POLICIES AND PROCEDURES HANDBOOK

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1 ST. FRANCIS XAVIER UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDIES POLICIES AND PROCEDURES HANDBOOK Approved by March 13, 2007

2 PREAMBLE St Francis Xavier University offers a limited range of high-quality graduate programs in the Arts, Education, and the Sciences, based on the needs of the community in the region, as well as nationally and internationally, and on the availability of resources. It also recognises that faculty members participate in graduate level education for visiting students. This Policy and Procedures Handbook includes sections on University and Departmental regulations and guidelines concerning all graduate programs at St Francis Xavier. The aim of this Handbook is to assist in ensuring consistency across programs, efficiency, quality, transparency, and accountability. Revisions to this Handbook are made by the Committee, after consultation with the Departments offering graduate studies programs and the office of the Academic Vice President and Provost. Changes to the constitution or terms of reference of the Committee or changes to academic programs must obtain the approval of the appropriate University body. 1

3 There are three parts to this Handbook: PART I: Responsibilities of the Office of 1. Admissions 2. Registration 3. Students academic progress 4. Financial and scholarships 5. Examinations 6. Graduation 7. Program Supervision and Development 8. Linkages with Units within the University 9. Linkages with organizations outside the University 10. Changes to sections on graduate studies in the University Calendar 11 Academic consortia agreements and exchanges 12 Relation to Research activities at St Francis Xavier 13. Membership on the Committee 14. Responsibilities of the Chair of 15. Guidelines and Procedures for the StFX Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award PART II: Responsibilities of Department Chairs, Graduate Coordinators, Thesis Advisors and Supervisory Committees, and Students 1 Responsibilities of the Department Chair 2. Departmental Coordinator of 3. Responsibilities of Advisors and Supervisory Committees 4. Responsibilities of Graduate Students: 5. Process for the submission and examination of theses (MA, MEd, MSc.) PART III: Individual Program and Department regulations and guidelines 1. Adult Education (M.Ad.Ed.) 2. Biology (M.Sc.) 3. Celtic Studies (M.A.) 4. Chemistry (M.Sc.) 5. Computer Science (M.Sc.) 6. Earth Sciences (M.Sc.) 7. Education (M.Ed.) 8. Physics (M.Sc.) 2

4 PART 1: RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE OFFICE OF GRADUATE STUDIES 3

5 The purpose of this Office (the Committee on ) is to develop graduate studies and administer graduate studies at St Francis Xavier University (By Laws, Part 2, Section 8, Art I) The responsibilities and activities of this office, as well as its membership, are determined by University bylaws. 1. ADMISSIONS - with the assistance of the Admissions Office, will process (i.e., approve) applications, verify information, ensure compliance with regulations. will also - determine minimum requirements for admission to graduate programs - be responsible for the admission of all students (i.e., degree and non-degree students) - receive notification of visiting students 1 - consider applications for reinstatement or readmission 2. REGISTRATION - must be informed of the registration of graduate students within 3 weeks of the first semester of registration - may approve formal withdrawals from, and terminations of studies in, programs - may grant time extensions - may approve leaves of absence (e.g., parental or medical leaves) 3. STUDENTS ACADEMIC PROGRESS - monitors student progress (annually) - ensures the assignment of a thesis or project advisor and supervisory committee (see Part II: Departmental Graduate coordinator) - receives an annual report on degree students (e.g., who is currently registered; what the status is [e.g., thesis in progress; 2 courses remaining, etc.]) This is normally provided by 30 September - considers appeals - considers formal grade reviews 4. FINANCIAL AND SCHOLARSHIPS - is responsible for graduate awards (e.g., SSHRCC special MA scholarships) - sets the conditions for, and selects recipients of, the outstanding graduate student research award at convocation - provides support, as needed, in applications for student awards (to outside agencies, e.g., Tri-council) - determines conditions for graduate support and, as appropriate, minimum income levels - maintains information on scholarships and bursaries and other awards available to graduate students 1 It is recognised that some faculty may be responsible for the supervision or instruction of graduate students in virtue of their status as adjunct professors at other universities. The Department should ensure that the names of these faculty members and of their students be supplied to the Committee, along with a statement of the nature of the instruction or supervision, and the anticipated duration of the supervision. 4

