Milestones & Pathways Program

Milestones and Pathways is a Faculty of Arts & Science initiative, supported by the School of Graduate Studies Innovation Fund, that aims to support graduate students as they progress through their studies and prepare for their careers.

  • Milestones activities help students reach key benchmarks in their graduate training, including passing departmental examinations and writing dissertations.
  • Pathways activities provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in careers within and outside academia. These activities may include alumni networking opportunities and professional development workshops.

Faculty-Wide Activities

In addition to Milestones and Pathways activities at the academic unit level, the following Faculty-wide activities are offered to Arts & Science graduate students:

  • Milestones and Pathways Write-on-Site Initiative
    • A series of coordinated writing events throughout the term for graduate students working on their dissertations. These events include day-long writing camps, as well as weekly writing groups.
  • Exploring Careers Off the Tenure Track
    • A day-long workshop and information session for doctoral candidates considering careers beyond tenure-track academic positions. Over the course of the day, participants will explore the multiple career options available to PhDs outside the traditional academic job market through reviews of current labour market research and small group discussions with recent Arts & Science doctoral alumni who have found rewarding and stimulating careers outside academia.

If you have any questions about the Milestones and Pathways program or developing an activity within your unit, please contact Joel Rodgers, Milestones and Pathways Coordinator (, or Sharon Kelly, Research & Graduate Academic Planning Coordinator (

Academic Unit Activities

Proposals may be submitted for academic, unit-led Milestones and Pathways activities. Units in the Faculty of Arts & Science may request funding support between $1,000 and $5,000 for each proposed activity.

Faculty members, staff or graduate students (with a faculty or staff sponsor) may develop and submit proposals. You must submit your proposal through a primary academic unit, but you may also propose activities across cognate units or departments. 

Proposals are accepted and reviewed on a monthly basis. There is no deadline for funding, but please allow five weeks from the time of submission for the committee to review and reach a decision about the funding request.

  1. Download the 
  2. Submit your request. (A copy of your application will be sent to the primary contact person identified on the form, as well as the graduate director or chair of the affiliated unit.)

Your application and proposal must provide the following information:

  • The primary unit/department submitting the request for funding support;
  • A contact person and their email address (i.e., someone who can be contacted, if needed, for further information about the proposed activity);
  • A brief title, description and rationale for the proposed activity;
  • The number of graduate students who will be participating in the activity;
  • The total amount of funding requested, including a budget outlining how the funds will be spent.

Below is a set of general toolkits for developing Milestones and Pathways activities, as well as brief descriptions of successful proposals for unit-led activities. In addition, our graduate writing instructor, Dr Daniel Newman, is available to develop and run an assortment of writing-based activities.

More Information

Graduate writing instructor, Dr. Daniel Newman, is available to offer the following writing support formats within units or departments. Each format can be modified to suit the needs of individual departments, programs, cohorts and individuals:

  • In-House Consultations: At regular intervals (TBD), Dr. Newman books a room in your building to hold drop-in consultations about any writing-related issue. These consultations, of up to 30 minutes, can be held one-on-one or with a small group of students.
  • Clinics: These are one-off events targeting a specific writing issue, skill or genre. They can take the form of a lecture, tutorial or workshop, or else combine instruction and more hands-on workshopping. Popular topics include clinics on OGS Proposals, Starting Your Dissertation/Thesis, Turning a Chapter into an Article, and Writing Abstracts for a Conference Paper.
  • Seminars: Seminars are like a creative writing workshop, but for academic writing: they combine directed writing exercises and discussion with regular peer reviewing of work in progress. Seminars are ideal for students who need a structured environment, a sense of accountability and a supportive community to help ensure productivity.
  • Embedded Content: In collaboration with members of your department’s graduate faculty and/or graduate students, Dr. Newman develops writing support to be incorporated within existing frameworks— from graduate core courses to departmental colloquia and student gatherings.
  • Writing Boot Camps.
  • Writing Groups: Such groups are organized and run from within units, but units can apply for operational funding from the Milestones and Pathways program. At the request of the group, Dr. Newman could occasionally (or regularly) sit in and run brief workshops or strategy sessions.
  • Writing Retreats: Retreats are organized and run from within units, but organizers can apply for operational funding from the Milestones and Pathways program. At the request of the group, Dr. Newman could join the retreat for a short period to run brief workshops or strategy sessions

About Graduate Writing Instructor Dr. Daniel Newman

I started working at the Faculty of Arts & Science in January 2019. My role in the Milestones & Pathways program is to develop, lead and administer writing instruction and support programs for graduate students. The best forms of writing support will vary greatly, so I have designed a wide range of basic formats; each format can be modified to suit the needs of individual departments, programs, cohorts and individuals. I am able, on my own or in collaboration with faculty and/or students, to customize materials and modes of delivery. I am also always available to consult with faculty and/or students interested in hosting a writing-related event or launching a unit-led writing initiative. Before coming to A&S, I worked at the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication (School of Graduate Studies), where I taught mainly science writing. I have also taught in the English Departments at Trent (Durham) and Concordia, and held a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at McGill. I received my PhD in English Literature from the University of Toronto, where I also completed a M.Sc. in Zoology (now Ecology & Evolutionary Biology). For more on my research and teaching, see my personal website.

PDF iconToolkit - On-Campus Writing Group (PDF)

The on-campus writing group is designed to provide graduate students with a supportive community and regular, structured meetings to focus on a writing project over several weeks or months.

PDF iconToolkit - Off-Campus Writing Retreat (PDF)

The off-campus writing retreat is designed to provide graduate students with a structured, supportive environment to focus on a writing project in a condensed period of time.

PDF iconToolkit - Preparing for Departmental Examinations (PDF)

This toolkit offers information and resources for offering a workshop geared towards helping graduate students prepare for departmental examinations.

PDF iconToolkit - Professional Skills Workshops (PDF)

This toolkit offers information and resources for offering workshops aimed at supporting the development of skills necessary to academic or non-academic work.

The following is a selected list of unit-led activities supported through the Milestones and Pathways program:

Dissertation Writing Clinic (Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science & Technology)

A weekly 3-hour writing clinic providing thesis-stage graduate students with a comfortable, distraction-free working environment. The clinic runs from September to November and January to May.

Professional Development Seminar for Graduate Students (Centre for the Study of Global Japan, Munk School of Global Affairs)

A half-day seminar, featuring guest speakers and faculty, examining key stages and strategies in the professional lives of individuals who are completing or have completed their PhDs.

Archaeological Sciences Group Events (Anthropology)

A coordinated series of colloquia, symposia and workshops devoted to professional development. Workshops include training and accreditation in specific research methods and technology (e.g. handheld x-ray fluorescent spectrometry).

“Rockfest” Research Presentations (Earth Sciences)

A weekly seminar series hosted by the Association of Graduate Earth Sciences Students, providing a platform for graduate students to present results from their research and receive feedback from their peers and faculty members.