Graduate Programs and Courses
A) STRUCTURE OF THE PROGRAM
The purpose of the PhD degree program is to educate individuals to become independent, reliable, and competent research scientists. The PhD degree requires the demonstration of independent research and a reasonable mastery of a concentrated field of study. The research should comprise an extensive body of original research in the student’s field, making a true contribution exemplifying the student’s depth of knowledge, creativity, innovation, and proven ability to make significant scientific research contributions. The latter is attested to by the achieving of satisfactory standings in the approved program of graduate courses, the completion of a research project, and the writing of a defensible thesis based upon the research.
The graduate students will register in one of the academic departments of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and in one of the areas of specialization listed:
Department of Biomedical Sciences
Physiology, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Department of Health Management
Animal Science and Animal Nutrition
Aquatic Animal Health
Department of Pathology and Microbiology
Aquatic Animal Health
Depending on the individual thesis topic, projects could involve one or more of several species of animals. There will be considerable interaction and co-operation among the departments, with other universities in the region, and with government research laboratories to provide courses and research facilities to meet the needs of individual students and their research projects.
In addition to the “General Regulations for Graduate Programs” described earlier, the following regulations apply specifically to the Doctor of Philosophy degree:
The normal basis for admission to PhD studies as a regular or a provisional student is a recognized thesis-based MSc degree obtained with an average of at least second class (B level 70% to 79.9%) academic standing.
Transfer from MSc to PhD
An applicant enrolled in an MSc program who achieves a superior record (normally at least first class [80% or higher] academic standing in graduate course work) and shows a particular aptitude for research may, with recommendation of the Supervisory Committee and Department, apply to the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee for transfer from the MSc to a PhD program without the requirement for completion of the MSc degree. Transfers are normally made within the same department. However, inter-departmental transfers will be considered by the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee on a case-by-case basis, on the recommendation of both Departments. The application for transfer must be made no sooner than the end of the second semester and normally no later than the end of the sixth semester, and is effective in the semester following approval. All regulations relating to the PhD program apply from the effective date. However, status in the doctoral program will be considered provisional until such time as the candidate passes the PhD Comprehensive Examination, as governed by the academic unit’s regulations. If the Comprehensive Examination is passed, the student will be transferred from provisional to regular PhD student status. Two failed attempts of the Comprehensive Examination will result in the provisional PhD student status being revoked and immediate reversion to MSc student status. All regulations relating the MSc degree apply from the date of reversion. There will be no refund of program fees.
Normally, at least six semesters of full-time study in-residency at the University must be devoted to the doctoral program following completion of a recognized Master’s degree. In cases in which a student transfers from a Master’s to a PhD program, eight semesters of full-time study would be the minimum residency requirement after completion of the Bachelor’s degree. Residency is defined as having direct and frequent contact with the student’s Supervisor and Supervisory Committee. This residency is normally in-person, unless otherwise approved by the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee.
Time limit to Complete Degree
For students who are full-time throughout their program, the PhD is expected to be complete within 15 semesters. The duration limits for when the thesis must be formally submitted or the program otherwise complete is 21 semesters after first registration. Departure from the 21 semester limit requires a program extension approval from the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee and Faculty of Graduate Studies, and the decision is submitted to the Registrar’s Office.
The student’s program is established and progress kept under review by the appropriate department with approval of the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee twice annually. At the discretion of the academic unit, the day-to-day responsibility for overseeing the student’s program will rest with the Supervisor or jointly with the Supervisory Committee of five graduate faculty, one of whom must be from a department other than that in which the student is registered.
The graduate student’s Supervisor shall not be the Chair of the Supervisory Committee. The Supervisor and Supervisory Committee members must maintain Graduate Faculty status appropriate for the degree.
The PhD degree is primarily a research degree; for that reason course work commonly comprises a smaller proportion of the total than is the case at the level of the Master’s degree. The graduate program of each graduate student is specific to the student’s research requirements and as such relies on the student’s Supervisory Committee to identify the optimal set of courses unique to the student’s program.
In the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, substantive courses are graduate level courses assigned a minimum of two credit hours. In the PhD program students are required to complete courses totalling a minimum of 12 credit hours. Within this course complement there must be at least four substantive courses and the appropriate departmental Seminar course (one total credit for the course that is completed over the first 9 semesters). Recognizing that it is the responsibility of the student and their supervisor, with input from their Supervisory Committee, to propose courses that best support the development of the student’s research skills proficiency, the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee may approve a justified reduction in the requirement of four substantive courses, twelve total credits, or both. Approval for taking fewer than six total credits would be granted only under exceptional circumstances.
