7. General regulations for research-based degrees

The general program of study for research-based degrees, including the conduct of comprehensive or field examinations, the prescribing of written tests, the establishment of specific language and technical skills and other substantive matters required for degree completion are as stipulated by the School of Graduate Studies, and as set out in these regulations. Individual GAU’s may develop additional regulations and requirements that must be met. Such GAU-specific regulations and requirements may extend or exceed the regulations and requirements of the SGS, but they cannot relax, undercut, or otherwise be inconsistent with those of the SGS.

Every student pursuing a research-based graduate degree must have a Supervisor who is approved by the GAU and is a member of the School of Graduate Studies. Membership in the SGS requires application to, and review by, the Executive Committee of the School of Graduate Studies. The application includes a nomination and supporting documentation from the GAU, supported by the relevant Department Chair and Faculty Dean. Based on recommendation from the GAU, membership in the SGS may be extended to emeritus faculty for a period of five years following retirement and be subject to further renewal.

It is the student’s responsibility to be familiar with, abide by, and satisfy all regulations and requirements stipulated both by the SGS and by their GAU. It is the responsibility of the student’s supervisor and/or Supervisory/Advisory Committee to evaluate and assess the student’s progress in the program and thereby determine the competence of the student to continue in their program (see section: Annual Progress Report).

Based upon the scholarly work undertaken by the student, the student shall prepare a proposal and subsequently a thesis, dissertation, or other such qualifying work. It is a function of the GAU, its designated Examining Committee, and the Examining Board established by the School of Graduate Studies, to evaluate and assess the quality and originality of the scholarly work, and to declare the thesis, dissertation, or other such qualifying work to be acceptable or otherwise.

The preparation and format of the thesis/report must conform with the formatting guidelines stipulated by the SGS and detailed in the document entitled “SGS-Thesis Formatting Guide”.

The procedures to be followed in the examination of a thesis/dissertation/report/research essay proposal, prior to its approval by the GAU, are those determined by the specific GAU, and it is the responsibility of the student, in all cases, to obtain and become familiar with the specific regulations of each GAU governing such procedures.

The examination procedures following submission of a thesis/dissertation/report/research essay to the School of Graduate Studies, or to an Examining Board constituted at its direction, are stipulated by the SGS and detailed in the document entitled “Thesis Submission and Assessment Guide”.


Graduate students hold the primary responsibility for successful completion of their degree. In undertaking graduate work, the student is agreeing to pursue original scholarly work, to complete their degree in a timely fashion, and to abide by the regulations, deadlines and timelines mandated by the School of Graduate Studies.

Students must expect to do considerable independent work, and are responsible for expanding their own knowledge, solving problems independently, mastering a body of knowledge and associated relevant skills, with the ultimate goal of producing and defending an original thesis. At the same time, a foundational principle of research-based graduate programs is that they entail regular, open communication, consultation and collaboration between the student and their faculty supervisor. Hence, in undertaking to supervise a graduate student, Supervisors are making a serious and enduring commitment to the student and their program.  Therefore, supervisors must be available for regular mentoring, guidance and advice that facilitates and supports the student’s research work and thesis. Supervisors are also expected to provide timely feedback and editing of student work (e.g., proposals, grants, permits, thesis) and to provide access to resources, supports and opportunities that facilitate and complement the student’s research work and training. Any intellectual property that might be required for, or result from, the student’s thesis work should be discussed and agreed upon in advance.

Because the relationship between Student and Supervisor is foundational to effective research-based graduate programs, neither party can dissolve the relationship without prior consultation with the SGS. Potential concerns or conflicts that might arise must be addressed immediately and constructively, and include consultation with and guidance from the Director of Graduate Studies and the SGS.


To facilitate development of a constructive working environment, students and their supervisors must complete a checklist that clarifies the basic roles, responsibilities and expectations of both parties throughout the degree program. The student-supervisor checklist is provided and must be completed, signed and submitted to the SGS on or before the deadline for submission of the student’s first Annual Progress Report (see next section, Annual Progress Reports).


