COVID-19 Info for Grad Students

This page features recent information shared with graduate students to address the impact of COVID-19 on their studies. To learn more, see the University's Campus Life page; and for general information about COVID-19 and the UAlberta community, visit ualberta.ca/covid-19.

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: Because of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, the information provided on this page is as accurate as possible at the time of publication. We will keep you updated as things change. (Last updated: August 16, 2021)

Graduate Courses and Learning

How will university courses be delivered in the Fall 2021 term?
Please see this page.
Can I still complete my Professional Development and Ethics requirements and take Graduate Teaching and Learning programming?
FGSR continues to provide virtual and online resources for you to work on and complete your Professional Development and Academic Integrity and Ethics requirements, as well as benefiting from the Graduate Teaching and Learning Program. Please check our website and visit our Professional Development Online Suite for more details. If you are a currently registered student, you may participate in this virtual and online programming. All events are added to campusBridge, and training opportunities can be found on our PD events page.

Supervision, Examinations and Convocation

How will the University's COVID-19 guidelines affect my final oral examinations (in thesis-based master's and doctoral programs)?
Please speak with your department administrator. (FGSR's modified guidelines for such exams are available here.)
My final oral examination includes a public seminar or performance component. How should this be handled?

Please speak with your department administrator.

Managing Finances and Program Requirements

I am facing financial difficulties in the context of COVID-19. What should I do?

Students facing immediate financial difficulties due to COVID-19 should explore the sources of emergency funding detailed here, and learn more here

You may also have questions about how other funding mechanisms, such as scholarships/awards and GRAs/GTAs/GRAFs, have been affected by COVID-19. Begin by speaking with your department about this and consulting this document (CCID required); if you have additional questions, we at FGSR will do our best to help. You can reach us at grad.mail@ualberta.ca.

I am an international student with concerns about my finances in the context of COVID-19. What options are available?

University of Alberta International has provided these updates addressing various issues related to international graduate students' finances. This resource, produced by FGSR, may also be useful (CCID required). Note as well that current international students facing immediate financial concerns due to COVID-19 may explore the sources of emergency funding detailed here

Please also review this page and consult with an advisor at International Student Services (advising@ualberta.ca) to ensure that you have explored all options available to you.

International students requiring financial support to assist in covering additional costs associated with Canada's quarantine requirements may be eligible for an International Quarantine Support Grant. Learn more here.

Should you have additional questions, we at FGSR will do our best to help out; you can reach us at grad.mail@ualberta.ca.

I am an incoming or current international student with concerns about immigration, study permits, online studies, self-quarantining rules, travel restrictions, and/or other subjects. Where should I go?
University of Alberta International has provided these Updates on Immigration, Travel and Employment to help you with these issues. In addition, UAI has provided this important information on Travel to Canada during COVID (see also these Non-Discretionary Travel Updates, which include information about obtaining a travel letter). Please contact an advisor at International Student Services (advising@ualberta.ca) if you have additional questions.
I am the recipient of a Tri-Council award. What options are available in light of COVID-19?

The agencies will continue to support training award holders who, given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation, can only devote part-time hours to their research. They may continue to hold their awards and will be paid at the full amount. The amount will not be prorated, and the end date of the award will remain unchanged.

Please continue to refer to the COVID-19 webpages for CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC for the most current agency program updates.

Award recipients who are interested in applying these exceptions to their award should contact the FGSR Awards team at grad.awards@ualberta.ca.

May I apply for a leave of absence (LoA) to deal with COVID-related issues?

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 discuss your circumstances with an advisor at advising@ualberta.ca.)

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.

May I apply for part-time status to deal with COVID-related issues?

Students in thesis-based programs who find that certain kinds of COVID-related personal circumstances prevent them from working full-time on their programs may be eligible to apply for part-time registration status. Please note that not all circumstances qualify a student to submit such an application; the full policy can be found on the FGSR website. Students who are eligible to apply can find the Part-Time Registration Status form in the FGSR Forms Cabinet under Records.

It is very important to reason through this decision with your supervisor since a move to part-time status will affect a student's eligibility to hold or apply for most scholarships and awards.

