Graduate Handbook

Date: 20 January 2022

Table of contents:

The Graduate Program

Notes for M.A. Candidates

Notes for Ph.D. Candidates

Appendix: Scholarships and Other Funding Opportunities

General Information

The Graduate Program


The Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures at the University of Toronto is the oldest and largest department of German in Canada. The Department’s emphasis and traditional strength is in the history of literature and in intellectual history. Further areas of interest are German and Germanic philology and linguistics, theory of literature, German Cinemas, Yiddish Studies, and the interdisciplinary study of German culture and society. The Department offers a graduate program of study leading to two degrees: Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy.

The M.A. degree usually takes one academic session (September to May) to complete. The minimum program requirements are seven semester courses (each of about 12-13 weeks duration).

The Ph.D. degree is to be completed in 4 to 5 years. The minimum requirements are: the equivalent of eight semester courses beyond the M.A., a Qualifying Examination, a Thesis Proposal Review, a Thesis Research Presentation and a Ph.D. Thesis with an Oral Defense. Ph.D. candidates are also expected to demonstrate a reading knowledge of French or – in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator – another language essential to the student’s course of study.


The Department co-operates closely with related centres of graduate studies, including the Centre for Comparative Literature, the Centre for the Study of Drama, the Cinema Studies Institute, the Centre for Medieval Studies, the Joint Initiative in German and European Studies, the Centre for Jewish Studies, and the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. We also co-operate closely with German institutions, such as the Goethe-Institute and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

The library resources at the Department’s disposal are among the best in North America. The Robarts Library, the third largest public library on the continent, has the most extensive collection of books in the Department’s field in Canada. In addition, there are the vast holdings of the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies. The general intellectual resources of a university with the status of the University of Toronto and of a metropolitan centre like Toronto are innumerable.

Administration of the German Yiddish Graduate Students’ Association (GYGSA)

The conduct of the affairs of the graduate program is the responsibility of the Department Chair and the Graduate Coordinator. The Chair is responsible for the overall administration of the graduate program, guides the development of policies, oversees their implementation and represents the program vis-à-vis the School of Graduate Studies. The Graduate Coordinator conducts the day-to-day affairs as delegated to her or him by the Chair. S/he is the primary contact for graduate students and faculty in all matters of administration. The Graduate Program Committee, a representative group of faculty, discusses issues pertaining to graduate studies in the Department, formulates policies and advises the Chair in graduate matters. In addition, there are several sub-committees charged with specific responsibilities such as recommending grants and fellowships. For appeals, there is a general procedure agreed upon by the Division. Details are available from the Coordinator.

German Yiddish Graduate Students’ Association (GYGSA)

The GYGSA is representative of the graduate student body of the Department. All Executive members are elected at the beginning of each academic year and remain in office for one full term (i.e. from September to September).


The President of the GYGSA is the chief liaison between the graduate student body and the departmental administration. The President facilitates communication between the graduate student body and the faculty, and is responsible for all direct communication between the GYGSA and the Department Chair. The President must chair a minimum of four meetings of the GYGSA and the graduate student body during her or his term.


The Treasurer is responsible for the maintenance of the GYGSA bank account and for any financial transactions undertaken by the graduate students using that account. The treasurer is also responsible for the presentation of a financial statement to the GYGSA and the student body at the end of her or his term.

Vice President and Secretary

It is the responsibility of the VP and Secretary to assist the President in communication between graduate students and the departmental administration.

Graduate Program Committee and Departmental Meeting Representatives

Graduate Program Committee Representatives and Departmental Meeting Representatives attend all Graduate Program Committee meetings and Departmental meetings respectively. They each hold one recognized vote in the meetings and are free to exercise that vote according to their own prerogative, unless otherwise directed by the GYGSA. They are also responsible for relaying information from these committees to the GYGSA.

Union Representative

The Union Representative is the chief liaison between the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3902, and the GYGSA. The Union Representative must attend all general meetings of the Local during her or his term of office.

Graduate Students’ Union Representative (GSU)

The GSU Representative is the chief liaison between the Graduate Students’ Union and the graduate student body. The GSU Representative must attend all meetings of the Graduate Student’s Union while holding office. The GSU Representative holds one recognized vote in all GSU meetings and is free to exercise that vote according to her or his own prerogative, unless otherwise directed by the GYGSA.

Admission to Graduate Study in German

The admission requirements are detailed in the Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and in the application materials. Briefly, the requirements are:

For admission to the M.A. program:

For the Field of German Literature, Culture and Theory, admission requires an appropriate bachelor’s degree from a recognized university that includes at least six two-semester courses in German language, literature, and culture, with an average grade of at least a B+.

For the Field of Yiddish Studies, admission requires an appropriate bachelor’s degree from a recognized university that includes a minimum of two two-semester courses in Yiddish language at the university level, or equivalent. In addition, applicants to the Yiddish field are required to have completed two two-semester courses in Yiddish literature and culture or another area of Jewish Studies at the B.A. level, with an average grade of at least a B+.

The documentation needed for an application includes:

  • application form,
  • application fee,
  • transcripts, two letters of recommendation.

In addition, M.A. candidates are requested to send a sample of written work (such as an undergraduate term paper), an outline of plans and reasons for entering the M.A. program, and a short résumé.

