tuition fee units.

2.3 Definition of Full-Time and Part-Time Status

A full-time graduate student is one who is either:

  1. enrolled in courses totalling a minimum of six credit hours during a single semester, or
  2. registered in a thesis, project, dissertation or other scholarly work during a semester.

A part-time student is any student who does not meet either criteria above.

Note: This definition does not necessarily govern the fee structure, which is determined at the time of admission.

2.4 Maximum Academic Load

2.4.1 The maximum academic load in a Graduate Program during any semester is 18 credit hours of course work or 15 credit hours of course work plus thesis, project, or dissertation. Programs may limit students to fewer credit hours.

2.4.2 Simultaneous enrolment in a graduate program and an undergraduate, diploma or certificate program is not permitted.

2.4.3 Simultaneous enrolment in more than one graduate program is not permitted with the exception of the situation covered by regulation 7.1.4b. Concurrent enrolment in a graduate degree program and related graduate diplomas or certificates may be permitted by an individual Program upon receipt of a separate application and payment of the appropriate fee(s).

2.5 Leave of Absence or Withdrawal from the University

Students in degree programs who wish to withdraw, either temporarily or permanently, must do so formally in accordance with the following procedures.

2.5.1 Students who wish to request a leave of absence must apply using the Leave of Absence Form to the Office of Graduate Programs, with supporting documentation from their supervisor, and with detailed documentation (E.g., a doctor's note) explaining the need for such a leave. A student should apply prior to the beginning of the leave of absence or in the same academic year if the request is retroactive. A leave of absence is normally for no more than one year in a graduate degree program. Under exceptional circumstances and only as recommended by the supervisor and approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate, a further leave of absence may be granted. Students cannot undertake academic or research work nor use any of the University's facilities during the period of leave. After the leave of absence is completed, students must register for the next semester. The transcript will record the notation: “Leave of Absence”.

2.5.2 Time spent on an approved leave of absence (see 2.5.1) is not counted as part of the total time allowed for completion of the degree program (see 4.2).

2.5.3 Students who wish to withdraw from their Graduate Program and have their transcript indicate that they were in good standing when they withdrew, must apply using the Request to Withdrawn Form to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate, with supporting documentation from their supervisor. The transcript will record the notation: “Withdrawn with Permission”.

2.5.4 The transcript of students who fail to notify the University of their intention to withdraw from their Graduate Program or who have not maintained continuity of registration in accordance with Regulation 2.2.1 will record the notation “Withdrawn without Permission.”

2.6 Letter of Permission​ for Studies Elsewhere

Students currently registered in a Graduate Program who wish to undertake studies at another institution for transfer credit toward their graduate degree at the University of Northern British Columbia must apply in writing to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate, specifying the host institution, the courses to be taken, and their credit values. The application must be supported by the supervisor. Students must request that an official transcript be sent directly to the Office of the Registrar at UNBC from the host institution upon completion of the course work. Note: Students are required to maintain continuous registration and pay the fees for the semester at the University of Northern British Columbia while studying elsewhere.

2.6.1 Western Deans' Agreement

Students currently registered in a graduate program who wish to undertake studies at a western Canadian university for transfer credit toward their graduate degree at the University of Northern British Columbia may be eligible for exchange status under the provision of the Western Deans' Agreement. Information and relevant forms are available from the Graduate Programs website, www.unbc.ca/graduateprograms, or at the Office of Graduate Programs. Students must include an outline of the course work that they propose to undertake, including a demonstration of the appropriateness of the selected course to act as a replacement of existing courses in the program of study. The application must be submitted to, and supported, by the supervisor. If the application is approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate, the university concerned is notified by the Office of Graduate Programs. All applicable tuition fees are waived by the host institution. However, ancillary student fees are still applied. All students attending other institutions under the provisions of the Western Deans' Agreement must register concurrently at the University of Northern British Columbia in their thesis or project, and pay the appropriate fees.


3.0 Student Responsibilities

  1. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the Graduate Regulations. If students are unsure about any aspect of the Graduate Regulations, they should contact the Office of the Registrar or the Office of Graduate Programs.
  2. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the program requirements and deadlines. If students are unsure about any aspect of the program regulations, they should contact the Graduate Program Chair.
  3. Students are responsible for ensuring the completeness and accuracy of their registration. If students are unsure about any aspect of their record, they should contact the Office of the Registrar.
  4. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with their fee obligations as outlined in the Fees Section of the calendar. If students are unsure about any aspect of the fee regulations, they should contact the Office of the Registrar.
  5. Students are equally responsible for maintaining open communication with their supervisor, supervisory committee, and Graduate Program Chair through mutually agreed upon regular meetings. Any problems, real or potential, should be brought to the attention of the supervisor, supervisory committee and Graduate Program Chair promptly. Students should be aware that formal routes of appeal exist in the form of the Appeals Procedure of the Office of the Registrar (see Appeals Section).
  6. A letter mailed to a student's address as it appears on record in the Office of the Registrar will be deemed adequate notification to the student for all matters concerning the student's record. Changes in address and telephone number must be reported promptly to the Office of the Registrar.

4.0 Regulations Governing Master's Programs

4.1 Course and Program Requirements

4.1.1 Graduate Programs Within the first semester of registration in a graduate degree program, the supervisor will forward to the Office of Graduate Programs a completed Graduate Program Approval Form on behalf of each student.

