FAQ for Current Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Visitors and New Students
General Administration
Courses and Exams
Professional Master of Engineering (MEng) Students
Research Students
Funding and Financial Support
Student Life


Visitors and New Students

Where is UTIAS?
UTIAS is located in the north end of Toronto, south of the intersection of Dufferin St and Steeles Ave, at 4925 Dufferin St. It is behind the Environment Canada building; the driveway is between Environment Canada and the University of Toronto Press building. You can find us on Google Maps.

Is UTIAS accessible by public transit?
There are two common options for getting to UTIAS by public transit, both on the Toronto Transit Commission. One option is to take the subway to Sheppard West station and then the 105 Dufferin North bus north on Dufferin St to the stop at Gerry Fitzgerald Dr. This bus stops directly in front of the UTIAS driveway. The other option is to take the subway to Finch Station and the 60 Steeles West bus to the corner of Dufferin St and Steeles Ave and then walk south.

Is there parking at UTIAS?
Yes, there is parking available at UTIAS, and it is currently free.

How do I get a fob for access to the building and a key to my office?
Fobs and office keys are available from Jeff Cook, the Building Manager, in his office in room 143; this is near the loading dock. You will need to complete a form and have it signed by your supervisor (for MASc and PhD students) or by the graduate coordinator (for MEng students). There is a $50 cash deposit for the fob; this will be refunded when you graduate and return your fob.

Can I enter the UTIAS building outside regular business hours?
Yes, as a graduate student you will often need to come to UTIAS outside office hours and on weekends. Your fob will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


General Administration

Where is the supply cabinet and how do I obtain supplies?
The supply cabinet is currently located in the corridor between the main entrance hallway and the loading dock. This is temporary during construction. You should take what you need and record what you have taken in the log book. This is based on the honour system; please do not take unnecessary supplies or neglect to record what you have taken.

How do I file an expense claim?
Expense claims are made using the standard form and submitted to Rosanna in the reception. All expense claims must be accompanied by original receipts. A blank expanse claim form is here. This should be accompanied by a spreadsheet itemizing expenses that are not related to travel.

What are the responsibilities of the administrative staff?
Carmela Versace, the Graduate Administrator, is the principal point of contact for most administrative matters for all graduate students. Her office hours are 10:00-12:00 and 2:00-4:00 every day. She will be able to answer most questions. For keys and questions or complaints about the physical infrastructure of the building, contact the Building Manager, Jeff Cook. For questions regarding TA salary or other payments not part of the stipend, the Business Officer, Mary Cunningham, can provide information. Submit expense claim forms to Rosanna McGregor.

I am looking for the University of Toronto policy on some subject. Where might I find it?
The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) maintains a comprehensive list of U of T policies regarding graduate students.


Courses and Exams

How do I register for courses?
Students must use their UTORid to log in to ACORN. To add a course, students must know the course number (for example, AER1315). Detailed instructions are here. It is a good idea to plan all your courses prior to adding anything through ACORN. There are no class size limits for UTIAS courses (except for the microsatellite design courses) so there is no need to register early.

What courses can be counted toward my graduate degree requirements?
Only courses at the 500-level and above may be counted toward a graduate degree. Courses with course numbers less than 500 offered by UTIAS or any other University of Toronto department are undergraduate and do not fulfill the graduate course requirements.

Why can’t I register for AER 501 / ROB 501 / AER 521 on ACORN?
These courses are mandatory courses for undergraduate students and hence the ability to add or drop them through ROSI has been disabled. You may add or drop these courses by submitting an Add/Drop form to the Graduate Office.

Can I take the microsatellite design courses?
In general, unless you are a student in the Microsatellite Science and Technology Centre, no.

When do UTIAS courses start and end?
UTIAS graduate courses are run under the auspices of the School of Graduate Studies. For up-to-date information on sessional dates, see the School of Graduate Studies calendar. In general, courses in September start during the week beginning with the second Monday in September.

