Program Navigator

Welcome to the Program Navigator of your Graduate Studies!

Throughout your academic journey as a graduate student within the department, there are several milestones you will need to achieve. While the official regulations of the program are found here, the goal of this navigator is to provide you with the necessary information to help you better understand the administrative steps to achieve these milestones.

Please, note that this page is still under construction

COVID-19 related changes:

Oral Examinations (thesis proposal, candidacy, thesis defence, comprehensive)

Departments/Units may continue to schedule oral examinations to be conducted electronically using a number of different platforms. Please refer to the document entitled “Faculty of Graduate Studies Guide for Virtual Oral Examinations” for procedures that will facilitate the experience.

Student Services

You can still access student services despite the closure of all University of Manitoba buildings. Staff in the counseling office, advising centres, health services, spiritual care, and faculty offices remain available either online, by email or both means. Please refer to for details and updates.

If International students have any concerns, we encourage you to contact an Advisor at the International Centre to discuss some important considerations. You can reach an Advisor at the International Centre by sending an email with your full name and student number to

Time in Program Extension

On March 25, 2020, Senate Executive approved a 4-month extension to the maximum time allowed for the completion of degree requirements for all graduate students. All students registered in the 2019/20 academic year are eligible for this one-term extension. The Faculty of Graduate Studies is currently extending the program end dates for all students whose program expires May 2020 and who did not complete the program requirements to October 2020. Extensions for students with end dates beyond may 2020 will be processed at the time that the end is reached.

Go to the webpage for the most current University of Manitoba directives.

Study places and other open facilities on Fort Garry Campus can be found here


Registering for the first time and each year

Check out this link: Registration and re-registration

Completing the Complete Advisor Student Guidelines

This agreement must be completed online before the submission of the first Progress Report. However, you may benefit from completing it as soon as you start your program. Completing this task gives you and your supervisor the opportunity to agree on mutual responsibilities!

Advisor Student Guidelines Instructions

Completing courses as required

Check out this link:

Selecting your Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee’s role is to provide guidance during your studies, review your Annual progress Report, and form part of the Examining Committees for candidacy and thesis exam. The Advisory Committee can also mediate if there are conflicts between you and your supervisor. For MSc students, the committee is normally formed by your supervisor, a member of the Department of Microbiology and a member outside the department.  However, there is no longer a requirement for internal/external members. For PhD students, one additional member is recommended.

To constitute your committee, talk to your supervisor and identify Faculty Members that are a good fit for your thesis (both personally and in terms of the topic of study).  Ask your supervisor if they prefer you to contact them. Otherwise, your supervisor will ask those individuals (personally or by email) whether they agree to be on your committee. Your supervisor will also request approval from the Graduate Chair through email. The formal approval is processed through the documents posted below, which are provided by the Departmental Office. To get familiar with these forms, you can download copies from the links provided. Normally, these forms are processed and signed during your Annual Review Meeting.

Masters Thesis Practicum Proposal and Appointment of Examiners

PhD Program Of Study Appointment of Advisory Committee

Tip: It is always a good idea to thank your Advisory Committee for agreeing to do the work!

Preparing your MSc or Ph.D. thesis proposal

Write your proposal in consultation with your supervisor. In general, a proposal may contain a brief review of the relevant background literature, rationale, hypothesis, research objectives, and the general experimental approach to be undertaken.  If you have made progress in your research, you can briefly describe it as well. The proposal is expected to be 6 – 10 pages in length (letter size 12, double space) not including references and figures.

An example/template generously shared by one of our graduates, Dr. April Gislason is provided here for downloading: Master Proposal Template.

Once you and your supervisor are happy with the document, share it with your committee members at least seven days prior to the anticipated date of the committee meeting (usually the Annual Review Meeting).

During the Advisory committee meeting (normally, the Annual Review Meeting, these forms will be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) formally approving your proposal.


