COVID-19 FAQs for Grad Students

As we work to keep our communities safe and healthy, we're also here to keep you informed as things change, sometimes quite rapidly.

We are working remotely and will address your inquiries through our ticketing system, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm.

Last updated: May 21, 2020

Primary Sources of Information

Q: Where should I look and who should I connect with if I have questions?

A: Information will come to you from multiple sources at SFU. In addition to the links (above), please pay particular attention to the following:

  1. SFU COVID-19 FAQs: This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date source of information from SFU. https://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/alerts/sfu-community-frequently-asked-questions-about-coronavirus.html
  2. Student Services Bulletin: you will receive updates directly to your SFU email addresses. We are working with them to ensure that information is also sent to you.
  3. Your graduate program assistant: your graduate program staff are also working remotely. We are continuing to work with them to address your inquiries. Please continue to be in contact with them via the appropriate means.
  4. Your supervisor: It is important that you remain in contact with your supervisor. Develop communication and research plans for you both while you work remotely.
  5. International students: international student advisors are available to provide the most up-to-date guidance and resources to assist you. Please connect with them, here: https://www.sfu.ca/students/isap/contact.html
    Additional information can be found here: http://www.sfu.ca/students/support/us-and-international-students.html
    Immigration and medical insurance: https://www.sfu.ca/students/isap/international-faq-covid19.html
  6. Additional SFU Services (SFU Library, ORS, GSS, TSSU, etc.): they are also working remotely and will continue to provide relevant updates as required. Each of these services has information about how to connect with them on their websites.
If you have additional queries that do not seem to be addressed via the channels mentioned above, please submit a ticket or send an email to gradstdy@sfu.ca. We will respond as quickly as we can.

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Defences

Q: How should I prepare for an online defence?

A: At this time, we are recommending you use Bluejeans to conduct your defence remotely, with no one attending in person. We also recommend a secondary form of electronic communication as backup (e.g. Skype). Note, you may live stream or share the public parts of your defence over social media, but only if this does not require an SFU technician.

The audience is only allowed to attend the open portion of the examination via video-conference. This includes the your presentation and the questions from the examining committee and (optionally) the audience. Once the questions have been completed, the chair must request that the you and the audience sign off. The committee then makes the decision about the outcome of the examination according to GGR 1.10.2. You should be invited to re-join the video-conference once the decision is made.

Please check with your Graduate Program Assistant for further information for conducting online defences using videoconferencing.

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Q: I defended in the Spring term but missed the April 30, 2020 deadline for thesis submission. What are my options?

A: Accommodations have been made for you to submit your thesis to the Library by May 11, 2020 (for defences up to April 30, 2020) for graduation in Spring 2020 with no need to pay summer tuition. If you cannot make the May 11, 2020 deadline, please contact our office and we will deal with requests on a case-by-case basis.

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Finances and Awards

Q: Where can I find some sources of financial support?

A: While not a comprehensive guide, we have collated some sources of financial support found at SFU, through the Government of Canada and through the Government of British Columbia. Download this guide for Graduate Student Support. (Note: this document is subject to change.)  

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Q: What kind of financial assistance am I eligible for?

A: Financial Aid and Awards – Bursary Application Deadline - all students
The Bursary application for Summer 2020 is currently open for all new and current graduate students (both domestic and international). The deadline to apply online and submit your completed application is Friday, May 22nd, 2020 (11:59 pm PST).

To apply, please log in to the Student Information System at go.sfu.ca - Then click Self-service, Student Centre, Apply for Bursaries/Work-Study. 

Notification on whether you will receive funding or not, will occur around the week of June 29th, 2020.

For more information please visit the SFU Financial Aid and Awards website.

Please check Financial Aid and Awards, you may qualify for bursaries

Need to connect with a Financial Aid and Awards Advisor?
If you can't find an answer to your question through our website, please connect with a member of our financial aid and awards advising staff. We are available by phone 778-782-6930 or via email at fiassist@sfu.ca.  

Phone contact hours are currently available as follows: Monday – Friday – 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
*subject to change without notice

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Q: What is happening with the UPass program?

A: TransLink is continuing discussions with post-secondary school and student association representatives about potential refunds for students not using their April passes. Students not needing their April U-Pass are encouraged not to use it and to check their school, student association or TransLink’s U-Pass website for further updates.

  • The U-Pass BC program is offered to students under agreements in place between TransLink, participating colleges/universities and their associated student societies. Students pay for this pass through mandatory student fees.
  • Post-secondary institutions and student associations are working with TransLink to temporarily suspend the U-Pass BC program as of May 1.

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Q: Will I need to pay the Recreation-Athletics fee for the summer term?

A: No. Given that all Athletics and Recreation programming and activities are currently suspended, and all sport facilities closed, SFU will not be assessing the Recreation-Athletics fee (RAF) for the summer 2020 term, regardless if Athletics and Recreation facilities re-open part way through the summer term. http://www.sfu.ca/students/support/

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Q: How can I receive award payments and refunds?

A: Award payments and refunds (via direct deposit and cheques) will continue in accordance with the graduate awards payment schedule. The vast majority of you are enrolled in Direct Deposit, but for the few who are receiving physical cheques, the method to pick-up in person from the registrar's office has changed. Learn more.

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Q: Are there any employment or co-op opportunities available?

A: SFUs Career and Volunteer Services has a page that they're updating specifically for summer employment opportunities and working remotely.