4.1.2 Graduate Supervision Unless otherwise specified, the graduate supervisor nominates the supervisory committee and the Program forwards the names to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate for approval, normally within one semester of the first registration in the thesis, project, practicum, comprehensive examination or dissertation.

4.1.3 Course work and research Considerable variation is permitted in the balance between research and the course work required for the Master's degree, although most programs include a thesis based on research (see 4.1.7 ).

Before the thesis, project, or practicum is written, the student should contact the Office of Graduate Programs website at www.unbc.ca/graduate-programs for a copy of the Formatting Guidelines For Graduate Dissertations, Theses, Projects & Practicum Reports, which specifies academic and technical requirements to ensure acceptability of the document by the University and the National Library of Canada.

4.1.4 Integrated Courses Normally, Master's students enrolled in thesis programs should complete at least 6 credit hours of graduate course work in addition to any integrated delivery courses that may be taken. The Chair of Program or, if applicable, the Chair of the Graduate Committee decides whether or not a graduate course qualifies as part of the 6 credit hours requirement of a student's degree.

4.1.5 Language requirements Some Master's programs may require a reading knowledge of one or more languages other than English. Language requirements will be prescribed for individual students by the supervisory committee according to program regulations. Such requirements are considered part of the student's program. When a language requirement is imposed, it must be met prior to taking the oral examination or, in the case of non-thesis Master's programs, before the completion of the comprehensive examination and/or the project oral.

4.1.6 UNBC course requirements and applicability of transfer of credit At least half of the course work taken must be completed as a degree candidate in a Graduate Program at the University of Northern British Columbia and be UNBC courses. On the recommendation of the Program concerned, the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate may accept courses taken at other institutions for credit toward a UNBC graduate degree.

Courses taken at the University of Northern British Columbia as a non-degree student in a Graduate Program may be considered for transfer to a graduate degree (see 1.5.4).

In order to qualify for transfer of credit, courses must meet all of the following conditions:

  1. must be a graduate level course;
  2. must be completed with a grade of at least B (or equivalent);
  3. must not be used to meet the minimum admission requirements for Graduate Programs; and
  4. must not have been used to obtain any degree, diploma, certificate or other credential, unless otherwise noted.

The grades from courses allowed for transfer of credit will not appear on the transcript, and they will not be used in determining sessional or cumulative grade point averages. Credit granted at another institution on the basis of life or work experience is not acceptable for transfer of credit. For students admitted as mature students (see 1.4), transfer of credit will not normally be granted for courses taken before enrolling in Graduate Programs at the University of Northern British Columbia.

4.1.7 Master's degree without a thesis Not all programs offer the option of a Master's degree without a thesis. The following regulations apply:

  1. a program of study must be approved as for all other graduate degrees;
  2. a supervisory committee shall be formed according to 4.4.2;
  3. there must be evidence of independent scholarly work which may be in the form of a project, extended paper(s), work report, etc. The credit value for this work may range from three to twelve credit hours; and
  4. normally there shall be an oral examination, in accordance with regulation 4.5.

4.2 ​Time Limit

The maximum time for completion given below is not intended to be the normal time for completion. It is intended to take into account a wide variety of extraordinary circumstances and events that may delay completion.

4.2.1 Normally, a student proceeding toward a Master's degree will be required to complete all degree requirements within five years (60 consecutive months) from the date of the first registration in the Master's degree. In no case will a degree be awarded in less than 12 consecutive months from the time of the first registration. However, it is expected that a full-time student will complete a Master's degree within 36 consecutive months from the date of first registration.

4.2.2 If a degree is not completed within the specified period following the first registration, the student will be withdrawn from the program. Under exceptional circumstances, time extensions may be granted by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs. Such requests for time extension must be made in writing to the Office of Graduate Programs prior to the end of the semester in which the student's time limit expires. The request must include a timeline for the completion of the degree and a letter of support from the student's supervisor.

4.2.3 A time extension will normally be approved for one semester with the expectation that all outstanding degree requirements of a student's graduate program (including the defence and thesis corrections) are completed within this period of time. Only in exceptional circumstances will further time extensions be granted. Students who fail to complete at the end of a time extension will be required to withdraw from their graduate program.

4.2.4 Variances to the time limits specified in 4.2.1 and 4.2.3 are as follows:

  • Master of Education (Part time) seven years (84 consecutive months).

4.3 Academic Performance

A student who fails to meet academic standards, or whose thesis, project, practicum, or comprehensive examination is not progressing satisfactorily, may be required to withdraw by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs on the advice of the supervisor and supervisory committee.

4.3.1 Students must attain a Semester GPA of at least 3.00 (B) for every semester in which they are registered. Individual programs may set higher standards. Any student with a Semester GPA below 3.00 may be allowed to register in the next semester while their academic performance is reviewed by their supervisory committee. Continuation in their Graduate Program is recommended by the supervisory committee subject to approval by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs .

Students who were registered in one course in a semester that resulted in a Semester GPA less than 3.00 based on a B- grade may be allowed to continue in their graduate program. However, if the student’s Cumulative GPA is lower than a 3.00, a continuance review is required.

