Supervisor and Student Responsibilities

Supervisor Responsibilities

The Supervisor is the most influential person in a graduate student's program. The following summarizes a supervisor's responsibilities in the IMS.

*Note: Should the supervisor need to terminate supervision of a student, they must contact a Graduate Coordinator immediately.

Directs the graduate program of the student, facilitating timely completion of research, thesis writing and defense.

A successful match between supervisor and student is dependent on mutual commitment. Although self-directed learning is emphasized, graduate students, particularly at the master's level, may require considerable assistance in defining their research project. Independence is often not achieved until the final stages of the PhD. Each student enters the graduate program with a unique set of academic and personal skills. It is essential that the supervisor carefully and accurately assess the student’s abilities and then provide specific guidance. The student must acquire methodological expertise and content knowledge necessary to successfully complete the research and thesis writing in a timely fashion. Agreement between supervisor and student about the specific research goals and engagement of the student in these studies should occur within the first 6 months of enrolment.

It is important to note that supervisors are not permitted to employ a student (as a lab manager, lab tech, research assistant, etc.) while supervising them during their IMS research project. If a supervisor has agreed to supervise someone as an IMS graduate student and they are currently working in the lab, supervisors must make alternative arrangements to fill that work position before the research project begins.

Generally, the most successful match occurs when the student's research is an integral (and funded) component of the supervisor's ongoing investigations. This does not prevent the creative input of the student who should engage in the design and testing of new experimental hypotheses. In fact, particularly at the PhD level, contribution to new knowledge is an essential requirement for obtaining a graduate degree.

Supervisors must be accessible to students. Regular discussion between supervisor and student (e.g., weekly or biweekly) is essential to facilitate progress. In these meetings, the student should have an opportunity to review new data, plan further experiments, review material written by the student and discuss all aspects of the student's program including course work. The supervisor should give the student opportunities to write scientific abstracts and manuscripts as first author, and to present research locally to other faculty members and students, as well as at scientific conferences. 

There are specific guidelines outlining the responsibilities of the supervisor and the student for organization of the MSc Final Oral Examination, the PhD Final Oral Examination, Qualifying Examination and MSc-PhD Transfer Examination.

Provides mentorship and serves as an academic role model.

Students look to their supervisors for guidance and support throughout the graduate program. The supervisor must have the content knowledge and expertise to ensure appropriate supervision.  Genuine interest and enthusiasm on the supervisor's part as well as kind, critical appraisal will be highly valued and appreciated. In particular, students need time with their supervisors. Prompt turnaround of written work, especially thesis drafts, is not only helpful in achieving timely completion, but also indicates to the students that their work is important.

Chooses PAC members and ensures supervision is appropriate and timely.

The Supervisor chooses appropriate members for the graduate program advisory committee (PAC) and ensures, jointly with the student, that the ongoing supervision is appropriate and timely.

Ensures appropriate continuing supervision of the student during a leave of absence from the University.

The supervisor must ensure appropriate continuing supervision of the student during a leave of absence from the University (e.g., sabbatical). Supervisory arrangements during such absences should be discussed with the student, program advisory committee and an IMS graduate coordinator. A written notification to the Graduate Coordinator about these arrangements should be provided prior to the leave.

Completes the Annual GEMS Statement of Agreement.

The Supervisor must complete the Annual GEMS Statement of Agreement between supervisor and student prior to the annual registration of the student. 

Student Responsibilities

  • Engage full-time in a self-directed learning process.
  • Apply for awards, external funding, planning and preparing Program Advisory Committee meetings, writing abstracts and manuscripts as first author.
  • Maintaining ongoing and open communication between the student and supervisor.
  • Students are expected to maintain their full-time status, working full-time on campus (or in an affiliated teaching hospital) for at least 14 out of each 17 weeks in each term.

If problems arise the Graduate Coordinators would be happy to discuss them. If you have completed a MSc in the IMS and wish to enter a PhD program, you are under no obligation to continue with the same supervisor. In fact, it is preferable for academic reasons that you change supervisors.

Students are invited to provide confidential comments about any aspect of the graduate program via the IMS Graduate Exit Survey. This information is confidential and will be used to improve the IMS graduate programs.


Students are STRONGLY encouraged to contact a Graduate Coordinator if difficulties, whether personal or work-related, arise. The Graduate Coordinator meets students every Tuesdays between 9:00am to 10:00am via Zoom
Meeting ID: 832 2063 7720
Passcode: 518358

Health and Wellness Resources for Temerty Faculty of Medicine graduate students can also be found on the GLSE website.