The pre-candidacy meeting, which has to be held within the first 18 months of the PhD (26 months for students who transfer from a Masters to a PhD program), involves the student, the supervisory committee, and two additional faculty members, who intend to serve as examiners in the candidacy exam, which will be held at a later date. The student is encouraged to send a one-page summary of the proposed research project to all participating faculty members one week before the meeting. The meeting begins with a short (15 to 20 minutes) presentation by the student about the proposed research project, followed by questions and discussions involving everybody present. The meeting has several mandates:
- To provide feedback on the research project presented by the student.
- To assess and provide feedback on the student’s background knowledge.
- Based on 1. and 2., to define a list of approximately five topics that will form the basis for the background questions in the candidacy exam. They should be relevant to the student’s field of research, but go significantly beyond the project itself. This list should also indicate the expected level of knowledge for each topic. It may include suggestions for how to acquire this knowledge (relevant courses, books or book chapters, research and review articles etc.). The list, which should be written on the pre-candidacy meeting form provided by the graduate program, is due to the graduate administrator no later than one week after the pre-candidacy meeting. The list is official once it has been approved by the Graduate Program Director.
The expected duration for the meeting is between 90 and 120 minutes. If the pre-candidacy meeting is held within the first year, then it can also serve as the first supervisory committee meeting. Otherwise a supervisory committee meeting is mandatory within the first year.