For admission to the Ph.D. program, admission requires an M.A. in German with at least A- standing, or equivalent. For direct admission with a B.A. to the Ph.D. program see the Notes for Ph.D. candidates (p. 13) or the Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies.

The documentation needed for an application includes:

  • application form,
  • application fee,
  • transcripts (electronic only, originals are required after admission),
  • three letters of recommendation.

In addition, Ph.D. candidates are requested to send a sample of written work (M.A. thesis or a paper), a description of research interests and reasons for embarking on the Ph.D. program., and a short résumé.

The deadline for on-line applications for admission in 2022/2023 and payment of application fee is January 15, 2022. The deadline for receipt of documents is January 31, 2022.

Language Competence

M.A. and Ph.D. students entering the Department are expected to have achieved the B2/C1 level and may be required to provide evidence of competence and/or take a German Language Competence Examination in September of their first year. The 2-hour exam will be given in the fall. If a student fails the exam, the Graduate Coordinator will discuss appropriate remedial work to be undertaken.

Financial Support for Ph.D. Students

The University of Toronto offers to all incoming doctoral students a base funding package for 5 years of academic study, contingent upon the maintenance of good academic standing. The funding package defrays the cost of completing the doctoral program. Funding packages are flexible and generally include a University of Toronto Doctoral Fellowship, external fellowships and scholarships from university-wide, national, provincial, and international programs, a teaching assistantship, research fellowships, and internal grants. Due to this flexibility, the package is typically well in excess of the base funding of $18,500 for Ph.D. students enrolled in Germanic Literature, Culture, and Theory.

The appendix at the end of the German Department Graduate Handbook gives more detailed information on these and other scholarships. Comprehensive information on financial assistance can also be found in the Calendar issued by the School of Graduate Studies.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching assistantships are a valuable part of graduate education, and the Department will provide as many students as possible with teaching experience. The Department provides training and support for graduate students who teach within the undergraduate language program, including workshops, individual consultations and evaluation. In addition, the Department regularly offers instruction in language learning and pedagogy. All students in the first 5 years of the Ph.D. program are expected to teach 171 hours per year as Teaching Assistants or Course Instructors as part of their funding package. The Department makes every effort to curtail TA responsibilities during the first year of study, and to this end a reduced number of TA hours are sometimes offered to first-year students. Salaries and conditions of employment are regulated by an agreement between the University and the Union which represents the Teaching Assistants. The text of the Agreement is available from the Union and the Department upon request. Under the University funding policy, if the Department offers a TAship to a student, and the student elects to decline the offer, the student’s funding will be reduced by the amount of the TAship. Under current union agreements, a student who is appointed to one (1) TAship will receive five (5) additional TAships of the same value or higher in successive years (for a sum total of six 6), providing the student is still enrolled in graduate study. Employment as a Teaching Assistant or Course Instructor does not entail the waiver of university tuition fees.

How to apply to the Graduate Program

Applications to the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures must be submitted through the School of Graduate Studies online application website.

The department will consider your application only after you have entered your personal and academic information in the online application, submitted the application fee and forward a complete package of your supporting documentation and printout of your application information. You may pay online by VISA or MasterCard. If you are unable to pay by credit card you may print an invoice from the application and mail it with a certified cheque to the School of Graduate Studies. You should meet the admissions criteria set forth in the School of Graduate Studies Calendar and departmental graduate handbook (see above). Additional information may also be obtained in the School of Graduate Studies Admissions Guide, which is available online. You must ensure that your application contains all the relevant documentation. If your application file is not complete, it cannot be forwarded to the Admissions Committee.

Please consult the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Calendar and this departmental Graduate Handbook for details on eligibility criteria. Additional information may be obtained from the SGS Admissions Guide, the SGS Degree Progams Quick Facts (MA) and Degree Programs Quick Facts (PhD), and the SGS application FAQ I and FAQ II.

Notes for M.A. Candidates


Applicants should follow the instructions of the School of Graduate Studies online application website. Two supporting letters are required that should be sent to the Graduate Coordinator.

One-Year Program

Field of German Literature, Culture and Theory

Candidates admitted to the One-Year program must complete the equivalent of seven semester courses at the graduate level. These may include up to two one-semester courses offered by other departments on approval of the Graduate Coordinator. All students are required to complete GER 1000H (Seminar: Culture, Theory, Text), which is a credit course counting toward completion of the Master’s degree. Students who have not studied Middle High German as undergraduates must take GER1200H. Students may also have to pass a German Language Competence Examination administered in September.

In rare instances where a student enrols the program with a specialized knowledge base and research agenda already in place, an M.A. Research Paper (65-75 pages) may be substituted for two of the regular semester courses and will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis. A written request to pursue the Research Paper must be submitted to the Associate Chair by September 15th of the commencing semester of the MA program, and presupposes that the student has located a supervisor among the graduate faculty in German or a cognate unit, and selected a topic in consultation with that supervisor. The written request must include a 350-word abstract on the topic, a brief explanation of how and why the student is qualified to conduct the research, and an annotated bibliography of 10 texts (primary sources and relevant scholarship. Upon approval of this proposal by the Associate Chair, the student will enroll GER2000Y (Research Paper). The supervisor will read the paper following its completion and decide on the pass/fail status.

