Research Proficiency Evaluation (RPE)

This section describes the Research Proficiency Evaluation (RPE) process. The RPE was introduced as a mechanism to provide an early assessment of a student’s research proficiency and fit within the supervisory context provided by the department, to the benefit of both the student and potential supervisor(s). “Research proficiency” refers to the student’s ability to conduct PhD-level research within the proposed supervisory context, and to demonstrate progress commensurate with four months of full-time research in the chosen area of specialization. “Supervisory fit” refers to the match between the student and the supervisory style and research culture in the lab.

Students admitted to the PhD or PhD Track program are required to demonstrate their research proficiency by completing a research project with under the supervision of a one or more faculty members, and presenting their results in a written report and oral examination before their RPE committee. 

Exception for PhD Students: Subject to the approval of the supervisor, PhD students who completed a Master’s degree from our department AND are working with the EXACT SAME supervisory team can be exempted from the RPE.

A student who fails the RPE has the option of retaking it if both (i) the RPE committee recommends that the student be given a second chance, and (ii) the student can find an alternate supervisor to guide them through the RPE a second time. The second attempt at the RPE must be completed (including the oral presentation) within 8 months of the first attempt. A student who does not pass the RPE must leave the PhD program.


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