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Rules for evaluating a Master's thesis

The Academic Regulations (in French only) set out the general framework for evaluating Master's or Doctoral theses and mandate the dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FESP) to establish and publicize the rules, standards, and procedures.

Body responsible for evaluation

FESP is responsible for the evaluation process; the dean has the authority to make the final decision in the event of a dispute. In order to guarantee the evaluation committee is independent, neutral, and objective, FESP coordinates all steps in the evaluation process.

  • It officially appoints the Master's thesis examiners.
  • It ensures that you, your program director, and your evaluation committee receive all required information (neither you nor your research supervisor have any contact with the examiners during the evaluation process).
  • It transmits the approved version of the initial submission to the members of the committee.

FESP makes certain that the examiners have enough time to review the Master's thesis while also ensuring that you receive your evaluation in a timely manner for the pursuit of your studies or career goals.

Evaluation committee

An evaluation committee consists of ex-officio examiners (research supervisor and co-supervisor) and designated examiners selected on the basis of their expertise in the field to provide an outside perspective on your work. Master's thesis evaluation committees have a minimum of three members.

In cases where the research supervisor is also the program director, the vice dean of studies at the faculty in question assumes program director duties for the purposes of the Master's thesis.

If you have a co-supervisor, FESP recommends the appointment of a fourth examiner.

If there is a preliminary review, the reviewer is usually, but not necessarily, a member of the evaluation committee.

Examiner appointments are subject to the following conditions:

  • Potential candidates must hold a master’s degree in the relevant field (or a related field).
  • The potential candidate must have no actual or potential conflict of interest with you that could interfere with their evaluation.

The committee must include an examiner who is in a position to provide an outside perspective on yourMaster's thesis and has not participated or collaborated actively in your work (e.g., by having contributed to an article included in the Master's thesis).

Approval for initial submission

The initial Master's thesis submission requires three additional approvals:

  • The program director must certify that your file is complete and valid so that you can obtain your diploma once the evaluation process is complete.
  • The supervisor has 4 weeks to approve the Master's thesis for submission or request corrections.
  • FESP must confirm that the format of the document meets presentation and publication standards.

Evaluation of the Master's thesis

Individual report

Each examiner evaluates the Master's thesis independently, without consulting or discussing with the other committee members.

Review times vary depending on the evaluation start date:

REGULAR SEMESTERHOLIDAY SEASONSUMMER PERIOD
 November 28 to December 24May 15 to August 15
4 weeks6 weeks8 weeks

Please note: An additional two weeks is added for Master's theses exceeding 500 pages, regardless of the time of the year.

Each examiner writes an evaluation report and grades the Master's thesis as follows:

  • Acceptable
    Final submission is recommended.
     
  • Unacceptable
    One of the following options is suggested: 
    – If the examiner feels that you have the necessary abilities, you are invited to submit a new version of the Master's thesis for a second initial submission and a second evaluation by the same committee.
    - The examiner recommends that the Master's thesis be rejected.

The examiner’s decision is considered final once their report is submitted to FESP. The report remains confidential until the committee’s decision is rendered and communicated to you.

Committee decision

Individual evaluations are compiled to determine whether the Master's thesis is accepted (invitation to proceed with final submission), returned to you for major revisions, or rejected.

  • Master's thesis is accepted

– FESP transmits the committee’s decision, forwards the examiners’ evaluation reports, and invites you to proceed with the final submission.

– You have 8 weeks to make final corrections to the document under the supervision of your supervisor.

– The research supervisor approves your Master's thesis for final submission.

– FESP issues final approval so that the master’s degree can be awarded.

– Master's theses that receive a unanimous grade of “excellent” (or “excellent” from three examiners and “very good” from the other examiners), are entered on the FESP Honour List.

  • The Master's thesis is unacceptable in its current state, but the committee will allow you to submit a new version.

– The committee meets to determine requirements for the new version, which will undergo a second evaluation.

– Each of the requirements must be agreed to by at least two examiners.

– FESP informs you of the committee’s decision and forwards the examiners’ evaluation reports as well as the committee report, which gives a deadline, the list of corrections requested, and the name of the person responsible for supervising them.

If you don’t submit a new version of the Master's thesis by the committee’s deadline, a “fail” grade will be entered in your file.

  • Master's thesis is rejected

– The evaluation committee may meet, if one of the examiners so requests, before FESP informs you of your result.

 – FESP transmits the committee’s decision, forwards the examiners’ evaluation reports, and informs you that you have a right of appeal if you can show circumstances or make arguments that invalidate the evaluation process. The final decision of the committee cannot, in itself, be appealed (Academic Regulations 4.47).

– If you don’t exercise your right to appeal within 10 days, a “fail” grade will be entered in your file.