The PhD dissertation is an original piece of work that offers you the opportunity to hone your research skills, become an expert in a specialized area of knowledge, and contribute to your field of scholarship. It will set the stage for your future research career.



Your PhD dissertation is guided by your Dissertation Supervisor.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies has an excellent resource for students and their supervisors that outlines how to get the most out of the supervisor-graduate student relationship at UBC:

Faculty of Graduate Studies Handbook of Supervision

General Timeline

First Year

By the completion of the first year of coursework, you should confirm a dissertation supervisor.

View faculty eligible to supervise

In consultation with your supervisor, you will establish a dissertation supervisory committee comprised of at least three members, two of whom must be tenure-track faculty members within the School of Nursing, holding the rank, assistant professor or higher. The composition of each committee must conform to the requirements set out by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Within 2 Years - Comprehensive Examination

Within the first 24 months after admission to the doctoral program you will complete a comprehensive examination.

Within 3 Years - Candidacy Examination and Advancement to Candidacy

After successfully completing your comprehensive exam, you will work with your supervisor and committee to develop a research proposal, which must be publicly defended through an oral candidacy examination. Successful completion of the oral candidacy exam leads to advancement to candidacy, normally occurs within 36 months from admission. 

Once you have been recommended to candidacy (i.e., your proposal has been approved), you will seek ethical approval for your research from the appropriate research ethics boards and agencies. If applicable, you may then commence with the conduct of your research.

In the event that a virtual exam needs to take place, please see the Virtual Doctoral Exam Policy. 

Within 4 Years - Dissertation Submission for External Examiner and Final Oral Examination

The defense is planned before the report from the external examiner is received.

Once your dissertation has been reviewed and approved by your supervisor and committee, you begin planning for your final oral examination ('the defense'). The process involves review of the dissertation by an external examiner and university internal examiners. This requires foresight and knowledge of relevant policies and deadlines. Students are advised to discuss their plans for program completion well in advance with their dissertation supervisors. The Graduate Advisor is available to assist in planning and interpreting the relevant policies.

The completed dissertation must be approved by your supervisor and committee before it is submitted to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Final, post-defence submission of dissertation

The Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies sets the policies and procedures for dissertation completion and submission:


Accessing completed dissertations of PhD Alumni

You can view all completed dissertations at cIRcle, UBC's digital database of research.