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MSc program


End of first year: 12 credits of course work completed; supervisory committee established and first meeting taken place.  The maximum time allowed for completion of a Master's degree is five years, but can be extended with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Paperwork for extension of degree must be submitted to the IOP coordinator at least one month before the degree maximum has expired.


In the first year, a student should take a minimum of 12 course credits, out of the 18 course credits that are required. These courses will include the core courses (Oncology 502, 510) and electives. Please note that credit for Oncology 510 will only be given at the end of the student's program of study so cannot be counted as part of the minimum 12 credits required in the first year. The elective courses are decided by the supervisor and the student, based on the student's needs and thesis topic. The elective courses must be approved by the student's Supervisory Committee. Typically, all electives should be courses at the 500 level or above; however, having up to 6 credits of electives at the 300 or 400 level is permissible. As specified in the Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies calendar entry, the minimum requirements are 30 credits of courses numbered 300 or above, including at least 24 credits of courses numbered 500 to 699. These 24 credits include 12 credits of course work, plus a 12 credit thesis (Oncology 549). It is the responsibility of the supervisor and the Supervisory Committee to ensure that the student takes the required number of credits in appropriate courses. The supervisor and committee should also be prepared to assist the student in gaining admission to elective courses that may be blocked to students outside of specific departments. 


While enrolled in the MSc program, students must keep registered continuously in ONCO 549, their MSc thesis course.  Therefore, the student must remember to register every term, even if they are not taking other courses.

Supervisory Committee:
The Supervisory Committee needs to be formed and the first meeting held within 3 months of starting the program. The names of the Committee and the date of the first meeting along with the Progress Report needs to be sent to the coordinator of the program. The Committee consists of the student's research supervisor plus two other faculty members with appropriate expertise. The composition of the Supervisory Committee must be approved by the Program Director. Please fill out this form (click here for Committee Members Forms) and send to IOP program coordinator within three months of starting your program. 

Before beginning the second year of a MSc, the Supervisory Committee will meet to assess the progress of the student and to approve the research project. Thereafter, meetings of the Supervisory Committee must be held at least once per year and a formal report of the meeting must be submitted to IOP program coordinator

In the second year, the student is required to complete any remaining coursework, while focusing on his/her research project. The student is also required to present a seminar on the research project for the seminar course (Oncology 510). When both student and supervisor agree that the student has made sufficient progress in the thesis research, they will seek the approval of the Supervisory Committee to write the thesis (12 credits). The student will be required to defend the thesis at a final oral examination. The Examination Committee should be composed of at least three faculty with at least one member from outside the Supervisory Committee. 

Supervisory Committee Meeting Report Form

Please submit this form to IOP program coordinator


Student Research Day (B.I.G)

Each March, the Bioinformatics, IOP and GSAT programs hold a joint research day. All program students are required to attend. Students in Second year and higher will be required to present a poster or give an oral presentation.

Transfer to the PhD Program and PhD Candidacy within IOP: 
After 12 months but not after more than 24 months, MSc students may transfer to the Doctoral program (fast-track) provided they have completed the following course requirements:

  • minimum 9 credits at the 500 level

  • minimum 9 credits of first class standing (80%)

  • clear evidence of research ability or potential

A student may try to transfer only after approval of their supervisory committee to do so. The supervisory committee should discuss this at a supervisory committee meeting and indicate their recommendation on the committee meeting form. Please see the UBC website guidelines and transfer to PhD program form. Fill out and send to IOP program coordinator

The comprehensive exam should be scheduled after the transfer to the Ph.D. program is complete.

After completion of the comprehensive exam, the following form for Advancement to PhD Candidacy must be submitted. 

Please submit this form to IOP program coordinator.  

If a student transfers from a Master's program to a Doctoral program without completing the Master's degree, the commencement of the Doctoral program will be considered to be the date of first registration in the Master's program. 

MSc Thesis and Defence Guidelines: 
Students must complete all required coursework before defending their thesis. Please refer to current UBC guidelines for the format of theses. Note that these guidelines can change over time; do not assume that formats used by previous students in your lab are still appropriate. 


Step-by-step Process:
Your supervisory committee meets and advises you that you are ready to write up your thesis.  Once you have completed writing your thesis, you provide a copy of your thesis to all members of your supervisory committee. Your MSc thesis must be read by your supervisor and committee members.  If all corrections and suggestions by committee members are made to the thesis, the supervisory committee can then certify that the thesis is ready to be submitted to the examination committee and defended. Please have them sign this form: 

Thesis Ready to Defend Form 

The student submits the completed form to IOP program coordinator

The Examination Committee consists of: 
The Chair, who is selected by the student and their supervisor, should be an IOP faculty member who has graduated at least one IOP student from their lab.  A list of eligible faculty can be obtained from the program coordinator. A minimum of 3 Examiners, with at least 2 members from the Candidate's Supervisory Committee (normally including the Research Supervisor(s) and at least one member who is neither a Supervisor nor a Co-supervisor). Please do not set the date of your exam until you have booked the Chair of the defence. At least 4 weeks notice must be given to the Chair.  Once you have confirmed a Chair, please inform the IOP program coordinator.

Quorum for the Oral Examination consists of:

  • Chair of the Committee - You and your Supervisor should secure a Chair ( Program supervisor has list of eligible faculty)

  • One External Examiner (outside of committee but part of IOP Faculty)

  • 2 Supervisory Committee Members


Approval of Examination Committee for Masters Defense Form 

It is the Candidate's responsibility to arrange the date, time and location of the MSc defence. Once this has been done, please inform the Interdisciplinary Oncology program coordinator at least 2 weeks in advance. 

Procedures to be followed by the Chair at the Thesis Defence
Announce that the meeting has been called for the public examination of [Candidate's name] for the Master's thesis. 

Request the Candidate to present a synopsis of the thesis. The Candidate may speak from notes and use audio-visual equipment but must NOT read the synopsis. The presentation should be about 20 to 30 minutes in length, but no longer. It should not be interrupted by questions. The Chair is asked to enforce these rules. Ask each member of the Examination Committee, in turn, to question the Candidate. The Research Supervisor should be called upon last. The Chair should exercise discretion in managing the question period. Call for questions from the audience, if any. Call for further questioning by the Committee, and, as Chair, ask the Candidate to address and/or clarify any points that may not have been adequately covered in previous questioning (if necessary). 

The Candidate and those not on the Examination Committee should leave the room. Call for a discussion. The Examination Committee is asked to make a recommendation with respect to the performance of the Candidate at the defence and of the thesis itself. The Chair does not vote. 

Once the discussion is completed, bring the candidate back into the room and tell them the result of the defense. Please have the Thesis Examiners sign the MSc Defence Report form and submit the form to IOP program coordinator.


If no major corrections are needed, please also have the Thesis Examiners sign the Masters Thesis Approval form and submit it to G+PS, once your final thesis has been uploaded to cIRcle. When the thesis is submitted to Grad Studies the Final Thesis Coversheet needs to be sent into Grad Studies as well.  You will also need to apply for graduation.

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