Jump to Main Content
Decrease font size Reset font size Increase font size

Finishing Up & Graduation

Tips for Doctoral Final Oral Exams (FOEs) and Program Completion at OISE

All doctoral theses at the University of Toronto must be defended at a Final Oral Examination (FOE). The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) sets the Guidelines for FOEs; OISE and the Office of the Registrar and Students Services (ORSS) must follow these guidelines; OISE deadline dates are set to ensure SGS deadlines are met.

Approval of the External Examiner (EE)

  • See the SGS FOE guidelines for the criteria to select an External Examiner (EE); these criteria are strictly enforced by SGS.

  • Approval for the EE can be requested in advance of requesting the FOE (see below); otherwise this must be done at the same time. At OISE, normal practice is that the supervisor submits electronic versions of the proposed EE’s CV and of the thesis abstract to the Department for approval. After the Department approves, the ORSS will facilitate SGS final approval for the EE.

  • The thesis must not be sent to the EE until SGS approval is secured.

  • The candidate must not have any communication with the EE until the start of the FOE. The candidate should not send the thesis to the EE. At OISE, normal practice is that the supervisor sends the thesis; this should be done at least six weeks prior to the FOE.

Approval of the FOE

  • See the SGS FOE guidelines for criteria to select FOE participants. These criteria are strictly enforced by SGS.

  • At OISE, normal practice is that the supervisor requests the FOE by completing the FOE Nomination Form and submitting it to the candidate’s Department for approval. After Department approval is secured, the ORSS will facilitate SGS final approval for the FOE.

  • The Department should submit the approved FOE Nomination form to the ORSS at least 8 weeks in advance of the FOE, and must submit it no less than 6 weeks in advance. Due to the winter break, for FOEs held in January and February these deadlines are 10 and 8 weeks in advance, respectively. SGS and the ORSS reserve the right to refuse an FOE request that does not meet these deadlines.

  • Please ensure that the FOE Nomination Form is filled out completely and correctly. The ORSS returns forms with incomplete or incorrect information to the Department, which may result in the FOE having to be delayed.

  • The FOE will be prepared using the thesis title as entered on the FOE Nomination form; no changes will be considered. After the FOE, in consultation with the supervisor, the candidate may revise the title. SGS will publish the thesis with the title used in the final version submitted by the candidate.

  • The ORSS schedules FOEs at either 10:00 AM or 2:00 PM (Toronto time), and normally has resources and staff to support a maximum of two simultaneous FOEs. The ORSS reserves the right to refuse a request for a FOE scheduled at another time, or that would cause resource or staff availability to be exceeded.

  • The following rules determine whether the FOE has achieved quorum (otherwise, it must be delayed or rescheduled):

    • At least 4, and no more than 6, voting members must participate.

    • At least 1, and no more than 3, voting members must have supervised the thesis.

    • At least 2 voting members must not have supervised the thesis.

    • No more than 2 members may participate remotely (the candidate must attend in person).

    • No more than 2 non-voting members may participate.

  • To help ensure quorum, it is strongly encouraged that the FOE committee include an Alternate Internal-External Examiner (identified on the FOE Nomination Form). This member must agree to be on hand to participate if needed to achieve quorum; otherwise, their participation is welcome but not required.

  • If the Supervisory Committee has more than 3 members who wish to participate, the additional members may participate as non-voting members. They must be identified as such on the FOE Nomination form and approved by SGS. They may question the candidate, stay in the room when the candidate is asked to leave, and participate in the discussions, but do not have a vote.

  • The FOE committee must vote on the version of the thesis that was distributed for evaluation. If the candidate makes any revisions after this, they are not permitted to distribute the revised thesis to the committee prior to, or during, the FOE.

Audio/Visual and Remote Participation Requirements

  • The ORSS will normally make all arrangements for audio/visual and remote participation. In order to facilitate this, requests must be received well in advance (i.e., using the FOE Nomination Form). Support is subject to resource and staff availability. Most OISE FOEs are held in the examination room within the ORSS.

