Master's Studies—Thesis-Based

Supervisors and Committees
You have one or more thesis supervisors who must meet the University’s supervisory requirements. If you were not assigned one at the time of admission, please consult with your department.

Thesis-based master's students do not require a supervisory committee, although many programs form such committees. This committee would include all of your supervisors, ensures that your thesis research progresses satisfactorily, arranges for necessary examinations, and that your thesis is ready to be defended. You are also required to provide the committee with an annual report.

Please consult this valuable tip sheet: How to Ensure a Rewarding Thesis-based Student-Supervisor Experience at the University of Alberta.

Special Note (Effective March 2020): In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for supervisors and graduate students to establish clear plans setting out how they will work together remotely for the duration of this situation. These plans should consider everyone’s preferences for working at a distance from campus and one another. Please see the Guidelines for Effective Remote Supervision.

At the heart of every thesis-based program is the thesis. A thesis is a piece of work which must embody the results of original investigations and analyses and be of such quality as to merit publication, meet the standards of reputable scholarly publications, and constitute a substantial contribution to the knowledge in your field. 

Financial Support
Many students receive financial support in a number of ways. Information regarding teaching and research assistantships, graduate scholarships and other forms of funding, should refer to the Awards and Funding section. 

Registration Policy

If you are initially registered as a full-time student, you must remain full-time for the remainder of your program. You may request part-time status at the time of application, but the decision belongs to your department.

Once eligible, full-time thesis-based students who were admitted before Fall 2011, can register in THES 919 and pay reduced tuition. There is no part-time version of THES 919.

In many disciplines, part of your research work may be done off-campus. For further details, check with your department.

Academic Standing
As a graduate student, you have to maintain good academic standing requiring satisfactory status in both course grades, as well as progress in your thesis research.

Program Fee

If you are a thesis-based master's student who was admitted in Fall 2011 or thereafter, you will pay an annual program fee. The amount of the fee depends on whether you are a part-time or full-time student.

Program Extension

Occasionally, circumstances arise that mean that you need more than four years to complete your degree. In such cases, your department may support a program extension.

Leave of Absence
Sometimes, medical issues, parental responsibilities, or other emergencies mean that you may wish to take some time off from your studies. As a graduate student you may apply for an approved leave of absence that keeps your program in good standing.


The convocation ceremony represents a crowning achievement of your commitment to research and continuing your education.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research is here to serve the graduate community and see you through a rich and successful program experience! 

Should you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. 

Pathways to a Thesis-Based Master's Degree 

Thesis-based master’s programs at UAlberta train students to conduct methodical, systematic, theory-based, and collaborative research with a diversity of outstanding people, in a multitude of leading facilities and stimulating environments.  

As local and global employment markets continue to evolve and expand their business models in a variety of sectors, a thesis-based Master's degree can provide those markets with the opportunity and learned skill set to find high-level solutions for a multitude of issues.

Summary of Requirements
As a thesis-based master's student at UAlberta, you need to complete a number of program requirements—define your research problem, carry out your thesis research, and write and defend your thesis—within a four year designated timeframe. 

Degree requirements and responsibilities are both academic and administrative. 

Some are defined by the University:

Other requirements are defined by your department—including coursework, and comprehensive examinations

Your department’s section in the University Calendar as well as the graduate handbook define these requirements. 

There are many other resources and academic considerations that thesis-based master's students should take note of.