4.3.2 A grade of F in a course taken for credit in a Graduate Program must be reviewed by the supervisory committee and a recommendation must be made to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs concerning continuance of the student in the program. Such students will not be allowed to register in the next semester until approved to do so by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs.

4.3.3 Graduate students may not repeat graduate courses except under exceptional circumstances if recommended by the supervisory committee subject to approval by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate.

4.3.4 The supervisor, in consultation with the supervisory committee (if applicable) and the student, completes a progress report for students registered in a thesis, project, practicum, or comprehensive examination on a yearly basis and submits it to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs for approval. If the progress report indicates a second Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory progress, the supervisory committee, with the Graduate Program Chair, reviews the student’s continuation in a formal continuance review meeting and submits recommendations to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs for final decision.

4.3.5 Conditions may be imposed by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate for continuation in the program. The conditions normally must be met within the next semester or the student will be required to withdraw.

4.4 Academic Supervision

4.4.1 Supervisor Each Master's student shall have, at the time of their application for admission, identified and gained the agreement of a member of the faculty assigned as a supervisor (or academic advisor). Subject to an offer of admission to the program, the agreement is approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs.

The role of the supervisor is to provide advice, guidance, instruction and encouragement in the research activities of their students and to evaluate their progress and performance. The supervisor must: be aware of and adhere to the various and relevant university regulations; provide guidance to the student on the nature of research, the standards required, the adequacy of the student's progress, and the quality of the student's work; and be accessible to the student to give advice and constructive criticism.

The supervisor and student must maintain contact through mutually agreed upon regular meetings. Supervisors who expect to be absent from the University for an extended period of time (including during sabbaticals) are responsible for making suitable arrangements (including the appointment of a temporary replacement) with the student and the chair of the program, or if applicable the chair of the graduate committee for the continued supervision of the student or the nomination of another supervisor. All changes of this nature must be approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs who can recommend further changes of the supervisor or supervisory committee.

4.4.2 Supervisory Committee Each Master's student shall have a supervisory committee, which is assembled by the supervisor and approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs. The Chair of this committee shall be the supervisor.

The committee consists of at least three members including the supervisor. One member is normally from outside the program. If, at any point, more than one member of a supervisory committee is absent from the University for an extended period of time (including during sabbaticals), arrangements should be made so that the progress of the student is not impeded. No more than one member of a supervisory committee should be on an extended absence at any one time.

The duties of the committee include: recommending a program of study chosen in conformity with the program requirements as stated in the graduate calendar (such as competence in languages other than English, in statistics, in computing, or in other research skills); meeting periodically to facilitate appropriate supervision of the thesis, project, or practicum; and participating in a final oral examination when the degree program requirements prescribes such an examination.

A member of a supervisory committee who has an adjunct or emeritus position with UNBC cannot be the sole supervisor of a graduate student. A faculty member who leaves UNBC cannot remain as the sole supervisor for a graduate student. The chair of the degree program will be expected to ensure that a new supervisor or co-supervisor is appointed from existing faculty.

All such changes require the approval of the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs who may recommend further changes of the supervisor or supervisory committee.

4.5 Final Oral Examinations and Examining Committees

4.5.1 General Regulations

  1. Master's degrees require a final examination.
  2. Degrees that have a final examination by project, comprehensive examination, major paper, etc., may be examined in a manner agreed upon by the Program and the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate; otherwise, the examination shall be as for theses.
  3. For all theses, students may proceed to an oral examination when the supervisory committee is satisfied that the scholarly work represents an examinable document for the degree requirements. The supervisory committee and student confirm this by signing the Request for Oral Examination and Appointment of an External Examiner form. This form must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Programs at least six weeks before the anticipated date of oral examination. Two copies of the document are required by the Office of Graduate Programs upon submission of the Request for Oral Examination and Appointment of an External Examiner form. One copy of the document is forwarded to the External Examiner by the Office of Graduate Programs.
  4. Before proceeding to the final examination, all courses taken for credit in Graduate Programs must be completed with a cumulative grade point average of not less than 3.00 (B) and with no grade in any course less than B- (or the higher standard set by the individual program). Any language requirement must be met before the student proceeds to the examination.
  5. The Vice President Research and Graduate Programs (or designate) acts as Chair at the oral examination. Any tenured member of the faculty at the Associate Professor level or higher with extensive experience in Graduate Programs is eligible to serve as the Vice President's designate.
  6. Normally, the oral examinations are open to the University community. Copies of the thesis abstract shall be made available to all those attending the examination. The Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate shall have the right to attend all phases of the examination. In rare circumstances where a public examination would be detrimental to the student or the sponsor of the research to have it made public, the author of the thesis, project or dissertation may request a closed oral examination. The request for a closed oral examination must be made in writing to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate for review and approval when the Request for Oral Examination is made.
  7. The MBA Program schedules its project defences in the final semester concurrent with course work.

4.5.2 Examining Committees The role of the examining committee is to assess the thesis, project or practicum, and to conduct an oral examination, if applicable, based on that scholarly work. The examining committee will consist of the supervisory committee and at least one other examiner, called the external examiner, who must be from outside the program area in which the Master's is based and who has had no past (previous five years), current, or planned involvement or association with the student or the thesis research.

