Incoming Students

Information for students joining the Department

This page is intended to help students who will be starting their graduate studies this Fall term.

Advisors and Supervisors

Incoming graduate students are assigned an Advisor. This is not the same as the Supervisor. It is true that in North America, the term advisor often is used to describe a function that we call the supervisor. To avoid misunderstandings, here is a brief outline of what the Advisor does for incoming students:

  • advise students regarding their coursework.
  • help students to adjust to the Department; for example the Advisor will be able to explain the details of the program or at least know whom to ask for precise information.
  • help students find a Supervisor. In most programs students are required to find a Supervisor after at most two terms (one term in the case of the course-based Statistics program). The Supervisor may or may not be the same person as the Advisor (in most cases it will be).

The Supervisor's job is to guide the students academic program. For example, the following is a typical sample of the functions performed by the Supervisor:

  • advise students regarding their coursework.
  • help students with any questions regarding their program. The Supervisor is always the person of first contact for any problem or question (unless the problem or question concerns the supervision itself, in which case the Graduate Office is the right address). Of course, purely administrative questions are also best addressed to the Graduate Office.
  • guide students in their research. This varies across programs. It may mean selecting a problem for a thesis; it may mean collaborating on research; it may mean simply to evaluate progress form time to time or offer ideas and suggestions.
  • normally provide Summer Support of approximately $7000 for the period May to August.
  • normally provide some additional support to international students who have higher tuition requirements.

There are more responsibilities that a Supervisor has. Here, the point is merely to outline the difference to the Advisor.

Course Registration

It is important that incoming students discuss their coursework with their Advisors/Supervisors. It is also a good idea to have this discussion early! For one, this allows the student to prepare adequately for classes taken in the Fall. It also allows the Department to see which classes are in demand and which aren't and decide accordingly. In addition, incoming students often have TA appointments. Legally, once the appointment is made and the Time Use Guidelines have been discussed and provided, it is no longer possible for the student to change TA duties in case they conflict with the class schedule. Of course the Department will try to accommodate such problems as much as possible, but there are no guarantees.

To be precise: the Department will survey all (current and incoming) students for their course preferences, and then determine which classes will be opened for registration. Students should aim for registering for their Fall term classes no later than July 31.

GTA Orientation

Any student wishing to be appointed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) must complete the GTA Orientation at least once. It is imperative that incoming students plan their arrival in a way that they are able to attend the orientation.

The usual term of GTA Appointments is September 1 to December 31, and January 1 to April 30.

The GTA orientation will take place around September 1 (but may be before). In accordance with the GTA appointment conditions, incoming students that are unable to attend the GTA orientation, must apply for an excused absence.