6 - may administer or coordinate forms of financial assistance provided to graduate students and secure additional funding whenever possible. - coordinates and supplies information on examinations such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) 5. EXAMINATIONS - makes recommendations to Senate concerning program regulations - verifies that appropriate approvals for research have been obtained e.g., Research Ethics Board approvals of projects - is invited to, and may attend the presentation of thesis proposals - receives reports on thesis proposals - receives notification of recommendations for external examiners for theses - is informed of the organisation and defence of theses (at least 2 weeks in advance) - receives the report from the external examiner on thesis; - ensures that the Academic Vice President and Provost is notified of thesis defences and requests honoraria from the AVP for external examiners - receives a copy of all theses - attends and participates in thesis defences - is responsible for setting guidelines for graduate thesis defenses, including the design of forms for reporting on graduate theses - approves all graduate theses, and arranges for their binding and deposition in the Library, and for electronic deposit in the National Library 6. GRADUATION - makes recommendations for award of graduate degrees - awards the Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award 7. PROGRAM SUPERVISION AND DEVELOPMENT - approves, revises and develops regulations regarding all graduate programs. - reviews all proposed new graduate programs and makes recommendations to Senate. - approves new graduate courses (as a Committee on Studies) - is involved in reviewing all proposed graduate program changes - assists in the preparation of briefs for the MPHEC appraisal of new programs. - oversees the preparation and submission of briefs for reviews of existing programs, as appropriate - assists in the recruitment and the promotion of St Francis Xavier University as a desirable institution for (focussed programs in) graduate studies - may, from time to time, carry out student Exit Evaluations or administer and implement a Graduate Student Satisfaction Survey / evaluative exit survey. 8. LINKAGES WITH UNITS WITHIN THE UNIVERSITY Graduate studies - makes regular, written reports to - the Academic Vice President and Provost - the University Faculty - the Senate (on academic issues) also maintains relations with the following bodies - Department Committees 5

7 - Research Grants Office - Research Ethics Board and Animal Care Committee (e.g., receives reports on the ethical evaluation of graduate student research) - Registrar s Office - Academic Priorities and Planning Committee (e.g., concerning enrollment, new programs, etc.) - Admissions Office - Library - Coady Institute (particularly concerning the Master of Adult Education program) - Student Services (e.g., mature students association; International Students Office) will also - be involved in intra-university Program Coordination, and assist academic units with various aspects of the delivery of graduate programs. - advise and make recommendations to the Senate and other University bodies on policies affecting graduate education (e.g., tuition fee policy, credit for graduate thesis/project supervision and courses, admissions policy and procedures, and graduate regulations). - carry out program planning work, in cooperation with the Academic Vice President, Senate, University Faculty, and the Research Office 9. LINKAGES WITH ORGANIZATIONS OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSITY maintains ties with - granting councils (e.g., SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR), - MPHEC - Canadian Association for will also - provide support in applications for student awards (to outside agencies, e.g., Tri-council, Fulbright, Rhodes) - prepare responses to and for the University on provincial, national and international policies that impact on graduate level education. - Advise and make recommendations to external agencies on behalf of the University on policies affecting graduate education (e.g., tuition fee policy, credit for graduate thesis/project supervision and courses, admissions policy and procedures and graduate regulations. 10. CHANGES TO SECTIONS ON GRADUATE STUDIES IN THE UNIVERSITY CALENDAR - is responsible for changes to sections on graduate studies in the University Calendar 11. ACADEMIC CONSORTIA AGREEMENTS AND EXCHANGES - may make recommendations to Senate establishing terms, conditions, responsibilities, etc., of academic consortia agreements involving graduate programs and exchanges 6