External examiners should have established reputations in the area of the thesis research. Ideally, they should be at associate or full professor rank if they are at a university or be of comparable stature if they are not at a university. Please refer to the Policy on the Appointment of an External Examiner available from the Office of Graduate Programs, or from the website at www.unbc.ca/graduateprograms.

All examinations of theses and defendable projects are chaired by a faculty member who is totally independent of the program, student and project.

At a minimum, the people who must attend the defence in person are the student, supervisor (or one of the co-supervisors), the chair and one committee member.

For Master's degrees without a thesis, the membership of the final oral examining committee and the examination procedure shall be determined and approved by the Program and the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate (see 4.5.1a).

4.5.3 Format of the Thesis Examination The first part of the oral examination shall consist of an oral presentation by the candidate to include a summary of the salient points of the research normally within a time span of 20 to 25 minutes. This is followed by the questioning and examination of the candidate by the examining committee. The oral defence is normally about two hours in duration.

It is the responsibility of the Chair of the oral examination to pose questions raised by the external examiner (if not in attendance).

The Chair of the oral examination may exercise discretion in allowing questions from guests following completion of the formal examination.

4.5.4 Results of Oral Examinations The decision of the examining committee shall be based on the content of the scholarly work or thesis, as well as the candidate's ability to defend it. After the examination, the committee shall recommend to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate one of the following results:

  1. Clear Pass

    This decision is selected when the thesis, project or practicum is acceptable as presented, and the oral defence is acceptable. The only alterations to be made are grammatical, labeling or numbering changes or the correction of typographical errors.

    In this case, all members of the examining committee shall sign the approval pages. A “pass” grade is submitted to the Office of the Registrar for the student's thesis, project or practicum.
  2. Pass with Minor Revision

    This decision is selected when the thesis, project or practicum is acceptable subject to minor revision, and the oral defence is acceptable. Minor revisions are defined as any change beyond the correction of typographical errors that entails the reorganization of portions of the manuscript or the rewriting of minor portions of the thesis. It is within the discretion of the examining committee to determine whether the quantity or number of minor revisions proposed make the outcome "pass with major revisions" more appropriate.

    In this case, all members of the examining committee, except the supervisor, shall sign the approval pages.

    The supervisor shall sign the approval pages when the thesis, project or practicum has been amended to include the changes that were requested by the examining committee. A “pass” grade is submitted to the Office of the Registrar for the student's thesis, project or practicum.

    The Office of Graduate Programs must receive confirmation that the thesis, project or practicum has been amended to include the changes that were requested by the examining committee by the last day of the semester in which the oral examination took place. If this deadline is not met, registration for the subsequent semester is required In order to maintain continuous registration (See 2.2.1).
  3. Pass with Major Revision

    This decision is selected when the thesis, project or practicum is acceptable subject to major revision, and the oral defence is acceptable. Pass with major revisions means that a complete chapter or chapters must be rewritten, additional data is to be presented and/or interpreted, or the general format must be changed. Alternatively the cumulative number of minor revisions is sufficient to merit a pass with major revisions.

    In this case, only the chair of the examining committee shall sign the approval pages. The supervisor shall supervise the revision of the thesis, project or practicum. When the revisions have been completed and have been approved by the supervisor, the supervisor shall distribute the revised thesis, project or practicum to the rest of the examining committee. If it is acceptable to the examining committee, the supervisor shall ensure that the approval pages are signed by each member of the examining committee. A “pass” grade is submitted to the Office of the Registrar for the student's thesis, project or practicum.

    The Office of Graduate Programs must receive confirmation that the thesis, project or practicum has been amended to include the changes that were requested by the examining committee by the last day of the semester in which the oral examination took place. If this deadline is not met, registration for the subsequent semester is required in order to maintain continuous registration (See 2.2.1).
  4. Adjournment of the Examination

    This decision is selected when the examination is adjourned.

    Reasons to adjourn the examination include, but are not limited to the following: further research or experimentation is required; the thesis is acceptable but the student has failed the oral defence; or the external examiner casts the lone dissenting vote. In the case of an adjourned examination, the candidate shall not be passed and no member shall sign the approval pages.

    When an examination is adjourned, each member of the examining committee shall make a written report to the Office of Graduate Programs within 14 calendar days of the date of the oral examination. After reviewing these reports the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate sets a date for reconvening the examination. The Vice President or designate shall also determine whether or not the composition of the original committee is appropriate for the reconvened examination. The date for reconvening shall be no later than six months from the date of the first examination. If the date for reconvening falls outside the last day of the semester in which the adjourned oral examination took place, registration for the subsequent semester is required in order to maintain continuous registration (See 2.2.1).
  5. Failure

    This decision is selected when the thesis, project or practicum is unacceptable, and the oral defence is unacceptable.

    If two or more members of the examining committee are opposed to passing the student, the student will not be recommended for the degree. In this case, the examining committee shall make a written report to the Office of Graduate Programs within 14 calendar days from the date of the oral examination outlining the reasons for this decision. A student who fails the oral examination has the right to appeal, and should consult with the Office of the Registrar regarding the appropriate procedures.

4.5.5 Consequences of a Failed Examination A student who fails the oral examination twice shall be required to withdraw from his or her Graduate Program.

