Program Navigator

Welcome to the Program Navigator of your Graduate Studies!

Throughout your academic journey as a graduate student within the department, there are several milestones you will need to achieve. The goal of this navigator is to help you through the administrative steps to achieve these milestones. Please, note that the navigator contains the most common situations and processes. The complete official regulations are stated in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations and Departmental Supplementary Regulations found here.

Go to the webpage for the most current University of Manitoba directives.


Below, you will find the most common situations and procedures for completing your graduate studies. For more detailed explanations or non-common situations please, refer to the supplementary regulations. Now it is time to navigate!

Registering for the first time and each year

Check out this link: Registration and re-registration

Completing the Advisor Student Guidelines

This agreement must be completed online before the submission of the first Progress Report. However, you may benefit from completing it as soon as you start your program. Completing this task gives you and your supervisor the opportunity to agree on mutual responsibilities!

Advisor Student Guidelines

Completing Courses as Required

Check out this link:

Selecting your Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee’s role is to provide guidance during your studies, review your Annual progress Report, and form part of the Examining Committees for candidacy and thesis exam. The Advisory Committee can also mediate if there are conflicts between you and your supervisor. For MSc students, the committee is normally formed by your supervisor, a member of the Department of Microbiology and a member outside the department.  However, there is no longer a requirement for internal/external members. For PhD students, one additional member is recommended.

To constitute your committee, talk to your supervisor and identify Faculty Members that are a good fit for your thesis (both personally and in terms of the topic of study).  Ask your supervisor if they prefer you to contact them. Otherwise, your supervisor will ask those individuals (personally or by email) whether they agree to be on your committee. Your supervisor will also request approval from the Graduate Chair through email. The formal approval is processed through the documents posted below, which are provided by the Departmental Office. To get familiar with these forms, you can download copies from the links provided. Normally, these forms are processed and signed during your Annual Review Meeting.

Masters Thesis Practicum Proposal and Appointment of Examiners

PhD Program Of Study Appointment of Advisory Committee

Tip: It is always a good idea to thank your Advisory Committee for agreeing to do the work!

Preparing for your MSc or Ph.D. Thesis Proposal

Write your proposal in consultation with your supervisor. In general, a proposal may contain a brief review of the relevant background literature, rationale, hypothesis, research objectives, and the general experimental approach to be undertaken.  If you have made progress in your research, you can briefly describe it as well. The proposal is expected to be 6 – 10 pages in length (letter size 12, double space) not including references and figures.

An example/template generously shared by one of our graduates, Dr. April Gislason is provided here for downloading: Master Proposal Template.

Once you and your supervisor are happy with the document, share it with your committee members at least seven days prior to the anticipated date of the committee meeting (usually the Annual Review Meeting).

During the Advisory committee meeting (normally, the Annual Review Meeting, these forms will be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) formally approving your proposal.


PhD Thesis Proposal

Preparing for the Annual Review

The Annual Review is a very important milestone in your studies. Take it seriously! Normally, your Annual Review will occur during April-May of each year. In consultation with your supervisor, schedule a meeting with your Advisory Committee. Under the exceptional circumstances of the pandemics, the Annual Review meetings will be conducted remotely. The deadline for submitting the form to FGS is June 1 of each year unless otherwise noted.

Please, note that the annual review is not required for students graduating in June or October of each year.

In preparation for this meeting, and in consultation with your supervisor, you must submit a double-spaced report, not exceeding 5 pages (letter size 12, double space, not including references and figures) at least 7 days prior to the anticipated date of the Annual Review Meeting. While the format of the report is free, consider a short introduction, hypothesis and objectives, experimental designs and progress so far. If this is your first Annual Progress Meeting and you are preparing your thesis proposal, then you do not need to prepare two documents. Include in your thesis proposal your progress so far.

What Happens During the Annual Review?

You will present your proposal/research progress to the members of the committee. To that end, prepare a PowerPoint presentation and be ready for a 10-15 minute presentation. During your presentation, you may want to let the advisory committee know the state of your studies (courses taken, conferences attended and scientific articles published. Your advisory committee may decide to ask questions during or after your presentation. After the questioning period, your Advisory Committee will discuss your progress, providing you advice for the upcoming year. The committee will also sign a form provided by the Department where your progress will be rated as “Satisfactory”, ” In Need of Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory”.