When is the exam schedule for UTIAS courses created?
Exams for UTIAS graduate courses are usually scheduled during the same period as undergraduate exams. This means that before scheduling a UTIAS exam, the undergraduate exam schedule must be known. Typically this is released in early November and early March and graduate exams are scheduled shortly thereafter. However, this varies from year to year. In any circumstances, do not plan to be unavailable to write an exam at any time before the end of the exam period.

Is there a repository of old exams?
No.

When will grades be available on ACORN?
Grades will usually be available on ACORN during the third week of January for fall session courses and the third week of May for winter session courses. See the detailed ACORN instructions for information for the current academic year.


Professional Master’s (MEng) Students

What are the requirements for the MEng degree?
To complete the MEng degree, you must pass ten half-courses (5.0 FCEs). In addition, at least half of your courses must be taught by UTIAS and have an AER or ROB course code, and at least seven courses must be technical. The number of courses you may take in a session may also be limited depending upon the MEng option you have chosen.

With whom should I discuss my course selections?
Please arrange a meeting with the Graduate Coordinator, Prof Craig Steeves, after you arrive in Toronto to discuss your course selection. To this meeting, bring a proposed course selection including the courses you wish to take and the term in which you wish to take them.

Where can I find detailed information on the MEng program?
First, check the entry for the UTIAS MEng program in the SGS Calendar. Second, check the program-specific guidelines on the UTIAS web site. Third, ask the Graduate Administrator or, fourth, the Graduate Coordinator.

How do I log in to the MEng computers?
You must be registered in at least one course in order to log in to the computers in the MEng Lab. Use your UTORid and password. Some additional detail on Engineering Computing Facility accounts is here.


Research Students

How will my research progress be monitored?
The primary monitor of your research progress is your supervisor. In addition to direct supervision, MASc students must register for AER 1800H. The evaluation for this course consists of two meetings of the Research Assessment Committee (RAC), made up of three or more UTIAS faculty members. The MASc student submits a report to this committee and makes a presentation to the committee at a meeting. The committee members question the student on their research progress and provide an assessment based upon the report, the presentation and the answers to the questions. For PhD students, each student will have a Doctoral Exam Committee (DEC). The format of a DEC meeting is approximately the same as the format of the RAC meeting.

For how long will I be guaranteed funding?
MASc students are guaranteed funding for twenty months (five sessions). PhD students who enter directly are guaranteed funding for four years (sixteen sessions). PhD students who transfer directly from the MASc program after one year are guaranteed funding for five years (twenty sessions), which includes the year spent in the MASc program. Following the guaranteed funding period, funding arrangements are to be determined in consultation with the supervisor.

When are RAC meetings scheduled?
Research Assessment Committee meetings are scheduled in December and April. Students will get at least two weeks notice of any committee meeting. Scheduling is dependent upon the undergraduate exam timetable, over which we have no control, so the selection of dates cannot occur until after this timetable has been posted. RAC meetings may be scheduled up to the last day of the December exam period.

How long do I have to complete my MASc?
The expected time to completion of the MASc is twenty months, the period for which funding is guaranteed. Following the guaranteed funding period, students have an additional sixteen months to complete the program requirements. After three years in the program, students must submit program extension requests to the School of Graduate Studies. At most two extensions will be granted.

How do I transfer directly from an MASc program to a PhD program?
At the second RAC meeting, in May, you will be asked whether you are interested in transferring directly to the PhD program, and the committee will also make a recommendation as to whether you are a good candidate. If both you and your committee agree on a direct transfer, you will have to complete a form and submit it to the Graduate Office by August 1.

When are DEC meetings typically scheduled?
Doctoral Examination Committee meetings are typically scheduled in January and February. All doctoral students will have their first DEC meeting approximately five months after starting their doctoral studies, and every twelve months thereafter. Students starting in January or May will have their DEC meetings in May/June or September/October, respectively. It is essential to have a DEC meeting at least once every twelve months. The second DEC meeting also includes a qualifying exam.

How long do I have to complete my PhD thesis?
The expected time to completion for the PhD program is four years, the period for which funding is guaranteed. After the end of the funded period, students have two more years to complete the program requirements. During these six years, students pay full tuition, domestic or international, each year. Following the six year time limit, students who are not finished must request a one-year extension from the School of Graduate Studies. During an extension year the student will pay one half of the domestic tuition. A student requesting an extension must have strong evidence that the thesis is nearing completion. SGS will grant at most four extensions; this means that the absolute deadline for submission and examination of the PhD thesis is ten years.