  • OISE uses Zoom as the software platform for remote participants, whether by telephone or video conference; no other software is supported.

  • Recording of the FOE is strictly prohibited.

  • A laptop and screen will be available for candidates to present their slides (if any). Candidates should bring a copy of their slides on a USB drive. Candidates may bring their own laptop, but compatibility and technical support are not guaranteed (if there are remote participants, the laptop must have Zoom installed and be able to access the Internet).

  • Candidates are strongly encouraged to bring a paper copy of their speaking notes (if any), as Presenter View may not be available within PowerPoint.

  • In the event that a remote participant cannot connect by video, they will be instructed to try connecting by telephone. For this reason, it is encouraged to send all remote participants a copy of the presentation slides (if any). A reminder that the candidate may not communicate with the EE until the start of the FOE; typically, the supervisor sends them the slides.

  • Candidates will have access to the examination room starting one hour before the start of the FOE. If there are remote participants, candidates are requested to arrive at least half an hour before the start.

  • The examination room is not available for rehearsal. For candidates who have a FOE scheduled in the ORSS examination room, a brief visit can be arranged (email oise.doctorate@utoronto.ca). For FOEs held elsewhere, candidates may inquire about making a brief visit by contacting the appropriate Department.

At the FOE

  • SGS maintains an online Doctoral Examination Schedule.

  • Detailed procedures for conducting the FOE are included in the SGS guidelines, and are distributed to all participants prior to the FOE. Here is a brief summary:

    • The candidate may be present for preliminary introductions at the start of the FOE, but must leave while the Chair and committee finalize the order of business.

    • The Chair will then admit (or re-admit) the candidate, who will have a maximum of 20 minutes to present a summary of the thesis.

    • The Chair will then invite committee members to question the candidate.

    • After this, the candidate must leave again while the committee deliberates and votes. The Chair will explain the rules for voting (these are also included in the detailed procedures that will have been distributed).

    • Typically, the Chair will then re-admit the candidate and inform them of the result of the vote, but the candidate can instead be notified of the result by other means.

  • There is no length of time defined for a FOE. At OISE, the typical length is between one-and-a-half to two hours from start to finish, but it is not unknown for a FOE to fall outside the typical length.

  • If the thesis is not accepted, the FOE is adjourned and must be reconvened within one year. Otherwise, the thesis can be accepted: 

    • As it stands (no revisions required).

    • With minor corrections required (typically merely typographical, grammatical, or stylistic, and to be completed within about one month).

    • With minor modifications required (to be completed within about three months).

Registration and Graduation

  • Candidates must continue to register until all program requirements are complete. For most, this is when the final, approved version of the thesis is submitted. This includes completing any required revisions to the thesis that arise from the FOE.

  • Information about preparing and submitting the thesis is available from the SGS website.

  • Candidates can request an embargo to be placed on the public release of the thesis for one or two years after graduation, with the approval of their Department Chair. The candidate must still submit the thesis within the appropriate deadline.

  • Some candidates may be required to remain registered after submitting the thesis (examples include if an internship course is still in progress, or if an EdD student has not yet completed the required one year of full-time study).

  • Information about final-year doctoral fees is available from the SGS website.

  • Candidates should verify their official email address on ACORN and updated it if necessary, as this address will be used for official communications about Convocation.

  • Candidates must graduate in the Convocation period following when they complete their program requirements; delaying graduation is not permitted. Candidates eligible to graduate in March may choose to graduate in June instead, as there is no Convocation ceremony in March.

  • At least three months before graduation, candidates should check the graduation checklist available from the Office of Convocation. In particular, they should review their name as it appears on ACORN, as this is the name that will appear on the diploma.

  • The degree is not conferred until graduation. In the meantime, candidates who have completed all program requirements may request an official letter from the ORSS to certify that they have done so, and when their degree is expected to be conferred.

  • SGS updates official transcripts to show the degree has been conferred within a couple of business days after the end of the appropriate Convocation period. After that, alumni who need it can request a Certification of Degree from the Office of Convocation (not the ORSS).

