Resources for Faculty and Staff

FGSR Policy Updates

The following items have received GFC approval and will be published in the 2021-2022 Calendar.

The date of approval, final approver, and implementation date are indicated at the top of each item.

  • Approved Leave of Absence

    Approved Leave of Absence

    Approved March 19, 2020 by GFC Academic Standards Committee with delegated authority from General Faculties Council to take effect on approval.

    This policy will come into operation for Spring Term 2020.

    Leaves of absence are approved periods of time away from a student's program of study. There are four types of leaves: regular, exceptional, parental, and professional.

    Exceptional and Maternity and/or Parental leaves are normally reviewed and approved by a student's department. Regular and professional leaves must be approved by the Dean, FGSR.

    Students must have completed at least one full term of registration in their programs before they are eligible to apply for a leave of absence.

    While on an approved leave of absence, the student is not to work on their program of study or engage in thesis research/activities. In instances where a student is found to be working on their program while on approved leave, FGSR may rescind the leave, add appropriate registration and fees, and update time in program to include this period. This would result in the student having to pay full fees and would cost time in program.

    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 in and successfully complete a minimum of ★3 in coursework in at least one term in the portion of the September to August period that immediately follows their return from 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 will be required to demonstrate knowledge currency if a period of combined leaves exceeds ten (10) years from the start of the program.

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

    Regular Leave
    A regular leave of absence permits a student to voluntarily take time away from their program of study to meet responsibilities/plans related to personal situations, travel, employment opportunities, or circumstances not covered by the other leave categories. In consultation with the student's supervisor and Associate Chair (graduate programs), a recommendation can be made to the Dean, FGSR to approve such a request. While official documentation is not normally required to support a request for a regular leave, a clear explanation for why it is being sought is.

    A student is permitted to take one regular leave for no more than one (1) year total in their program of study. The leave period must coincide with full terms.

    Registration in M REG 900 will be added for the duration of an approved regular leave. No tuition will be assessed for the period of the regular leave; however, the student will be assessed off-campus non-instructional fees.

    The regular leave period will be included in the time period allowed for the completion of the student's program of study.

    The regular leave category enables a student to stop working on their program with a justified rationale for doing so thus avoiding a negative annual progress report (since it is understood and documented that no progress will be made during the leave period), which could otherwise impact their academic standing.

    Exceptional Leave
    In exceptional circumstances for medical and/or compassionate reasons, a student may request a leave of absence from their program of study. Supplemental documentation must accompany the leave request and cover the dates specified.

    Exceptional leaves will be granted for up to 12 months at a time. The leave period must coincide with full terms. If more time is needed, students may apply for consecutive leaves.

    The student will not be required to maintain registration or pay tuition and fees while on exceptional leave. Students may opt in to selected non-instructional fees at the time they apply for the leave.

    The exceptional leave period will not be included in the time period allowed for the completion of the student's program of study.

    An exceptional leave of absence is not intended to cover circumstances related to employment or financial concerns.

    Maternity and/or Parental Leave
    A graduate student who is expecting a child, or who is the primary caregiver of an infant or young child immediately following birth or adoption is eligible to take a maternity and/or parental leave of absence. Supplemental documentation must accompany the leave request and cover the dates specified.

    A maternity and/or parental leave of absence will be granted for up to 20 months. The leave period must coincide with full terms. If more time is needed, students may apply for a subsequent exceptional or regular leave.

    The student will not be required to maintain registration or pay tuition and fees while on maternity and/or parental leave. Students may opt in to selected noninstructional fees at the time they apply for the leave.

    The maternity and/or parental leave period will not be included in the time period allowed for the completion of the student's program of study.

    Professional Leave
    Students who have an opportunity for an internship or employment that is of high value to their career development but which would disrupt progress in their degree program may be eligible for a professional leave. Supplemental documentation from the employer must accompany the leave request and cover the dates specified.

    Supplemental documentation must indicate the nature of the professional experience and specify the kinds of skills the student will be developing, and how they will enhance the student's professional development. The professional experience acquired during the leave must add value to the student's future career aspirations. Professional experience integrated into thesis work does not qualify for a professional leave.

