A Guide to the MSc Program in the Department of Chemistry at Lakehead University

1 General Information

Prior to applying to the MSc program in the Department of Chemistry, students will have confirmed a potential supervisor(s) first. Normally, the supervisor(s) will be a member of the Department of Chemistry; however adjuncts of the Department may also serve as supervisors, provided they are core members of the program through the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Once accepted into the program, full-time students may receive (although it is not guaranteed) a Graduate Assistantship (GA). In exchange, students are expected to perform a number of duties within the Department. Representative duties include, but are not limited to: laboratory demonstrating and supervision, marking, consulting with students, holding assigned office hours, and/or proctoring tests/examinations. A graduate student is eligible to hold a maximum of two full-time appointments (GAs) at the Master's level. The 2010-2011 value of the GA at Lakehead University at the Master's level is $8942.

Students admitted into the MSc program are expected to abide by the rules outlined by the Department of Chemistry and Lakehead University regarding safety and conduct. Those students working with hazardous materials are expected to undergo proper WHMIS training for each year they are in the program. It is the responsibility of the supervisor(s) to ensure that all of their graduate students have completed WHMIS training annually.

For additional information on Graduate Assistantships, see:


For the CUPE Collective Agreement (in particular, Section 16.01), see:


For additional information on WHMIS training, see:



2 Degree Requirements

2.1 General

MSc students are required:

  1. to complete a minimum of four 0.5 FCEs over the two-year period of the program. In addition to these four courses, students must also enroll in CHEM9901 (the thesis course) for each term they are conducting research and/or writing/revising their thesis (CHEM5901 will appear on the student's transcripts when the thesis requirements have been successfully completed). Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their supervisor(s) prior to selecting courses. It is usual for students to complete 1.0 FCE/year during the two-year program, although this is not strictly enforced; if a student wishes to take an unbalanced course load (e.g., 1.5 FCEs one year, and 0.5 FCE the following year), consultation with the supervisor(s) is required. Students will normally be expected to take four 0.5 FCE CHEM5XXX courses offered by the Department of Chemistry, however one  0.5 FCE may be taken at the fourth or fifth year level from Chemistry, or from a cognate academic unit, with approval from the supervisor(s) and Graduate Coordinator. It is the responsibility of the student to register for courses on time. Please note that for those students who have completed all of the course requirements of their degree, but are still completing the research/thesis writing requirements (including thesis revisions), he or she must still register in the CHEM9901 course for each term until the final, corrected document has been submitted and accepted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  2. to be engaged in a research program. Students wishing to join the program are expected to consult with potential supervisors before submitting an application. Prior to beginning graduate work, all MSc students will have a research supervisor(s), and be assigned a Supervisory Committee (Section 2.2, below). The student is expected to work diligently towards the goals set out in the program, and balance research with course work and teaching responsibilities (if the student holds a GA). It is the responsibility of the supervisor to monitor the progress of the student's research.
  3. to write a research thesis. The results obtained from the student's research program must be documented in a thesis (Section 2.3, below). It is the responsibility of the student's supervisor(s) to:
    1. decide on an appropriate time when the student should begin the writing process (usually near the end of the fifth term or at the beginning of the sixth - and normally final - term of the program)
    2. inform and instruct the student on an acceptable format for the thesis
    3. closely monitor the progress of the thesis writing, and ensure that the student is on track for completing the document within an acceptable length of time
    4. assist in revising the document (normally the document will be reviewed by the Supervisory Committee before forwarding to the External Examiner)
    5. choose a suitable External Examiner to review the document (the supervisor(s) must complete the necessary external examination forms, and forward them to the Graduate Coordinator well in advance of submitting the final document to the External Examiner); in addition to reviewing the document, External Examiners are expected to participate in the final thesis defense process
    6. complete and submit to the Graduate Coordinator and/or the Faculty of Graduate Studies the necessary forms if a time extension or leave of absence is required
    7. complete and submit to the Graduate Coordinator and/or the Faculty of Graduate Studies the necessary forms after the thesis has been reviewed and deemed complete by the Supervisory Committee and the Graduate Coordinator, and after the student has completed all of the other requirements for the degree
  4. to present a thesis proposal seminar within the first 12 months of the program. It is expected that the student will consult with the supervisor regarding content, format, etc. of the first seminar. Generally, the first seminar should concentrate on introducing the topic, provide the necessary background information, explain the details behind the project he/she is pursuing, and describe how he/she will approach the project. A student may include results obtained to date, however he/she is encouraged to focus more on the proposal. Immediately following the completion of the first seminar, the student will meet with his/her Supervisory Committee and the student's progress to date will be evaluated.
  5. to present a second, thesis results seminar, and successfully complete a thesis defense prior to completing the program (Section 2.4, below). Immediately following the completion of the second seminar, the student must take part in a thesis defense. The defense will involve the Supervisory Committee, questions/comments from the External Examiner and will be chaired by the Graduate Coordinator (or a suitable representative in the event the Graduate Coordinator is unable to participate). Members of the Supervisory Committee are asked to reserve their questions/comments which may arise during the seminar for the defense.

