Supervisory Committee

The Role of the Supervisor

All incoming RES students are assigned a supervisor(s) when offered admission to the program. Your graduate supervisor(s) are available to help you at every stage of your program, from formulation of your research projects, through establishing methodologies and discussing results, to presentation and publication of dissertations. Your supervisor(s) also ensure that their students’ work meets the standards of the University.

UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) provides detailed guidelines regarding Supervision at UBC, including:


The RES program integrates and synthesizes information, ideas and concepts across several disciplines. Individual supervisors are often not experts, and should not be considered experts, in all of the areas that the student must address and synthesize; thus the need for - and importance of - a balanced supervisory committee. A student who finds that their supervisor(s) may not be suitable should notify the RES Graduate Advisor immediately.

  • Doctoral (PhD) supervisory committees must have at least three members (including the supervisor).
    • Please see the full RES doctoral supervisory committee requirements here.
  • Master's supervisory committees must have at least two members, and should have at least three members (including the supervisor).
    • Please see the full RES Master's (MA/MSc) supervisory committee requirements here.

Please note that only faculty at Full, Associate or Assistant Professor rank can be supervisors. Research Assistants and Post-docs can only sit on student committees.  These requirements meet the Supervisory standards set by the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Non- G+PS Members as Supervisory Committee Members: If you would like someone to be part of your supervisory committee who is not a UBC G+PS member, they must be approved by your supervisor(s), the RES Graduate Advisor and G+PS.

Further details: non-members of UBC G+PS as Supervisory Committee Members

The student, in consultation with their supervisor(s), will form a their supervisory committee within the first year of the student’s program. Once the Supervisory Committee has been formally created, the student must complete an RES Committee Member Selection Form and submit it to the IRES Graduate Program Manager.

The supervisory committee should ideally meet twice per year. Depending on a student's progress in their program, they may need more or less frequent committee meetings. However, a student should always have at least one formal supervisory committee meeting per year. At each supervisory committee meeting, the student should complete an RES Committee Meeting Report Form. Each Committee Meeting Report form must be filed with the RES Graduate Program Manager and distributed to the supervisory committee.

The initial supervisory committee meeting is to evaluate the thesis project, examine the student’s research and qualifications, and assist in selection of courses to be taken. A progress meeting should be held after one year of residency to review the candidate’s progress in meeting graduate requirements.

RES graduate students should have at least one formal supervisory committee meeting each academic year. These meetings will address issues related to thesis proposal, academic program and progress. Items that may interfere with the academic program need to be identified, outlined and resolved. The first meeting should result in endorsement by the supervisory committee of the proposed research and requisite courses.

Each member of the supervisory committee is expected to make clear their expectations of the graduate student in relation to areas of subject matter, level of competence, and focus of the thesis. These expectations should be expressed in writing within the first or second supervisory committee meeting.

Although members of the supervisory committee will make every effort to respond to graduate students’ progress reports, drafts of written work and the thesis, there must be a reasonable time expectation for turn-around of documents. These time expectations must include faculty members’ activities away from the campus. As a guideline, a reasonable turn-around time for short communication and progress reports is within two weeks. Response to a thesis draft should be on the order of one month. Graduate students should make plans accordingly in order to attempt to meet their own deadlines or those of the University for Graduation. It is not unusual that up to one month is required to revise the first draft of the thesis following review by the supervisory committee.