How does the FOE (Final Oral Examination) process work for PhD students?
Once the DEC determines that a thesis draft is of sufficient scientific merit and quality to be considered for presentation as a doctoral thesis, it will be sent to an external appraiser for review. The final oral exam will be scheduled approximately two months after this, and the candidate will defend their thesis in front of the FOE committee consisting of the DEC, the external appraiser and one additional faculty member from the University of Toronto but external to UTIAS. At the exam, the thesis can be judged to be acceptable as is, acceptable with minor corrections, acceptable with minor modifications, or the FOE can be adjourned for major modifications to the thesis. Full details on the entire FOE process are available from the School of Graduate Studies.

How many seminars do I need to attend to graduate?
MASc students must attend eight seminars in their first year and four in their second. Doctoral students must attend eight seminars in each of their first three years and four in their fourth.

To whom should I speak if I have a conflict with my supervisor?
First, if possible, speak to your supervisor. If this is undesirable, the Conflict Resolution Centre for Graduate Students can provide confidential advice and support, and will help to prevent, manage or resolve conflicts.


Funding and Financial Support

How will I be notified of my funding package?
At the outset of every academic year, students in the guaranteed funding period will receive a letter from the Graduate Office explaining the timing and amounts of funding for the upcoming year.

When can I expect to receive my funding, and how is it disbursed?
Stipend payments, which include both tuition support and a stipend to cover the cost of living, are disbursed in September, January and May. The September and January payments include one third of the annual stipend and half the tuition support. The May payment consists of one third of the annual stipend. Funding will be disbursed using ROSI. Provided students maintain bank account information, an email address and both sessional and permanent mailing addresses, any surplus over tuition and fees will be deposited directly to the student’s bank account.

How can I find out about scholarships?
Information on some scholarships will be distributed widely around UTIAS by the Graduate Office. These include national (NSERC) and provincial (OGS) scholarships, as well as a limited number of others. A longer list of scholarships is maintained by the School of Graduate Studies. This contains only the most important awards and those directly administered by the University of Toronto. It is NOT comprehensive; there are many other scholarships, awards and bursaries that are available to students.

What is a teaching assistant (TA)?
Many courses taught at the University of Toronto require assistance with marking problem set and other assignments, operating laboratories, or providing other course support. Graduate students are hired as teaching assistants (TAs) to perform this work, and are paid at the current TA rate. This is in additional to the standard stipend and tuition support provided to all graduate students.

When are UTIAS TA positions posted, and how do I apply?
UTIAS TA positions are posted on the UTIAS web site every year in mid-June. The application deadline is in early August.

Can I apply for TA positions in other departments or on other UofT campuses?
Yes, but be cautious committing to large TA assignments because this might result in slow research progress. Fifty hours per term of TA work is a reasonable maximum.


Student Life

How can I get involved with the UTIAS community?
The Aerospace Students Association (ASA) represents graduate students at UTIAS organizes a wide range of social and athletic activities. Elections to the executive take place annually in September.

Who can I contact with questions about the student experience?
The Aerospace Students Association (ASA) should be your fist point of contact for questions not involving academic or administrative matters. Each year the ASA takes part in the Student Experience Committee, which assesses the overall quality of the student experience at UTIAS.

How do I find accommodation in Toronto?
It is possible to get accommodation in Grad House if you choose to live in downtown Toronto. Information on other off-campus housing is described at the University of Toronto Off-Campus Housing Service.

Where can I find information about resources and services available at UofT?
The Division of Student Life at the University of Toronto provides a comprehensive point of access to a huge variety of programs and services. Included in this are academic support, sports and physical activity, Aboriginal Student Services, health and wellness, career services, family care and a host of others.

Who can I contact with questions about visas, residency, and other international student issues?
UTIAS cannot provide legal advice on visas or immigration. Please contact The Centre for International Experience for detailed information on all aspects of the experience at the University of Toronto for international students.