You are here

PhD Program

The PhD program is designed primarily for students whose career aspirations are towards the independent research on the manifestations, basic mechanisms and host resistance to diseases of vertebrates. The primary objective is to provide advanced training in conceptual and laboratory aspects of independent research, combined with advanced training in one or more appropriate fields of knowledge. The major emphasis is on the generation and critical evaluation of scientific knowledge relating to the causes, mechanisms and/or consequences of diseases affecting a particular species, organ system or biological process or to the understanding of host resistance and basic mechanisms of health or disease in vertebrates. DVM (or equivalent) graduates may obtain some of the practical experience required for specialty certification in veterinary anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, microbiology or parasitology.

PhD Admission Requirements

The usual requirement for admission to the PhD program is the completion of an approved MSc degree with a minimum `B+' average and strong supportive letters from referees familiar with the background of the applicant. Performance in relevant biomedical science courses, (e.g. microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, molecular biology, etc) at a level above the `B+' average is normally expected. Students may apply for admission into the PhD program before completing the MSc program, providing that they have a minimum A average and a demonstrated capacity for independent research. Some students with demonstrated potential for independent research and a superior academic record during their baccalaureate or DVM programs may be admitted directly into the PhD program.

Admission requires the identification of a faculty advisor and a source of financial support for the student. If these have not been arranged by the applicant, a statement of the applicant's interests and objectives and supportive letters of reference are required to assist with the identification of an appropriate faculty advisor and potential sources of funds for research and student a stipend. Applications may be submitted at any time. Initial enrolment can be in the fall, winter or spring semesters, with a preference for the fall.

PhD Degree Requirements

Students must have completed the department's graduate seminar course, and have obtained at least a B-' average in all courses prescribed by the advisory committee. There are no other specific course requirements. Prescribed courses and additional courses are selected by the student in consultation with the advisor and advisory committee based on the student's background, and research and career objectives.

Students are required to satisfactorily complete a qualifying examination before the end of the fifth semester if they possess an MSc degree, or before the end of the seventh semester if they possess only an honours baccalaureate or DVM degree. The qualifying examination is conducted by a committee of graduate faculty members with expertise in the areas of study, and includes written and oral components. The qualifying examination covers a breadth of knowledge of topics related to the student's research area, and depth of knowledge within this research area. To successfully complete the examination, students must have a broad general understanding of one of the departmental fields of study, and a current and in-depth understanding of one or two additional areas. The advisory committee identifies selected areas of study by the end of the second semester. In addition, the advisory committee is required to confirm that the student has demonstrated both ability and promise in research. This is based on performance on the research project, and on the writing of a research proposal on a subject proposed by the student and approved by the advisory committee.

The thesis research is planned by the student in consultation with the advisor. Research plans and progress must be approved by the advisory committee. The program is completed with the satisfactory presentation and defence of a thesis, which includes a seminar presentation and a final oral examination by a committee that includes an external examiner and several members of the graduate faculty.