Guidelines (new*  OISE specific APA Publication Manual 7th edition guidlines and templates)

OISE Thesis Guidelines - Masters and Doctoral (pdf document)

OISE Doctoral Final Oral Exam Guidelines (pdf document)

SGS Guidelines for the Doctoral Final Oral Examination (pdf document)


NEW: APA specific guidelines and templates written by faculty in LHAE to coincide with the release of the new APA Publication Manual 7th edition.  Most publishing by OISE students uses APA guidelines, however in the past the only format guidelines and templates were those available through SGS. Please check with your thesis supervisor as some professors may want different formatting.

APA Thesis Styles and Formatting, LHAE 2020 (word document)

APA Thesis Styles and Formatting, LHAE 2020, Appendix A, Template (word document)

APA Thesis Styles and Formatting, LHAE 2020, Appendix B, Model for Organizing thesis (word document)


U of T Doctoral Examination Schedule

SGS maintains an online Doctoral Examination Schedule.


Graduation/Conferral of Degrees at University of Toronto takes place in November, March, and June.  There is no ceremony in March; degrees are awarded in absentia.

All Master's students at OISE preparing to graduate are required to submit an Application to Graduate form to the OISE Office of the Registrar and Student Services (ORSS) by the following dates: 

  • July 15 - if completing in the Summer Session (November graduation)
  • October 15 - if completing in the Fall Session (March or June graduation)
  • March 15 - if completing in the Winter Session (June graduation)

Receipt of the Application to Graduate is is the trigger for the graduation assessment process.

  1. The ORSS will review for required courses, and that all completed courses have grades.
  2. We will calculate your degree fee to see if you will owe a balance upon graduation.
  3. If you are currently enrolled in a Collaborative Specialization, we will check for a letter of completion in your file.


Students should notify their collaborative specializations of their intention to graduate.  (Follow the instructions provided on the Collaborative Specialization website, each collaborative has a different process.) Be aware of the deadlines set for our receipt of your final degree requirements.  The deadlines for graduation and the deadlines to avoid assessment of additional fees are often different.

Masters Students should Calculate your Degree Fee to avoid the surprise of being assessed a balance upon graduation.

Delay of graduation is not permitted.  Students must graduate at the ceremony immediately following completion of their degree requirements except in the case of Students who complete their degree requirements by the end of the Fall Session.  Those students may choose to graduate in March (in absentia, no ceremony)  or in June if they wish to attend a ceremony. 

Convocation ceremony information;  time, location, and obtaining tickets  is available from the Office of Convocation.  Information is emailed to students utoronto.ca email address approximately three weeks prior to convocation. Please ensure your address is correct on ACORN. Further information about deadlines is available at Important Dates.   

Name Changes - Students should review their name on ROSI, as this is the name as it will appear on your diploma. Your name on the title page and abstract of your thesis must also be exactly as you are officially registered on ROSI.  If the necessary change(s) are not made by the deadline for name changes set by the Office of Convocation, there is an $80.00 fee to have a new diploma printed.

Outstanding Fees - Students who have outstanding fees will be permitted to attend the convocation ceremony.  However, they will not receive their diploma at the ceremony.  Transcripts and diplomas will not be released until fees have been paid.

Transcripts - Transcripts are not automatically sent upon graduating.  Students are responsible for ordering transcripts through ACORN if they require that a copy be sent anywhere. 

Ontario Teacher Certification OCT - Those completing the Master of Teaching or Master of Arts Child Study in Education should begin the Ontario College of Teachers application process several months before graduation.  At the start of the OCT application process you will be assigned an OCT application number.  Input your six digit OCT application number via PeppeR into “My Practicum Record.”    Make sure to hit SAVE your OCT number in order for it to be processed. The ORSS will collect all of the OCT numbers that have been input into pepper up to Mid-May, and will upload qualifications to the OCT ( in early June) for all who have successfully completed the program and who have no financial arrears.  The upload will only work if you have input your OCT number to PeppeR.
*Your transcript will not say degree conferred until two business days after the actual convocation date.

Graduate Portraits - Spring 2019