PhD Proposal

PhD Proposal Requirements

Laboratory Medicine & Pathology strives for excellence in graduate studies, where graduate students are highly motivated to make original contributions in science and to complete their PhD program with peer-reviewed publications. The department utilizes the expertise of its Graduate Studies Committee to review and approve all proposals from PhD students registered in our program.

PhD students must submit a PhD Proposal package following the completion of the majority of their course work and within the first 2 years of the start of their program. If the proposal is not submitted within this timeframe, a written explanation and timeline for submission should be forwarded to the Graduate Coordinator from the supervisor. (This includes interdisciplinary students whose home department is not Laboratory Medicine & Pathology).

PhD Proposal

The proposal will contain:

  • a review of the pertinent literature,
  • the research hypothesis,
  • the specific objectives of the research,
  • a review of the relevant work done previously by the student or the research group on the subject,
  • a detailed presentation of the planned experimental approach, and
  • the significance of the anticipated results.

The planned experimental approach will present the actual work proposed by the student and will not contain work or anticipated work that will not be conducted by the student.

The thesis proposal is to be written by the student. The thesis proposal must be entirely the student’s own creation, although she/he can utilize the supervisor’s guidance and/or the expertise in the department or on campus to explore ideas and obtain specific background or technical information.

PhD Proposal Package

The applicant’s proposal package consists of the following:

  1. The completed proposal form, stating:
    • Project title
    • Student's completed and proposed coursework
    • Ethics training
    • Student honours and awards
    • Student presentations
    • Student publications
    • Timeline of the PhD program, indicating supervisory committee meetings, proposed month of the candidacy examination and final oral examination
    •  Student’s signature
    • The signatures of the student’s supervisor and the supervisory committee to indicate approval of the proposal package.
  2. A written statement from the supervisor (maximum of 200 words) outlining the potential contribution to science of the student's PhD project.
  3. A written statement from the supervisor on the expertise of the supervisory committee members (one or two sentences per committee member), as well as the resources (facilities, equipment, personnel) available to support the student’s program relevant to the PhD proposal.
  4. A proposal outlining the scope of the research project:
    • A written proposal. This must be completed independently by the student and should clearly and precisely outline his/her role in the research.
      • Length: Must not exceed four (4) pages, excluding appendices.
      • Format: single spaced with 1.0 inch (2.5 cm) margins.
      • Font: Times New Roman, size 12.
    •  Appendices. These are limited to 10 pages with not more than 2 figures per page, and should be restricted to figures, legends, references, questionnaires and tables.
    • Please note: Anything exceeding these guidelines will be returned to the student and not be included for review.
  5. Proposals must be accompanied by a list of five potential reviewers from outside our department (include name, department/institution, contact information). This information is to be supplied directly to the graduate coordinator from the student’s supervisor via email or delivered by the student in a sealed and signed envelope.

 An original paper copy of the proposal package is submitted to the LMP Graduate Program Office.

Submissions are accepted at any time.

Assessment of the PhD Proposal Package

The Graduate Studies Coordinator reviews the PhD proposal package and may request a meeting with the student. The signature of the Graduate Studies Coordinator on the PhD Proposal form indicates the PhD proposal package is complete and the PhD proposal may be sent for external review.

At least two independent experts review the graduate student's PhD proposal. They are asked to respond within two weeks to the following two questions and provide comments to support their responses:

Does the proposal encompass sufficient scope for a PhD degree?

Is there the potential for original contribution to science?

If any reviewer provides a negative response to either question, the reviews and a letter of guidance from the Graduate Studies Coordinator will be provided to the student.

  • The student submits a revised proposal along with a letter that explains how concerns were addressed for each reviewer. The same reviewer(s) is then asked to reconsider the proposal. A different reviewer is used only if the original reviewer is unavailable or unwilling to participate further.

If there are subsequent negative responses, the reviews are provided to the student with a letter from the Graduate Studies Coordinator advising that the student must meet with his or her supervisory committee to determine how best to proceed.

If all reviewers answer both questions positively, faculty members of the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) will review the PhD proposal package and external reviews. Their comments will be sent to the Graduate Studies Coordinator for synthesis and the report distributed for discussion at the next GSC meeting; comments will remain anonymous. The GSC may provide recommendations to promote the student’s success in his/her graduate program.

  • The external reviews will be sent to the student and all members of the supervisory committee with a letter from the Graduate Studies Coordinator indicating the PhD Proposal is approved and the student may proceed to planning the candidacy examination. Specific recommendations from the GSC would be included in this letter.