Graduate Advisor Memos (FAQ Archives)

The aim of this webpage is to archive all memos disseminated by the EDST Graduate Advisor in response to questions pertaining to policies and practices in effect within the Department of Educational Studies, and any subsequent changes that may be introduced. The intention is to offer the EDST community an archived repository of these memo, as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), for further consultation to all EDST members. The memos are organized thematically, and under each theme, by sub-theme, and then, chronological order.

Grad Advising contact info


Writing dissertation in Indigenous languages, French, and other languages

Graduate Advisor

April 16, 2024

Thesis text is normally written in English. However, students may write their theses in Indigenous languages, French, and other languages that form the basis of the scholarly work. Related G+PS policy can be found here:


To write your thesis in other languages, you will need to obtain the advance approval of your graduate program and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS).


To consider your request, the Associate Dean of G+PS will need something in writing explaining why the thesis should be written in a different language, and why the language forms the basis of the scholarly work.


Other things to consider: if the thesis is in another language, all members of the examining committee must be fluent readers in that language, including the External Examiner. This may considerably limit the options available to you for forming an exam committee, and any delays in completing the final doctoral oral that are caused by challenges to committee formation are the responsibility of the student.


Additionally, as stated on the web page above, the final oral exam will be conducted primarily in English.


To proceed with your request, please send your request and justification to the graduate advisor  the request will then be vetted by the Associate Director and the Associate Dean of G+PS.  


Non-Members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as (Co-)Supervisors and Supervisory Committee Members

April 11 2024

Graduate Advisor Memo

According to

 “For a non-member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to serve on a student's supervisory committee, special approval is required. For service on doctoral committees, the disciplinary Faculty and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies must approve; for service on master's committees, the approval of the graduate program advisor or department head suffices.”

To make such a request, please fill out the form below and send it to the graduate advisor with the requisite documents – 1) Indication of the particular qualifications that make the nominee suitable; 2) Statement from nominee assenting to serve on committee and accepting committee membership responsibilities; and 3) Nominee’s current CV.

The GA, the Department Head and the HAC committee will deliberate requests to serve on MA committees.


"For a non-member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to supervise or co-supervise a master’s or doctoral student, special approval is required from both the disciplinary Faculty and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies."

To make such a request, please fill out the form below and send it to the graduate advisor with the requisite documents – 1) Indication of the particular qualifications that make the nominee suitable; 2) Statement from nominee assenting to supervise or co-supervise and accepting supervisor responsibilities; and 3) Nominee’s current CV.

PhD Students Failing a Comprehensive Exam

Oct. 31 2023

Based on communications with G+PS on the dealings of rare cases where students failed comprehensive exams, and UBC Academic Appeal Process, below is the process to follow should a student fail both the comprehensive exam and rewrite.

When the Comprehensive Exam Committee determines that a student has failed the rewrite, the committee should inform the student in writing of the failure. In this notice of failure, the student needs to be presented with two options:

  1. a voluntary withdrawal from the program, or
  2. an appeal of the academic judgement of the Comprehensive Exam Committee.

If the student chooses to appeal, they should summarize in writing the nature of the appeal, including the academic judgement of concern, and the basis for an appeal of that judgement. This summary and related materials should be submitted to the Head of the Department within two weeks after the student is informed that they have failed the rewrite.

If the Department Head turns down the appeal, the student again has a choice: a voluntary withdrawal from the program or an appeal to the Dean of G+PS. The final recourse is an appeal to the Senate Committee on Appeals on Academic Standing. If all appeals are exhausted, the student should still be given a chance to request a voluntary withdrawal from the program. If they do not, we can initiate the process to withdraw the student for academic reasons.


Course Taking Policies

July 18th, 2019

Re: Restrictions on elective course taking.

A clarification is in order with regard to the current EDST restriction on the number of 565 courses that EDST students can take during their entire program of study. Such a restriction applies exclusively to 565 sections offered “in EDST”. EDST students can take only two 565 sections, as long as these sections are offered within EDST, during their entire program of study. EDST program worksheets stipulate such a restriction, though it might be articulated in slightly different words across programs. The restriction on 565s taking does not apply to similar or equivalent sections offered in other departments or by units beyond (outside of) EDST. I did not find any restrictions on 565 (or equivalent) courses on the part of EDST or G+PS that would apply for the matter under consideration. EDST Students can therefore take only two 565s “in EDST”, marked as “EDST 565” during their entire program of study. Outside of EDST, however, no such restriction applies on elective course taking. Any course choice students make outside of EDST – in whatever course category – falls under the general requirements for elective courses as they are in effect in the student’s EDST program and within EDST more generally, as long as the pro tem advisor or supervisor approves the relevance of this course for the student’s program of study.

Transfer between programs (procedures)

A clarification is in order with regard to intra-EDST transfer procedures from the MA/PhD/EdD programs to one of the MEd programs.

Existing EDST transfer policies determine and explain how to undertaken transfer to the MA or PhD programs <>. There is no formal equivalent policy regarding students’ transfer from the MA/PhD/EdD to the MEd. This memo aims to clarify the elements required for a transfer from the MA/PhD/EdD to the MEd to be acknowledged and recorded as such. The memo is built on the basis of existing practice.

Normally, a transfer from the MA/PhD/EdD to the MEd is undertaken by email correspondence between the supervisor(s) and the Graduate Advisor and Graduate Programs Assistant. To properly record the transfer, the email notification should include the following items:

  1. A explicit statement by the student requesting the transfer to the MEd explaining their request.
  2. A supportive request to transfer the student from to the MEd submitted by the current supervisor(s) accompanied, for the record, with a brief rationale.
  3. A filled and signed worksheet of the MEd program to which the student is transferring, with a clear indication how courses taken so far in the program of origin would be adjusted in relation to the required courses in the destination program.
  4. Any other supporting document deemed relevant. Most importantly, this should include information regarding the possibility of having a new pro tem advisor assigned to support the student, as they move into their destination program. In such a case, please make sure the Change of Supervisor form is filled and attached <>. Equally important, the current supervisor should explicitly indicate whether they will continue to support the student, after transfer, as pro tem advisor.
  5. The approval of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies are required too. Please consult the  following forms and policies and fill in as applicable:

With regard to counting course credits already completed in the program of origin by the student being transferred, towards the MEd requirements:

  1. Methodology courses already taken, either as part of the program of origin, or as part of EDUC 500 and equivalents, would count towards the methodology requirement of the destination program.
  2. Core courses of the destination program must be taken as required, if they have not been taken as electives, and cannot be replaced by any other courses.
  3. Other courses taken as part of the program of origin could count towards the electives requirement of the destination program, subject to the policy regarding the taking of electives. See Graduate Advisor’s Memo dated July 18th, 2019, under Elective Course Taking <>.
  4. Other courses that do not fit in any of the above categories will not count towards the requirements of the destination program.
  5. Under specific conditions, explicitly agreed upon and documented in the student’s file by the MA supervisor, the student can complete an EDST 590 on the basis of work undertaken as part of a dissertation started in the program of origin.

Clarification: Transfers between MEd Programs, or  transfers between the PhD and EdD Programs, or still, transfers between the MA and the doctoral programs, are not discussed in the present memo. Such transfer requests should be treated as entirely new application to be adjudicated by the Admissions Committee of the competent program and subject to the conditions the destination program would set following consideration.

Graduate thesis-based defences

August 7th,2019

A point of clarification is due regarding the choice, status, and role of an “External Examiner” in an MA thesis defence.

UBC regulations stipulate that “Where [an MA] … thesis defence is required, programs must make available to students a written statement of examination procedures such as the purpose, form, length, subject area(s) and scope of the examination, as well as information on the criteria for evaluation.” – Source: <> - Two EDST documents provide further guidance regarding the choice, status, and participation of an MA thesis defence:

  • The MA Defence Template requires that the following sheet is filled and made available, see attached. (see original , here ). The EDST template explicitly requires the listing of the name of an  “External Examiner” as a field of information.
  • The MEd Graduate Papers and MA Theses in EDST stipulates that, for the MA defence, “a faculty member external to the committee” must be chosen and invited to the examination. It is further stated that “This “outside reader” may be, but does not have to be, from another department at UBC.” See attached document.