    A student is permitted to take one professional leave for no more than one (1) year total in their program of study. The leave period must coincide with full terms. If more than one (1) year is required to take advantage of an exceptional professional opportunity, the student can consider a regular leave of absence with the understanding that their time in program will not be adjusted to accommodate the additional leave.

    The student will not be required to maintain registration or pay tuition and fees while on professional leave. Students may opt in to selected non-instructional fees at the time they apply for the leave.

    The professional leave period will not be included in the time period allowed for the completion of the student's program of study.

    Appealing a Leave Decision
    A departmental decision not to grant a leave may be appealed to the Dean, 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.

    M REG 900 Maintaining Registration while on approved regular leave of absence

    Students who are on an approved regular leave of absence will be registered in M REG 900 for the duration of the leave since it is understood that they are voluntarily taking time away from their program and thus are not working on their program of study.

    Tuition will not be assessed for the duration of the approved regular leave of absence. Students will, however, be assessed off-campus non-instructional fees.

    Students registered in M REG 900 - Maintaining Registration while on approved regular leave of absence are considered off-campus students.
    Time Limit for Completion of Graduate Programs

    The time limit (or the maximum period of time permitted to complete the requirements for a degree) is calculated from the start of the term in which the student first registers in that specific program or, if changing program category from another program, the start of the first term of the first program.

    Any time spent registered in Maintaining Registration (M REG 800) is counted in the time limit for completion. Any time spent as a qualifying graduate student is not counted in the time limit for completion. The time limit for completion of the degree will be extended by the duration of any Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR)-approved exceptional, parental or professional leave of absence.
  • Concurrent Registration in More than One Degree Program

    Concurrent Registration in More than One Degree Program

    Approved March 19, 2020 by GFC Academic Standards Committee with delegated authority from General Faculties Council to take effect on approval.

    This policy will come into operation for Spring Term 2020.

    Concurrent registration refers to the dual registration of a student in more than one academic degree program at a time. For graduate programs, it is meant to facilitate the completion of one degree (e.g. Master's) while not delaying the student from beginning a second degree (e.g. starting coursework for a PhD). All requests for concurrent registration in more than one academic degree program, including instances where the request includes a graduate degree program and undergraduate degree program, and/or program at another post-secondary institution, must be sent to the Dean FGSR for consideration and approval. If a student takes coursework declared extra to degree in one program for credit/advanced standing in the subsequent program, they must remain within the stated limits for transfer credit.

    Students who have been approved to register in more than one program (e.g. PGME students also completing a graduate program) must contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research office for approval to register in the graduate degree program. Registration in more than one program requires the consent of the department(s) and the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.


    Conditional Admission to a Concurrent Graduate Program
    In cases where a student has a conditional admission to a doctoral program subject to successful completion of a Master's degree at the University of Alberta, but has not yet completed it, the student may be concurrently registered for one term in order to complete the Master's degree.

    Extensions for concurrent registration beyond one term may only be granted by the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR), and only if an extraordinarily compelling case is made by the department. Extensions beyond 12 months of concurrent registration will not be considered. If the Master's program requires more than 12 months to complete, the doctoral program will be cancelled.

    In cases of conditional admission where the previous degree is being taken at another university, time allowed under the conditional admission is for providing official documentation, not for concurrent registration (see Admission with Conditions).

  • Conflict of Interest for Graduate Student Supervisory and Examination Committees

    Conflict of Interest for Graduate Student Supervisory and Examination Committees

    Approved March 19, 2020 by GFC Academic Standards Committee with delegated authority from General Faculties Council to take effect on approval.

    This policy will come into operation for Spring Term 2020.

    The key relationships are:

    • the supervisor to the student;
    • the supervisor to the other committee members;
    • the student to the committee members.

    Conflict of interest in these relationships is defined by the University of Alberta Code of Conduct Policy and the University of Alberta Conflict Policy – Conflict of Interest and Commitment and Institutional Conflict. Any personal or professional relationships that alter or affect this academic relationship may constitute a conflict of interest.

