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PHD program


End of first year: coursework completed. Note: ONCO 510 will only be completed at the end of your degree.  Supervisory committee established and have met for a first meeting.

End of second year: Comprehensive exam completed. 

Maximum time allowed for completing a doctoral degree is six years - this can be extended by approval of G+PS. Paperwork must be completed and given to IOP coordinator at least one month before degree maximum has expired.


In the first year, a student entering PhD studies with a Master's degree should take the core courses (ONCO 502 and 510) plus any electives deemed useful by the Supervisor and approved by the Supervisory Committee. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the Program, it is expected that supervisors will require their students to take 3 or 4 courses to prepare them adequately for the comprehensive exam. If the student has a MSc and has already taken the core courses or equivalent courses, the course requirements may be exempted upon approval by the Program Director. However, the student must take the seminar course (ONCO 510). 

Students entering PhD studies without a Master's degree will be required to take 18 credits of courses, which would include the same courses as those for MSc students, plus a thesis (Onco 649). 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. 

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.

Supervisory Committee:
The Supervisory Committee will be formed in the first year. The Committee will consist of the student's research supervisor and three other faculty members with appropriate expertise. At least one faculty member in addition to the supervisor must be from the student's host department and at least one faculty member must be from another department. The composition of the Supervisory Committee must be approved by the Program Director. 

Form for Approval of Composition of a PhD Supervisory Committee
Please submit this form to IOP Program Coordinator

Meetings of the Committee must be held at least once per year. A formal report of the meeting must be submitted to the IOP Program Coordinator. Before beginning the second year, the Supervisory Committee will meet to assess the progress of the student and to approve the research project. 

Link to the Supervisory Committee Meeting Report form

Please submit this form to IOP Program Coordinator


In the second year the student will focus on his/her research project and, once all coursework has been completed, take the qualifying comprehensive examination to be admitted to candidacy. 

Excerpt from the Faculty of Graduate Studies website. 
The basic requirements for a doctoral student to be admitted to Candidacy are:

  1. all required course work has been successfully completed;

  2. the comprehensive examination has been passed;

  3. the research supervisor has certified that the thesis proposal has been approved.

Students are normally expected to complete their comprehensive examination within 24 months from the date of initial registration. A student who is not admitted to candidacy within 36 months from date of initial registration must withdraw from the program. Extension of this period may be permitted by the Dean of Graduate Studies in exceptional circumstances. 

As soon as a student has satisfied all requirements, the Program Director must recommend to the Faculty of Graduate Studies that the student be admitted to candidacy. This status is then entered on the University's Student Information System (SIS). 

After completion of the comprehensive exam, either within the PhD program or as a qualifying exam for transfer from MSc to PhD, the following form for Advancement to PhD Candidacy must be submitted. 

Thesis Examination 
After completion of the comprehensive examination, the student will concentrate on his/her research for the thesis. The student must also give 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. This will normally be discussed in a committee meeting, and recorded on a Committee Meeting Form. 

Link to the Supervisory Committee Meeting Report form
Please submit this form to program coordinator

Please see the UBC website for detailed information on thesis preparation. The format requirements for theses can change over time. Be sure to consult the up to date instructions just before starting. 

Thesis ready for defense form 

Please submit this form to IOP Program Coordinator

Please see the guidelines of on the Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies website for additional instructions for the Student and the Supervisor. There is a form for the Supervisor to use to nominate possible External Examiners and a form for the nomination of University Examiners. There are also sample timelines to aid in the planning of a PhD defense. 

The student will then proceed to defend the thesis in the final oral examination according to the guidelines of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Note that the Supervisor is responsible for scheduling the PhD defense and arranging videoconferencing if necessary. Recent changes allow PhD theses to be done in several locations. 

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