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

Finishing Up & Graduation

The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) is temporarily requiring that every doctoral final oral examination (FOE) be held remotely, and is providing accomodations to enable this. SGS and the ORSS remain committed to providing the best possible experience for the candidate while ensuring that the candidate and members of the examining committee remain safe and healthy. In line with the guidance from SGS, the ORSS is implementing temporary changes to procedures so that all FOEs can be held remotely.

Temporary Procedures for Remote FOEs

In line with the guidance from SGS, the ORSS is temporarily implementing the following changes to the usual FOE procedures for OISE students, until further notice.

  • As of March 18, all FOEs must be conducted remotely. If a candidate wishes to have an in-person FOE, it must be postponed.

  • Unless otherwise specified, all rules and approval processes regarding FOEs remain in effect (these are summarized in the “General Information & Procedures…” section below). Of note, the following remain in effect:

    • Quorum requirements (except for the limit on number of remote participants),

    • The candidate and external examiner must not communicate until the start of the FOE,

    • The FOE is a closed meeting and only those approved by the SGS Vice-Dean, Students, may attend. Participants must take appropriate steps to ensure privacy. Recording the FOE is strictly prohibited.

  • All documentation for OISE FOEs must be submitted electronically, including the FOE Nomination Form. The ORSS may contact supervisors or departments to request the Form be re-submitted electronically if only a paper copy was previously submitted. Please take special care to ensure all member email addresses are correct on the Form, as this will be essential for the voting procedure below.

  • All FOEs will be held entirely remotely, including all members of the examination committee, the Chair, and the candidate. General instructions for connecting to the FOE are provided below (in the “Tips…” section), and specific instructions will be provided to all participants in advance of the FOE. ORSS staff will host the meeting and provide administrative and technical support.

  • The candidate will be required to sign a form stating that they have access to and will be using a private and controlled space during the FOE.

  • The ORSS will provide FOE participants with all necessary information and guidelines for holding an examination remotely.

  • All participants are to join the FOE five minutes early so that ORSS staff can ensure that communication technologies are working smoothly and everyone can be heard. If showing a slide presentation, the candidate is encouraged to join the FOE earlier (up to half an hour before the start time).

  • When required to withdraw (at the start of the FOE when members are discussing the thesis, the appraisal and the order of questioning, and during the voting procedure), the candidate should leave the meeting (not merely mute video/audio). A member of the examination (typically the Chair or supervisor) will contact the candidate to inform them when it is time for them to return.

  • The following procedure will be used to ensure the integrity of the vote:

    • The ORSS will provide the email address of the Chair to all voting members, as well as an electronic voting ballot for reference only (not to be filled out).

    • The ORSS will provide the Chair with a list of all voting members’ email addresses (as specified on the FOE Nomination Form) and an electronic copy of the Chair Summary Form.

    • Members must email their vote to the Chair and Cc the ORSS and SGS. The vote should simply be text in the body of the message; i.e., “Accepted” or “Not Accepted”, and if accepted, “As Stands”, “with Minor Corrections”, or “with Minor Modifications”.

    • Once all votes are recieved, the Chair will read them aloud to the meeting.

    • The Chair will ascertain the result. Typically, the candidate will re-join the meeting and the Chair will provide them with the result. In the event that the thesis is not accepted, all other participants except the supervisor and Chair will leave the meeting before the candidate re-joins to recieve the result.

    • The Chair will complete the Chair Summary Form and email it to the ORSS and SGS.

  • The ORSS will email the student with respect to thesis submission and various deadlines.

  • FOEs for APHD students only: ORSS staff will email the APHD Completion Awards Form directly to the supervisor (at in-person FOEs, it is provided at the FOE via the Chair). If the supervisor wishes to nominate the candidate for an award, they should complete the form and email it as directed by the ORSS.

General Instructions for Remote FOE Participants

  • The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education uses Zoom for both video and telephone conferencing (the software supports a mix of video and telephone participants). All participants are to join the FOE five minutes early. Recording the FOE is strictly prohibited. Please follow the appropriate steps below. Whether joining by video or telephone, refer to this Meeting ID:

Meeting ID: [to be provided to participants by the ORSS in advance of the FOE]

Video participants must also use this password: [to be provided to participants by the ORSS in advance of the FOE] (not required for telephone participants).

