Final Oral Examinations

Final Oral Examination Checklists

Final Oral Examination (FOE) Guidelines

The Guidelines for the Doctoral Final Oral Examination (FOE) page outlines the responsibilities in the planning and conduct of a Final Oral Examination for:

  • the Graduate Unit
  • the School of Graduate Studies
  • the Examination Committee and the Chair of the Committee

The Guidelines for the Involvement of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers for Final Oral Exams assists doctoral candidates who wish to have an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper participate in the Final Oral Examination.

Final Oral Examinations Incorporating Remote Participation

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) allows for remote participants at Final Oral Examinations. The candidate, chair, all examiners, and any qualified observers may teleconference, or video-conference using modalities such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

Additionally, all signatures, files, and post-examination instructions will be administered electronically. Please ensure the following guidelines are followed for all Final Oral Examinations. The Graduate Department will:

  1. Notify the SGS Completion Office ( when an exam is going forward remotely and which format and technology will be used.
  2. Provide SGS and the FOE Chair with the email addresses of all participating members, including the candidate.
  3. Provide the Chair and all voting examiners with electronic voting ballots and the Chair’s Summary Form document.
  4. Ensure that all participating members and the candidate understand the closed nature of the FOE; the candidate should sign a form that they have access to and will be using a private and controlled space during the exam.

Recommendations for Remote Participation

The following best practices have emerged for faculty participating remotely in Final Oral Examinations over the past two years:

  1. If a Final Oral Examination is planned for fully remote or hybrid, it is important to have a virtual meeting setup with a virtual host. This is also true if the intention is to run a fully in person Final Oral Examination, as we are still encountering last-minute pivots to remote and it is better to have the meeting setup ahead of time.
  2. The key responsibilities of the virtual host during the Final Oral Examination are:
    1. to ensure that no unauthorized observers or participants join the call (using a waiting room and passcode are beneficial),
    2. to move the candidate and qualified, SGS-approved observers to the virtual waiting room for in camera discussions between the Chair and examiners, and
    3. to readmit the candidate and qualified, SGS-approved observers after in camera discussions.

Additional Guidelines for Chairs

  1. All participants, including the candidate, are to join the group 5 minutes early to ensure the communication technologies are working smoothly and everyone can be heard.
  2. Review with the candidate and committee the requirement for closed examinations.
  3. At the beginning of the FOE, when the committee has an initial discussion of the dissertation, reviews the external appraisal, and determines order of questioning, the candidate will need to hang up or be disconnected (If using Zoom, the student will be placed on hold). The Chair (or a member of the voting committee) can call the student or re-connect the student, or invite the student to call in, once these preliminary procedures are complete.
  4. For the voting process, the student will need to hang up, or be placed on hold, or be disconnected. The Chair (or a member of the voting committee) can call or re-connect the student, or invite the student to call in, once the voting process is complete and the Chair has tallied the votes.
  5. Adopt the following method for obtaining votes:
    1. Provide your email to the voting members at the start of the exam, and let the committee members know that this is how they will be submitting their votes.
    2. Prior to the voting period, read the exam result options to the committee (i.e., acceptable in a) its present form, b) with editorial corrections or c) with minor revisions or fail and reconvene within a year for first defences only).
    3. Invite the voting members to submit their vote via email.
    4. Fill out the Chair summary form and ascertain the exam result.
    5. Share the result with the committee and candidate.
    6. Email the Chair Summary Form to the Program Completion Office and Graduate Administrator (scan, picture, etc.).

Final Oral Examinations at SGS

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The SGS exam rooms have teleconferencing capabilities, computers with cameras, speakers, and microphones. If using Microsoft Teams or Zoom or similar, the candidate would bring their laptop. Each remote participant should provide SGS with their email address and a back-up phone number. More information including the the Doctoral examination schedule and room requirements for SGS in-person exams, is available on the Graduate Program Completion website. SGS Exam room inquires can be directed to