Supervisory Committees and Meetings

In consultation with your supervisor, arrange a supervisory committee as soon as the thesis topic is known. The first committee meeting must be held within the first nine months of study. Please email the names of your committee members to the Graduate Coordinator G+PS recommends meeting regularly with your committee and to have at least one formal meeting per year.

After the meeting, make sure the supervisor sends the committee meeting report to the Graduate Secretary within a week. This information is maintained in your file and may be forwarded to the Department Head. The Department Head or Graduate Advisor may decline to sign student reappointments or applications for awards, if this program requirement has not been met and students will be ineligible for the PhD tuition award.

Selecting your Committee

Your committee should consist of:

  • A minimum of three members: your research supervisor (Chair) and at least two additional faculty members who are familiar with your research topic.
  • At least one member of the committee other than the supervisor must be a full member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
  • All members must be at least Assistant Professors and ideally be members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • If you want to appoint a supervisor who is not a member of UBC you must seek the permission of the Dean of Graduate and Post Doctoral Studies.
  • However the majority of the committee members must be from UBC

Scheduling a Meeting

Regular meetings of a student with his/her advisory committee can provide valuable feedback. Moreover, this process can identify and resolve small problems before they become large ones. With this in mind, hold at least one committee meeting per calendar year (see Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies regulations). The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies may require a supervisory committee report in order to release the stipends of multi-year awards: NSERC, CIHR and 4YF studentships recipients. Students are permitted to have more than one meeting per year if they wish.

Students are responsible for scheduling the meeting with the supervisory committee and, if needed can request the Graduate Secretary to book a LSC room, providing information regarding the number of people attending, date(s) and time(s). Students should start scheduling their meetings two months ahead.

Additional Meetings for Program Extension

Students must registered and be paying tuition to graduate. PhD students are granted a maximum of 6 years and MSc’s are given 5 years of eligibility.  Beyond these limits, students will require an extension to continue. To support an extension request, we will require students to have submitted a formal committee meeting within the last 3 months. This is to ensure that students are receiving appropriate guidance from their committee and that a completion plan is in place. If a student requires additional extension(s), a committee meeting will need to be organized every 6 months (prior to each extension request).


A week prior to the meeting
Present each committee member with an Annual Report that includes a summary of activities and a short (e.g. 3-5 pages) written description of the project and research plan. – Guidelines for preparation of BMB Graduate Student Annual Report.

At the meeting
Prepare a 15-20 minute oral presentation to present background, main project goals, and recent progress. The student is encouraged to include a slide at the beginning to summarize their main activities since the last meeting (similar to the student annual report). To end their presentation, the student should share a proposed timeline for the completion of their degree. The presentation will typically be interrupted by questions or comments and can often take up to 90 minutes (e.g., schedule a two-hour meeting).

The main focus of the presentation is to showcase the recent research work and future directions. The results should be typically presented in a well annotated format (i.e., molecular weight markers, scale bars, p-values should be present). In some cases, the student can present negative results, especially if they want additional feedback or to provide some additional rationale for a new proposed approach. Students can also discuss significant delays or challenges they may have encountered to provide more context to their progress.

During the meeting, the Committee will provide feedback on the presented results and suggestions for future work. In some instances, the Committee will also examine in more detail the presented results to ensure the work is up to the field’s standards. Toward the end of the meeting, the supervisor, also acting as the meeting chair, will provide a summary of the discussion and ensure the student receives feedback on their proposed timeline, their presentation/report, and additional advice/recommendations for further training and literature.

During the first committee meeting, it is recommended to also discuss in more detail undergraduate and/or previous graduate background, course progress, professional objectives, and development opportunities in the context of research objectives and goals. Students in the Master’s program intending to transfer to the PhD stream should provide an overview of their future thesis project (e.g., three main project goals and proposed approaches), which should ideally be presented in their second committee meeting in the Fall. Students requesting authorization to write their thesis should provide a more general overview of all the work done. In this case, students are also encouraged to prepare a tentative table of contents of their thesis in a separate document, which can then be shared with the Committee.

The meeting should preferably be done in person, but in some cases, one of the Committee members may also attend remotely. The student and the supervisor should organize the Zoom meeting.

After the meeting
The supervisor, in consultation with the student and committee will complete a committee meeting report (MSc or PhD) to record your progress and make recommendations as appropriate. Provide a copy of this report to the Graduate Secretary in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.