It is strongly recommended that students endeavour to complete the requirements of the MSc degree within 6 terms. This includes course work, gathering research data, writing the thesis and having it reviewed by the Supervisory Committee and the External Examiner, and successfully completing the degree defense.

2.2 Supervisory Committee

A Supervisory Committee will be chosen by the research supervisor in consultation with the student within the first month of the student's start date in the MSc program, and inform the Graduate Coordinator. The Committee will be composed of three individuals, including the research supervisor(s), all of whom must be members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent at other academic institutions). The Committee will be chaired by the student's supervisor(s), who must be a full-time faculty member or an adjunct in the Department of Chemistry, and a core member of the program through the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Normally, the remaining Committee members will also be faculty members in the Department of Chemistry. Alternatively, one of the Committee members may hold an adjunct position within the Department of Chemistry, or may be a member of a cognate academic unit at Lakehead University or other institution. If the research supervisor is an adjunct in the Department of Chemistry, then the remaining two members of the Committee must be faculty members in the Department of Chemistry. The Supervisory Committee will advise the student throughout the program, as well as serve as Internal Examiners of the thesis. It is the responsibility of the supervisor(s) to complete and submit to the Graduate Coordinator the necessary financial forms for each year the student is in the program. The supervisor(s) must also complete in a timely manner the necessary forms in the event a time extension or a leave of absence is required.

Financial support, leave of absence and time extension forms can be found here:


2.3 "I've completed my experimental and I'm ready to write. What do I do?"

Students should expect to begin writing their thesis usually near the end of the fifth term or at the beginning of the sixth term of the program; however, this will depend on the progress to date on the research project. In addition to allocating time for writing the thesis, students should be aware of the time necessary for the members of the Supervisory Committee and the External Examiner to review the document (note that External Examiners are requested to complete the review within 30 days of receiving the document). The following is a list of the remaining tasks once a student has completed the experimental work:

  1. write the thesis document
  2. review of the document by the members of the Supervisory Committee ("internal" review)
  3. review of the document by the External Examiner ("external" review)
  4. thesis defense
  5. "packaging" of the thesis (printing and binding)
  6. complete the necessary forms required by Graduate Studies at the time of submitting the final document
  7. apply to graduate

Writing the thesis will demand a lot of time. Students should consider budgeting no less than two months to write/revise their thesis prior to submitting for external review. The time required to prepare for the thesis defense will depend on the student, and could require a lot of time; students are strongly encouraged to begin preparing for their defense months in advance of the event. Students are advised to consider the following guideline when they are ready to begin writing (note: this guideline assumes the student had a September 1 start-date, and is on pace to complete all of the requirements by August 31st, the last day of the sixth term of his/her program):

  1. begin writing the thesis no later than April of the fifth term of the program
  2. submit the thesis for internal review to the Supervisory Committee by mid- to late-June
  3. once the document has been revised as per the comments/suggestions made by the internal reviewers, submit the thesis for external review no later than the beginning of July
  4. while the document is out for external review, hold the thesis defense (sometime in July)
  5. once the document is returned - and assuming no major issues - spend the month of August revising the document
  6. by August 31st, make copies (at least three) of the final, revised document and submit them to Graduate Studies for final approval; at this time the necessary forms can be completed
  7. apply to graduate

The standard format used for scientific papers should be adopted for the thesis document. Students should consult with the supervisor for guidance on organizing the document, and/or review previous theses accepted by the Department of Chemistry (they are stored in CB4032, the Chemistry Seminar Room). The thesis must be submitted to the External Examiner through the Graduate Coordinator. Note that if a student is unable to complete all of the tasks by the end of the sixth term of his/her program, then a time extension is required. A student and his/her supervisor must decide as soon as possible if a time extension is required (no later than the end of the fifth term of the student's program), and then apply for a time extension ASAP.

For additional information on the thesis submission process, see:


2.4   Thesis Defense Procedure

The supervisor, in consultation with the student and the remaining members of the Supervisory Committee, will select an External Examiner well before the student has completed writing the thesis (normally during the early stages of writing the thesis). The supervisor(s) must contact the proposed examiner to inform him/her of the requirements and ensure he/she will agree to serve as External Examiner. The duties of the External Examiner include evaluating the thesis thoroughly, and composing a list of questions/comments to be addressed by the student during the thesis defense (the Graduate Coordinator will serve as the External Examiner's proxy during the defense). A "Proposed Examiner" form must be completed and forwarded to the Graduate Coordinator to be approved by the Department of Chemistry. External Examiners are allowed 30 days to evaluate a thesis.

The thesis defense will take place immediately following the student's second seminar, and will involve only the Supervisory Committee and the Graduate Coordinator (or his/her representative). Students should expect the questions from their Committee and External Examiner to be related to the content of the thesis, their research area and/or their discipline. Immediately following the defense, the Committee will meet in private to determine if the student has met all of the requirements for the MSc degree. In the event a student is unsuccessful, he/she will be granted 30 days to prepare for a second thesis defense. If a time extension is required, the student and his/her supervisor(s) must submit an application. Following the second attempt, the Supervisory Committee will reconvene and make a final decision. If the student is again unsuccessful, he/she must withdraw from the program.

A pdf of the document can be downloaded here.