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Sample Timeline PhD Degree

DISCLAIMER: This is intended to be helpful to students in the DCP Area and is only a suggested (and optimistic) timeline.  Official requirements of the Programme are in the Graduate Calendar (


PhD studies are tailored to the interests/goals of the student, and the time course is influenced heavily by the nature of the dissertation. Thus, rigid timelines are less appropriate for the PhD than for the MA. Nevertheless, you must be aware of deadlines imposed by the programme or Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) and must be keep in mind that everything takes longer than planned!

Coursework: Plan to have this completed by the end of your PhD 2 year.

Practica: Aim to have both practica completed by the end of your PhD 3 year.

Minor paper: Must be completed and approved by end of the summer term (Sept. 15) of your PhD 3 year. Aim to complete it by end of PhD 2. In Winter/Spring of PhD 1, discuss possible topics with your supervisor. Prepare a brief proposal for committee members. Submit approved proposal, along with committee members’ signatures, to the Psychology Graduate Office. Follow same ethics procedures as for MA thesis. Several revisions/resubmissions may be required before committee approves the paper.


  • Aim to defend your dissertation by the end of your PhD 5 year (if not earlier). The dissertation timeline below has been constructed by working backward from that landmark.
  • Early in PhD 2, discuss possible dissertation topics with your supervisor and start reviewing the literature. Part of one of your practica might focus on pilot work for your dissertation.
  • Important deadline: You must set up your dissertation supervisory committee no later than the end of the 8th term of study (end of 2nd term of PhD 3). Students will not be allowed to register in the 10th term of study (onset of PhD 4) unless FGS has approved the supervisory committee.
  • The dissertation proposal (3500 words maximum) must be approved by your dissertation committee (may require several revisions/resubmissions) and by FGS. You may need to do pilot work before preparing your proposal. Submit the proposal to FGS, along with the proposal approval form signed by your committee and appropriate ethics forms. Forms and procedures are here: FGS approval can take 4 to 6 weeks.
  • You should collect your dissertation data no later than your PhD 4 year. Remember that gaining access to participants may require applications to outside agencies (e.g., school boards, schools, hospitals) and, in the case of children, parental consent; this may take months. Also, research in cognition often requires individual testing and thus a lengthy data collection phase.
  • Analyze your data and start writing your dissertation toward the end of your PhD 4 year. Writing a dissertation generally is a lengthy process, with numerous revisions and resubmissions to your supervisor and then your other committee members. Plan accordingly.
  • Once your committee approves the dissertation, have them sign the recommendation for oral form. Your supervisor will arrange for additional examining committee members, including an External Examiner. Submit form to the Graduate Office 4 ½ weeks prior to the oral (for June convocation, this deadline is about March 23; for Fall convocation about July 21).