Field of Yiddish Studies

All students must complete GER 1000H (Seminar: Culture, Theory, Text). In addition, students in the Yiddish Studies field must complete the following:

  • CJS 1000H Jewish Studies Master’s Seminar.
  • GER 1050H Methods and Texts in Yiddish Studies.
  • GER 2050Y Research Paper in Yiddish Studies, a 65- to 75-page essay.
  • Two additional semester-long elective course/s from a course list approved by the Department.

The Yiddish Studies field includes fewer elective and more required courses than the field in German Literature, Culture, and Theory. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the Yiddish Studies field, applicants will need more guided training than applicants in the other field. Mastery of the Yiddish Studies field is achieved through a clearly delineated mix of interdisciplinary exposure, foundational disciplinary focus, and guided research. Given the interdisciplinary nature of Yiddish Studies, students will benefit from the collaborative exposure to the breadth of Jewish Studies in CJS 1000H; such exposure will form an important and foundational piece of their interdisciplinary training. At the same time, a more focused introduction to graduate work in the discipline (GER 1050H: Methods and Texts in Yiddish Studies) and own research guided by a faculty member (GER 2050Y: Research Paper in Yiddish Studies, a 65- to 75-page essay) will ensure that depth of knowledge is achieved.

Extended Program

A program extended to 2-5 years is intended primarily for a) candidates who wish to complete the one-year program on a part-time basis over an extended period of time, not to exceed five years and b) candidates who have to complete up to six prerequisite semester courses in addition to the regular M.A. program. If eight or more prerequisite semester courses are required, the candidate must enroll as a Special Student in either the School of Graduate Studies or in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The details of an Extended Program depend on the candidate’s qualifications and are worked out on an individual basis.

Notes for Ph.D. Candidates


Admission to the Ph.D. program requires either: (a) a four-year Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university that includes at least six full courses (twelve half-courses) in German language, literature, and culture, with an average grade of at least a B+ in the applicant’s overall program and of at least an A- in the applicant’s German courses; or (b) a Master’s degree in German from a recognized university, with an average grade of at least an A- in the applicant’s overall program. Applicants must satisfy the Department that they are capable of independent research in German at an advanced level.

The applicant must arrange for one copy of the official transcript of her/his academic record from each university attended, forwarded in sealed envelope; three supporting academic letters to be sent to the Graduate Coordinator of the Department. Applicants are also asked to submit a sample of their written work (such as a paper or an M.A. thesis), a Curriculum Vitae and a statement outlining their research plans and interests as well as reasons for pursuing doctoral studies.

A candidate admitted on the basis of a four-year bachelor’s degree must take a minimum of seven full courses including GER 1000H, and must obtain an average grade of at least an A-. The Department may recommend to the School the termination of the registration and candidacy of a student who fails to complete at least 3.5 full course equivalents, or fails to obtain an average of at least an A- during the first year of the program. The candidate is required to complete the remaining courses required for the degree, with an A- average by the end of the second year.

A candidate admitted on the basis of a Master’s degree must take a minimum of four full courses including GER 1000H with an average grade of at least an A-. The candidate is required to complete at least 3.0 full course equivalents by the end of the first year of registration, and any remaining courses required for the degree by the end of the second year.

In addition, students are required to:

  • give evidence of reading knowledge of French through a proficiency exam; Yiddish concentration may choose to substitute Hebrew for French;
  • pass a Qualifying Examination;
  • pass a Thesis Proposal Review;
  • make an oral presentation of their thesis project;
  • submit a thesis on an approved subject, have the thesis accepted by an examining committee, and successfully defend this thesis at a Final Oral Examination.

The selection of courses may include up to 1.5 full courses in a department other than Germanic Languages and Literatures. The Department may permit a candidate to write the doctoral thesis in the German language if the candidate’s advisory committee so recommends and if the candidate has satisfied the School’s requirements.

General Regulations and Timeline

The entire program is designed to be completed within five years from the date of initial registration in the Ph.D. program. Candidates are required to:

  • obtain standing in the equivalent of eight semester courses beyond the U of T M.A. or its equivalent;
  • complete GER 1000H – German Studies Seminar, Culture, Theory, and Text if they have not taken this course at the M.A. level in this department. This is a credit course counting toward completion of the Ph.D. program;
  • give evidence of an intermediate level reading knowledge of French by passing a departmental examination available at any time; this requirement must be fulfilled before the Qualifying Examination can be taken; those pursuing a Yiddish concentration may substitute French with Hebrew.
  • pass Qualifying Examination 18 months after registration (30 months for students admitted with a BA);
  • select a supervisor 13 month after registration (25 months for students admitted with a BA) and the advisory committee for the comprehensive exam 15 months after registration (27 months for students admitted with a BA), via paperwork filed with Helena Juenger;
  • pass a Thesis Proposal Review 26 months after registration (38 months for students admitted with a BA);
  • make an oral presentation of their thesis research to a public forum of the Department 30 months after registration (42 months for students admitted with a BA);
  • submit a thesis on an approved topic, have the thesis accepted by an examining committee, and successfully defend this thesis at a Final Oral Examination.

Selection of Courses

Students are advised to select their courses in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator. The courses selected must be approved by the Department. Ideally, 3.5 full requisite courses should be taken in one academic session (September to April), with the remaining courses enrolled in the Fall semester of the second year. All students are required to take GER1000H, the introductory seminar team-taught by the graduate faculty of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Students who have not studied Middle High German in their undergraduate or M.A. programs must take GER1200H.

