PhD Programs (Full-time & Flex-time)

Degree Deadlines and Time Limits

MSc-PhD Transfer Examination PhD Qualifying Examination Time to Achieve Candidacy[1] Time Limit[2] Maximum Extension
MSc (full-time) 15-18 months n/a n/a 3 years +3 years
MSc (part-time) 24 months n/a n/a 6 years +3 years
PhD (full-time) after completing a MSc n/a 24  months By end of 3rd year 6 years +4 years
Direct-Entry PhD or PhD transfer from MSc (full-time) n/a Direct Entry: 24 months   Transfer: n/a By end of 4th year 7 years +4 years
PhD (flex-time) n/a 32 months By end of 4th year 8 years + 4 years

[1] Doctoral students are subject to the School’s policy on “Timely Completion of Graduate Program Requirements”.  To achieve candidacy, a PhD student is expected to have completed all program requirements exclusive of thesis and seminar courses.

[2] Students must submit an annual request for program extension beyond this time limit.

Overview of Program Requirements

To qualify for the PhD degree (full- or flex-time), all degree requirements must be successfully completed.Students in a collaborative program must meet the degree requirements for their specific program in addition to the requirements listed below.

1. Courses:

a. Students who enter with a MSc degree must complete two full course equivalents (2 FCE) for by the end of the third year of registration.

b. Students who enter into the Direct-Entry PhD program must complete three full course equivalents (3 FCE) by the end of the fourth year of registration. Students who transfer from the MSc to PhD program will be given transfer credit for graduate course work completed during the MSc program.

2. Research Ethics Workshop: Attendance and participation in at least one session for graduate students. Students who completed this requirement while registered in the MSc program are not required to attend a second workshop.

3. Seminar attendance and participation:

a. Graduate Departmental Seminars: attend a minimum of eight (8) seminars each academic year for four (4) years (or five (5) years for Direct-Entry PhD students). Flex-time students may attend a minimum of four (4) per year.

b. Graduate Student Group Seminars: attend each academic year for four (4) years (or five (5) years for Direct-Entry PhD students), and give 20-30 minute oral presentations in Years 2-4 (or -5 for Direct-Entry PhD students) of the program.

See the guidelines here

c. Give an Exit Seminar before the Final Oral Defense.

4. Graduate Research in Progress Symposium (GRIP):

Students who enter the program with a MSc degree must present one (1) poster at GRIP. Students who enter the Direct-Entry PhD program or transfer to the PhD program must present two (2) posters, one must be at GRIP and the second may be at GRIP or at a peer-reviewed conference (documentation required for approval by the Chair). Students must attend GRIP every year.

5. Annual Advisory Committee Meetingmust be completed on or before June 30 of each academic year.

6. Qualifying Examination: must be successfully completed within the first 24 months of the program for full-time students and 32 months for flex-time students. It is recommended that this examination be scheduled early to leave time for a re-try if necessary.

7. Thesis Final Oral Examination (FOE)write a thesis based on original research in an area related to Pharmaceutical Sciences and successfully complete the oral defense in accordance with the regulations of the School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto.

Completion of the Program:
The full-time program should be completed within four years.
The direct-entry program should be completed within five years.
The flex-time program for students with a MSc degree should be completed within eight years.


1. Graduate Departmental Seminars
The aim of the Graduate Departmental Seminars is to provide students with the opportunity to acquaint themselves with different areas of research in pharmaceutical sciences and related fields, and to assist them in communicating with professionals in these areas. Students are encouraged to attend the Graduate Departmental Seminars on a regular basis.

Requirements: Students must attend a minimum of 8 Graduate Departmental Seminars each academic year for four years (or five years for Direct-Entry PhD students). Flex-time students are required to attend a minimum of four Graduate Departmental Seminars per year while they are enrolled in the program.


2. Student Group Seminars

The aim of the Student Group Seminars is to give graduate students in specific areas of research an opportunity to meet regularly with their peers for presentations and discussions.

a. Students are required to attend at least 75% of Student Group Seminars each academic year for four years (or five years for Direct-Entry PhD students). If a student cannot attend a seminar, he/she must let the seminar coordinator and the Graduate Office know.
b. Students must give a 20-30 minute oral presentation of their own research work as part of the Student Group Seminars every year for four years (or five years for Direct-Entry PhD students). Students are not required to present during the first academic year of the program.
3. Exit Seminars 
An Exit Seminar can be given during the regular Graduate Departmental Seminars within 60 days of the defense date. The seminar is 40-50 minutes in length followed by a question period. The seminar is open to all faculty and graduate students.

N.B. This option is only available to students who started their program prior to January, 2015. Students who started in January, 2015 or later will give an oral presentation immediately preceding the Final Oral Examination.

To assist in preparing for presentations students are advised to seek the counsel of their supervisor.

Graduate Supervision

SGS has published resources for students and faculty members.

For students:

For supervisors:

Advisory Committee Members
The supervisor directs the student’s program with the advice of the Advisory Committee, which enables the student to draw on a range of expertise. The names of the committee members must be recorded on the Advisory Committee Members Form and forwarded to the Graduate Office for the Graduate Chair’s approval.

  • For full-time students, the student and supervisor must select the Advisory Committee within the first three months of the program.
  • For part-time students, the student and supervisor must select the Advisory Committee within the first nine months of the program.

Composition of the Advisory Committee

  • Thesis Supervisor/Co-Supervisor.
  • At least two (2) Graduate Faculty members other than the supervisor and co-supervisor. One member should be from the Graduate Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; the other member should be from another graduate department at the University of Toronto. All committee members must have full or associate graduate faculty appointment with the School of Graduate Studies.

If the composition of a committee changes, a new Advisory Committee Members Form must be submitted to the Graduate Office for the Graduate Chair’s approval.

Responsibilities of the Advisory Committee

The student can seek advice from the Advisory Committee members at any time. The Advisory Committee provides the student with advice and guidance; however, the ultimate decision of the research paths to be pursued rests with the student and supervisor.

The Committee also ensures that the student is taking appropriate courses, is receiving training to carry out the research, is familiar with the research literature and is preparing for the oral defense.

Annual Advisory Committee meetings must be held by June 30 each year. Exemptions: a) Students who start in January must hold their first meeting before December 31. All subsequent meetings must be held by June 30.

The Graduate Chair reserves the right to require the Advisory Committee to meet more frequently.

For an outline of the expected format and content of these meetings, please refer to Guidelines for Student Advisory Committee Meetings.

PhD Qualifying Examination

For more information, please see Thesis and Oral Examination.

Thesis Preparation and Oral Examination

For more information, please see Thesis and Oral Examination.