PhD Proposal Package

A PhD proposal package must be submitted, reviewed and approved before the student is eligible to proceed with the candidacy exam. Submission to MSGP must be done within 24 months of the start of the graduate program if the student was admitted as a PhD, or within 36 months from the start of program if they began as an MSc and plan to transfer to PhD. Once the PhD proposal is approved, the candidacy exam should take place within the following six months. Falling outside this time frame would require a written explanation and timeline for submission to be forwarded to the Graduate Coordinator and the MSGP Chair. Failure to meet this timeline will affect a student's eligibility for the MSGP graduate student awards. For more information, please refer to the Outline of Responsibilities document.

The information in the PhD proposal package will help the MSGPC to assess the:
1. Student's background and readiness;
2. Supervisor and research environment;
3. Supervisory committee and their contributions to the development of the student;
4. Scope, rigour and quality of the research project

A list of five potential reviewers must be e-mailed directly from the graduate coordinator or administrator to Reviewers may be from within the department and/or within the FoMD, or from outside the University, but must be unaffiliated with the student, supervisor or project.

Turnaround Time

Typically, a complete PhD proposal package submitted to within the first week of a month will be reviewed and discussed at the following month's MSGPC meeting. For example, if a package and list of reviewers are submitted by March 8 then they would normally be discussed at the MSGPC meeting on around April 10. These meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month. Sometimes, it may take longer than one month to receive reviews, or a meeting may be cancelled, so students are advised to plan the PhD proposal process well in advance of the intended candidacy exam date.



Students should prepare a proposal (full instructions below), and submit it to their department for signature by the grad coordinator. Then either the department or student can submit the proposal electronically to The department should also submit a list of five potential reviewers, to 

A proposal package should consist of the following, as one PDF, in this order:

1. Completed PhD Proposal Form

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 proposal outlining the scope of the research project: This must be completed independently by the student and should clearly and precisely outline his/her role in the research.

The proposal should be a maximum of four (4) pages, plus no more than 10 pages of appendices/figures. Format: single spaced with 1.0 inch (2.5 cm.) margins, Times New Roman, size 12.
Appendices should be restricted to figures, legends, references, questionnaires and tables. As mentioned earlier appendices should be no more than 10 pages and manuscripts should not be included.

As a general guideline, the proposal will also contain:

  • 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
  • detailed presentation of the planned experimental approach, and
  • the significance of the anticipated results.

Please Note: Anything exceeding these guidelines will not be included for review.

4. Student's academic record, in the form of transcripts from the University of Alberta and other institution(s), if applicable.

5. A Curriculum vitae from for the supervisor (and co-supervisor, where present) must be submitted in the common CV format.



The proposal will be evaluated by two reviewers (usually one arm’s length and one MSGP committee member). If the reviews are positive, the proposal will be put forward for approval at the next MSGPC meeting. If the reviewers have substantial concerns, the department’s Graduate Coordinator will communicate with the student and ask for modifications and/or a response to reviewer(s). Once the modified proposal is approved by the reviewers, it will be presented at the next MSGPC meeting. Following presentation of the proposal at the MSGPC meeting, the committee’s decision and any feedback from the reviewers are communicated to the student and graduate coordinator in writing.

Please note: The response to reviewers must be written by the student.


The complete PhD proposal package, including CVs, should be submitted as one PDF to:

Graduate Program Advisor
MSGPC, Office of Research
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
2-13 HMRC
Tel: 780-492-9721