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. Contact an advisor at advising@ualberta.ca.

Pursuing Research

I am not sure how to proceed with my research program. Whom should I speak to?

If you are currently in the midst of a research project that has been or will be affected by circumstances related to COVID-19, we encourage you to discuss it with your supervisor and department, and to consult the directives and guidelines on research posted by the university here. (Note that it is important to ensure full compliance with the university's guidelines.)

If you, your supervisor or your department contacts are looking for additional information, we are happy to help as and where we can. Contact us at grad.mail@ualberta.ca.

What is the current status of U of A research during COVID-19?
Please see this page.
How can I maintain hygiene and safety in shared offices and labs?
See this information from the Department of Environment, Health & Safety. Note as well that policy on the use of masks and other personal protective equipment is available here.
What are the regulations regarding field research?
For information, visit this page.
How can I modify my community-based research project?
Please refer to this document.

Resources for Graduate Students

What academic supports are available online in the spring and summer terms?
All University services are open with many operating online or in-person during the fall term, including academic support and advising.

During the fall term, Academic Success Centre workshops and one-on-one advising are offered online and free of charge for U of A students. Working with professional facilitators and advisors, you can develop your skills in writing, planning, exam skills and communication. To learn more about their services, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/academic-success-centre/index.html.

For students with permanent documented disabilities and chronic physical and mental health conditions who require academic accommodations, contact the Academic Success Centre at arrec@ualberta.ca or visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/academic-success-centre/accessibility-resources/index.html

The Centre for Writers offers free online peer tutoring to provide writing support for students from all faculties and disciplines. To book an appointment, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/centre-for-writers/online-tutoring.html.

The Office of the Student Ombuds offers its confidential advising service remotely. With the goal of ensuring that university processes related to students operate as fairly as possible, the OSO team offers information, advice, and support to students, faculty, and staff as they deal with academic, discipline, interpersonal, and financial issues related to student programs. To learn more or to book an appointment, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/ombuds/index.html.

To view the complete list of academic services and resources, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/academic-resources/index.html.
I need support, or I just want to talk. Where can I turn?
Currently, University of Alberta counselling and advising services are offered through a variety of remote and in-person options. For the complete list of U of A health and wellness services, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/wellness/index.html. For those unsure of whom to speak to, call or text 2-1-1 and their community referral specialists can direct you to the appropriate on- or off-campus service. Learn more at https://www.ab.211.ca/.

Counselling and Clinical Services' individual and group counselling, initial consultations (IC), and psychiatric appointments will be offered in-person or remotely. CCS drop-in mental health workshops will continue to occur through online video conferencing. For more information, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/counselling/index.html.

As well, the Peer Support Centre is offering remote appointments for students needing someone to talk to. Visit https://su.ualberta.ca/services/psc/.

For students needing to talk about academic fairness concerns, the Office of the Student Ombuds offers their confidential advising service remotely. To learn more or to book an appointment, visit https://www.ualberta.ca/current-students/ombuds/index.html.
How can I stay up to date on COVID-related news?
Return regularly to this page for grad student-specific information. In addition, the University's Campus Life in Fall 2020 page provides valuable updates for students; the GSA likewise provides helpful information. And don't forget to consult the University's COVID-19 page, which contains news of interest to the whole campus community: ualberta.ca/covid-19.
How can I access FGSR's services?

As of Monday, March 23, 2020, the physical FGSR office in Triffo Hall is no longer open. Our staff are, however, working remotely and continue to meet the academic mandate of the Faculty for graduate programs.

From 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mountain time on Monday to Friday (except statutory holidays), students can arrange to speak to a graduate student advisor via Zoom. Access our Virtual Counter here.

You may also reach us at the following contacts for general and specific inquiries:

• General Inquiries: grad.mail@ualberta.ca
• Admissions Inquiries: grad.admissions@ualberta.ca
• Online Applicant Inquiries: grad.webadm@ualberta.ca
• Program Services Inquiries: gradserv@ualberta.ca
• Awards & Scholarship Inquiries: grad.awards@ualberta.ca
• Professional Development Inquiries: gradpd@ualberta.ca