If your rating is “In Need of Improvement” you will be required to set a plan and a timeline for addressing the committee’s concerns. You will also be required to have a follow-up meeting, typically within 6 months, to review your progress. If you rate two consecutive times “In need of Improvement” you will be required to withdraw from the program.

An “Unsatisfactory” rate means you will be required to withdraw from the program.

A copy of the Progress Report form is provided here Interactive Progress Report

Tip: Don’t put yourself in the situation of rating less than satisfactory during the Annual Review! Ensure you address your supervisor’s concerns regarding your progress way before this formal requirement.

Transferring to the Ph.D. Program

Students in the M.Sc. program can transfer to the Ph.D. program in Microbiology. If you are a Master’s student planning to transfer to the Ph.D. Program, you may want to discuss this possibility well ahead of the deadline, as the recommendation should be made within 24 months from the start of your Master’s studies. Be aware that the transfer may impact the continuation of a Master’s scholarship. If you hold an award as a Master’s student, check the conditions of your award before making the decision to transfer.

To be eligible for transfer to the Ph.D. program you must have completed 6 credit hours at the M.Sc. level and must have obtained a minimum GPA of 3.75.  Once you have the consent of your supervisor you need to write a 5-10 page thesis proposal consisting of 1) an overview of the relevant background literature; 2) a brief description of progress made to date; 3) a description of future research objectives and the proposed methodologies. Then, you will distribute your proposal to your Advisory Committee at least 1 week in advance of a pre-scheduled meeting with the Advisory Committee. Discuss with your supervisor if an additional member of the committee is necessary. If so, you or your supervisor may contact that person and share the proposal with them.

Although not mandatory, a good idea is to schedule the meeting together with the Annual Review Meeting. If the supervisor and the Advisory Committee support your transfer,  they will sign the forms below during the Annual Review Meeting, and send the documents to the Graduate Administrative Assistant for the Head’s signature and final submission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Also, your supervisor needs to provide you with a signed letter stating that they and the advisory committee support your transfer.

The next step is for you is to fill in a new online Admissions Application to the Faculty of Graduate Studies through this link.  Under “name of Institution” write: transfer to PhD. Under “preferred supervisor” upload the letter of support. Fill in the application during the term previous to the one you want to start. Please, note that the admission deadlines also apply to transfers. If you missed the deadline, you can ask the Graduate Administrative Assistant for special permission. Once the application is approved you can call yourself a Ph.D. student!

PhD Thesis Proposal

PhD Program Of Study Appointment of Advisory Committee

Preparing your Candidacy Exam

The purpose of the Candidacy Examination is to ascertain whether you are capable of the independent and thoughtful research required for a Ph.D. degree. The exam is based on writing a research proposal and defending it during an oral examination, conducted by your Advisory Committee.  Another member of the Graduate Student and Program Review Committee (GSPRC), normally the Associate Head (Graduate affairs) Dr. Cardona will act as the Chair of the exam.

Our departmental regulations require that you must do your Candidacy Exam no later than 26 months from the time of your first registration in the Ph.D. program. With the agreement of your supervisor, you can combine your candidacy exam with an annual review meeting,

What to do?

  1. From the beginning of your Ph.D. studies, discuss with your supervisor her/his expectations for your candidacy exam date and general topic. The field of study and topic can be related to your thesis but at least 50% of the proposed research should be completely different from the research questions and methodology of your thesis.
  2. Register to in Doctoral Candidacy Exam — GRAD 8010  during the corresponding Academic term you plan to do your candidacy exam.
  3. Write a 5-page research proposal. To see the style, you can get a copy of an NSERC Discovery grant from any professor, OTHER than your supervisor. (Please, see Dr. Cardona for sample NSERC discovery grants).
  • The proposal should contain these sections:
    – 1) background
    – 2) progress-to-date
    – 3) research objectives – the bulk of the proposal will be dedicated to this section wherein the student will describe the rationale and methodology associated with each of the research objectives*
    – 4) references (not considered in 5-page limit)
    *Remember that at least 50% of the proposed research must be completely distinct from anything on-going or planned by members of your lab.
  1. AT LEAST 2 weeks before the date of the candidacy exam, distribute your proposal and an accompanying cover letter to the advisory committee and Dr. Cardona. The cover letter will contain a 1/2 page synopsis of the proposal, clearly outlining which parts of the proposal are different from your thesis and your supervisor’s research. The committee will read the proposal within 7 days of your submission.