8 12. RELATION TO RESEARCH ACTIVITIES AT ST FRANCIS XAVIER The teaching of graduate students, the research undertaken by graduate students, and the participation of graduate students in faculty research are important elements in the ongoing research carried out at St Francis Xavier. has a responsibility to ensure that such teaching and research is carried out in a way that ensures consistency across programs, efficiency, quality, transparency, and accountability. 13. MEMBERSHIP ON THE COMMITTEE Membership on the Committee will be as follows: - The Deans of Arts and of Science - a Chair, appointed by the President; - 1 member from the School of Education (3-year term); - 1 member from the Department of Adult Education (3-year term) - 1 member elected by the Faculty of Science (3-year term) - 1 member elected by the University Faculty (3-year term); - 1 graduate student representative selected by the Students Union (1-year term). - No more than 2 faculty members may be members of the same Department. Each Department offering a graduate degree may send a (non-voting) observer. 14. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHAIR OF GRADUATE STUDIES: - calls and chairs at least two meetings each academic term. - calls one meeting of the Committee per academic term to recommend to the University Faculty candidates who have fulfilled the requirements for graduate degrees. - Other meetings may be called to deal with specific concerns such as changes in regulations and appeals. Particular responsibilities The Chair - assists in the promotion and advertisement of graduate studies - gives final approval of recommendations concerning the acceptance of candidates into graduate programs. - receives notification of the admission of non-degree students (e.g., the approval of admission into a qualifying year) - on behalf of the Committee, receives annual reports on student progress. - receives representations from graduate students concerning their progress in the program - receives appeals on behalf of the Committee. - receives notification of REB and ACC decisions concerning graduate students - makes decisions concerning extensions to time limits; leaves of absence; dismissals. Such decisions are reported to the Committee at the following meeting - receives reports on theses from external examiners; as appropriate, makes requests for stipends for external examiners to the Academic Vice President and Provost - attends all thesis defenses. The Chair may send a delegate to attend on her/his behalf. - approves the final, corrected copy of all successful theses - verifies that students applying for graduation have met all the requirements for the degree 7

9 - on behalf of the Committee, maintains ties with University bodies and is responsible for making recommendations to the University on policies affecting graduate education; - on behalf of the Committee, reports to the Academic Vice-President; the University Faculty, and Senate - on behalf of the Committee, maintains ties with organizations outside the University (e.g., granting councils (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) and NSHRF), - on behalf of the Committee, assists in the preparation of briefs for the MPHEC appraisal of new graduate programs. 15. GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR THE STFX OUTSTANDING GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH AWARD A. OVERVIEW: A STFX Graduate Student Research award will be made available for the Faculty of Arts and another for the Faculty of Science (two awards). These may be awarded at the Spring and Fall convocations annually. The award will consist of a plaque, a letter of commendation from the President of the University, and an award of $250. B. AWARD CRITERIA: Eligible students must have completed a thesis. The thesis should represent the highest level of scholarship and represent a significant contribution to fostering the understanding of current issues, problems, or interests in the field. The conclusions of the research should advance theory, knowledge, and/or professional practice. The scope of the research should be adequate for the problem or issue under consideration. The thesis should demonstrate a high calibre of writing. C. AWARD PROCEDURES: The thesis should be nominated by the thesis advisor with a letter of support from one other faculty member and an external evaluator. The thesis advisor should ensure that the Committee is supplied with (i) a summary (not to exceed 500 words) concerning the significance of the thesis, (ii) the Table of Contents, and (iii) a representative chapter from the thesis. External assessors of theses will be requested to indicate on their evaluations whether the thesis meets the criteria for the award. Nominations and supporting documentation must be received by the Chair of Graduate Studies no later than 15 March for Spring Convocation and 15 October for Fall Convocation. 8

10 D. JUDGES Nominations will be considered by a committee of judges consisting of: 1. The Dean of the Faculty in which the student is a degree candidate. 2. The Chair of (Chair) 3. One member from each Faculty offering graduate programmes, selected by the Committee. E. GUIDELINES FOR JUDGING: To be considered for an award, the thesis must normally be judged to be in the top 10% of recent theses in the field. The judges may solicit an additional external evaluation. The judges will have access to recent theses in the discipline should it be useful in arriving at a decision. Judges are encouraged to consider the following questions in reviewing the application: (1) Is this a significant contribution to the field (e.g., would the thesis rank in the top 10% of Masters theses you have examined)? (2) Is there reason to conclude that this thesis could be built upon either by the author or by future researchers? Does it hold long term potential for further systematic investigation? (3) Is the methodology and theory used appropriate and well applied? (4) Are the findings, conclusions, recommendations, or emergent questions both clear and significant to the field? (5) Does the thesis indicate mastery of the literature relevant to the topic? (6) Does the thesis demonstrate a high calibre of writing? F. AWARD The recommendation of the judges will be forwarded to the Committee for approval at the appropriate meeting for the approval of degree candidates. If possible, the candidate will be notified of the Committee s decision prior to convocation. Announcement of the award will be made at the convocation at which the candidate will graduate. 9

11 PART 2: RESPONSIBILITIES OF DEPARTMENT CHAIRS, COORDINATORS, ADVISORS AND SUPERVISORY COMMITTEES, AND STUDENTS 2 2 These policies and regulations may also affect faculty in Departments where no graduate programs are currently offered. 10