In consultation with advising faculty and the Graduate Coordinator, up to three semester courses of the total course requirements may be taken in another department. External courses must form a coherent course of study toward the thesis. Students who are preparing for their Qualifying Examination or working on their thesis are encouraged to audit courses. In order to enroll in a course, students must a) request the course on Acorn and also b) submit an Add/Drop course form to the Graduate Assistant, Room 316.

French Language Requirement

Before taking the Qualifying Examination, students must be deemed proficient in French by taking the French examination or by passing the French Department’s graduate reading course FSL 6000H. Proficiency is considered to be reading knowledge at an intermediate level. Under special circumstances (e.g. if the student is a native French speaker or has proficiency) the Department may grant an exemption. Students pursuing a doctoral topic focused on Yiddish materials may choose to substitute French with Hebrew, at their discretion.

The Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination is the gateway to the Doctoral Thesis. It is designed to ensure proficiency in influential works and key developments and issues in the Field of Germanic Languages and Literatures and to support the transition to the Thesis. Students must successfully complete all components of the Qualifying Examination in order to begin work on the Thesis.

The Qualifying Examination includes oral and written components in the form of a Proficiency Examination followed by a Research Field Paper as the final stage. As a rule, the entire process begins in the Winter Term with the Comprehensive and concludes in the first half of the following September with the Research Field Paper.

The Proficiency Exam begins with the creation of a Qualifying Examination Committee consisting of four graduate faculty members. In close consultation with the Examination Committee, students create a Comprehensive Reading List. The department provides a reading list (see website) that may be used as a basis for formulating the Comprehensive List, but unlimited substitutions are permitted, provided the final list is approved by the Examination Committee. The Comprehensive Reading List will encompass at least 100 works divided equally among four periods in the field: period 1 (pre-1750), period 2 (1750-1848), period 3 (1848-1933), and period 4 (1933 to the present). The Comprehensive Reading List is examined first in written form in two closed-book examinations of 4 hours (8 hours in total). The examination will take place on two separate days. On day one, students will be required to answer two out of four questions on period 1 (written from 9:30-12:00 a.m.) and two out of four questions on period 2 (written 1:00-3:30 p.m.), with catered lunch provided during the noon break. [The extra 30 minutes attached to each examination period is intended to provide time to settle in and review the exam questions).  On day two, students will be required to answer two out of four questions on period 3 (written from 9:30-12:00 a.m.) and two out of four questions on period 4 (written 1:00-3:30 p.m.), with catered lunch provided during the noon break.

On a date established well in advance by the Graduate Coordinator, all members of a given PhD cohort will write the Proficiency Exam in a designated campus computer lab with proctor in attendance. Each student will be assigned a terminal onto which will have been advance copied a Word document containing their exam questions and another to record their answers.

The Proficiency Examination concludes with an oral examination of 1.5 hours duration that more widely engages the Comprehensive Exam Reading List, providing a forum for the candidate to elaborate on their responses from the written portion and to field questions from the examiners. Proceeding in epochal order from Medieval to Contemporary era, each member of the examining committee will have about 15-20 minutes to pose questions similar in scope and rigor to those presented in the written examination and to request clarification of specific aspects of the candidate’s written exam response to each epoch.

Upon successful completion of the written and oral portions of the Proficiency Examination, students proceed to the Research Field Paper.

Research Field Paper

Within six weeks of completing the Proficiency Examination, students present to two graduate faculty members a Research Field List of 50 works. Typically, these faculty readers are members of the existing Examination Committee and will form part of the future Thesis Committee. The list must cohere as a working bibliography in the field in which the student intends to do thesis research. It will include methodological/theoretical readings essential to gaining a deep understanding of the research area.

Over the course of the summer following the approval of the list, students write a research paper of 25-35 pages on a topic approved by two members of the graduate faculty. The Research Field Paper draws on the Research Field List and is intended to help prepare the writing of the Thesis Proposal. It is an opportunity to explore the theoretical, methodological, and general thematic field of the future thesis. As such, it blends elements traditionally associated with a literature review while testing conceptual frameworks with respect to a particular topic. Upon completion, the research paper will be read by the two designated graduate faculty members, as described above. Students receive written feedback on the paper and a decision (passed/not passed) on whether the paper demonstrates a sufficient level of proficiency in the thesis research field. The successful completion of the Research Field Paper concludes the Qualifying Examination.

Procedures and Timelines

The Qualifying Examination Committee consists of four members of the graduate faculty chosen by the candidate – one for each area; the paper written in the context of the Research Field Paper is read by two members of the graduate faculty (they are generally members of the Qualifying Examination Committee). It is recommended that candidates enroll in the GER 2000 reading course in the Winter Term of the second year in order to prepare the list of works for the Research Field Paper.

The Qualifying Examination begins with the Proficiency Exam in the second semester of the second year of the candidate’s Ph.D. program (or the third year for those students admitted with a B.A). The written and oral components must be completed by the end of the spring term (March). Candidates write the Research Field Paper during the summer and submit by the end of the second week of the following September.