On the basis of the above,  MA supervisory committees should proceed as follows with regard to the choice, status, and participation of an External Examiner in an MA defence:*

  • The MA External Examiner can be faculty member either from EDST or from another department on campus, as long as their area(s) of expertise warrant the choice.
  • The MA External Examiner should be a duly registered member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Cf.
  • The MA External Examiner should fulfill the “Eligibility criteria” and “Arm’s length requirements” set up by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, as explained here: <>.
  • Proposed nominees for an MA External Examiner, who hold the rank of Assistant Professor, may be approved if they have passed initial re-appointment and have previous experience with the MA or doctoral examination process. To discuss the nomination of an Assistant Professor or any other nominee who does not clearly meet the above eligibility criteria (e.g., a Professor of Teaching), the MA Supervisor should submit to the Graduate Advisor a short rationale for the proposed choice. Approval of an MA External Examiner who does not meet the normal eligibility criteria rests with the EDST Graduate Advisor.
  • The MA External Examiner must participate in person in the examination and final assessment of the thesis as part of the Examination Committee. University guidelines note that the participation of the External Examiner represents an opportunity for a fruitful dialogue.
  • Relevant documents attached: (1) MA Defence Template; (2) MEd Graduating Papers and MA Theses; (3) Policy on the composition of supervisory committees for Master’s theses and Doctoral dissertations in EDST.

(*) Thank you to Prof. Claudia Ruitenberg for her contributions to the text of the present memo.

Cf. Two attached EDST documents.

  1. MA Defence Template
  2. MEd Graduating Papers and MA Theses
  3. Policy on the composition of supervisory committees for Master’s theses and Doctoral dissertations

Student-Supervisor/Pro tem Advisor relations

August 7th, 2019


A point of clarification is due regarding the role of Research Supervisors and Pro Tem Advisors guidance to students.


EDST policy, “Graduate Student / Supervisor Expectations” and other documents clearly define the roles of the supervisor/pro tem advisor. In brief, supervisors and pro tem advisors serve as the student’s first line contact in offering guidance, support, and advice on courses and all related academic matters. They also are the first to be contacted by students when the student intends to request a leave of absence, transfer, or any other request associated with their program of study. The role of a supervisor/pro tem advisor is crucial in guiding the student throughout their academic cursus. This applies particularly when students wish to submit a request for a leave of absence or ask for a transfer from one program to another, for example.


When questions arise regarding the above matters, students and advisors/supervisors are strongly encouraged to first speak to each other, before contacting the graduate advisor to request for documents to be signed or advice on course choices. The protocol is as follows:


  1. The student submits the relevant documents directly to their supervisor/pro tem advisor for consideration.
  2. The supervisor/pro tem advisor considers the request and, if they approve, signs the relevant documents.
  3. Supervisor/pro tem advisor forwards all documents to the graduate advisor, with all relevant memos, as applicable.
  4. Graduate advisor considers and , as applicable, signs the documents.
  5. The Graduate Programs Assistant forwards the request to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral studies for final approval.
  6. Once EDST hears back from the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Graduate Programs Assistant informs the student, their supervisor/pro tem advisor, and the graduate advisor.


Please note: Direct requests submitted by the student to the graduate advisor regarding course choices, the approval of leaves or transfers, and which were not forwarded by the supervisor/pro tem advisor, will not be considered.

Committee Work

August 22nd, 2019

A point of clarification is due regarding the protocol that facilitates the nomination and appointment of student representatives on all EDST Committees.

All departmental committees, including Program committees, must include at least one student representative as a voting member.

The GAAs have devised a nomination and election protocol regarding the designation of student representatives on the various EDST committees, including on program committees. This protocol ensures an inclusive, equitable, and fair share for students to serve on committees and experience the public life of the Department. The protocol anchors students’ voices in the organizational culture of EDST and on all committees.

Committee chairs – including program coordinators -- should refer directly to the GAA group when inviting the nomination  of student representatives on their committee. Committees should refrain from appointing student representatives on their own initiative and refer all related matters to the GAA group exclusively.

The following graduate students currently serve as GAA: Mary Kostandy, Lena Ignatovich, Maria Angelica Guerrero Quintana , and Alison Saint-Pierre. Their email is <>.



Graduate Advising Contact

For administrative matters related to your program:

Kelly Xu, EDST Graduate Program Assistant


For academic matters related to your program where your supervisor is unable to answer or unavailable:

Dr. Hongxia Shan, EDST Graduate Advisor