Normally, only one of the substantive courses may be a Directed Studies course unless the Supervisory Committee and the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee agree that it is in the best interests of the student to take more than one Directed Studies to ensure appropriate skills development in the field of study to complete their degree.
All students are expected to complete VHM 8010 (Veterinary Biostatistics) unless comparable training has been completed prior to entry into the program or a more appropriate alternative statistics is proposed by the Supervisory Committee and approved by the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee. Approved waivers of biostatistics courses may lower the total number of graduate level credits during the PhD program at UPEI if supported by the student’s Supervisory Committee and approved by the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee. In the case of a waiver, it will not be necessary to replace a statistics course with a non-statistics course unless the student’s Supervisory Committee deems the student deficient in another important field. In some cases, on the recommendation of the Supervisory Committee and with the approval of the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee, exemptions may be granted for some of the course requirements in recognition of previous academic work, as would be the case for students who enter the PhD program with a MSc if the previous degree program provided graduate-level courses applicable to their current PhD research.
For graduate credit, the courses selected must be acceptable to the department and the overall graduate program approved by the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee as early as feasible in the program and not later than the end of the first full semester of study. These substantive courses and/or general examinations comprise the candidate’s prescribed studies.
A department may require examinations (oral and/or written), from time to time, to evaluate the student’s progress in their overall program.
In addition to these prescribed studies, the candidate may undertake to achieve satisfactory standings in courses supportive of the special discipline. These courses may be at either the undergraduate or the graduate level. The standings obtained in them will not affect the average grade of the prescribed studies. When a student is required to register in a seminar or colloquium course in more than one semester, the record will show a grade or a designation of “In Progress” for semesters prior to completion of the course and “Pass” or “Fail” for the final semester. The student will register in the seminar course every semester until all other PhD degree requirements have been met or nine semesters, whichever occurs first. With the consent of the Supervisory Committee, and of the instructor and the Department Chair concerned, a student may register for, and audit, all or part of a course. It is understood that the student will attend lectures as prescribed, but will not write any examination or receive any grade. Such a course may be recorded as an additional course, identified by AUD.
D) THE THESIS
In the total program of a doctoral student it is expected that the major part of the time be devoted to research in fulfilment of the thesis requirement. The research proposal should be formulated at as early a date as possible and be presented to the Supervisory Committee for approval. Research must meet all compliance approval requirements, including (but not limited to) the Guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care, monitored by the UPEI Animal Care Committee (ACC), all legislation related to biohazards and the UPEI Biosafety Policy, monitored by the UPEI Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), and the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, monitored by the UPEI Research Ethics Board. For research conducted off-campus, direct and frequent contact with the student’s Supervisor and Supervisory Committee must be maintained and arrangements are subject to the prior approval of the Chair of the Department in which the student is registered and the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research.
At as early a date as may be feasible no later than the 6th semester after first registration following the Master’s degree or the 8th semester after first registration following the honours baccalaureate, the student is required to take their comprehensive examination. Deviation from this schedule must be approved by the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Committee. The comprehensive examination is an examination to assess the student’s knowledge in that branch of learning embracing the subject and will ordinarily occur in two parts, one written and one oral.
The Comprehensive Examination is an examination by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (as distinct from an examination by the Supervisory Committee).
Upon completing the Comprehensive Examination satisfactorily, the student is deemed to have met the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine standards, and then becomes a candidate for the PhD degree. The Examining Committee, and its Chair will be, proposed by the Chair of the department and approved by the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research. The Examining Committee consists of some or all of the members of the Supervisory Committee, together with two additional members of the Graduate Faculty, at least one of whom must be a member of the department. The Chair of the Examining Committee is responsible for making all arrangements. As a Comprehensive Examination, consideration is to be given to:
1) the student’s knowledge of the subject matter and ability to integrate the material derived from their studies; and,
2) to the student’s ability and promise in research. The Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research, therefore, will receive from the Supervisory Committee a written evaluation of the quality of the student’s performance to date in research and of the student’s potential as a researcher. This evaluation wil be shared with the Examining Committee. The Examining Committee will determine the relative importance to be given to these two major components of the Comprehensive Examination.