4.5.6 Students who are awarded a pass decision with minor or major revisions will be required to submit a corrected thesis, which has been approved by the supervisory committee and/or external examiner, if applicable, to the Office of Graduate Programs by the date stated on the outcome of defence form. Students who do not submit a corrected thesis or fail to provide revisions which are acceptable to their examining committee will be deemed to have failed the defence and will not be recommended for the award of their graduate degree.

4.6 Degree Completion and ​Graduation

4.6.1 The University Senate grants degrees in May each year. Each candidate for a degree must complete an Application for Graduation form and must pay the graduation fee (see Fees section). Application for Graduation forms are available in the Office of the Registrar or from the website at www.unbc.ca/graduateprograms.

4.6.2 The deadline for completing all requirements for the degree is the final business day in April for Spring graduation.

4.6.3 Students can be considered for the awarding of a degree only when all of the following requirements have been satisfied:

  1. Completion of the program of study and meeting the grade point average requirements for the degree.
  2. Submission of three final copies of the thesis, or two final copies of the project or practicum report. Regulations governing proper submission are set out in the Formatting Guidelines For Graduate Dissertations, Theses, Projects & Practicum Reports. Only the latest version of these instructions is valid. Students should obtain a copy from the Office of Graduate Programs or from the Graduate Programs website at www.unbc.ca/graduateprograms.
  3. Signing of the approval pages for the student's thesis, project or other scholarly work by the supervisor.
  4. Submission of an Application for Graduation form to the Office of the Registrar, and an official degree audit completed by the University.
  5. Payment of all outstanding fees. Those students who have outstanding accounts will not receive their degree parchment or be issued transcripts. Students should be aware of the semester fee payment schedule for graduate degrees (see Fees section).

5.0 Appeals

Appeals are heard by the Senate Committee on Academic Appeals and are not subject to further appeal. Further information may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar. See also the Academic Appeals Policy and Procedures section under the Graduate General Regulations and Policies section of the Graduate Calendar.


6.0 Research Services

All matters concerning the administration of research grants and contracts are handled by the Office of Research, to which inquiries concerning research policies and procedures should be directed. Students whose research falls within the University definition of research involving human and non-human subjects and other ethical and safety issues must receive prior approval from the appropriate screening committee. Regulations on these issues may be obtained from the Office of Research. The Office of the Research should be contacted for further details concerning research-oriented services offered to graduate students.


7.0 Regulations Governing Doctoral Programs

The calendar regulations listed below, apply to Doctoral students as well as to Master's students:

  • General Admission.
  • GRE requirements.
  • Admission to non-degree course work.
  • Auditing graduate courses.
  • English requirements for international students.
  • Registration procedures and status.
  • Student responsibilities.
  • Academic performance.

In addition, Doctoral students are subject to the regulations that follow:

7.1 Admission to Doctoral Deg​rees

7.1.1 Admission to a Doctoral program normally requires a Master's degree or equivalent from a recognized institution. Admission to a Doctoral degree program requires evidence that the applicant is capable of undertaking substantial original research. Such capability will be judged partly by means of three external assessment reports sent directly to the Office of the Registrar by qualified referees.

7.1.2 Admission to a Doctoral program will require a Cumulative GPA of 3.33 (B+) from the Baccalaureate and Master's degree, to be calculated over the last 30 credit hours of graded academic course work. Note: Higher entrance standards than those outlined in this section may be set by individual doctoral programs.

7.1.3 The Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate may approve the admission of an applicant to a Doctoral program without a Master's degree if the applicant has received a Baccalaureate degree from a recognized institution with a Cumulative GPA of at least 3.67 (A-) and has completed at least two semesters of a Master's degree program at the University of Northern British Columbia with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.67 (A-).

7.1.4 Continuation to a Doctoral Program. Students enrolled in a Master's program at the University of Northern British Columbia may continue to a Doctoral program prior to completion of the Master's degree. Students may apply to be transferred to Doctoral status no sooner than two semesters after initial registration in the Master's program at the University of Northern British Columbia. After a review, which must include an evaluation by the student's supervisory committee, the Program will recommend to the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate one of the following:

  1. admission to the Doctoral program without completion of a Master's program;
  2. admission to the Doctoral program but with concurrent completion of all requirements for a Master's degree within one semester from the date of transfer;
  3. admission to the Doctoral program following completion of the requirements for the Master's degree;
  4. refusal of admission to the Doctoral program.

Students admitted to a Doctoral program under 7.1.4.a must complete courses from the Master's and Doctoral programs as recommended by the existing Supervisory Committee and approved by the Vice Provost Student Recruitment or designate.

Students admitted under 7.1.4.b who do not complete the requirements for the Master's degree within the one semester limit will lose their status in the Doctoral program and be returned to Master's status.

Students admitted to a Doctoral program under 7.1.4a, but who are not continuing in the Doctoral program, may re-register as a candidate for the Master's degree, provided that work to date has met the standards of the Master's program and the candidacy examination has not been attempted.

7.1.5 No more than four full-time tuition fee units or the equivalent for part-time students will be credited in such cases towards the fees for the Doctoral program.

7.1.6 Part-time doctoral work is not feasible in some areas because of the divergent nature of academic disciplines. Accordingly, no Program is obligated to offer part-time doctoral work.

7.2 Minimum Requirements

The minimum requirement for a Doctoral degree is 24 credit hours of course work beyond the Master's level, or 36 credit hours of course work beyond the Bachelor's level, and satisfactory completion of the prescribed program. Individual programs may require more credit hours of course work.

