DCL Individual Development Plan

Individual Development Plans provide graduate students with support for individualized planning related to academic and professional development, facilitating their transition into a wide variety of careers.

Below we provide the typical academic trajectory of DCL students throughout their program of study, indicating clear guidelines on progress. (The information provided may not reflect every student's experience.)

Year 1 (DCL 2)

  • Complete required coursework (Theoretical Approaches to Law and Legal Research Methodology); students are also encouraged to take other courses such as Legal Education Seminar and Communication 1 and 2
  • Submit a detailed proposal and justification of the thesis and an analytic literature review
  • Meet with supervisor for Planning and Tracking meeting (evaluation and objectives) in May
  • Re-submit finalized proposal and literature review in August
  • Complete nomination form for comprehensive exam committee members in August

Year 2 (DCL 3)

  • Undertake a written and oral comprehensive examination covering the proposal and literature review in the Fall term (successful completion of the comprehensive examination is a prerequisite to continuing in the doctoral program)
  • Develop theoretical or empirical chapters of thesis, working with supervisor and thesis advisory committee
  • Planning and Tracking meeting with supervisor and thesis advisory committee

Note: Each year, after completing the comprehensive exam, students are required to meet with their supervisors and thesis advisory committees to discuss their progress over the past year and complete progress tracking forms.

Year 3 (DCL 4)

  • Demonstrate significant progress in thesis research, analysis, and writing
  • Complete first DCL Research Seminar
  • Planning and Tracking meeting with supervisor and thesis advisory committee
  • Option: submit thesis

Year 4 (DCL 5)

  • Complete second DCL Research Seminar
  • Submit and defend thesis (on submission of the written thesis, students are required to defend the thesis before a jury of experts, including the thesis supervisor)
  • Revise and submit final thesis
  • While pursuing the completion of their theses, our DCL students concurrently develop the teaching, presentation, supervisory, policy and other skills they will need to obtain positions and advance their careers.

Thesis Submission

Initial thesis submission

When you are ready to submit your thesis, you will first obtain the agreement of your supervisor and thesis committee. Thesis submission is simple and done electronically. The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers Thesis guidelines in preparation of your thesis. Your thesis will be sent out to an internal and an external examiner for assessment.

Defense and final submission

Upon receiving a positive examination from the internal and external examiners,  the Graduate Programs Office at the Faculty of Law will schedule your oral defence. Timing will depend on the availability of all participants. For more information, see Doctoral oral defence.

Following a successful defence, doctoral candidates will be informed of the deadline for final submission of the dissertation. For more information, see Final thesis submission.

While we expect doctoral students to complete their degrees by the end of their fourth year of study (DCL 5), candidates must complete the degree by the end of DCL 7 (Year 6). Consult the Time Limitation Policy for additional details.