Passing the written Proficiency Examination requires a grade of at least B in each period of the Comprehensive Exam and an average of B+. Students who fail one paper but obtain a B+ average in the other four have to rewrite the failed paper by April 15 of the same year. A candidate who fails two periods or does not obtain an average of B+ must rewrite the entire examination. A candidate who fails all four periods may be advised to withdraw. The oral component of the Proficiency Exam will be held only after the candidate has passed the written exams. A candidate who fails the oral examination must repeat it. Passing the Research Field Paper requires a grade of at least B+. A candidate who does not obtain a grade of B+ must rewrite the paper. At the discretion of the graduate faculty reading the research paper, candidates may be requested to sit for a follow-up meeting.

The Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal (not to exceed 10 single-spaced pages) presupposes that serious consideration has been given to questions of methodology. It will explain the candidate’s research project and present a comprehensive bibliography of primary and secondary material (not to exceed thirty items). The proposal shall contain:

  1. An abstract encompassing no more than one page, single-spaced.
  2. A literature review detailing the existing literature—secondary and primary—pertaining to the thesis topic, less to demonstrate rote knowledge of that literature than to explicate how the thesis is an intervention into and extension of that literature.
  3. A detailed discussion of each chapter explaining the focus and argument of each chapter, pertinent methodologies, as well as how chapter each relates to the larger argument of the thesis.
  4. A bibliography (and mediagraphy, as relevant), whose scope should be adequate to the topic

Thesis Proposal Review

The Thesis Proposal Review encompasses the topic area and methodological context in which the student intends to pursue their research. The Review lasts 90 minutes and is based on the thesis proposal, which the candidate must circulate among her/his Thesis Supervisory Committee in advance. The proposal must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the scheduled review date, which must take place ideally by November 15, but no later than November 30th of the third year of the candidate’s program (or the fourth year for students admitted with a BA), with all supervisory committee members present. Only after all members of the committee have agreed individually can the Thesis Proposal Review be held, with the aim of further appraising the student’s readiness to begin work on the thesis through further discussion of the proposal with the student and suggestions for modification or additional reading.

Summary Overview of Steps Towards Candidacy

Progress Reports

It is a requirement of the School for Graduate Studies that students in the Ph.D. program must meet in person with their supervisory committee at least once a year. Departmental policy in Germanic Languages & Literatures mandates that the supervisory committee convene twice annually, ideally in November and March of each academic year, but no later than the close of classes in respectively December and April of the academic calendar. It is the responsibility of the student to liaise with their supervisory committee members via Doodle poll or other means to set up the date of these meetings. The outcome of the meeting is recorded on a form filed with the Administrative Assistant. Progress Reports are reviewed by the Graduate Program Committee to ensure students are in good standing and therefore entitled to continue receiving funding. “Good standing” is not an academic evaluation as such; it indicates that measurable benchmarks of progress toward the Ph.D. are being met. These include the collection of data from archives and other sources, written evidence of thesis chapters completed or in progress, and participation in the dissemination of research results via conferences and/or scholarly publications.


Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Examination and Thesis Proposal Review, the student may proceed to the preparation of a doctoral thesis in keeping with the approved Thesis Proposal. The thesis must embody the results of original investigation, and constitute a significant contribution to knowledge in the field. The thesis must be defended successfully at a final oral examination.

The Supervisor is responsible for the direction of the thesis. The other members of the Committee give advice about the thesis in a secondary capacity. The student should keep all members informed of the progress of the work, and submit meaningful portions of the thesis (such as chapters) to all members of the committee as they are completed. Supervisory Committees must meet with the student at least once a year and submit an annual report on thesis progress to the Graduate Coordinator. Students are advised to consult the guidelines contained in the ‘Graduate Supervision’ document located on the Department website and available from the School of Graduate Studies.

By the end of the Winter Term following the Thesis Proposal Review, students are asked to give a Thesis Research Presentation of 20-30 minutes to members of the Department. The presentation should focus on the entire project (rather than a specific chapter) and address general technical and methodological problems that have arisen during the course of the research. The objective is to inform the Department of the results of the research while generating useful feedback as work on the project continues.

When the Supervisor and the other members of the student’s Supervisory Committee have read the thesis and agree that it is ready to go to examination, each is asked to notify the Graduate Coordinator in writing. The student provides the defense committee with the necessary number of copies of the completed thesis and submits an abstract of the thesis. SGS normally requires eight weeks between when the student submits the thesis to the Department and the date of examination. After consultation with the Supervisor, the student, and others as necessary, the Graduate Coordinator presents to SGS the nomination of the examiners and a proposed date for the examination. Oral exams for candidates in Germanic Languages and Literatures are scheduled during the academic calendar, between September 1st and May 31st. Only under highly exceptional circumstances will summer dates be entertained, after approval by the Associate Chair and in consultation with the dissertation supervisor.

The Department normally nominates four (4) to five (5) examiners as follows: three (3) members of the Department, which might include the Supervisor; possibly another member of the graduate faculty from a cognate department; and an external examiner. The external examiner prepares a written assessment that must be submitted to SGS at least two weeks in advance of the examination. This written appraisal is given to the student and all examiners prior to the examination. The procedures for the thesis examination are printed in the Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies. After the successful completion of the thesis examination and any required corrections or modifications of the thesis, the student submits a final version of the thesis to the Ph.D. Thesis Examination Office of SGS. The School of Graduate Studies will only accept the submission of theses in electronic format. Please view the Electronic Thesis & Dissertations (ETDs) web site for information on electronically submitting your thesis. Find more information on how to prepare for your final oral exam here.