12 1. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT CHAIR to ensure that all students accepted into a degree program will have effective supervision to ensure that a Supervisory Committee is formed for each student, within 2 weeks of the student s first registration in the programme o In determining this, areas of faculty research interest, anticipated faculty retirements and leaves, as well as teaching loads, should be taken into account. In cases where applicants may be unable to choose a field of research until they have had some experience in graduate study or in a particular department, the Department should ensure that a sufficient number of faculty members are available for supervision. to ensure that students have adequate facilities (including library resources) available to them for the pursuit of their research; to ensure that, should an advisor or supervisory committee member leave the University (e.g., on long term leave or for another position), a substitute is made as soon as possible; to allow students to change advisors if their research interests shift or develop in a new direction and a change of advisor will not deprive them of financial support and if the change can be reasonably accommodated by the department; to uphold a high academic standard for theses; to provide procedures which assist and encourage students to complete the thesis, such as early review and approval of topic, ensuring that laboratory or assistant work does not interfere with the expeditious completion of academic work, and a clearly stated system of thesis mentoring and review; to regard supervision of graduate students as an important consideration in making replacement appointments for faculty; to ensure that the Department graduate coordinator acts as a general overseer of students' progress; to inform all students in the Department on expectations concerning research ethics; to explain to students the University's policies on intellectual property rights; to ensure that any changes to graduate courses and to the graduate program are forwarded to the Committee on for approval. It is recognised that some faculty may be responsible for the supervision or instruction of graduate students in virtue of their status as adjunct professors at other universities. The Department should ensure that the names of these faculty members and of their students be supplied to the Committee, along with a statement of the nature of the instruction or supervision, and the anticipated duration of the supervision. 2. DEPARTMENTAL COORDINATOR OF GRADUATE STUDIES Departments offering graduate programs will normally have a faculty member who is assigned the responsibility of coordinating graduate studies within the Department. Among the responsibilities of the Coordinator are: 11

13 to make recommendations to the Chair of, on behalf of the Department, for the admission of students; to ensure, where and when appropriate, that provisions have been made for financial support for graduate students; to ensure that the student s Supervisor or Supervisory Committee submits an annual report on the student's progress in the program to the Committee on ; to ensure that the Department rules and regulations concerning its graduate programs are up to date and readily available to faculty members and to current and prospective students; to ensure that graduate students follow these rules or that they obtain an exemption from them from the appropriate individual or Committee; to ensure the maintenance of a departmental web page of graduate studies (e.g., listing course and program requirements, graduate faculty who supervise graduate students, etc.); to ensure that all entering graduate students are provided with a statement of both the University s and the Department s policies and procedures on graduate studies; to ensure that students are aware of the procedures for complaints, appeals, and review, and to whom such appeals may be addressed. This coordinator will be invited to attend regular meetings of the University Graduate Studies Committee. 3. RESPONSIBILITIES OF ADVISORS AND SUPERVISORY COMMITTEES to be familiar with University and Departmental regulations concerning graduate studies, to be aware of any changes that may affect their responsibilities and/or the responsibilities of their graduate students, and to ensure that their graduate students are informed of these regulations; to be aware of regulations concerning research ethics approvals, thesis requirements, and deadlines, and to ensure that their graduate students are informed of these requirements; to be informed of student services available to graduate students concerning counseling, equity, harassment, etc.; to be available to students for consultation in a timely fashion, or to make suitable arrangements to ensure that such consultation is readily available. (Meeting with one s students on a regular basis is encouraged.); to provide assistance in defining and refining research topics, and to ensure that the research undertaken is feasible given time limits and the availability of resources; to provide adequate, frank, constructive, and timely responses or evaluations of drafts of research work; to provide the student with a clear indication of expectations of the quality of research and of timelines and deadlines; 12

