During these unusual times you may find yourself unable to make progress on your research due to a lack of access to libraries, labs, and field work. You may also be prevented from devoting your full attention to your studies because of childcare demands, homeschooling your children, or caring for other family members, among other reasons. In these situations, you may consider taking an exceptional leave of absence (LoA), which is an administrative option to help preserve your time in program when you are unable to continue working on it full time.
We understand the complexities that COVID-19 has created for our students' lives and want to reassure students that taking a LoA will not prejudice your academic standing or continued progression in your program in any way. This is an administrative option to help reduce stress as it relates to your studies so that you can focus on other things in these trying times.
Is a Leave of Absence Right for Me?
There may be financial implications to this option so you should discuss your particular situation with your supervisor. For example, when you are on an LoA you are not registered as a student, meaning that you will not be paying tuition and your time in your program is paused. You are therefore unable to hold any TAships or RAships during a LoA. Any awards that you hold through Tri-Council or through the U of A will be paused until the time that you are once again registered. (Awards outside of the Tri-Council or U of A may have different requirements.)
Note as well that international students should consult with University of Alberta International (UAI) before applying for a leave of absence or transitioning to part-time registration status to avoid unintended impacts on study permits, visas or ability to obtain a post-graduate work permit. (Please review this UAI webpage and discuss your circumstances with an advisor at email@example.com.)
Students who do not wish to take a leave of absence now but nonetheless find their research is not advancing at the pace it otherwise would have in a non-COVID-19 reality can also consider, at a later date, applying for a program extension, as needed, in order to finish final program requirements. We understand that COVID-19 will be an event affecting our graduate students for the foreseeable future and FGSR will do everything it can to support student success and program completion.