    In the event that a conflict of interest between the supervisor and another committee member on a supervisory or examination committee cannot be avoided:

    • the conflict must be openly disclosed to the student, in writing, by the department;
    • the student must be informed of their right to consent to the committee member or not. The student must also be advised that they can discuss their choices with an Associate Dean, FGSR, once the disclosure is made;
    • if the student does not consent, it would be the responsibility of the proposed committee member to recuse themselves and the student would have the right to continue working with the original supervisor and a different committee member without suffering any form of negative treatment and/or behaviour (e.g. intimidation, bullying, harassment) as a result of the decision;
    • the disclosure of the relationship and consent of the student must be recorded in writing and filed with the department and with the FGSR;
    • the conflict of interest must be disclosed on the annual UofA Conflict of Interest and Commitment form by the parties involved; and
    • the student may rescind their consent later in their program, but not after the final submission of the thesis to the supervisory committee for examination, if the measures put in place to manage the conflict of interest change or are perceived to no longer be effective. The student would indicate this change in writing to the department and the FGSR.

  • Part-Time Registration Status

    Registration Status

    Approved April 16, 2020 by GFC Academic Standards Committee with delegated authority from General Faculties Council to take effect on approval.


    This policy will come into operation for Spring Term 2020.


    Please note [May 6, 2020]: Addenda was added to Registration Status and Time Limit for Completion of Graduate Programs in the 2020-2021 Calendar to include this policy update.

    A student's registration status is determined automatically by the total units of course weight (including a project or a thesis where appropriate) in which the student is registered for credit in a given term. Audited courses are not included in the calculation of registration status.

    Courses extra-to-degree are included in the calculation of registration status.

    Registration Status for Thesis-Based Students

    Students in thesis-based programs will be admitted as full-time students. If a department wishes to admit a thesis-based student on a part-time basis, they must inform FGSR at the time of admission so that FGSR can code the student’s registration and fee assessment, accordingly.

    In thesis-based programs, time spent in a laboratory or library engaged in research or writing a thesis/practicum, or engaged in research elsewhere, counts towards the registration status;  appropriate registration in THES must be added/maintained.

    Changing from Full-Time to Part-Time Status
    Under certain circumstances, students who have begun their programs may request a change from full-time status to part-time status (see criteria below). For those programs who do not permit part-time registration, students will be required to follow those regulations and thus are ineligible to apply for part-time status.

    To be eligible for a change to part-time status, students must demonstrate one of the following:

    • an offer of full-time employment, or,
    • medical/family/other circumstances that now prevent them from working on their program full-time.

    A change to part-time status should be carefully considered by the student in consultation with their supervisor. If a change to part-time status is deemed appropriate, the student and supervisor will submit the request using the Part-Time Status form to the Department for approval.

    Requests for change to part-time status must be submitted to FGSR by the registration deadline of that term so that FGSR can code the student’s registration and fee assessment, accordingly.

    Students may not change to part-time status more than once within their program. Once a student changes to  part-time status, they may return to full-time status once, but cannot subsequently revert back to part-time.

    Students may not change to part-time status for financial reasons.

    Requests for retroactive part-time status changes will not be accepted.

    It is important to note that  all students in thesis-based programs must satisfy the Minimum Registration Requirements of their program.

    International Students and Part-Time Status
    International Students may not be eligible to apply for part-time status under their study permit regulations; they should contact International Student Services for more information to determine their eligibility.

    Graduate Student Employment and Part-Time Status
    Part-time students are eligible to hold GTAs and GRAs, in accordance with the GSA collective agreement. Note, however, that students who have signed a Letter of Appointment for a GTA and/or GRA may not be eligible for part-time status. Students should contact their departments for further information.

    Maximum Time in Program While Registered Part-Time
    Understanding that a change to part-time status is meant to facilitate a change in a student’s life where they are no longer able to work on their program full-time, maximum allowances for program completion still apply,

    Time in program will be adjusted when a student changes to part-time status as follows:

    • For every year (12 months) a Master’s student is registered as part-time, they will receive an additional four (4) months in time to complete their program;
    • For every two (2) years  (24 months) a PhD student is registered as part-time, they will receive an additional four (4) months to complete their program.

