The Graduate Affairs Committee is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the physics and astronomy graduate programs, with the exceptions of assistantship teaching assignments and scheduling graduate course timetables.
The responsibilities of the committee include, policy decisions related to in-program students, new graduate student recruitment and graduate studies publicity, and all decisions regarding the structure and regulations of the graduate program. The Graduate Affairs Committee is also responsible for reviewing and ranking all applications for admission to physics and astronomy graduate programs, graduate student funding packages, and the ranking and selection of students for scholarships and prizes.
In addition, the committee’s chair (also referred to as the graduate director) is responsible for attending all Faculty of Graduate Studies Council meetings, approving the course selection and annual reports for all graduate students, reviewing all supervisory committee reports, and dealing with the scheduling and content of Graduate Affairs Committee meetings. The committee consults with members of the Graduate Liaison Committee when it is looking for input from the graduate student body. However, all graduate students are welcome to contact the graduate chair.
The GAC is made up of representatives from each of department's research areas.
The PHAS Departmental Graduate Student Association is designed to help graduate students bring their ideas and worries to the attention of the departmental administration. It also allows for the department to communicate with the graduate students. It is a replacement for the old Graduate Liaison Committee. In addition, it provides graduate student representatives for other committees and occasionally acts as the organizational body for graduate student social events. The committee meets as often as it deems necessary.
Within 12 months of a student's initial registration in a thesis-based doctorate or master’s program, the supervisor, in consultation with the student, will formally organize the student's supervisory committee. The committee should consist of no less than three university faculty members, including the supervisor.
Committee members generally meet with the student at their committee meetings. Their participation beyond this is highly variable. If a committee member begins to take an active role in the project the student and supervisor may choose to invite the committee member to become a co-supervisor. The addition of a co-supervisor does not change the minimum size of the supervisory committee.
Supervisory committee meetings
Once the supervisory committee is formed, a meeting between the committee and the student should be arranged. These meetings must be held at least once per year, but may be held more frequently. They are designed to provide students with feedback and assistance regarding their research progress.
Committee meetings generally last 60 minutes.
Commitee meeting procedure
1. The candidate is asked to leave the room. This is not a reason for concern; it is a normal procedure to review the candidate's file and discuss administrative matters.
2. The candidate is invited back into the room and asked to give a 15 to 20 minute presentation on their research progress and proposed thesis.
3. Following the presentation, the committee questions the candidate. The discussion is focused on the research project, although it also deals with the underlying physics.
4. The committee members then complete forms describing the student's current progress and expected progress to be completed before the next meeting. These meetings are not exams. There is no pass or fail, they are simply designed to provide the student with feedback on their performance and help if necessary.