Every research-based graduate student (Masters or PhD) is responsible for submitting to the SGS an Annual Progress Report documenting their progress and performance in their program. The report must be signed by the student, the supervisor(s), and the Director of Graduate Studies in the GAU and be submitted to the SGS by the appropriate deadline each year. The annual deadline by which Progress Reports are due varies by GAU, and it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the Progress Report is fully completed and submitted to the SGS by the annual deadline appropriate to their specific GAU. Failure to submit a Progress Report and thereby demonstrate good academic standing, may prompt withdrawal from the program.


Full-time enrolment is the default mode in research-based programs and it is strongly recommended that students be in residence in order that they may benefit from close association with faculty members and other graduate students working in their field of study. Some GAUs have a minimum residence requirement – that is, a minimum time when the student must be physically present on campus.  Students should consult their GAU regarding specific residency requirements.

To qualify for full-time registration, students in thesis-based graduate programs should be engaged primarily in research and coursework associated with their program and may be engaged in paid employment on average no more than 10 hours per week.

[Note: Students in course-based graduate programs are considered full-time if they are registered in the equivalent of three or more courses per term and are considered part-time if registered in one or two courses per term. For this purpose, term courses of 0 – 5 credit hours count as one course, while term courses of 6 – 11 credit hours are considered equivalent to two courses.]

I. Master’s Degree (Full-time)

(a) For a Master's degree, the minimum full time enrolment period is two terms.

II. PhD Degree (Full-time)
(a) For a student with a relevant Bachelor's degree, the minimum full time enrolment period  is 8 terms, 6 of which must be during the Fall and Winter terms.
(b) For a student with a relevant Master's degree, the minimum full time enrolment period  is 5 terms, 4 of which must be during the Fall and Winter terms.

III. Master's Degree (Part-Time)
It is recognized that, in some circumstances, the work for a graduate degree can be completed on a part-time basis. In such cases, a variety of additional conditions may need to be satisfied, beyond the completion of coursework and thesis requirements. Students must consult with the Director of Graduate Studies in their GAU for additional regulations governing part-time study.

Note: Part-time students may not register for more than two courses per term. (For this purpose, the thesis or report [699X] are not counted as courses.)

IV. PhD Degree (Part-Time)
The research requirements for the PhD normally demand full-time attendance at the University. In exceptional circumstances, the PhD may be completed on a part-time basis. In order to be admitted to the PhD (Part-Time), the following conditions must be met:

(a)    The student must indicate clearly what commitment in time and effort will be made towards the completion of the degree. It is the student's responsibility to make any arrangements necessary to meet the degree requirements of the University (e.g., attendance at courses, seminars, etc.).
(b)    The research program to be followed must be defined clearly and the location where the research is to be conducted must be clearly stated.
(c)    The supervisory committee must be established prior to the approval of the program and the admission of the candidate. The committee will include a second faculty member familiar with the area of the proposed research who is willing to act as supervisor in the event of the loss to the University of the original supervisor.
(d)    The committee, the program and the student must receive the approval of the GAU concerned.
(e)    The regular 7-year time limit for the completion of the degree will apply.


Students may transfer between full-time and part-time status only with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies in their GAU and the Dean of Graduate Studies. Note that student status (full-time versus part-time) determines eligibility for funding support and a variety of student benefits; hence, a change of student status can adversely affect the benefits and funding a student receives. Consequently, a change of status can be undertaken only after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and the SGS.


Students often transfer into a PhD program following completion of their Masters degree at UNB. It is also the case that students transfer FROM their Masters degree into the PhD without completing the Masters. This latter transfer must be approved by the supervisor, the GAU and SGS. However, in both cases, students moving from the Masters to the PhD are subject to the standard residency and tuition requirements of the PhD. Hence, their time in the Masters program does not count towards time or tuition in the PhD program.


Graduate students in Master's degree programs must complete their work within four years of the date of their first registration as a candidate, and those in Doctoral degree programs must complete their work within seven years.

For a Master's degree taken entirely on a part-time basis, the time limit for completion is five years from the date of first registration. For the PhD degree taken entirely on a part-time basis, the time limit for completion is seven years. In both cases, the student will be required to submit a study plan at the beginning of the part-time degree.

An extension to the time limit may be granted to a student only in exceptional circumstances and subject to the recommendation of the Director of Graduate Studies in the GAU concerned and the supervisor(s). This recommendation must be forwarded to the SGS and the decision to grant or deny the extension shall be at the discretion of the Dean of the SGS.