7.3 The Dissertation

A Doctoral program requires a broad and comprehensive knowledge of the field or fields of study, such knowledge to be demonstrated through a candidacy examination. It also requires the completion of a research project culminating in a dissertation which meets the requirements and standards of Graduate Programs. This dissertation must contain original work, and must be a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the candidate's field(s) of study. It must contain evidence of broad knowledge of the relevant literature, and must demonstrate a critical understanding of the works of scholars eminent in the field(s) related to the dissertation. The dissertation should, in the opinion of scholars in the field(s), merit publication, in whole or in part.

The general style and form of dissertations may differ from program to program, but all dissertations must be presented in a form which constitutes a connected and continuous text. The dissertation may contain material previously published by the candidate, whether alone or in conjunction with others. Such previously published material must be fully integrated into the dissertation. In such cases, the candidate's own work must be clearly distinguished from that of other researchers. The candidate is responsible at the final oral examination for defence of the entire contents of the dissertation.

Before beginning to write the dissertation, the candidate should obtain a copy of the Formatting Guidelines For Graduate Dissertations, Theses, Projects & Practicum Reports from the Office of Graduate Programs; this document specifies the academic and technical requirements necessary to ensure that the work is acceptable to the University and to the National Library of Canada.

7.4 Language Requirements

A Doctoral program may require a reading knowledge of one or more languages other than English. Language requirements will be set for individual students by their supervisory committees according to the regulations of the Programs, and shall, as a rule, be geared to the individual research requirements of each candidate. Where language requirements are set, they shall be considered part of the student's program, and must be met, at the latest, before the student defends the dissertation.

7.5 Course Transfer

On the recommendation of the Program concerned, the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate may accept courses taken at other recognized universities for credit towards a Doctoral program. However, at least half of the courses taken for the degree must be taken as a graduate student at the University of Northern British Columbia.

7.6 Integrated Courses

Doctoral students will not receive degree credit for more than six credit hours of integrated delivery course work (see Section 1.8.1).

7.7 Time Limit

The maximum time for completion given below is not intended to be the normal time for completion. It is intended to take into account a wide variety of extraordinary circumstances and events that may delay completion.

7.7.1 Normally, a student proceeding to a Doctoral degree must complete all the degree requirements within seven consecutive years (84 consecutive months) from the date of first registration in the program. If the student has transferred from a Master's program, completion is required within seven years of the date of the first registration in the Master's program.

7.7.2 If a degree is not awarded within seven years of the first registration, the student will be withdrawn from the program. Under exceptional circumstances, time extensions may be granted by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate. Such requests for time extension must be made in writing to the Office of Graduate Programs prior to the end of the semester in which the student's time limit expires. The request must include a timeline for the completion of the degree, accompanied by supporting documentation from the student's supervisor.

7.7.3 A time extension is approved for one semester with the expectation that all outstanding degree requirements of a student's graduate program (including the defence and thesis corrections) are completed within this period of time. Only in exceptional circumstances are further time extensions granted. Students who fail to complete at the end of a time extension are required to withdraw from their graduate program.

7.7.4 Residency Requirement A student with a Master's degree registering in a Doctoral program must pursue studies under the direction of a faculty member as a full-time student for at least two full semesters within 24 consecutive months of initial registration.

7.8 Academic Supervision

7.8.1 Supervision Each Doctoral candidate has, at the time of their application for admission, identified and gained the agreement of a member of faculty to act as supervisor. Subject to an offer of admission to the program, the agreement is approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate.

The Supervisor must be aware of, and adhere to, the various and relevant university regulations; must provide guidance to the student on the nature of research, the standards required, the adequacy of the student's progress, and the quality of the student's work; and must be accessible to the student to give advice and constructive criticism.

The Supervisor and student must maintain contact through regular meetings. Supervisors who expect to be absent from the University for an extended period of time (including during sabbaticals) must make suitable arrangements (including the appointment of a temporary replacement if appropriate) with the student and the Chair of the program, or if applicable the chair of the graduate committee for the continued supervision of the student, or must request that the Program or College nominate another Supervisor, to be approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate.

A member of a supervisory committee who has an adjunct or emeritus position with UNBC cannot be the sole supervisor of a graduate student. A faculty member who leaves UNBC cannot remain as the sole supervisor for a graduate student. The chair of the degree program will be expected to ensure that a new supervisor or co-supervisor is appointed from existing faculty. All such changes require the approval of the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate who may recommend further changes of the supervisor or supervisory committee.

7.8.2 Supervisory Committee Each student has a supervisory committee nominated by the chair of the program, or if applicable, the chair of the graduate committee and approved by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate. The chair of this committee will be the supervisor.

The duties of the committee include recommending a program of study chosen in conformity with degree program requirements, supervising the dissertation, and participating in a final oral examination. The committee may conduct other examinations, and recommends to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate whether or not a degree shall be awarded to the candidate.

The composition of the Doctoral supervisory committee is as follows: at least four members, including the academic supervisor. At least one member of the committee must be from outside the Program in which the candidate's research is being carried out.

