Research Support Plan (RSP)

This summarizes the intervention steps by the Engineering Graduate Group in the event that a Ph.D. student is deemed to be not making sufficient research progress either during the annual review or at any time during the academic year. Students will then go on a Research Support Plan (RSP). Coursework and other milestone-based academic progress (e.g. qualifiers, WPE-1, WPE-2, Ph.D. proposal, etc.) are not included in this write up. The research plan must include tangible milestones to be achieved by the end of the semester.  RSP can be initiated at any point, but the recommended time is either close to the end of one semester or the beginning of the next.


Students on a RSP will receive a notification email from the department’s graduate group chair, with the academic advisor(s) copied. Each student on RSP will be asked to put together a semester-long research plan, within two weeks time of the above mentioned notification email. The RSP will be created in consultation with their advisor(s), graduate group chair, and one additional faculty member chosen by the graduate group chair and student as the support committee. The academic plan must be signed by the student, advisor, and graduate group chair (email electronic signature works), and an electronic copy (with signatures/e-signatures) is then sent to the graduate student affairs office via email.  In some cases, the RSP may include a switch of advisors, in which case, the new advisor has to sign off on the plan.


Students will be given at least a full semester to meet the agreed upon research progress. After the first semester, the student will be reevaluated by their support committee (advisor(s), graduate group chair, and additional faculty member). Outcome of this evaluation can include:

  1. Milestones are sufficiently met, the student has completed the RSP and progresses normally in the degree
  2. Extension of RSP by one more semester if milestones are partially met
  3. Termination of Ph.D. studies effective immediately if the majority of the milestones are not met



Important notes:

  • The student is expected to communicate with the support committee regularly as stipulated by the committee.
  • The student may be terminated before the completion of the RSP period if the support committee deems that the student is not working towards the milestones. For example, the student did not come to the research lab, participate in research activities, or was absent from multiple agreed upon meetings with the advisor.
  • The maximum consecutive RSP period is two semesters, after which a student will be terminated. The Engineering School can then review the student’s record to see if terminating with a master’s degree is possible and that the student has fulfilled all requirements to obtain one.
  • While a student is on RSP, the student’s current advisor will continue to fund the student.