To reduce extraneous sounds, all participants are encouraged to mute their microphone when it is not their turn to speak.

  • Video Conferencing (required for candidates wishing to present slides)

    • Minimum Requirements: an internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone.

    • Preferred Requirements: a wired internet connection, a webcam, and a headset with microphone (the ones provided with most smartphones should suffice)

In advance of the examination, please visit Zoom (https://zoom.us/join) from a web browser on your Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, or Android device. Enter the Meeting ID, and then use the link on the next page to download and install the Zoom application on your device. Until the time of the examination, you may not join the meeting, but you can test the connection.

At the time of the examination, please visit Zoom again (https://zoom.us/join), enter the Meeting ID, and then follow the prompts to join the meeting. If you experience difficulties with video conferencing, you may instead try connecting by telephone (see below).

To ensure you can see all participants when slides are being presented, put Zoom in full-screen mode, use Gallery View, and adjust the size of the area showing participants as appropriate.

  • Additional Instructions for Candidates with a Slide Presentation

    • Please make arrangements to provide all participants with a copy of your slide presentation, in the event that telephone conferencing is required. At OISE, the slides are normally distributed by the supervisor (remember that you are not to have contact with the external examiner until the start of the FOE).

    • Please connect half an hour before the start of the FOE, so that ORSS staff can check that your connection and slide show are working as expected.

    • To show your slides, select “Share Screen” within Zoom, and then start the slide presentation as you normally would on your device. Note that, because you are sharing your screen (rather than connecting a second screen), Presenter View will not be available.

    • It is advisable, once you have completed your presentation, to stop sharing your screen. This improves your and other participants’ visibility.

    • When asked to withdraw from the FOE, please leave the meeting (do not merely mute video and audio). You should provide your supervisor or the Chair with your contact information so they can let you know when to return to the meeting (you may need to then share your screen again depending on the situation).

  • Telephone Conferencing

If you have any concerns about being able to telephone the numbers below, please contact the ORSS to provide us with a phone number where we can call you directly (i.e. no extension) at the time of the examination.

Otherwise, at the time of the examination please call one of the following numbers (for higher quality, use a number based on your current location). Follow the prompts (including entering the Meeting ID above) to join the meeting:

  • Canada: +1 647 558 0588 or +1 855 703 8985 (Toll Free)

  • US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 877 853 5247  (Toll Free) or +1 877 369 0926 (Toll Free)

  • United Kingdom: +44 (0) 20 3695 0088 or +44 (0) 20 3051 2874 or +44 (0) 80 0031 5717 (Toll Free)

  • Other international numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference.

Advice to Candidates Defending Their Thesis Remotely

The ORSS is pleased to state that many FOEs for OISE candidates have been held remotely under the temporary procedures, and all have been successful. Based in part on feedback from previous candidates, we offer the following advice.

  • In advance of the FOE:

    • Review the Instructions for Remote FOE Participants - [Student Name] document that will have been provided by the ORSS; these instructions are specific to your FOE.

    • If you are not familiar with Zoom, sign up for a free account so you can learn how it works. Have a conversation using Zoom with some friends or colleagues so you can become comfortable with the interface (sharing your screen, muting and unmuting yourself, arranging the view of the speakers the way you want).

    • Practice your presentation with the Zoom window open and sharing your screen to show your slides (as described in the "General Instructions for Remote Participation" section above), so that this will feel familiar to you at the time of the FOE. If possible, do a mock defense with your supervisor.

    • Set up the space where you will do your remote presentation at least one day before your FOE.

    • You are of course required to be in a private and controlled area for your FOE, but try to also ensure the area looks nice, and that you will be well-lit. Rearrange floor lamps or desk lamps as appropriate. Avoid having windows behind you.

    • Some of you may want to use a green screen (i.e. a background picture); we advise against this if you do not have a physical green screen--the computer effects may be too jarring.

