Public Seminar

  • 40-45 minutes in length
  • Given prior to the Ph.D. oral examination.

Closed Examination

  • Follows immediately after the public seminar.
  • 40-45 minutes in length
  • Exam Committee questions the student on his/her knowledge of technical and theoretical matters related to thesis, and on general knowledge of the research area.


The student leaves the room and the Exam Committee has a closed-door discussion of the thesis and its defence and deliberates regarding the outcome.

Possible Outcomes of the Ph.D. Oral Exam

(taken from the SGS website)

At the conclusion of the Ph.D. thesis defence, the Exam Committee decides whether or not the written thesis and oral defence are acceptable. If the thesis defence is deemed unacceptable, then the examination is adjourned. The Ph.D. candidate will fail and be ineligible to receive the Ph.D. degree if the thesis remains unacceptable at a reconvened examination.

If the thesis defence is deemed acceptable, the committee decides whether:

  1. The thesis is acceptable in its ‘present’ form
  2. The thesis requires ‘minor corrections’. Minor corrections involve typographical errors, errors in punctuation or problems in style; they must be correctable within one month. The Supervisor will inform the Candidate of the necessary corrections and must certify in writing to the Ph.D. Examinations Office (via our Graduate Program Administrator) that the corrections have been made. Or
  3. The thesis requires ‘minor modifications’. Minor modifications are more than changes in style and less than major changes in the thesis. A typical example of a minor modification is clarification of textual material or the qualification of research findings or conclusions. Minor modifications must be feasibly completed within three months. The Chair of the Examination Committee must appoint a supervising Subcommittee to be approved by the Examination Committee and a Convener is thus designated. The Convener of the Subcommittee shall report with a brief written statement the necessary minor modifications preferably before the Examination Committee disperses, but as soon after the examination as possible and ensure that the Candidate, Supervisor, and Ph.D. Examinations Office receives a copy of the statement (via our Graduate Administrator). The Convener of the Subcommittee shall also within three months of the date of the examination report in writing to the Ph.D. Examinations Office and the Examination Chair the state of completion of the required minor modifications (via our Graduate Administrator).

For Post-Exam Thesis Preparation