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The supervisor’s role is to guide and support a student throughout the course of their degree program. Supervisors provide experience, expertise, resources, and mentorship, and help develop academic, research, and leadership potential. A supervisor would:

  • support a student’s application to the program
  • support award applications and assist in finding more information about funding sources
  • help the student to select relevant elective courses in the initial 1-3 years
  • ensure the student has opportunity to be nominated for awards, where appropriate
  • help interpret school and faculty policies
  • assist in developing the thesis and building research skills
  • serve as chair of the supervisory committee
  • assist in finding information about employment opportunities, where appropriate
  • support the student in planning professional development relevant to career goals

The supervisor should be an Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor of the School, with previous experience on doctoral committees or as a research supervisor.


The School also supports co-supervision of PhD students by two faculty members. In this case, the Nominated Supervisor is an Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor of the School, an the Co-supervisor may be a faculty member in another department or a clinical faculty member. For Co-supervisors not approved for supervisory privileges by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, students and Nominated Supervisors should request approval from the program. Completed forms can be forwarded to the Program Manager.

How do I choose a supervisor?

You are responsible for choosing your thesis supervisor. See Looking for a supervisor? to find out the best way to contact a potential supervisor, as well as a list of available faculty. You may also review a list of the School’s full-time faculty.


The supervisory committee consists of the supervisor and two or more other committee members. All committees must have at least three members. You work together with your supervisor to identify suitable committee members. The majority of the members on the committee must also be members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Appropriately qualified individuals who are not members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (such as clinical faculty, adjunct faculty, professors of teaching, senior instructors, visiting faculty, honorary faculty, UBCO faculty, affiliate professors, faculty members from other universities, and off-campus professionals who are academically qualified to advise graduate students) are welcome to serve on committees, but must be approved through the program. Completed forms can be forwarded to the Program Manager.

Can I change my supervisor or committee?

If your research interests or plans change, you can change your supervisor and/or committee members, although you should be aware that this may delay your progress towards graduation.