    • Maximum allowable time to complete a thesis-based Master’s program part-time is six (6) years;
    • Maximum allowable time to complete a PhD program part-time is eight (8) years.

    If a student is nearing the end of the maximum allowable time in program while registered part-time, they are required to submit an extension request to the Dean of FGSR following the same procedures used for full-time students.

    All extension requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and should include a clear explanation for the request and a detailed timeline explaining how the student will complete the remaining requirements of their program.

    Part-Time Status and Awards/Scholarships
    Part-time students are not eligible for most scholarships or awards administered by FGSR. For those students holding a scholarship and/or award while registered full-time, a change to part-time status may affect their eligibility to continue doing so. In these instances, students should consult Section 12 of the FGSR Scholarships & Awards Manual for direction. Normally, the “Forgiveness Policy” (Section 12.5) would preclude a student from having to repay a portion of a scholarship and/or award that may be affected by a change to part-time status.

    Time Limit for Completion of Graduate Programs

    The time limit (or the maximum period of time permitted to complete the requirements for a degree) is calculated from the start of the term in which the student first registers in that specific program or, if changing program category from another program, the start of the first term of the first program.

    Any time spent registered in Maintaining Registration (M REG 800) is counted in the time limit for completion. Any time spent as a qualifying graduate student is not counted in the time limit for completion. The time limit for completion of the degree will be extended by the duration of any Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR)-approved exceptional, parental or professional leave of absence.

    The time limit for completion of a thesis-based degree will be extended if a student has been registered as part-time status at any point in their program. See Registration Status for further information.

  • Readmission

    Readmission

    Approved March 19, 2020 by GFC Academic Standards Committee with delegated authority from General Faculties Council to take effect on approval.

    This policy will come into operation for Spring Term 2020.

    Failure to Maintain Active Registration
    If students fail to maintain active registration, their program of study will be cancelled by FGSR (see Maintenance of Registration).

    When a graduate student's program is cancelled, the student - supervisor/supervisory committee relationship is dissolved. Students without an active program are no longer entitled to supervisory advice/guidance/feedback on their program of study nor are supervisors and/or supervisory committee members required to provide it. Similarly, course based Master's students are not entitled to advice/guidance/feedback from program advisors.

    Further, and where relevant, any data a student collects while unregistered as a graduate student cannot be used for the purpose of their own thesis research since ethics approvals lapse when program registration lapses.


    Readmission

    If a student intends to resume work on their program, they must apply for readmission and have their program reassessed in accordance with the regulations in force at that time. Readmission is not guaranteed. If a student is recommended for readmission by their department, the student will pay a readmission fee, which will be assessed in addition to standard program fees in effect at the time.

    For thesis-based programs, when a student submits their request for readmission to complete their program, a request to reappoint the supervisor and reconstitute the supervisory committee must also be submitted, and is subject to approval by the Dean, FGSR.

    Students who are readmitted for the purpose of completing their degree program must be registered full-time until their final program requirement(s) are completed.

    Knowledge Currency
    Students seeking readmission ten (10) or more years after their initial program start date must demonstrate knowledge currency in their field of study. This may be accomplished through professional practice or other applied means. Appropriate documentation is required to demonstrate knowledge currency, which could include evidence the student is working as a professional in their field or a letter from the supervisor explaining how the student has remained current.

    The Department, in consultation with the student's supervisor, may also provide a recommendation that explains the student's familiarity with current theories, methods, and advances in the field of study. This recommendation should also indicate if the present requirements of the graduate program would still be met with the student's knowledge currency at the time of readmission.

    Students who have not remained current or cannot demonstrate currency in their field of study will be required to complete one or more of the following:

    • repeat required courses, or equivalents, offered at the time of readmission;
    • repeat comprehensive exams (or qualifying exams as specified by the student's program);
    • repeat the candidacy exam.

    Completion of one or more of the noted program requirements will ensure a student is knowledgeable in their field and that the research they complete and upon which their degree is conferred is current.

    A request can be made to the Dean, FGSR, to consider an exception. Appropriate documentation and a clear rationale submitted by the supervisor and approved by the Graduate Coordinator are required to support the request.