Student Status

All graduate students are required to maintain continuous enrolment. This means when a student finds it necessary to interrupt their studies, they must apply for a leave of absence before the term begins as per Graduate General Regulation 1.8.4.

Policies regarding withdrawal from courses and/or the University are found in Graduate General Regulation 1.8.3.

Before applying for a leave, international graduate students should consult with SFU International Student Advising and Programs to ensure that they comply with the conditions of their study permits.

Leave of absence

During a leave of absence graduate students are not enrolled and normally should not use any of the University's facilities or resources, or undertake academic or research work related to the program from which they have taken a leave of absence. Typically a leave of absence begins on the first day of an academic term and approval for the leave is obtained before the term begins. Students in their first term should apply for an admission deferral rather than a leave of absence. A retroactive request for a leave of absence will not be allowed unless there are documented extenuating circumstances (see 1.8.3).

Awards for which the terms and conditions are established by SFU will be interrupted at the onset of the leave of absence and will resume at the termination of the leave period, provided the student returns to full-time study at that time. The duration of the award will not be changed from the time the award was initiated. Awards for which the terms and conditions are not established by SFU will be paid according to the terms and conditions established by the donor or granting agency.

There are four types of leave:

  1. Personal Leave
  2. Parental Leave*
  3. Medical/Compassionate Leave*
  4. Academic Break
See Graduate General Regulation 1.8.4 for more detailed information on the different types of leaves.
 
* Supporting documentation is required for a parental leave and a medical/compassionate (including family care) leave. Examples of supporting documentation are: Health Care Provider form (filled out by the health care provider), birth certificate, adoption papers, letter, any information that provides support for your request.
 

Extended leave of absence

Graduate students may apply for an extended leave of absence, beyond the three term limit, for medical/health reasons. It is recommended that students discuss with their supervisor/faculty advisor whether it is in their best interest to temporarily discontinue their program and then apply for readmission when their circumstances have been resolved. Responsibility for approving an extension to a leave of absence rests with the dean of graduate studies and should have the support of the student's senior supervisor (or faculty advisor) and the chair of the student's graduate program committee. Supporting documentation (i.e. Health Care Provider form) is required with an application for an extended leave of absence.

See Graduate General Regulation 1.8.5 for more information.

Withdrawal from courses

Course withdrawals may be implemented after the registration period has ended. Students who wish to withdraw from one or more courses must do so within time limits specified in the academic calendar of events at the front of the Calendar.

Graduate students can withdraw from courses for any reason up to the ninth week of the semester (exact dates vary from year to year). There is no academic penalty for this, but departmental permission is required (see Graduate Regulation 1.8.3). No tuition refunds will be made if a student withdraws from a course, except as mandated by tuition fee rules. The notation WD will be entered on the student’s transcript.

Graduate students who withdraw from their courses for extenuating circumstances (e.g. medical, family reasons) may provide documentation (i.e. Health Care Provider form) of these events up to the twelfth week of the term. With suitable documentation, the student will be permitted to withdraw from one or more courses.

Upon petition and documentation from the student, the Tuition Appeals Committee may grant a full or partial tuition fee refund. The notation WE will be entered on the student’s transcript.

Erasing student records and retroactive change of status

There is no provision for erasing student records. Once a student has registered for a course, that course will remain on the student’s record, with a WD or WE grade on the transcript if the student withdraws.

As noted above, there is no provision for retroactively granting on-leave status. Very rarely, students are diagnosed with serious medical conditions that have affected their performance during previous terms. Requests for retroactive withdrawals may be considered on a case by case basis. Medical documentation and consultation with the Centre for Students with Disabilities and the graduate program are always required.

Summary table of options

SUMMARY TABLE - Leave of Absence

Category

Reason

Characteristics

Limit

Personal Leave

Any reason other than those defined below

  • no fee
  • counts towards time limit
  • departmental approval
  • SFU scholarships/awards are interrupted during leave; duration of the award will not be changed

Maximum 3 terms

Academic Break(or scheduled break)

  • Course availability (no courses offered for program within that term)
  • scheduled break within a program (i.e. summer term)
  • no fee
  • does not count towards time limit
  • departmental approval
  • SFU scholarships/awards are interrupted during leave; duration of the award will not be changed
  • international students may be eligible to work full-time off campus

Maximum 1 term per year with no consecutive academic breaks.

Students in a thesis program are not eligible for an academic break.

Parental

Childbirth or adoption

  • no fee
  • does not count towards time limit
  • Dean of Graduate Studies approval
  • requires supporting documentation
  • SFU scholarships/awards are interrupted during leave; duration of the award will not be changed

Maximum 3 terms for each childbirth or adoption (including twins, triplets, etc.)

Medical/ Compassionate

  • Medical
  • Bereavement
  • Family care

Normally a maximum of 3 terms per reason.

 

SUMMARY TABLE – Withdrawals

Student Need

Per-term Students

Per-unit Students

Notes

To withdraw from one or more courses (possibly for medical or family reasons)

Submit request to grad program chair before end of 9th week.

No refund.

Submit request to grad program chair before end of 9th week.

If remaining in at least one course, refund is 75% by day 25 of semester; 50% by day 53 of semester.

100% refund if withdrawal is done by day 13 of semester.

WD grade notation. (WE after 9th week, or if for medical or family reasons.)

To withdraw completely for semester or permanently from program

(a) failure to enroll by deadline will automatically result in program withdrawal

(b) within semester, must write Director, Graduate Admissions.

Refund is 75% by day 25 of semester; 50% by day 53 of semester.

For any other refund, documentation and letter of appeal must go to Dean before end of semester.

(a) failure to enroll by deadline will automatically result in program withdrawal

 (b) within semester, must write Director, Graduate Admissions.

Refund is 75% by day 25 of semester; 50% by day 53 of semester.

For any other refund, documentation and letter of appeal must go to Dean before end of semester.

100% refund if withdrawal is done by day 13 of semester.

WD will be recorded on all courses for a complete semester withdrawal.

Date of notification of Director, Graduate Admissions, will be date recorded on transcript for a complete withdrawal from program.

Downloads

* Health Care Provider form.pdf
Filled out by the Health Care Provider
* GradWithdrawal.pdf
Graduate course withdrawal
* WithdrawalExtenuating.pdf
Withdrawal - Extenuating Circumstances

See also full list of forms for graduate students.