Graduate Program Manual

5.11 Application Evaluation

Minimum Academic Record for Admission

Applicants to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) must have obtained a University of Alberta baccalaureate degree or its academic equivalent from this or another recognized academic institution.

Degrees can vary greatly from institution to institution. Consequently, the University of Alberta is obliged to examine in detail the content of courses completed elsewhere by students seeking to enroll in a graduate program in order to establish equivalencies between these courses and those offered at the University of Alberta.

This examination has as its goal the establishment of curricular equivalencies, and with it the appropriate placement of incoming students, and can entail, among other things, a comparative assessment of syllabuses, consultation with departments, and discussions with other institutions.

In seeking the appropriate placement of its students, the University of Alberta strives to optimize their opportunity to succeed academically, while maintaining a high standard in its graduate programs.

To qualify for admission students must have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on the 4-point letter grading system used at the University of Alberta, or an equivalent standing from another recognized academic institution. The admission GPA will normally be calculated on the most recent course work and over a total number of units of course weight equivalent to two years of undergraduate full-time study.

When it is not possible to evaluate a 60 units of course weight grade point average or equivalent, the evaluation will be based on the overall coursework completed for the degree(s). Failing marks and reexamination marks are included in the GPA calculation. Individual departments may require a higher average.

International documents can be evaluated over 60 credits, over the last 10 full course equivalents (60 course weights), over the last two years, or on the overall marksheet/transcript. In most cases, they are evaluated over the last two years. The reason for this variety of approaches is that the unit value of courses and the year of completion of the courses are not always provided on international marksheets/transcripts.

(FGSR Council, 1988/02/19, 2002/05/10; editorial updates 2004/04/21)

Admission with Conditions

In certain circumstances, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research or the academic unit may impose conditions on an applicant’s admission. Such circumstances include academic qualifications that are difficult to assess or below the minimum standards required by the program.

The conditions will be clearly stated in the admission letter followed by the statement that if the student fails to satisfy the stated conditions by the required deadlines, the student may not be allowed to continue in the program.

Examples of admission conditions include:

  The requirement for the receipt of various documents.

  The successful completion of a specific English Language Proficiency test.

  The requirement to take a specific set of courses, and achieve certain grades, or grade point averages, within a specified time.

An applicant who has met some or all of their admission conditions prior to arrival at the University of Alberta may request confirmation of the fact from the FGSR.

In the absence of exceptional circumstances, students admitted with conditions will not be permitted to register in project courses. In no circumstances will students admitted with conditions be permitted to register in directed reading courses.

If a student meets all of the conditions of admission, they may continue in the program; if not, the department will recommend, in writing, one of the following to the Dean, FGSR:

1. That the deadline for meeting the unfulfilled condition(s) be extended, with no new conditions being imposed.

2. That the student be granted another term with conditions. This recommendation must include (a) an indication of how the Failure in or Failure to Complete a Course in the first term of registration will be managed (see Failure in or Failure to Complete a Course or Research Work of the University Calendar) and (b) specification of a minimum number of graduate-level courses which are to be taken by the student and the minimum academic performance required.

3. That the student not be permitted further registrations in the program. This written recommendation to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research must include a rationale for this decision.

Any student who does not meet the conditions of a second term of registration will not be permitted to continue in the program.

(FGSR Council 2013/10/16 and ASC 2014/01/16; FGSR Council, 2005/09/16)

Master's Bypass

Exceptionally qualified students holding a four-year baccalaureate degree can bypass the master's degree program and be admitted directly into a doctoral degree program.

If a student is currently enrolled in a master's degree program, and the department wants to move the student to a doctoral degree program without completing the master's degree program, the department can recommend this with a Recommendation for Change of Category or Academic Standing form, stating supporting reasons for the change.

All students who have been recommended for a Master's Bypass must have a supervisory committee set up and the supervisory committee must approve the recommendation for a change of category to a doctoral program.

A master's bypass does not constitute a new admission.

Duplicate Degree Admission Policy for Applicants with a Doctoral Degree

Applicants will not be admissible to a doctoral degree program at the University of Alberta if they have previously obtained a similar or identical degree. (FGSR Council, 1996/05/22) See also Admission>Academic Requirement section of the University Calendar.

Subject to budgetary constraints, consideration may be given to the possibility of a post-doctoral fellowship or a position as a visiting scholar. Departments wishing to admit an applicant to a doctoral degree program who has already obtained a doctoral degree elsewhere should advise FGSR as to why the prior degree is not similar or identical.

Guidelines for Considering Life Achievement

Among the applicants not meeting the minimum admission requirements are applicants who do not have a university undergraduate degree.

Such applicants may be admitted to a graduate program based on demonstrated significant life achievement.

The two key aspects underlying the decision to admit in such cases  are:

  • Demonstration of distinguished life achievement by the applicant of a scholarly, creative, or professional nature in a field related to their intended program of study, and

  • Evidence that the applicant is likely to succeed in handling the rigor of the particular graduate program.

Applicants who are likely to be considered for admission based on life achievement are:

  • Applicants who received their undergraduate degree five or more years ago with a GPA of less than 3.0, but more than 2.7;

  • Applicants who received their undergraduate degree 10 or more years ago with a GPA between 2.3 and 2.7;

  • Applicants who received their undergraduate degree 15 or more years ago with a GPA of less than 2.3; and

  • Applicants with no undergraduate degree, who have distinguished themselves in a career spanning more than 15 years.

One example of an applicant in this latter category is someone who has been working in a research laboratory, has gained considerable experience, and has co-authored a number of papers. The applicant's knowledge of the field is at a level where the applicant can be expected to successfully complete both the required courses and an acceptable thesis.

Another example is an applicant who has met the rigour of professional certification and has made distinguished and innovative contributions to that profession.

Either of these applicants may have also proven an aptitude for academic work through past successes in completing university-level courses.

This is not a "normal" route for admission to the graduate program. The provisions explained above are intended to be invoked only in exceptional cases.