Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Rules for evaluating a doctoral 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 announce rules, standards, and procedures.

Body responsible for evaluation

FESP is responsible for the evaluation process. In the event of a dispute, the dean has the authority to make the final decision.

In order to guarantee the evaluation committee is independent, neutral, and objective, FESP coordinates all steps in the evaluation process.

  • It officially appoints the Doctoral 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).
  • FESP sends the approved version of the initial thesis submission to the committee members.

FESP makes certain that the examiners have enough time to review the Doctoral thesis while also ensuring that you receive the results 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 appointed examiners, who are selected on the basis of their expertise in the field to provide an outside perspective on your work. A Doctoral thesis evaluation committee consists of a minimum of four examiners.

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 thesis.

For co-supervised theses, the co-supervisor sits on the evaluation committee as a fifth 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:

  • The prospective candidate must hold a doctoral 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 the evaluation; the candidate has not participated or collaborated actively in your work (e.g., by contributing to a paper included in the thesis).

The committee must include an external examiner who has no employment ties with Université Laval (an adjunct professor cannot therefore qualify, whether certified to supervise graduate students or not).

Approval for initial submission

The initial 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 thesis for submission or to request corrections.
  • FESP must confirm that the format of the document meets presentation and publication standards.

Thesis evaluation

Individual report

Each examiner evaluates the thesis independently, without consulting or comparing notes with the other committee members.

Review times vary depending on the evaluation start date:

  • Regular semester (fall and winter): 6 weeks 
    • An additional delay is added from November 8 due to the Holiday season
  • Summer period (May 15 to August 15): 8 weeks

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

Each examiner writes an evaluation report and grades the Doctoral thesis as follows:


  • You are invited to defend your Doctoral thesis.


  • One of the following options is suggested: 
    • If the examiner is invited to submit a new version of the thesis for a second initial submission and a second evaluation by the same committee.
    • The examiner recommends that the 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 sent to you.

Committee decision

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

The Doctoral thesis is acceptable and you are invited to defend it

  • FESP informs you of the committee’s decision, forwards the examiners’ evaluation reports, and invites you to defend your thesis.
  • Corrections suggested by the examiners will be made under the guidance of your supervisor after the defence. You have 8 weeks to make the final corrections.
  • Your research supervisor approves the thesis for final submission.
  • FESP issues final approval so that the doctoral degree can be awarded.
  • Theses that receive a unanimous grade of “excellent” from the evaluation committee (or “excellent” from four examiners and “very good” from the other examiners) are entered on the FESP Honour List.

The Doctoral 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 be submitted to the same examiners for a second evaluation.
  • Each of the requirements must be agreed to by at least two examiners.
  • FESP transmits the committee’s decision and forwards the examiners’ evaluation reports as well as the committee report, which indicates a deadline, the list of corrections requested, and the name of the person responsible for supervising them.

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

The Doctoral thesis is rejected.

  • If any of the examiners so requests, the committee may meet before FESP informs you of its decision.
  • 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 committee’s final decision cannot, in itself, be appealed (Academic Regulations, 4.47).
  • If you do not exercise your right to appeal within 10 days, a “fail” grade will be entered in your file.

In the event of a discrepancy between the French and English texts, the French version prevails.