Thesis Supervision

The progress of every graduate student is guided by the Department throughout the student’s program of study. Each new Ph.D. student is asked to choose one member of the graduate faculty as her or his Thesis Supervisor, who is responsible for the ongoing supervision of the candidate’s work. Working in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, students have free choice of Supervisor, and are responsible for securing the agreement of a professor to be Supervisor by October of the second year (or the third year for students admitted with a BA). The Thesis Supervisory Committee emerges as the student moves toward the preparation of a Thesis Proposal. In general, members of the committee must be chosen before the Thesis Proposal Review. Some or all may have been members of the Qualifying Examination committee. Thesis Supervisory Committees generally consist of three (3) members of the German Department, though one whose expertise touches upon the proposal may come from a cognate department. The Supervisory Committee assists the student in preparing the Thesis Proposal and acts as the Thesis Proposal Review committee. It is expected to oversee the preparation of the thesis, to meet at least once annually with the student to monitor thesis progress, and to recommend the thesis for examination when it is ready.

Timetables and Deadlines

1st YEAR
April  (each year): Applications for OGS due for eligible PhD students.
September: German Language Examination, if required.
October/November (each year): Applications for SSHRC due for eligible PhD students.
2nd YEAR  (3rd YEAR for Students admitted with a BA)
February/March: Students take the Qualifying Examination and must have satisfied the French Language Requirement.
Summer: Write Research Field Paper
3rd YEAR  (4th YEAR for Students admitted with a BA)
September: Research Field Paper Due
October/November: Thesis Proposal Review
Spring Term: Thesis Presentation
4th YEAR (5th YEAR for Students admitted with a BA)
Writing of Dissertation
5th YEAR
Completion of Dissertation and Thesis Defense

Residency Requirement

Students registered as full-time students in the German Graduate Program are required to be in residence, i.e. in such geographical proximity as to be able to visit the campus regularly and participate fully in the program’s activities. Exceptions can be made for absences necessary for research. In such cases, the student must make a written application and receive written permission from the department.

Program Extensions

The time limit for completion of all requirements for the PhD degree (coursework, comprehensive exams and thesis) is five years. See the SGS website ( regarding fees in the final year of PhD program. There is no funding commitment beyond Year Five of the program. In exceptional circumstances, a student who has not met degree requirements within the six-year time limit may be considered for a maximum of four one-year program extensions, provided that approval for the request is obtained from the graduate unit. PhD students requesting program and candidacy extension should note that these extensions are approved one-term (4 months) at a time, according to the following procedure:

  • The first program or candidacy extension request will be approved by the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies.
  • For any subsequent program or candidacy extension request(s), students are required to submit supporting documentation of progress since their previous extension.
  • Subsequent program or candidacy extension request(s) will be reviewed by a committee consisting of the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Committee. Approval will be granted provided the student meets program or candidacy extension requirements and has made appropriate progress since the last extension.
  • First and any subsequent extensions are permitted up to one term only, if the request is approved.

Please note that the above procedures apply at the departmental level only. All program and candidacy extension requests must still be finalized and approved through the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).

*Students with disabilities who are registered with Accessibility Services and require more than a one term program extension should discuss their accommodation request with their Accessibility Advisor. If required, the student should submit a letter from the Accessibilty Advisor to support a further program extension. Students with disabilities who receive an extension approval for more than one academic turn should work with their supervisor and provide the Associate Chair a progress update by the end of each term (i.e. Fall, Winter, and Spring).

Leaves of Absence

Students are strongly encouraged to finish their programs in a timely fashion; however, there may be reasons for students to interrupt their studies for a certain period. The SGS has strict guidelines regarding eligibility for leaves of absence. The most common reasons are parental responsibilities, health problems, and serious financial hardship. Students should contact the Graduate Coordinator if they need to apply for a leave of absence.

Appendix: Scholarships and Other Funding Opportunities

Program Level Fellowships:

The Program Level Fellowships will be allocated to PhD students in the Department’s funded cohort with fellowship amounts below the median. To determine the fellowship amount, UTF and 163 TA/CI hours are being considered. Any teaching beyond these 163 hours will not be counted to determine the fellowship amount.


The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awards doctoral fellowships tenable at Canadian and international universities. The award value in 2021/2022 is $20,000 (SSHRC Doctoral) or $35,000 (Canadian Graduate Scholarship CGSD, sometimes colloquially referred to as ‘Super-SSHRC’). Please note that all eligible PhD students in the funded cohort are required to apply for this scholarship.

You are eligible if:

  • you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • you are a doctoral student in years 1-4 of study at the time you would receive the fellowship (students in their fifth year of study and beyond are not eligible)
  • you have not already received SSHRC funding to complete a previous doctoral degree

Applications are submitted by the Department to the School of Graduate Studies, which preselects applications to be sent to the SSHRC Selection committee. Fellowships are awarded based on the following criteria:

  • marks
  • merits of proposed program of study
  • relevant experience (conference presentations, publications, etc.)
  • 2 written referrals
  • departmental ranking of applicants

Applications are available from the Department, or online at, and must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator by mid-October (please check the department website for the due date). Applicants are notified by April of competition results.