After 7 days, Dr. Cardona will contact committee members regarding the acceptability of the written document and whether the student may proceed to the oral examination. The grant proposal will be evaluated (pass/fail) with respect to both the content and the formatting (grammatical, typographical errors, clarity). If one or more aspects are deemed unacceptable by any member of the examination committee, you will be required to re-write the proposal. If so, you will be provided with a written report from the committee outlining deficiencies that need to be addressed. It is expected that the revised proposal will be completed within a 2-week period. You will then resubmit the written report to the committee for evaluation. If the revised proposal is deemed unacceptable,  you will have failed your first attempt at the candidacy exam. At this point, there will be one more opportunity to repeat the above process. If you fail a second attempt, FGS will be informed, and you will be required to withdraw from the PhD program, as per FGS regulations.

Oral Exam:
-You will deliver a 20 – 25-minute presentation which will provide an overview of details contained in their written proposal.
– It is expected that a significant portion of the talk will be dedicated to the NOVEL research aspects, and not be a rehash of what you have previously achieved in the lab.
– All members of the committee will agree on whether you have passed the oral exam or a repeat is in order.
– If you fail the oral exam you may attempt the examination again, no later than 6 months from the time of the first attempt.
– If you fail the second attempt you will be required to withdraw from the PhD program.

Tip: Don’t wait for the deadline for preparing your candidacy. Start thinking about it from the beginning of your PhD studies. Talk to your supervisor about your original ideas and start to develop them. Trust your supervisor if they tell you you are ready for this exam. 

After your exam, the Examining Committee will submit this form to FGS ReportOnPHDCandidacyExamination

You are almost there! Preparing and delivering a Ph.D. Seminar

Students in the Microbiology Ph.D. program are required to present one 50-minute seminar on their own research. Please, ensure you meet this requirement no later than 3 years from the time of your first registration in the Ph.D. program. First, arrange a convenient time with the Coordinator of the Departmental Seminars and the Graduate Chair. Once the Graduate Chair gives you a tentative date, share that date with your supervisor and your advisory committee as they should be present during your presentation.  Once the date is arranged, send a title and a brief bio to the Graduate Chair, so the information can be circulated in the department.

Prepare a 45-50 min Powerpoint presentation. Include background information, rationale or knowledge gap, hypothesis, objectives, methods and results, conclusions, and future work. After your seminar, the audience will ask questions, coordinated by the Graduate Chair.  The delivery of the Ph.D. Seminar is expected to help you to prepare well for your Ph.D. Thesis defense.

You did it! it is Time to Graduate

Preparing your Ph.D. Defense

As you know,  the maximum time for completion of your Ph.D. program is 6 years from your first admission as a Master’s student (if you transferred) or as Ph.D. student. Please, note the graduation date is the convocation date, not the date of your Thesis defense. Plan your thesis writing and thesis defense so that your graduation is within the 6 years allowed! Only in exceptional circumstances time extensions are granted.

1) Remember to register for  GRAD 8000 (PhD thesis defense) in the corresponding term, according with the following schedule:

Fall term (Graduation in February or working on thesis during fall term only)
Fall & Winter terms (Graduation in May or working on thesis during fall & winter terms)
Winter term (Graduation in May or working on thesis during winter term only)
Summer term (Graduation in October or working on thesis during summer term only)

To plan your writing, submission, defence and graduation, read the guidelines posted here, with special attention to the required action according to each graduation date (see table below).

2) Read the Graduate Thesis Guidelines here.

3) Find recent thesis submitted by previous students on MSpace

4) Use this Thesis Template (Microsoft Word Office 365) to write your thesis. After changing the titles of the different sections, figures, and tables in the text, update the Table of Contents, List of Figures, and List of Tables by right-clicking on them and choosing “update field”, then “update entire table”.

