The Plan of Study

Structure of the Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the foundation of the MES program’s approach to learning. The MES program is different from other graduate programs – there is no predetermined field of study and only one required course. Instead of a fixed curriculum, we provide flexibility and support you in taking ownership of your studies by guiding you through the creation and realization of a Plan of Study.

The plan forms the basis of the MES learning model. Each student’s plan of study is developed in consultation with his or her assigned faculty advisor. The plan of study is a statement of intent and commitment that begins in an open and exploratory way and gradually becomes more detailed as students progress through the program. The plan of study is the basis for the student’s selection of courses and other learning activities. In developing the plan of study, students decide on the focus of their MES program, establish what they need to learn, and propose their path to acquiring the desired knowledge, methods, skills, and perspectives necessary to complete the degree. Students can expect to produce several versions of their plan during their program. The plan of study is revised as necessary and its final version serves as the basis for evaluation in the student’s MES II-III and final examinations.

While the content and approaches to plans of study vary considerably with each student, the basic structure is consistent across all students. Alternative forms of expressing the plan of study’s requirements are encouraged, in discussion with the advisor. Although development of the plan of study is an individualized process, students at all levels can gain a great deal from interaction with others in the production and revision of their plans. Peer support will serve students best if they initiate it at the outset by forming or joining a learning group of three to five students. Peer support and collaborative learning complement individualized self-directed learning. Advising sessions can also be conducted individually or in small groups.

A Plan of Study/Proposal template is available at and in the FES Graduate Dossier System, under Add Forms> Plans of Study and Examination> Draft (verify the name)


There are different types of examinations for students progressing well through the program: the MES I to II exam, general examinations, the MES II to III exam, and the final exam. A Dean’s Exam is convened in cases where academic progress is not satisfactory.

The MES I to II exam is held after the submission of the initial plan of study in the first term. It is held with the student’s advisor and, if required, with an additional faculty member who has read the student’s plan. Its purpose is to ensure that the student’s plan of study can adequately guide and orient the student’s initial work during her/his MES program.

General examinations are advising sessions in which the student and faculty advisor discuss the substance, clarity, and conceptual grounding of each progressive iteration of the plan of study, as well as the student’s learning activities for the upcoming term(s). Students need to submit an updated plan of study to the advisor in advance of each general exam. After each general exam, the advisor will fill in an exam report to summarize the discussion and record the outcome of the general exam, including a specific date for the next plan of study revision and examination. Enrolment will be blocked if the student does not submit the revised plan of study according to the schedule recorded.

The purpose of the MES II to III exam is to ensure that the student‘s final plan of study is complete, and that their proposal for MES III research (Major Paper, Project, Portfolio or Thesis) is an appropriate and feasible articulation of the research required to complete the degree. The exam involves two faculty members: the student’s Advisor and the Supervisor for their MES III research work (or another faculty member if the advisor and supervisor are the same person).

The final examination provides an opportunity for the student to synthesize and reflect on their overall program and MES III research with faculty members, who assess how the student has met their learning objectives as set out in the Plan of Study. It is normally held with the Supervisor, Advisor and a Chair who is arm’s length from the student’s program.

A Dean's exam is a general exam held when a student's program is in serious difficulty. Normally, the examiners include the student's Advisor, the Graduate Program Director, and a Dean’s representative, who chairs the exam. A Dean's exam may be called if a student receives an evaluation of Unsatisfactory in 3 or more credits of course work, does not have an approved Plan of Study in place, or has otherwise failed to meet program requirements as specified in the Academic Regulations. A Dean's exam will result in either withdrawal from the program or clearly defined steps and a timeline that the student must follow to address the particular conditions that led to the Dean’s exam.

Submission of Plan of Study

Students are required to upload their Plan of Study (and other related documents) in the FES Graduate Dossier system by the deadline date published in the system.