Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

Admission Policies

Applications to the GLIER Environmental Science Doctoral (Ph.D.) program will be subject to the Initial Application Procedures as outlined in the University of Windsor’s Graduate Calendar. Individuals will apply to this program through the GLIER Graduate Program Steering Committee, which will pass admission recommendations to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research for approval.

Admission Requirements

There are two streams of Ph.D. applicants. Applicants holding a M.Sc. degree from the University of Windsor or from another recognized university may be admitted directly into the GLIER Environmental Science Ph.D. program. Alternatively, students enrolled in the GLIER Environmental Science M.Sc. program who are making exceptional progress may transfer to the Ph.D. program after one year on the recommendation of their Advisory Committee and with the approval of the GLIER Graduate Program Steering Committee and the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Students eligible for transfer will have made outstanding progress in both course work and research.   

Please note: Interested students must have been in contact with and gained the support of one of the core Faculty members from GLIER for their application and must indicate that Faculty member as a potential supervisor in their Statement of Interest.

Program Requirements

Students enrolled in the GLIER Environmental Science Ph.D. degree program will be instructed on the instrumentation to be used during their research. All students will receive instruction in laboratory and field research safety.

Specific program requirements for students entering either of the two Ph.D. streams are detailed below:

1) Students entering the program with an M.Sc. degree must fulfill all requirements listed below:

(a) compliance with regulations outlined in University of Windsor Graduate Calendar;

(b) successful completion during the first year of enrolment in the program of an oral qualifying exam, administered by the student’s Advisory Committee. Students will be required to possess comprehensive knowledge of their field of study as well as any ancillary fields relevant to the dissertation topic (as determined in advance by the Advisory Committee). Students will be evaluated on a satisfactory, unsatisfactory basis;

(c) successful completion of the GLIER Multiple Stressors and Environmental Modelling course (6 credits). The course will be graded in accordance with university standards;

(d) successful completion of the GLIER Multidisciplinary Graduate Seminar course (this course is taken over two semesters). The course will be graded in accordance with university standards. All Ph.D. students who have successfully completed this course will be required to continue registering in this course as an audit following their first year of residency;

(e) successful completion of the GLIER Environmental Research Proposal course (dissertation level). The dissertation proposal is submitted to and evaluated by the student’s Advisory Committee. Students are evaluated on a pass, fail basis;

(f) any additional course work mandated by the student’s Advisory Committee to eliminate perceived weaknesses in the student’s background preparation or to increase awareness of other disciplines;

(g) submission of a Research Progress Report to the Advisory Committee every six months and meetings with the committee every six months to discuss progress and research plans;

(h) completion of an original research project reported in a dissertation;

(i) defence of the dissertation in a public lecture before the Advisory Committee; and

(j) publication of at least one original research article and submission of at least one additional article derived from the dissertation in a peer-review journal. Exemption from this requirement is granted only with permission of the GPSC.

2) Students transferring to the Ph.D. program must have received no grade less than A or satisfactory for all course work taken in the GLIER M.Sc. program. In addition, transfer students must have at least one first-author research article submitted to a peer-review journal at the time of transfer. Transfer can be granted only by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research acting on a recommendation from the student’s Advisory Committee and the Graduate Program Steering Committee.


Students must maintain minimum grade standards as proscribed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Any student whose performance is deemed unsatisfactory in course work or research may be required to withdraw from the program.

Advisory Committee

Within the first term of the student's registration, his/her Advisory Committee will be formed except for the external advisor, who will be appointed during the student's final year of study and research. The Advisory Committee will be chosen in the manner detailed in Section 1.5.2 of the University of Windsor’s Graduate Calendar and consist of at least five members: one member must be external to the university, one must be from the university faculty but outside of the GLIER Graduate Program, and three must be GLIER Graduate Program members. The external advisor must be a Full or Associate Professor with expertise in the area being examined and have a proven research record. An experienced supervisor, he/she must be impartial to both the student’s supervisor and the student. The Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research will choose the external advisor on the recommendation of the GLIER Graduate Program Steering Committee. The external advisor will normally attend the defence and submit a written report on the dissertation to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. The student’s supervisor will serve as chair of the Advisory Committee.

The Advisory Committee will meet to:

  • review and approve course work and the research proposal no later than six months into the program;
  • prepare and administer the Oral Qualifying Examination within the first twelve months of the student's first registration in the program;
  • discuss the student's progress every six months;
  • discuss and approve the dissertation’s contents at least four months prior to the defence of the dissertation; and
  • attend the public defence of the dissertation, formally question the student, and evaluate the dissertation’s content in an in camera review.

Research Progress Report

Each six months from the date of initial registration, the student must submit a Research Progress Report to, and meet with, the Advisory Committee. This report will include a synopsis of their current research activity and the plans for the next year. In addition, the student must review his/her research in a meeting with the Advisory Committee at least four months before the anticipated date of the dissertation defence.


a) Oral Qualifying Examination: The primary purpose of the Oral Qualifying Examination is to ensure that the student has the appropriate background to successfully undertake the planned program of dissertation research. This examination must be completed within 18 months of the student's registration in the GLIER Ph.D. Program. Prior to the examination, the student will have provided his/her Advisory Committee with a written research proposal outlining the background, approach and general expectations of the intended project. The Advisory Committee will administer the Oral Qualifying Examination. The results of the examination and any recommendations will be communicated in writing to the student and the GLIER Graduate Program Steering Committee. Following the Oral Qualifying Examination, the Advisory Committee may mandate appropriate remedial or supplementary course work. Successful completion of the examination and any remedial studies or course work recommended by the Advisory Committee is a requisite to the student's continuation in the Ph.D. program. The Oral Qualifying Examination will cover themes directly relevant to the student’s dissertation research topic as well as ancillary ones that bear on the student’s research program.

(b) Final examination: The student will be required to defend the dissertation at a public lecture, followed by an examination by the Doctoral Committee (i.e. Advisory Committee and the external examiner).

Student Progress Reports

Following the successful presentation of a research proposal and performance in an Oral Qualifying Examination, the student will prepare a progress report and present it to his/her Advisory Committee. Based on these presentations, the committee will write and endorse an assessment of the student’s progress and forward it to the GLIER Graduate Program Steering Committee. A student’s continued enrolment in the program requires a satisfactory progress report. Progress reports will be filed annually with the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.


Every student enrolled in the Ph.D. program must produce and defend an original dissertation describing his/her research. The dissertation may include research papers submitted to, accepted or published by peer-review journals that pertain directly to the student’s research project. The dissertation must be received by the Advisory Committee in advance of the student’s defence, in accordance with Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research regulations.

Dissertation Evaluation

Ph.D. candidates will defend their dissertation in a public defence and meeting with the Doctoral Committee, following which the committee will evaluate the student’s research contributions reported in the dissertation in camera. The Doctoral Committee will consist of the student’s full Advisory Committee and the external examiner appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. The Dean of Graduate Studies and Research (or designate) will chair the defence.

All students enrolled in the GLIER Ph.D. program will be expected to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within 36 months of admission if the student entered the program with a M.Sc. degree, or 48 months of admission if the student transferred from the GLIER M.Sc. program.