5) Once your thesis is ready, distribute it internally to the committee members. Committee members may take some time to review it. Check with your committee members about their preferences for this (internal but formal) step of thesis revision. Your committee members must sign the “Approval to Proceed to Ph.D. Thesis Examination” form ( link to form)  for you to submit your thesis. (Read section 7.11.6 of the supplementary regulations document).

6) While your thesis is reviewed internally, ensure your supervisor contacts three potential external reviewers. Please, ask your supervisor to secure these reviewers before formal distribution. The reason is that it will take time for your supervisor to contact and secure three possible external reviewers that agree, if invited, to review your thesis. The potential external reviewers must also send a CV to your supervisor! This step is important to avoid delays when FGS formally distributes your thesis.

7) Once you have the signed “Approval to Proceed to Ph.D. Thesis Examination” form, submit your Ph.D. thesis through JUMP and the thesis portal, together with the “Approval to Proceed to Ph.D. Thesis Examination” form.

8) After submitting your thesis, ensure your supervisor has received the request from FGS to enter external reviewers’ contact information and has uploaded the CVs of the potential external reviewers to the system.

9) Wait as FGS evaluates the potential external reviewers and sends invitations. This step should typically take a week. Once the external reviewer is identified, FGS distributes the thesis to the committee. The committee members have three weeks to review the thesis. Please, note that during this time, you are not allowed to contact the reviewers of your thesis.

10) Your supervisor will receive an email with the thesis reports and will share this information with you. A favourable evaluation means that you can proceed to the thesis defence! Ask your supervisor to find a Chair, date, and room for your thesis defence. Please, read section 7.12 of the supplementary regulations to know details about your oral examination.

11) Remember that Graduation requires the final submission of the revised thesis (thesis after defence) to FGS according to the following deadlines posted for Graduation and University Convocation on the Academic Schedule

Preparing your Master’s Thesis Defense

  1. Register for  GRAD 7000 (Master’s thesis defense) in the corresponding term according to the following schedule:
Fall term (Graduation in February or working on thesis during fall term only)
Fall & Winter terms (Graduation in May or working on thesis during fall & winter terms)
Winter term (Graduation in May or working on thesis during winter term only)
Summer term (Graduation in October or working on thesis during summer term only)

2) To plan your writing, submission, defence and graduation, read the guidelines posted here, with special attention to the required action according to each graduation date (table).

3) Around three months before you plan to defend your thesis, ask your advisor if the thesis examiners are the members of your Advisory Committee (Usually this is the case). Ensure the form Masters Thesis Practicum Proposal and Appointment of Examiners is circulated, signed, and submitted to the Microbiology Office.  The completion of this task can be performed any time but the form must be submitted to FGS at least two weeks before your defense.

4) When your thesis is ready and your advisor has approved it, ensure that your thesis is distributed to the examining committee. You may want to distribute the thesis or your supervisor may distribute the thesis on your behalf. The examining committee will review the thesis and within a month will inform the Graduate Chair in writing that the exam can proceed.  The Graduate Chair then will notify you and your supervisor and will schedule the oral defense within two weeks of receiving the reports. Usually, the Graduate Chair or a member of the Graduate Committee is the Chair of your defense. During this time, work on your thesis presentation! Also, update and send your CV to the Graduate Chair so you can properly be introduced during your defense. Ensure your supervisor or the Graduate Chair brings this form MastersThesisPracticumFinalReport to the exam. Ensure the Microbiology Office announces the date of your defense well in advance.

5) What happens during your Master’s Thesis defense?

The Graduate Chair will introduce the examiners, give a short introduction about you to the audience, and ask you to deliver a 20-30 minute presentation of your thesis. This presentation will be followed by one hour of questions by your examining committee.  Following the completion of the questioning period, you will be asked to leave the room, while the examining committee discusses your performance. Then, the Graduate Chair will let you know the results. Even if you are approved,  your supervisor may hold on to the final report form until you make the final revisions of the thesis. The last step is when you submit your final thesis to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Continue to check the guidelines here. The Microbiology Office will also submit the signed Final Report to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.