Length of time for completion of thesis or practicum

The normal length of time for program completion, including the course work and thesis or practicum:

  • two years for a master's degree
  • four years for a PhD degree

You can find the maximum time limits in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Academic Guide, which is part of the Graduate Academic Calendar.

The duration of time from initiation of the thesis or practicum proposal to the oral examination will vary. Students should consult with their advisor or graduate chairperson regarding the time to completion.

Here are two examples of the usual milestones in research-based graduate programs.

Milestones for completing your master’s degree


The inclusion and order of these items may vary between departments or programs.

  • Appointment of an advisor
  • Selection of coursework
  • Selection of advisory committee
  • Completion of course work
  • Preparation of thesis/practicum proposal
  • Proposal defense/presentation and approval
  • Research Ethics Board approval and other approvals for access from outside agencies as needed
  • Conduct study/project
  • Completion of thesis/practicum
  • Distribution of thesis/practicum to examiners
  • Oral examination within one month of distribution
  • Further revisions (if applicable)
  • Revisions approved by advisor
  • Submission of the final thesis/practicum to MSpace

Milestones for completing your PhD

The inclusion and order of these items may vary between departments or programs.

  • Appointment of advisor
  • Selection of coursework
  • Formation of advisory committee
  • Completion of coursework
  • Development of thesis proposal
  • Thesis proposal defense
  • Thesis proposal approved
  • Research Ethics Board approval and other approvals for access from outside agencies as needed
  • Candidacy examination (no later than one year prior to expected graduation)
  • Conduct thesis research
  • Preparation and completion of thesis
  • Review by advisor/advisory committee to ensure preparedness for examination
  • Formation of examining committee including external examiner
  • Submission of thesis to Faculty of Graduate Studies for internal and external distribution
  • Upon approval of thesis by examining committee, oral examination scheduled
  • Oral examination and public defense of thesis
  • Further revisions (if applicable)
  • Revisions approved by the advisor or examining committee
  • Submission of the final thesis to MSpace

Research Ethics Board approval

The approval from a UM Research Ethics Board (REB) may be required prior to the student proceeding with the information gathering procedures for the thesis or practicum. The student should keep the original letter of the approval from the UM Research Ethics Board.

Academic dishonesty and plagiarism

Plagiarism or any other form of cheating in academic work is subject to serious academic penalty, including suspension or expulsion from the faculty or university. To plagiarize is to take ideas or words of another person and pass them off as one’s own.

Plagiarism applies to any written work, in traditional or electronic format, as well as orally or verbally presented work. It is not necessary to state the source of well-known or easily verifiable facts, but students are expected to acknowledge appropriately the sources of ideas and expressions they use in their written work, whether quoted directly or paraphrased. This applies to images, diagrams and statistical tables, as well as to written material and materials or information from Internet sources.

To provide adequate and correct documentation is not only an indication of academic honesty but is also a courtesy that enables the reader to consult these sources with ease.

Failure to provide appropriate citations constitutes plagiarism. When in doubt about any practice, ask your advisor or professor or refer to the Student Advocacy office

Withholding publication of a thesis

The UM Board of Governors and Senate approved a policy on accepting research grants from outside agencies in 1970. This policy defined the right of agencies to defer the release of information and thus ensure freedom of publication for research findings of University personnel.

Occasionally, the University may also wish to restrict the release of a thesis and practicum pending patent application. This policy statement parallels the previous one in that it defines the right of the University to defer the release of a thesis and practicum and thus ensures freedom of publication for the research findings of a graduate student.

This situation may arise in two circumstances.

  1. When a research project is known to contain patentable items as defined in the research contract, it is the responsibility of the advisor to provide the student with written information on the restrictions of publication prior to the start of the thesis or practicum research.

    If the student agrees to carry out the research, then the following applies.
  2. Where a patentable item is found during the course of research, then the advisor and the student may make application for patent rights through the University Patent Committee. The dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies will receive the approved thesis as required by the faculty’s regulations. On written joint request of the advisor and the student, the dean will keep the thesis for a period of up to one year.