    • Minimize distractions and extraneous noise. If you share a space (roommates, spouses, partners, friends, pets, children, etc.), try to make arrangements for them to go for a walk or to a distant room with the TV on low. If you have a headset, or headphones with a microphone, try using them.

    • Have your camera as close to eye level as possible. Looking directly into the camera (rather than your screen) helps other participants feel that you are speaking to them directly.

    • Remember that Presenter View will not be available. There are a number of possible ways to handle this, including: using a hard copy of your speaking notes, having a second computer in front of you to use Presenter View, coordinating with your supervisor so they show your slides from their computer while you use Presenter View on yours, or even rehearsing your presentation until you can do it without notes (yes, you can!).

  • At the FOE:

    • Dress professionally.

    • Have water, and pen and paper handy.

    • Take a screenshot to remember the moment. (Do this early, committee members are busy people and may disappear once the FOE is over).

    • You will be required to leave the meeting twice (once briefly near the start, and again when it is time for the committee to discuss and vote). The ORSS will have instructed you to provide your contact information to your supervisor and the Chair of the FOE, so one of them can tell you when to rejoin the meeting. If you are having one of them call or text you, keep your phone nearby and charged.

    • Responding to questions remotely has a different feel to it than in person. Give yourself time to think through the questions--make notes, have some water--and do not rush through.

  • After the FOE:

    • After a remote FOE, it can feel anti-climactic to find yourself alone in your private space again. A number of our candidates and supervisors have arranged a "virtual celebration" using their personal Zoom accounts (or by other means). If this is not possible, at least set aside some time after the FOE to treat yourself to something special as a reward.

General Information & Procedures for Doctoral FOEs & Program Completion

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. SGS recommends this be done at least eight weeks prior to the FOE and requires that it be done at least six weeks prior. It is best practice for the EE to be informally told the due date for the appraisal (which is two weeks before the FOE) at the time they are sent the thesis; in due course, the ORSS will send a formal notification to the EE that includes the deadline.

Approval of the FOE

  • See the SGS FOE guidelines for criteria to select FOE participants. These criteria are strictly enforced by SGS. In particular, all members of the committee (except the EE) must hold a Graduate Faculty Membership (GFM).

  • 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). [THIS REQUIREMENT IS TEMPORARILY LIFTED.]

    • 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 distribution, they are not permitted to distribute the revisions to the committee prior to, or during, the FOE. The candidate can use the revisions as a basis for answers to questions 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 discuss the thesis, the appraisal, and the order of questioning. This is a relatively short interval.

    • 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 (the committee may not be changed, except for the Chair). 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 (further embargoes require approval from the Dean of SGS). 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 update 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).

Formal Guidelines (Including OISE-Specific APA Thesis Styles & Formatting)

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.


UPDATE:  Spring Convocation 2020
In response to COVID-19, the University of Toronto has announced virtual spring convocation. Read announcement. More details available on the Office of Convocation website


UPDATE:  Fall Convocation 2020
In light of ongoing public health concerns due to #COVID19, U of T, Ryerson, Seneca & York have made the difficult decision not to hold in-person Fall convocation ceremonies. We will share more details about our virtual convocation ceremony in the coming weeks.  Read the Memo from the Vice-President and Provost .  When available, details will be posted on the Office of Convocation website.

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 the trigger for the graduation assessment process. When the graduation request is added to your record, your registration sessions in the same session as the graduation are cancelled.
If you are a MEd student, approximately four weeks after the application to graduate form submission deadline:

  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.

  4. We will mail a letter to you with our assessment - be sure your mailing address is up to date.


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. Your transcript will not say degree conferred until after the convocation period. The School of Graduate Studies updates transcripts for all graduate degrees within two days after the final convocation ceremony date.

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 after the convocation period. The School of Graduate Studies updates transcripts for all graduate degrees within two days after the final convocation ceremony date.

Graduate Portraits - Spring 2020
The March issue of the School of Graduate Studies, Gradschool e-news will contain photo information as well as dates when the photographers will be on campus.  https://enews.sgs.utoronto.ca/