14 to inform the Departmental Coordinator, the Department Chair or, as the case may be, the Committee on, of difficulties or problems encountered by students within the program; together with the Departmental Coordinator, to ensure that, as appropriate or as committed, adequate financial resources are available to the student so as not to compromise her/his academic progress; to ensure that research work is carried out in a safe environment, in accordance with University and Departmental regulations; to take all reasonable measures to ensure that adequate resources and facilities are available and will be available throughout the student s program of study; to encourage students to attend scholarly conferences and to present the results of their research to a wider audience than the supervisory committee (particularly through publications, presentations at conferences, etc.); to ensure that any issues of the ownership of intellectual property or copyright are resolved before embarking on research; to ensure that the Chair of receives such information as: notice of the presentation of the thesis proposal, notice of forthcoming thesis defences, and the report of external examiners of these; to ensure that the University community is informed, by the appropriate deadlines (i.e., at least 2 weeks prior to the defence date), of the date, time, and place of thesis defences. 4. RESPONSIBILITIES OF GRADUATE STUDENTS: to know and follow the relevant Departmental and University regulations and standards (including ethical approvals and deadlines for work) concerning research; to be ready to submit their work to the judgment of their instructors, their advisor, supervisory committee, or department, and to abide by their decision when any rights of appeal, if exercised, have been exhausted; to select a topic (the student s advisor may reasonably be expected to assist in this) and to produce a research project or thesis that is their own work; to acknowledge direct assistance or borrowed material from other scholars or researchers (see Section 3.9 Academic Integrity of the University Calendar); to give fair notice to the advisor should the student need to consult with the advisor; to give serious and considered attention to advice and direction from the advisor; for those preparing a thesis, to produce a thesis which meets the standards of scholarship required by the University and the Department, including demonstration of their capacity for independent scholarship and research in their field; take measures to inform themselves of safety regulations, and to conduct their research within these regulations. 13

15 5. PROCESS FOR THE SUBMISSION AND EXAMINATION OF THESES (MA, MED, MSC.) (SEE OF THE UNIVERSITY CALENDAR) 1. Upon admission to, or registration in, a thesis program, and after consultation with the candidate and with Department faculty members, each candidate will be assigned a thesis Supervisory Committee by the Department Chair. This Committee will include the candidate s thesis advisor and at least one other faculty member, normally chosen from the Department. 2. Candidates must make a formal presentation of the thesis proposal. The formal presentation is normally made to the faculty of the Department for which the thesis is being written, and it is open to members of the Committee on, other interested faculty members, and graduate students. The Department Chair (and/or the candidate s thesis supervisor) will ensure that at least 2 weeks notice is given of the date, time, and place of the presentation of the thesis proposal. 3. After presentation of the proposal, after obtaining the approval of the appropriate ethics committee(s), and on the recommendation of the candidate s thesis supervisory committee, and the Department Chair or Director of the School, the candidate will be permitted to register in the thesis. 4. When completed, the thesis is submitted to the Chair of the candidate s supervisory committee for approval. The thesis is read by at least one other faculty member, designated by the Department Chair. The thesis is also read by an external examiner chosen by the Department Chair after consultation with the candidate s Supervisory Committee. The external examiner is a faculty member external to the candidate s Department and may be, as appropriate, external to the University. After consultation with the candidate s Supervisory Committee, the Department Chair will appoint a thesis examination committee consisting of the external examiner, the candidate s thesis advisor, and at least one (but no more than three) other members of the Department. (Members of the Supervisory Committee may serve as members of the Examining Committee.) The Chair of Graduate Studies or her/his designate will be a non-voting member of this Committee ex officio. 5. The external examiner must submit a report on the thesis to the Chair of the Supervisory Committee and to the Chair of the Committee on. 6. A public presentation and defence of the thesis is presented by the candidate after receipt of the external examiner s report and following the approval of the supervisory committee. Normally, at least two weeks notice is given (to the Chair of ) concerning the date, time, and place of the presentation and defence. 7. Immediately following the public presentation, an examination of the candidate is held. Normally, the public presentation and examination will not exceed 120 minutes. 8. The examining committee will then, in camera, arrive at a unanimous decision, agree on any changes to be made to the thesis, determine who will be responsible for ensuring that these changes are made, and consider whether the student is to be nominated for an Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award. Should the Committee not be able to arrive at a decision on the disposition of the thesis, the matter will be referred to the Committee on. 14

16 The decision of the Examining Committee, along with their names and, as appropriate, signatures, will be recorded on the thesis examination form, with a copy retained by the Department and a second copy sent to the Chair of. 9. A final corrected copy of the successful thesis must be submitted to the Chair of the Committee on for approval at least two weeks prior to the date of the convocation at which the candidate expects to graduate. Students are responsible for providing copies of the approved thesis, so that they may be deposited with the University Library and the National Library of Canada, for completing and submitting the required non-exclusive use form, and for paying the appropriate thesis fee. 15

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