Current Students: Frequently Asked Questions



Oral Defense

(Q)What is the difference between external examiner and external member for the defense?

(A) The external examiner reads and evaluate the thesis and then gives out a report. This person does not have to attend the PhD Oral Defense. On the other hand, the external member must attend the defense. The oral defense committee must include at least one person whose primary appointment at the University is outside the Unit (Can be from IPN but not in the same building as the supervisor) in which the student is registered and who has not been involved in the thesis research. External members should have sufficient knowledge of the discipline to read the thesis and question the student at the oral defence, but are not required or expected to be experts in the field of the student’s research. An important role of external members is to ensure that the written thesis and the student meet the standards of McGill University.

(Q) Can a member of my committee serve as the internal examiner for the thesis?

(A) Yes a member of your advisory committee can serve as an internal examiner. The internal examiner will read and evaluate the thesis and also give out a report. He/she must attend the PhD oral defense.

(Q) How many members from my advisory committee can be on the oral defense team?

(A) Only one committee member can be on the oral defense team. This member can serve as an internal examiner or as an internal member (additional faculty member) for the defense.  If this person is already serving as the internal examiner then you will have to look for someone outside of your advisory committee but from within the IPN to serve as the Internal member for the defense.

(Q) Who is the Departmental chair or deputy for the defense?

(A) This should be your mentor. He will be chairing the oral defense. Please note that he is not supposed to sign the oral defense form. Once you and your supervisor sign the oral defense form, you should send the form to the IPN office and the Director of the program will sign it.

(Q). When should I start Organizing for my Oral Defense?

(A) This should be done immediately you receive the blank oral defense form from the IPN office. Please check on the date that is indicated at the bottom of the form. Note that it is your responsibility to organize the defense and send back the form to IPN four weeks before the defense date.

(Q) On the GPS website it is written that I should not have any contact with the examiners. How do I contact the internal examiner to schedule the defense?

(A) Once you get the blank oral defense form, you can send out a doodle to all the members of the defense team to set a date for the defense. In doing this, you are not contacting the internal examiner directly.

(Q) How long between the time I hand in my thesis, and when I get the Oral Defense form?

(A). GPS usually sends the oral defense form at least two weeks after the initial thesis submission. Once the thesis is received, GPS sends it to the examiners and they are given about four weeks to review it and send a report to GPS.

Candidacy Exam

(Q) When should I have my candidacy exam?

(A) For the PhD students, you should plan to complete your candidacy exam by the end of 24 months if you started as a PhD 2.

(Q) What is the difference between Ph.D. 1 and Ph.D. 2?

(A) PhD 1 students come to the program right after their Bachelor’s Degree and PhD 2 students are those who already have a Master’s Degree and come in as PhD’s

(Q) I started as a Rotation or PhD1 Student, when should I have my candidacy exam?

(A) If you started as a rotation student or as a PhD 1 student,  the candidacy exam must take place 36 months after joining the IPN program.

 (Q). If I am an MSc student and wants to transfer to PhD program, when should I have my candidacy exam?

(A) The transfer from MSc to PhD must be completed by the end of MSc year 2.

(Q) When should I register for NEUR 700?

(A) You should register for NEUR 700 in the term that you plan to do the candidacy exam.

Course Exemptions

(Q) Can I be exempted from both PN1 and PN2?

(A) Yes if you are a PhD student you can be exempted from both or either of the courses if you can provide the office with the syllabus of the courses that you took from your previous degree. The exemption does not mean that you will take less courses but will just give you the opportunity to take other elective courses that you might be interested in.

Advisory Committee

(Q) How many committee members should I have?

(A) The IPN office requires students to have two committee members but can have a maximum of three. Please note that all the committee members must attend all the annual meetings, the seminar, and the candidacy exam for the PhD students.

(Q) Who can I choose to be on my committee?

(A) A committee member should have knowledge in the area of your research. This person can be from IPN, other departments within McGill, from other universities within Montreal or even doctors and clinicians.


(Q) How many courses do I have to register for?

(A) MSc students should register for three in-class courses of which one of them should be either PN1 or PN2 and then choose two electives. PhD students should register for four in-class courses: both PN1 and PN2 and two electives.

(Q) Can I register for courses outside of IPN and will they count towards my degree?

(A) Yes you can register for courses not listed on the IPN website as long as they are graduate level courses and the IPN must get an email from your supervisor giving you the permission to take the course. Yes, the graduate level course will count towards your degree.

(Q) Can I register for undergraduate courses?

(A) You can only register for an undergraduate course once you get the permission from your supervisor. This course will be counted as an extra course and will not count towards your degree.

(Q) Who should register for the thesis courses?

(A) It is only the MSc students who should register for these thesis courses (NEUR 696, 697, 698 and 699). Please note that you cannot register for more than two thesis courses in a semester.

(Q) If I registered for NEUR 698 and did not do my seminar, can I register for it again in the term that I do my seminar?

(A) You only need to register for the thesis courses once.