7.9 Doctoral Candidacy Examination

Within two years of registration as a Doctoral candidate and at least six months before the final oral examination, a student must pass a candidacy examination. The purpose of this examination is to test the student's understanding of material considered essential to the completion of the degree, and to test the student's competence to conduct the research which will culminate in the dissertation. The candidacy examination may be written or oral, or both, at the discretion of the Program. Individual graduate programs or supervisory committees may also require other examinations in addition to the candidacy examination. Examples of such examinations would be those to test competence in languages other than English, in statistics, in computing, or in other research skills. In some graduate programs there may be comprehensive examinations to be completed before the candidacy examinations to test knowledge in the field.

The candidacy examination is a requirement of the Office of Graduate Programs, and cannot be waived by any graduate program. However, the form, content, and administration of such examinations are determined by the individual graduate programs. While there may be wide variety in the content of candidacy examinations, the manner in which the examinations are constructed, conducted, and evaluated must be consistent within individual graduate programs.

Graduate programs are responsible for providing students with a written statement of procedures, requirements, and regulations governing candidacy examinations. This information must be provided to Doctoral students at their initial registration, and must be on file with the Office of Graduate Programs. When a student has successfully completed the candidacy examination, the chair of the program, or if applicable the chair of graduate committee is responsible for sending confirmation signed by all members of the supervisory committee to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate.

Students who fail any components of any candidacy exam may be allowed a second attempt to pass the outstanding components. Normally, the second attempt will take place within a six month period from the date of the first examination, as set by the graduate program. Failure of the second attempt will result in the student being required to withdraw from the program.

7.10 Final Oral Examinations (Doctorate)

All Doctoral programs require a final oral examination. The regulations for such examinations are the same as for Master's programs, except as noted below.

7.10.1 Formation of the Examining Committee The final oral examining committee for the Doctoral degree shall consist of the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate as Chair, the supervisory committee, and an external examiner from outside the university, who will normally attend the oral examination. At a minimum, the people attending the defence in person must be the student, supervisor (or one of the co-supervisors), the external examiner and one committee member.

Before the dissertation is forwarded to the external examiner, Doctoral supervisory committee members shall each declare in writing to the supervisor and the Office of Graduate Programs either that the dissertation is of adequate substance to warrant that the student proceed to the final examination or that the dissertation is unsatisfactory and that the student should not be allowed to proceed to the final oral examination. An evaluation of the dissertation's merits and deficiencies should accompany the declaration. A declaration of satisfactory does not constitute final approval of the dissertation. A judgement of unsatisfactory performance by a doctoral supervisory committee member will be reviewed by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate, but normally constitutes grounds for not sending a copy of the dissertation to the external examiner.

7.10.2 External Examiner A distinguished scholar with particular experience both in the field of the dissertation research and in supervising doctoral students shall be chosen as the external examiner.

The proposed external examiner must be in a position to review the dissertation objectively and to provide a critical analysis of the work and the presentation. It is therefore essential that the external examiner not have a current or previous association with the student, the supervisor, or the graduate program which would hinder this type of objective analysis. The external examiner should hold a PhD and an appointment with a recognized university or be a recognized scholar in their field, and have no past, current or planned involvement or association with the student or the supervisor. The supervisor and the student must submit a declaration to the Office of Graduate Programs that neither party has performed collaborative research work with the external examiner within the last five years. The external examiner is required to attend the defence in person.

The external examiner is from outside UNBC and has no association with the program, supervisor or doctoral student. Ideally, they should be at associate or full professor rank if they are at a university or be of comparable stature if they are not at a university.

The student's supervisory committee recommends the external examiner, and the supervisor then makes an informal inquiry as to the prospective external examiner's willingness to serve. If the individual is prepared to serve, the nomination is then made by the supervisor supported by the appropriate Chair to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate who makes the formal invitation to the external examiner.

The formal request for defence shall be made to the Office of Graduate Programs no less than eight weeks before the chosen date of defence. The application will only be considered for approval if certain conditions have been fulfilled including the approval of the external examiner and the identification of an appropriate defence date.

The Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate will request that the external examiner provide a detailed report on the merits and deficiencies of the dissertation, as well as an overall evaluation using the same categories as those used by internal examiners. The external examiner is requested to present the report to the Office of Graduate Programs within one month of the receipt of the dissertation. Adequate time must be allowed for the transmission of the dissertation and the receipt of the report. A judgement of unsatisfactory performance by the external examiner will be reviewed by the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate, but normally constitutes a failed attempt of the dissertation defence.

7.10.3 Changes in the Examining Committee The Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate must also approve changes to the membership of the examining committee. No changes shall be made to the examining committee after the dissertation is distributed by the Office of Graduate Programs to the committee for examination. Should the dissertation not be submitted for examination within 12 months after the appointment of the examining committee, the committee appointment will lapse and a new appointment shall be necessary.

7.10.4 Approval For Advancement to the Oral Examination The Office of Graduate Programs must receive all examiners' reports at least two weeks prior to the intended date of the oral examination.

