Graduate Program Manual

7.11 Approved Leave of Absence

There are four grounds for granting a leave of absence from an academic program: medical, parental, professional (experience or development), and compassionate.

Authority to grant medical and parental leaves resides with the department. A leave of absence for compassionate reasons or professional leave may only be granted by the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR).

Leaves of absence are leaves from one’s academic studies. An academic leave has implications for current academic employment. Employment and pay are not handled by FGSR. Students should refer to the Graduate Student Agreement Resources on the Human Resource Services website for more information.

It is the student’s responsibility to inform any agencies providing scholarships or an employer requiring enrollment of the leave from the program. Awards and scholarships will be extended by the duration of the leave, so long as it does not contravene the terms of the funder.

Note for International Students: In accordance with Canada's immigration policy and student permit regulations, international students are not permitted to pursue paid employment in Canada while on an approved leave from their program. For more information, contact International Student Services.

The time limit for completion of the degree will be extended by the duration of any approved leave of absence.

Timing and Duration:

A leave of absence is approved/granted for up to one year at a time and the leave periods must coincide with full terms. If a leave is initiated part way through a term and approved, the leave will be backdated to the beginning of the term or begin at the beginning of the next term.

Students cannot request a leave from the first term of the program. They may request a deferred admission or withdraw and seek admission at a later date. Students who are unsure about the appropriate start and end dates for a proposed leave of absence and how these dates align with the University's four-term system, should initially consult with the graduate program administrator and graduate coordinator within their department, and if still unsure, with the FGSR.


A departmental decision not to grant a medical or parental leave may be appealed to the FGSR. The FGSR will only consider an application for a leave of absence, or an appeal of a negative departmental decision, that is supported by documented compelling reasons. Decisions of FGSR are appealed through the FGSR academic appeals process. 

Leave Documentation:

Medical Leave:
To be acceptable, documentation submitted to support an application for a leave of absence on medical grounds must contain, at a minimum: 

  • The student's name, as well as complete contact information for the physician or nurse practitioner;
  • A clear statement by the physician or nurse practitioner confirming the student's inability to perform his or her academic duties, with start and end dates.

Such documentation will be required by FGSR to support an appeal of a negative departmental decision regarding a leave of absence on medical grounds.

Parental Leave:

A parental leave must be supported by proof of pregnancy, birth/adoption or physician’s report.

Professional Leave:
A professional leave must be supported by documentation from the employer and/or agency involved that indicates the nature of the professional experience and the duration of the appointment. The professional experience must add value to the career. Professional experience integrated into thesis work will not qualify for a professional leave.

Compassionate Leave:

A compassionate leave must be supported by a written explanation of the circumstances necessitating a leave. Additional documentation may be required at the discretion of the Dean FGSR.

Leave Procedures:
Regardless of the type of leave, students must complete an Application for Leave of Absence form and submit it, with the supporting documentation, to the graduate coordinator in their department, who upon approval, will then forward the completed and signed form to FGSR. The Application for Leave of Absence form is available in the FGSR Forms Cabinet under "Records".

There can be no registration during the leave of absence.

Students may opt to pay a subset of fees to maintain access to certain university services as indicated on the Application for Leave of Absence form.

A student must return from an approved leave of absence by the specified date indicated on the application form in order to continue in the program of studies. Students in thesis-based programs must register in the term in which they return from the leave. Students in course-based programs must register for at least one term in the academic year following their return from the leave.

The student’s place in the program of studies is maintained during an approved leave of absence. Readmission to the program will not be required.

Students may end a leave of absence early providing the start coincides with the beginning of a term.

(FGSR Council, 2016/11/23; FGSR Council, 2011/12/14)