PhD Thesis Proposal

Preparing for the Annual Review

The Annual Review is a very important milestone in your studies. Take it seriously! Normally, your Annual Review will occur during April-May of each year. In consultation with your supervisor, schedule a meeting with your Advisory Committee. Under the exceptional circumstances of this year, the Annual Progress meetings will be conducted remotely. The deadline for submitting the form  to FGS is July 1, 2020.

In preparation for this meeting, and in consultation with your supervisor, you must submit a double-spaced report, not exceeding 5 pages (letter size 12, double space, not including references and figures) at least 7 days prior to the anticipated date of the Annual Review Meeting. While the format of the report is free, consider a short introduction, hypothesis and objectives, experimental designs and progress so far. If this is your first Annual Progress Meeting and you are preparing your thesis proposal, then you do not need to prepare two documents. Include in your thesis proposal your progress so far.

What happens during the Annual Review?

During the Annual Review, you will present your proposal/research progress to the members of the committee. To that end, prepare a PowerPoint presentation and be ready for a 10-15 minute presentation. During your presentation, you may want to let the advisory committee know the state of your studies (courses taken, conferences attended and scientific articles published. Your advisory committee may decide to ask questions during or after your presentation. After the questioning period, your Advisory Committee will discuss your progress, providing you advice for the upcoming year. The committee will also sign a form provided by the Department where your progress will be rated as “Satisfactory”, ” In Need of Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory”.

If your rating is “In Need of Improvement” you will be required to set a plan and a timeline for addressing the committee’s concerns. You will also be required to have a follow-up meeting, typically within 6 months, to review your progress. If you rate two consecutive times “In need of Improvement” you will be required to withdraw from the program.

An “Unsatisfactory” rate means you will be required to withdraw from the program.

A copy of the Progress Report form is provided here Interactive Progress Report

Tip: Don’t put yourself in the situation of rating less than satisfactory during the Annual Review! Ensure you address your supervisor’s concerns regarding your progress way before this formal requirement.

Preparing your Candidacy Exam

The purpose of the Candidacy Examination is to ascertain whether you are capable of the independent and thoughtful research required for a Ph.D. degree. The exam is based on writing a research proposal and defending it during an oral examination, conducted by your Advisory Committee.  Another member of the Graduate Student and Program Review Committee (GSPRC), normally the Associate Head (Graduate affairs) Dr. Cardona will act as the Chair of the exam.

Our departmental regulations require that you must do your Candidacy Exam no later than 26 months from the time of your first registration in the Ph.D. program. With the agreement of your supervisor, you can combine your candidacy exam with an annual review meeting,

What to do?

  1. From the beginning of your PhD studies, discuss with your supervisor her/his expectations for your candidacy exam date and general topic. The field of study and topic can be related to your thesis but at least 50% of the proposed research should be completely different from the research questions and methodology of your thesis.
  2. Register to in Doctoral Candidacy Exam — GRAD 8010  during the corresponding Academic term you plan to do your candidacy exam.
  3. Write a 5-page research proposal. To see the style, you can get a copy of an NSERC Discovery grant from any professor, OTHER than your supervisor. (Please, see Dr. Cardona for sample NSERC discovery grants).
  • The proposal should contain these sections:
    – 1) background
    – 2) progress-to-date
    – 3) research objectives – the bulk of the proposal will be dedicated to this section wherein the student will describe the rationale and methodology associated with each of the research objectives*
    – 4) references (not considered in 5-page limit)
    *Remember that at least 50% of the proposed research must be completely distinct from anything on-going or planned by members of your lab.
  1. AT LEAST 2 weeks before the date of the candidacy exam, distribute your proposal and an accompanying cover letter to the advisory committee and Dr. Cardona. The cover letter will contain a 1/2 page synopsis of the proposal, clearly outlining which parts of the proposal are different from your thesis and your supervisor’s research. The committee will read the proposal within 7 days of your submission.