7.10.5 Guidelines For Advancement to the Oral Examination When considering the candidate's advancement to the final oral examination, the doctoral supervisory committee members may wish to use the following guidelines:

  1. If all the reports judge the dissertation to be satisfactory, advancement to the oral examination should be automatic. The Office of Graduate Programs shall send copies of all reports to each doctoral supervisory committee member and also to the candidate.
  2. If one or more of the reports judge the dissertation to need major revisions, the Office of Graduate Studies shall send copies of all the reports to each doctoral supervisory committee member and the Graduate Program Chair. Two copies of all the reports are sent to the supervisor who shall provide one copy to the candidate. The doctoral supervisory committee members should strive to provide the supervisor and the candidate with specific advice about the nature and scope of the revisions required and any other pertinent matters (such as the time that should elapse before the dissertation will be accepted for reconsideration).
  3. If the doctoral supervisory committee members judge an unfavorable report by an external examiner to be unwarranted, they may recommend, through the Graduate Program Chair, that the Office of Graduate Programs submit the dissertation to a second external examiner.

7.10.6 Requirements Prior to Oral Examination Scheduling The examination will normally be held at the Prince George Campus. Exceptions must have the unanimous agreement of all examining committee members and the student. Normally, the oral examination shall be open to all members of the University of Northern British Columbia community. In exceptional cases, the final oral examination may be closed, for example, when the results of the dissertation research must be kept confidential for a period of time. In such cases, the doctoral supervisory committee members and Graduate Program Chair shall recommend such action to the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate who may then approve that the final oral examination be closed to all but the examining committee and the Vice President Research and Graduate Programs or designate.

Candidate Information At least two weeks prior to the oral examination, the candidate must submit to the Office of Graduate Programs the following information: biographical data (where and when born); outstanding points in career, awards, etc.; list of degrees obtained (where and when); the exact title of the dissertation; an abstract of the dissertation (not more than 350 words); and a list of publications. This information is used to advertise the oral examination.

Note: The above documentation should be submitted in electronic form.

Notice of Examination Except in the case of a closed examination and provided the information is received in sufficient time to meet publication deadlines, a notice of the candidate's oral examination will be published. Students, staff and faculty members who are not members of the examining committee are invited and encouraged to attend the oral examination, but are not permitted to participate in the formal questioning.

7.10.7 Format of the Examination The first part of the oral examination shall consist of 25- to 30-minute oral presentation by the candidate to include a summary of the salient points of the research, which is followed by the questioning and examination of the candidate by the examining committee. The question period is normally a maximum of two hours in duration. The initial questioner will be the external examiner, followed, if required, by the members of the supervisory committee. There will be two round of questions in total by all members of the examining committee followed by a final opportunity from the external examiner to ask any outstanding questions.

The Chair of the oral examination may exercise discretion in allowing questions from the audience following completion of the formal examination.

The adjournment of a defence at any point is under the discretion of the Chair of the defence.

7.10.8 Decision of the Committee Following completion of the formal examination, the candidate and audience are required to withdraw from the examination room. The examining committee members will consider their report and will also determine the nature of and procedures for approval of any revisions that will be required prior to submission of the dissertation.

The examining committee may exercise its discretion on the following matters: who must approve the required revisions, time limits for the completion of revisions, the necessity for a second oral examination, and any other matters. These matters should be summarized in a memorandum sent to the student by the Supervisor. Before being sent to the student, the memorandum should be circulated to the examining committee members for confirmation. It shall be the responsibility of a designated member of the oral examination committee (normally the supervisor) to ensure that all such revisions are completed before the final copy of the unbound dissertation is submitted to the Office of Graduate Programs for binding. The candidate will be recommended for the PhD degree when the dissertation, accompanied by a signed statement from the supervisor that the required revisions are completed, is submitted to the Office of Graduate Programs, providing all other degree requirements have been satisfied.

7.10.9 Report of the Committee The final judgement of the examiners on the dissertation and the oral examination shall be reported to the Dean of Graduate Programs in the term "pass" or "fail". The criteria for the nature of the pass or fail are as previously detailed in section 4.5.4. The dissertation must be passed by the external examiner and a majority of members of the examining committee. In the case of a failure for the dissertation at the PhD level a detailed written report will be prepared by the Chair and made available to the candidate and also submitted to the Dean of Graduate Programs.

A student who receives a failure on either the dissertation or the oral examination twice shall be required to withdraw from his/her doctoral program.

7.11 Degree Completion and Graduation

7.11.1 The University Senate grants degrees in May of each year. Each candidate for a degree must complete an Application for Graduation form and must pay the graduation fees (see Fees Section). Application for Graduation forms are available in the Office of the Registrar or from the website at www.unbc.ca/graduateprograms.

7.11.2 The deadline for completing all requirements for the degree is the final business day in April for Spring graduation.

7.11.3 Students can be considered for the awarding of a degree only when all of the following requirements have been satisfied:

  1. Completion of the program of study and meeting the grade point average requirements for the degree.
  2. Submission of three final copies of the dissertation. Regulations governing proper submission are set out in the Formatting Guidelines For Graduate Dissertations, Theses, Projects & Practicum Reports. Only the latest version of these instructions is valid. Students should obtain a copy from the Office of Graduate Programs or from the Graduate Programs website at www.unbc.ca/graduateprograms.
  3. Signing of the approval pages for the student's dissertation by the supervisor.
  4. Submission of an Application for Graduation form to the Office of the Registrar, and an official degree audit completed by the University.
  5. Payment of all outstanding fees. Those students who have outstanding accounts will not receive their degree parchment or be issued transcripts. Students should be aware of the semester fee payment schedule for graduate degrees (see Fees Section).