The Government of the Province of Ontario provides graduate scholarships tenable at Ontario universities. These scholarships are available for graduate students in all disciplines. A small portion of these awards are available to visa students. The award value in 2021/2022 is $15,000. Applications for this scholarship are voluntary.

You are eligible if:

  • you are a full-time graduate student
  • you have achieved at least A- (or equivalent) in each of the last two completed years of study (full-time equivalent); or if you have completed two years of graduate studies at the time of application, you must only demonstrate an overall average of at least A- (or equivalent) on all graduate courses completed.
  • you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or in Canada on a student visa

The School of Graduate Studies processes the OGS applications from students currently enrolled in University of Toronto programs and considers the following:

  • marks (undergraduate and graduate)
  • reports from two professors familiar with your work
  • significant academic accomplishments (scholarly publications, conference presentations, etc.)
  • your plan of study (for doctoral students only)

International Connaught Fellowship

This highly prized fellowship is awarded by the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto to selected incoming international students with outstanding records who have applied for graduate study (7-10 fellowships per year across the whole university). Candidates are nominated by the Department and selected in an SGS competition. There is no separate application for this award. Its value is a $10,000 top-up; it is renewable for 5 years.

Chancellor Henry N.R. Jackman Junior Fellowship

The Junior Fellowship Fund supports selected incoming graduate students with a top-up of $5,000 each year beyond the minimum support level, and this award is renewable for a total of 4-6 years of funding, depending on the Jackman Junior Fellow’s progress. Candidates are nominated by the Department. This fellowship is not available every year. There is no separate application for this award.

Hermann Boeschenstein Memorial Fellowship

This entrance scholarship is awarded by the German Department to a new M.A. or Ph.D. student in Germanic Languages and Literatures. Candidates are selected by the Department. There is no separate application for this award. The award value varies.

Katie Keeler Award

This scholarship is awarded by the German Department to a new M.A. or Ph.D. student in Germanic Languages and Literatures. Candidates are selected by the Department. There is no separate application for this award. The award value varies.

Jackman Humanities Institute Graduate Fellowship

The Jackman Humanities Institute offers substantial fellowships for a limited number of Ph.D. candidates registered in the Faculty of Arts and Science who are in the final stages of their doctoral program and completing their doctoral thesis. Each year, up to two graduate students may be nominated from each department or academic unit.

Other Funding Opportunities

Applications for Grants of the Joint Initiative in German and European Studies at the University of Toronto are generally due in the spring; applications are submitted to JIGES. Eligible are full-time University of Toronto graduate students in good standing from any department, centre, or institute, whose dissertation topic or primary area of interest (if pre-dissertation) deals with a German or comparative German topic. The JIGES website provides links to additional sources of funding. There are three main sources of JIGES funding for graduate students:

JIGES Graduate Research Fellowships

The JIGES (Joint Initiative in German and European Studies) Graduate Research Fellowship supports doctoral students who are in the research and writing phase of their dissertations and for whom a period of residence in Germany is necessary. The award is intended to allow students to carry out research in Germany. Its value is up to $8,500.

JIGES Research and Travel Awards

These awards are intended to help M.A. or Ph.D. students defray costs of research essential to their program of study (e.g., microfilm purchase, photocopying, travel to visit archives or libraries, survey research, etc.). Its value is up to $3,500.

JIGES Dissertation Completion Fellowships

For PhD students whose supervisor will attest that the student will have a dissertation ready for defence by December of the same year. The fellowship is intended to cover expenses connected with bringing the dissertation to completion. Its value is up to $6,500.

University of Toronto Doctoral Completion Award

The DCA is a competitive award available for doctoral students in the first year beyond the funded cohort. Both domestic and international students are eligible to apply and should submit their application to the Department by the appropriate deadline (generally in the spring before the first year beyond the funded cohort). Candidates are nominated by the Department and selected by an SGS Awards Committee. The value of the award varies.


M.A. students who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for Work-Study positions. In recent years some Research Assistantships have been available under Work-Study. Notices are posted at the Department as well as on the website of the University’s Career Centre:

School of Graduate Studies Emergency Grant Program

SGS offers grants based on financial need arising from unforeseen circumstances. The SGS Committee is particularly inclined to assist students who are nearing completion of their doctoral thesis. Grants are not normally available for the first year of study. Information is available at SGS and application is made through them

SGS Travel Grants

The SGS research travel grant is available to help fund travel for doctoral students for whom travel is essential for the completion of their research and doctoral program. Travel to conferences is not eligible within this grant.  Not all projects are funded, and the funding awarded may not cover the entire amount requested by the applicant.  The deadline is generally in the spring and application is made directly to SGS.

SGS Conference Grants

This program is intended to encourage doctoral-stream students to present their research at a regional, national or international conference or equivalent academic event. Preference is given to applicants who have not previously attended a conference in their current program and who are in the early stage of their academic program. The deadline is generally in the spring and application is made directly to SGS.

Departmental Conference Travel Grants

The Department provides modest grants to graduate students who present papers at academic conferences on a competitive basis. The competition deadline is generally in February for (past and future) conferences in any given academic year. Application should include the letter of acceptance of the paper, an abstract of the paper to be presented, and a brief outline of costs.