After 7 days, Dr. Cardona will contact committee members regarding the acceptability of the written document and whether the student may proceed to the oral examination. The grant proposal will be evaluated (pass/fail) with respect to both the content and the formatting (grammatical, typographical errors, clarity). If one or more aspects are deemed unacceptable by any member of the examination committee, you will be required to re-write the proposal. If so, you will be provided with a written report from the committee outlining deficiencies that need to be addressed. It is expected that the revised proposal will be completed within a 2-week period. You will then resubmit the written report to the committee for evaluation. If the revised proposal is deemed unacceptable,  you will have failed your first attempt at the candidacy exam. At this point, there will be one more opportunity to repeat the above process. If you fail a second attempt, FGS will be informed, and you will be required to withdraw from the PhD program, as per FGS regulations.

Oral Exam:
-You will deliver a 20 – 25-minute presentation which will provide an overview of details contained in their written proposal.
– It is expected that a significant portion of the talk will be dedicated to the NOVEL research aspects, and not be a rehash of what you have previously achieved in the lab.
– All members of the committee will agree on whether you have passed the oral exam or a repeat is in order.
– If you fail the oral exam you may attempt the examination again, no later than 6 months from the time of the first attempt.
– If you fail the second attempt you will be required to withdraw from the PhD program.

Tip: Don’t wait for the deadline for preparing your candidacy. Start thinking about it from the beginning of your PhD studies. Talk to your supervisor about your original ideas and start to develop them. Trust your supervisor if they tell you you are ready for this exam. 

After your exam, the Examining Committee will submit this form to FGS ReportOnPHDCandidacyExamination

You did it! it is time to write your thesis

Plan your graduation, taking into account the dates below:

Remember to register for GRAD 7000 (Master’s thesis defense) or GRAD 8000 (PhD thesis defense) during the term you plan to defend your thesis

Read the Graduate Thesis Guidelines here

Find recent thesis submitted by previous students on MSpace

Use this Thesis Template (Microsoft Word Office 365) to write your thesis. After changing the titles of the different sections, figures, and tables in the text, update the Table of Contents, List of Figures, and List of Tables by right-clicking on them and choosing “update field”, then “update entire table”.

Preparing  your Master’s Thesis Defense

Around three months before you plan to defend your thesis, ask your advisor if the thesis examiners are the members of your Advisory Committee (Usually this is the case). Ensure the form Masters Thesis Practicum Proposal and Appointment of Examiners is circulated, signed, and submitted to the Microbiology Office at least two weeks before your defense.

The Master Thesis Practicum Proposal and Appointment of Examiner’s Form, indicating the student’s examining committee is to be completed by the department for all Master’s students and forwarded to FGS. This form does not automatically include the student on the Graduand list prepared by FGS. This form is available on our website:

When your thesis is ready and your advisor has approved it, ensure that your thesis is distributed to the examining committee. Some supervisors distribute the thesis directly to the examination committee. if not, the Head of the Department will arrange the distribution of your thesis. The examining committee will review the thesis and within a month should let the Graduate Chair know that the exam can proceed.  The Graduate Chair then will notify you and your supervisor and will schedule the oral defense within two weeks of receiving the reports. Usually, the Graduate Chair or a member of the Graduate Committee is the Chair of your defense. During this time, work on your thesis presentation! Also, update and send your CV to the Graduate Chair so you can properly be introduced during your defense. Ensure your supervisor or the Graduate Chair brings this form MastersThesisPracticumFinalReport to the exam. Ensure the Microbiology Office announces the date of your defense well in advance.

What happens during your Master’s thesis defense

The Graduate Chair will introduce the examiners, give a short introduction about you to the audience, and ask you to deliver a 20-30 minute presentation of your thesis. This presentation will be followed by one-hour of questions by your examining committee.  Following the completion of the questioning period, you will be asked to leave the room, while the examining committee discusses your performance. Then, the Graduate Chair will let you know the results. Even if you are approved,  your supervisor may hold on to the final report form until you make the final revisions of the thesis. The last step is when you submit your final thesis to Faculty of Graduate Studies. Continue to check the guidelines here. The Microbiology Office will also submit the signed Final Report to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.