Supervision is a key part of any PhD program. Supervisors act as mentors, and in addition to help you understand the nature of the doctoral program, they introduce you to literature and contacts in the field of study, assist you in finding and applying for funding, and support you in presenting and publishing research results. Most of all, they provide feedback and opportunities for exploration and discussion of both substantive and professional aspects of your PhD experience.


As an incoming PhD student, you will be appointed a Supervisor who is familiar with your substantive area of research interest. This Supervisor will guide you through the beginning of your Program Plan stage and, if needed, assist you in identifying potential Advisory/Comprehensive Committee members.

Advisory/Comprehensive Committee

This Committee will approve your Program Plan and guide you through the Comprehensive Examination stage of the program by providing expertise, recommending consultations with other faculty members, and helping promoting the exchange of ideas.

The Advisory/Comprehensive Committee normally consists of three members: the Supervisor (a full-time FES faculty member) and two faculty members (usually from FES and one faculty member outside of FES (usually another professor at York or from another university, or, in special circumstances, someone from the wider community with clear relevance to your Program Plan who may or may not be an academic but is appointed/appointable to the Faculty of Graduate Studies).

You will identify the members of your Advisory/Comprehensive Committee as part of your Program Plan Stage (at the latest by the end of your term 2).
The Advisory/Comprehensive Committee’s approval of your Program Plan marks your transition from the Program Plan Stage into the Comprehensive Examination Stage. The Committee then also oversees and evaluates your Comprehensive Examination process.

Supervisory/Dissertation Committee

After your Comprehensive Exams are passed, your next step is to write your Dissertation Proposal. Your Supervisor and Supervisory Committee will guide you through the creation of your Dissertation proposal, and provide advice and support as you complete your research and write your Dissertation. You will likely keep working with some of your Advisory/Comprehensive Committee members and/or invite others to join your Supervisory Committee.

The Supervisory Committee must consist of three members: the Supervisor (a full-time FES faculty member) and two Committee members, at least one of which must be from outside FES. All members of your Supervisory Committee must also be members of or need to be appointed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Appointments are made by the FES Graduate Program Director.
You will officially identify and nominate your Supervisor and Supervisory Committee in your Dissertation Proposal. The Supervisor and Supervisory Committee nomination is submitted to OSAS for the FES Graduate Program Director’s recommendation to FGS. Your Supervisory Committee should be in place by the end of term 5 (winter of year 2). This means you should be determining the composition of your Supervisory Committee while you are finishing your Comprehensive Examination stage.

Once your Supervisory Committee gives their approval of your Proposal, the Proposal, along with a dissertation research submission form (TD1), and relevant research ethics forms and documentation are submitted to OSAS for the FES Graduate Program Director’s recommendation to FGSFGS approval of your Dissertation Proposal and Supervisory Committee marks your transition from the Comprehensive Examination stage to the Dissertation stage.

Annual Reports Committee

PhD students must submit a progress report (available in the FES Graduate Dossier System) to their Supervisor, PhD Program Coordinator and Graduate Program Director on an annual basis, normally in the spring. The Supervisor might choose to discuss the report to the Committee if necessary. The report serves to update the Supervisor (and others) of the students’ activities and progress. Reports of unsatisfactory progress may require a student to withdraw from the program.