Candidacy examination

Doctoral students must be admitted to candidacy before they can complete a thesis

Candidacy regulations and requirements

Specific candidacy requirements differ from program to program, however, to be admitted to candidacy, you should successfully:

  • Pass one or more Field of Study examination(s), as required by the graduate program.
  • Complete a written thesis proposal that is examined and approved by the supervisory committee (and additional examiners, if required by the program).
  • Complete any other program-specific candidacy requirements such as language or seminar requirements, as set out in the program’s Calendar entry.
  • Complete course requirements for your program as set out in its Calendar entry. 

Read the Academic Calendar for the complete policy and regulation on Candidacy. Program-specific candidacy admission requirements, can be found in the program’s Candidacy Requirements Document on their website. Students who started their program before the effective date of the current requirements may choose to follow the old or the current regulations to be admitted to candidacy.

Old Candidacy Regulations

Preparing for your candidacy exam

Candidacy requirements vary from program to program.  All students must complete their candidacy within 28 months of starting their program however, your program may have a shorter deadline. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

Confirm the requirements

Speak with your supervisor to know what is required of you and the deadline to complete your candidacy.

Get advice

Connect with each of your supervisory committee members to get an idea of what is expected and how to prepare eg, recommended readings etc.

Start early

Start studying early! A candidacy tests the breadth of your knowledge in your research area – this is not something you can learn at the last minute.


Do a mock exam with your student colleagues. This will help you practice presenting your ideas and answering questions about your thesis proposal and field of study.

If you will be completing your candidacy outside of Calgary, read the guidelines for oral examinations with the candidate at a distant location

Examinations and conflict of interest

You have the right for your work to be assessed fairly and ethically. The examination committee for a candidacy examination must be impartial and able to independently and objectively evaluate the student’s academic work. However, conflict of interest can sometimes interfere or appear to interfere with professional judgement and/or responsibilities.

If you feel there is a conflict of interest, connect with your graduate program director or our Graduate Academic Specialists.