Find your PhD Supervisor

Before completing your application, you must have a faculty member agree to supervise your thesis work if you are admitted to the PhD program. This agreement fosters a close link between a student’s research interest and those of the prospective supervisor, which in turn helps to promote the student’s success in the PhD program and its timely completion.

Matching with a supervisor occurs during the mandatory applicant screening process.

How to identify a prospective PhD supervisor

  • To identify a faculty member who might be an appropriate match with your research interest, review our faculty directory and filter by “Accepting Students.” You will find a list of all faculty who are currently able to supervise PhD students as well as their contact information.

  • Become familiar with the faculty member’s research by reading a selection of her/his publications.

  • After you have found a potential match through the mandatory applicant screening process and have been approved to submit your application you will need to have the faculty member sign the PhD Thesis Supervision Form and Funding Policy Acknowledgment Form, which is to be submitted with your application package. You will access this form in the SGS on-line application.

The number of faculty members in a position to take on new PhD students varies year to year depending upon current supervision load, leaves, and sabbatical plans. Junior faculty members, working in collaboration with senior faculty members, from time to time agree to supervise doctoral students.

Connecting with a prospective PhD Supervisor

The mandatory applicant screening process will determine if and when it will be appropriate to reach out to prospective supervisors.

Selecting a supervisor is perhaps the next most important decision you’ll make after deciding to pursue a PhD. Your supervisor is your guide throughout the program and is integral in helping you reach the milestones that lead to successful completion of a thesis. The investments you both make are huge and the fit must be mutual.

When you engage with faculty at Bloomberg Nursing who are prospective supervisors, they will assess whether they are able to help you given their interests and constraints/commitments and your skills, strengths, and aspirations. You, in turn, will focus on whether they are a good fit for you, in terms of their interests and your needs. When requesting a meeting with a potential supervisor, you should provide your CV and any publications you have completed in the last 5 years.  Prepare for meetings with prospective supervisors by reading their work and drafting questions to ask them.

To help you prepare for a meeting, here are some documents we suggest:

  1. Canadian Association for Graduate Students. Your Future: A Guide for Potential Graduate Students:
    This document is offers guidance in selecting a graduate program and a supervisor, as well as in seeking financial support for graduate study. Pay particular attention to the specific questions you can and should ask of a potential supervisor.
  2. The School of Graduate Studies supervision guidelines for prospective and current students.
    Pay particular attention to Graduate Supervision: Guidelines for StudentsFaculty and Administrators. Like the other guide from the CAGS above, this document contains a helpful list of questions for potential supervisors.

Ideally, you and your supervisor will be interested in the same subject matter and/or population and share preferences for research methods (i.e. qualitative vs. quantitative, and even in terms of specific designs within these traditions, such as randomized trials). However, sometimes successful student/supervisor pairings bring together individuals who are not necessarily exact matches across these parameters and sometimes matches that are not immediately obvious can turn out to be logical and fruitful.

It’s important to remember that:

  1. Your precise research question and design usually crystallizes in the first year or two of doctoral work, as you complete course work, attend seminars, and have discussions with your supervisor and committee. Your applicant statement must provide some early ideas that you have about possible projects that reflect an understanding of research and researchable questions. You are normally looking for fit, broadly speaking, rather than a supervisor who is an exact match for the specific question and design you may have at the time of your application.
  2. A mutual interest on the part of a student and their supervisor in a common clinical phenomenon or in similar concepts or research methods can be what it takes to make a strong match, rather than common specialization in a particular disease or age group or both.

You and your supervisor will assemble a committee of faculty members to oversee your thesis work. These professors offer additional viewpoints on your work as it evolves and complement your supervisor’s expertise, particularly in specific subject matter or technical aspects of your research.

If you have difficulty identifying a supervisor, please contact Dr. Kimberley Widger, PhD Program Director for assistance: