Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies Unit Review Update: June 2024

A look at the progress made in the year since the external unit review.


We’ve been renovating at the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (GPS), and I’m thrilled to share this update with our community! 

In the spring of 2023, GPS, formerly FGSR, underwent an external unit review. The reviewers — Cheryl Misak (University of Toronto), Fahim Quadir (Queen’s University) and Robin Yates (University of Calgary) — provided many recommendations. The most important of these for our University of Alberta community was that: 

“The leadership, coordination and administration of graduate studies and postdoctoral affairs at the U of A must remain centralized under a cohesive one-university unit. It is our strong recommendation that these overarching roles and responsibilities remain with a newly named Faculty of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.”

In response to this review, we have undertaken many changes, including our new name, the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies. More importantly, we have been actively working to improve how we interact with our partners across campus to collaboratively uplift the graduate student and postdoctoral researcher experience at the U of A.

The most transformative result of this work is the recent endorsement by GPS Council of guaranteed minimum funding for all doctoral students in years one to four of their programs, beginning in the fall of 2025. 

We have also made numerous changes to our policies and processes to streamline our work with our partners and centre equity and inclusivity. These include streamlining conditional admissions and deferrals; updates to thesis policies that make room for evolving formats for the products of students’ knowledge creation and creative work; updates to postdoctoral fellow categories not represented in the collective agreement; changes to how academic standing is determined when there is remediation of failed grades; and new graduate certificate admissions pathways that increase accessibility to graduate education. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has engaged with the project team that is working hard with GPS to transition the U of A graduate studies application platform to SLATE: this work will support a more transparent, efficient application and admission process in the future and will elevate the way in which we serve and work with all of our campus partners to provide an outstanding student experience right from the start.

While we are hard at work on implementing these changes, student success and partnerships across the institution are foremost on our minds, and we seek to demonstrate a transformed faculty that holds tight to the values of delivering an outstanding graduate student- and postdoctoral researcher- centred experience and of building excellence in graduate education by serving the university as a “cohesive, one-university unit.”

What’s next

As we look at the opportunities and challenges ahead for graduate studies and postdoctoral research at the U of A, we continue to pursue a refreshed GPS and are taking the opportunity to review who we are, the work we do and how we serve and work with our students and postdoctoral researchers.

This year GPS is engaging in an action planning process as we seek to make the U of A a leader in graduate and postdoctoral education, practices, ideals and values. We hope to collect your input and ideas on where we are going and how we work together to get there — stay tuned for details!

We have made many improvements over the past year, and we look forward to working with you as we continue to prioritize streamlined administrative processes and practices, policy revision, system optimization, digital transformation and engagement with our partners. Our collaborative work will support outstanding experiences for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, including through innovative professional development opportunities, increased financial supports and continued attention to building robust supervisor-student relationships and mentoring networks.

Together, we can tackle many challenges, including creating exciting, sustainable graduate programming pathways for new and diverse learners and attracting talented and curious student and postdoctoral researchers to our growing community. I cannot wait to see what we will do!

Find more details on the changes we’ve implemented and what we’re working on next as a result of the External Review of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.


About Tracy

Tracy Raivio, PhD, is vice-provost and dean of the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) at the University of Alberta. Tracy has a deep commitment to the cultivation of support for and success of the U of A’s more than 8,300 graduate students and 500 postdoctoral fellows, who pursue study and work in virtually every field imaginable: from the humanities to the physical sciences, nursing to neuroscience, cosmology to nanotechnology. Tracy provides leadership through advocacy, seeking to foster a collaborative approach to graduate education and supervision across campus and the elevation of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the wider community.