7.11 Approved Leave of Absence

Refer to Approved Leave of Absence in the Calendar.

For further information on Approved Leave of Absence, refer to Policy Updates on the GPS website.

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 GPS. 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 Maternity and/or Parental, Exceptional or Professional leave of absence.


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 GPS.

Leave Documentation

Regular Leave

A regular leave must be supported by a clear written explanation of the circumstances necessitating a leave. 

Exceptional Leave

Medical grounds

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 GPS to support an appeal of a negative departmental decision regarding a leave of absence on medical grounds.

Compassionate grounds

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, GPS.

Maternity and/or Parental Leave

A maternity and/or 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.

Leave Procedure

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 GPS. The Application for Leave of Absence form is available in the GPS Forms Cabinet under "Records".

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.