The results of the Comprehensive Examination will be reported to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research through the Department Chair. The examination may be repeated once within a program, and if the student fails a second time, further registration in the PhD program will be denied.
Each candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy shall submit a thesis, written by the candidate, on the research carried out by the candidate on the approved topic. The thesis is expected to be a significant contribution to knowledge in its field, and the candidate must indicate in what ways it is a contribution. The thesis must demonstrate mature scholarship and critical judgement on the part of the candidate, and it must indicate an ability to express oneself in a satisfactory literary style. Approval of the thesis is taken to imply that it is judged to be sufficiently meritorious to warrant publication in reputable scholarly media in the field. The thesis style and formatting must be approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee and must conform to the UPEI Faculty of Graduate Studies thesis guidelines.
Examination and Publication
For each doctoral thesis, an External Examiner from outside the University is appointed by the AVC Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research in consultation with the Supervisor and the Department Chair. Prior to the exam, the External Examiner will submit a written appraisal of the thesis to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. This brief report will summarize their evaluation of the thesis and normally include a discussion of the scientific significance of the thesis with comments regarding its theoretical framework, methodology, findings, and interpretations. The report will consider its academic standard and quality, reflecting that the candidate meets the minimum requirements to qualify as a researcher, considering the candidate’s formulation of research questions, logical and original approaches to testing stated hypotheses, and understanding of current methods and their limitations.
The External Examiner is expected to attend the Final Oral Examination. However, when an External Examiner is unable to attend the Final Oral Examination within a reasonable time frame, the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, in consultation with the Chair of the Examining Committee and the Chair of the Department, may permit examination via videoconference. Honoraria and expenses are paid as per University policy in relation to the duties involved.
The thesis may be submitted at any time of the year, but candidates are advised to allow ample time for revision and examination. It is understood that, as the thesis is being written, the candidate is in regular communication with the Supervisor and Supervisory Committee. In due time, a final draft emerges which is deemed to be ready for examination. The AVC Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research receives this final draft from the candidate and a formal request for the examination, endorsed by the Supervisory Committee (maximum of one dissenting committee member) and the Departmental Chair. A copy of this final draft is sent by the AVC Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research to the External Examiner as “fair copy” of the thesis. Normally within one week of receiving the thesis, the External Examiner will communicate to the AVC Associate Dean GSR their opinion of the overall acceptability of the thesis going forward to examination and arrangements for the Final Oral Examination will then be finalized by the AVC Graduate Studies and Research Office. If the External Examiner deems the thesis to be unacceptable, the supervisory committee will be informed and the final oral examination may be deferred to a later date. It is understood that as a result of the Final Oral Examination, the entire examination committee will be involved in decisions about whether the candidate satisfies the criteria for the degree which may include corrections to produce a revised final version of the thesis.
The Final Oral Examination
The Final Oral Examination is devoted chiefly to the defence of the doctoral thesis. It is a Faculty level examination, for which the arrangements are the responsibility of the Office of the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research. The Final Oral Examination is conducted by an Examining Committee consisting of five members, as follows:
- a member of the graduate faculty who is not a member of the Supervisory Committee appointed to act as Chair by the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research in consultation with the Department Chair;
- the External Examiner;
- a member of the graduate faculty who is not a member of the Supervisory Committee, appointed by the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research in consultation with the Department Chair;
- two members of the student’s Supervisory Committee, proposed by the Supervisory Committee and appointed by the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research. One Supervisor or Co-Supervisor may fill the role of the one from the Supervisory Committee, but not both. Normally, one member shall be from a Department other than that in which the student is registered.
Normally, the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research or their designate will attend the Examination. The Examination is open to the public except under exceptional circumstances recommended by the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research and approved by the Dean of UPEI Faculty of Graduate Studies. Members of the audience may question the candidate only upon invitation of the Chair of the Committee. Normally the Examination is preceded by a public presentation of the research results.
The members of the Examining Committee, including the External Examiner, report individually on both the defence and the thesis, the candidate being deemed to have passed and the thesis approved if not more than one of the five Examiners votes negatively. An abstention is regarded as a negative vote. The signed Certificate of Approval, is submitted with the approved thesis in its final form to the Associate Dean of AVC Graduate Studies and Research. The report to the Associate Dean will record the decision as “unsatisfactory,” or “satisfactory.” If “unsatisfactory,” the candidate may be given the opportunity of a second attempt. A second “unsatisfactory” will terminate candidacy at this University.