FAS Language Study Abroad Grants

FAS has established a fund to enable graduate students to study a language necessary for their research, and which is not regularly taught at the U of T. Students are awarded travel, accommodation, and tuition costs for study at an appropriate institution. Since the total amount available is limited, the grants to individual graduate students will be awarded through a competitive process run by the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Junior Fellowships and Donships

Several of the colleges affiliated with the University of Toronto offer positions as Junior Fellows and Dons. Interested students should inquire at St. Michael’s, Victoria, Massey, Trinity, Wycliffe, New, Innis, and University colleges.

Graduate Teaching Excellence Award

The Teaching Excellence Award recognizes outstanding teaching and dedication to developing pedagogical skills. Graduate student Course Instructors and TAs in the 4th and 5th years are eligible to apply. Applicants may not have held the award previously.

Applications will be vetted in the Graduate Program Committee in consultation with the Language Coordinator. The value of the award is $500. Applications are due on April 1st.

Application materials and requirements:
Applicants must be in good standing, defined as satisfactory progress in the most recent two consecutive Progress Reports.

The application takes the form of a brief cover letter and Teaching Portfolio. Students should consult with the Language Coordinator regarding the form of the Teaching Portfolio, which can be used as the basis for future job applications in the field.

The Teaching Portfolio must include:

  1. a one-page (max.) statement of teaching philosophy
  2. cv, evidence of participation in teacher-training measures
  3. student course evaluations from the past two years
  4. a recent teaching observation and written report by the thesis advisor (within the last year). Applicants are responsible for arranging the observations well in advance of the application deadline.
  5. sample lesson plan or teaching module

Graduate Research Excellence Award

The Department makes two awards recognizing excellence in research as demonstrated by a piece of original work (published or unpublished) completed in one of the Department’s graduate program fields. The competition is open to both MA and PhD students. One award is reserved for students in the coursework phase before candidacy and will generally recognize a seminar paper of high quality. The second award is for PhD students who have completed the Qualifying Examination; submissions may be thesis chapters or published research. The awards are valued at $500. Applicants may not have held the award previously.

Complete applications are due with the Associate Chair Graduate on May 15th.

Application materials and requirements:
Applicants must be in good standing in the Department, defined as satisfactory progress in the most recent two consecutive Progress Reports.

The application takes the form of:

  1. a brief cover letter
  2. research paper (15-20 double-spaced pages or 5000 words), publication, or thesis chapter, as appropriate
  3. an expertise from a faculty member addressing specifically the submitted research contribution

General Information

It is expected that all graduate students familiarize themselves with the following resources:


The Student Housing Service located in the Koffler Centre, 214 College Street, provides valuable information regarding accommodations on and off campus. Tel.:  416-978-8045.  Find information on the GradHouse here.

International Students

All international students are encouraged to contact the Centre for International Experience as soon as possible after arrival at U of T. The CIE organizes health insurance for foreign students as well as offering valuable information regarding Canadian tax issues and visas. It also organizes social gatherings and distributes a newsletter. The CIE is directly across the street from the Koffler Centre on 33 St. George Street. Tel. (416) 978-2564

Library Services and Email

Email is available to each student at U of T. Questions should be directed to the Computing Centre and/or Robarts Library staff. Library services are available to holders of valid U of T student cards. The library offers several tours and orientation sessions in the first few weeks of the semester.

Athletic Facilities

Each graduate student pays fees for membership at the Hart House athletic facility as well as at U of T’s Athletic Centre. Both facilities offer many types of fitness classes, programs, fitness equipment, indoor running tracks, etc. Lockers are available for yearly rental and usually are on a first-come, first-served basis.

U of T Policy on Official Correspondence with Students

The University and its divisions may use the postal mail system and/or electronic message services (e.g., electronic mail and other computer-based on-line correspondence systems) as mechanisms for delivering official correspondence to students. Official correspondence may include, but is not limited to, matters related to students’ participation in their academic programs, important information concerning University and program scheduling, fees information, and other matters concerning the administration and governance of the University.

Postal Addresses and Electronic Mail Accounts

Postal Addresses and Electronic Mail Accounts

Students are responsible for maintaining and advising the University, on the University’s student information system (currently ROSI), of a current and valid postal address as well as the address for a University-issued electronic mail account that meets a standard of service set by the Vice-President and Provost. Failure to do so may result in a student missing important information and will not be considered an acceptable rationale for failing to receive official correspondence from the University.

University rights and responsibilities regarding official correspondence

The University provides centrally-supported technical services and the infrastructure to make electronic mail and/or on-line communications systems available to students. University correspondence delivered by electronic mail is subject to the same public information, privacy and records retention requirements and policies as are other university correspondence and student records. The University’s expectations concerning use of information and communication technology are articulated in the guidelines on Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology (available on the website of the Office of the Vice-President and Provost).

Students’ rights and responsibilities regarding retrieval of official correspondence

Students are expected to monitor and retrieve their mail, including electronic messaging account[s] issued to them by the University, on a frequent and consistent basis. Students have the responsibility to recognize that certain communications may be time-critical. Students have the right to forward their University-issued electronic mail account to another electronic mail service provider address but remain responsible for ensuring that all University electronic message communication sent to the official University-issued account is received and read.

For complete Rules, Regulations and Policies, consult the School of Graduate Studies Calendar.