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The format for the degree consists of 2-4 graduate level courses (typically, directed self-study with faculty supervision), and a thesis. In some cases, a student may be required to include undergraduate courses as well, if additional background preparation is required. The thesis is the most significant component of work towards the degree.

The first step for any prospective student is to select a potential supervisor and in consultation with the supervisor, organize a research plan including possible thesis topic, before admission to the program . Faculty research interests are a critical factor in this preliminary decision.

The department is attempting to expand and strengthen its research activities and graduate students will play an important role in this endeavour. Almost all faculty members in the department receive external or internal funding to support their research programs.