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Graduate Progess  

Q: I am a domestic student. Is there an option for me to go on leave for the Summer 2020 term because of COVID-19?

A: Yes. Due to COVID-19, we are extending our current Compassionate Leave process for Summer 2020 to include such requests. The semester on leave will not count toward your time to completion and GPS will not require any specific documentation. Please contact your Graduate Program Assistant for more information about the Compassionate Leave process for Summer 2020.

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Q: What are some of the things I should be aware about in considering taking a compassionate leave over the Summer 2020 term?

A: It is your personal decision to take a leave and we want to provide further information to factor into your decision.  

Access to services and continuing research while on leave
When on leave, emergency supports like MySSP and access to Health & Counselling services may be available but you would not be eligible to access any other campus services. Students on leave should not be continuing with their research or meeting with their supervisor to discuss their academic progress, or to receive financial aid or scholarships. 

TAing and research funding on leave
While you can TA on leave, your ability to receive research funding depends on what you will be working on. If the research you are working on is in support of the faculty member hiring you, you would be considered employees and this would be permissible.

Work and leaves
In some instances, if you are considering a leave for financial reasons, unless you have an off campus job, there may be opportunities for you to receive more funding while enrolled as a student rather than going on leave.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The Canadian government does allow international students to apply for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefits (CERB). Please visit the government website to apply. Note: on this page, under their "Questions and answers" section, you will see, "Can you receive Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you are not a citizen or permantent Resident?" Their answer, "Workers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents -- including temporary foreign workers and international students -- may be eligible to recieve the Benefit if meet the other eligibility requirements."

Western Deans Courses and Summer Term
If you would like to remain enrolled over the summer term to take advantage of some of the benefits of being a student, there is an opportunity to make academic progress in this unique situation. We are working with the Western Canadian Deans of Graduate Studies to allow for late enrollments for online/virtual classes from universities across Western Canada that are being offered during the COVID-19 closure period.

Click to see lists of courses offered by Royal Roads University and the University of Winnipeg.

Royal Roads University
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, a select number of seats in the following Royal Roads University online graduate courses have been opened to registration under the Western Deans Agreement (WDA). Registration is limited and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified students. If one of the courses listed below is of interest to you, please contact your Graduate Program Assistant and Supervisor asap.

Courses from May 25 - August 2, 2020:
PCOM530: Strategic Digital Communication (3 credits) (MA in Professional Communication)
MGMT 540: Intercultural Studies for International Business (3 credits) (Master of Global Management)
MGMT 561: Political Geography and International Economics (3 credits) (Master of Global Management)

Courses from June 1 - August 2, 2020:IICS 560: Global Communication (3 credits)
(MA in Intercultural and International Communication)

Courses from June 1 - August 9, 2020:
GBLD 521: Community Development in a Global Context (3 credits) (MA in Global Leadership)

Courses from June 8 - August 9, 2020:
BUSA 513: Delivering Customer Value (3 credits)
BUSA 522: Creating Customer Value (3 credits)

Courses from June 8 - August 14, 2020:
MGMT 566: Ethics, Law and Corporate Social Responsibility (3 credits)
(Master of Global Management)

Courses from June 15 - August 16, 2020:
BUSA 531: Environment of Business (3 credits) (MBA in Executive Management)
BUSA 632: Understanding Economics Decision Making (3 credits) (MBA in Executive Management)

Courses from July 13 - September 13, 2020
HUMS 672: Public Images of Justice and Fairness (3 credits) (MA in Justice Studies)
HUMS 661: Risk and Crisis Communication (3 credits) (MA in Disaster and Emergency Management)
HUMS 652: Adaptive Management for Complex Humanitarian Problems in the 21st Century (MA in Conflict Analysis and Management)
 
Courses from July 13 - September 20, 2020
INDS 525: LGBTQ2S+ Global Issues and Community Engagement (3 credits) (MA Interdisciplinary Studies)
 
Courses from July 27 - October 4, 2020
 
Courses from August 24 - October 25, 2020
BUSA 523: Corporate Finance (3 credits) (MBA in Executive Management)
 
Courses from September 28 - December 6, 2020
 
University of Winnipeg
Registration is limited and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified students. Course descriptions listed in their timetable.
 
Courses in Cultural Studies Program
GENG-7112 (3) Topics in Cultural Theory: Land (May 4 - June 15, 2020)
Asynchronous on Nexus
ONLINE - High speed internet is mandatory. Section material is accessed via nexus.uwinnipeg.ca
Instructor: H. Snell

This course explores cultural theories about land produced in and across three regions: North America, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. Since what counts as “theory” varies culturally, we begin by troubling this term. Taking Leanne Simpson’s “Land as Pedagogy” as a starting point, we then consider the various forms in which theory and land might collide in fascinating and politically important ways. We focus on innovative theoretical engagements with land that deploy a wide range of types and genres, from poetry to film. Special emphasis is placed on texts that offer counterpoints to colonialist-imperialist views of land as property and resource. In our consideration of theory hailing from the Pacific and the Caribbean, we also consider the relationship between land and water. Sea theory can be considered alongside land theory as an attempt to think critically about the world. 

In addition to receiving credit for written, audio, and/or visual work, students receive credit for a critical autoethnographic project in a medium of their choice. Examples include, but are not limited to, graphic sketching, stand-up comedy, mapping, sensescaping, soundwalking, mapping, performance, photography, fashion, and fantasy curation. Both students in the Curatorial Practices and the Texts and Cultures streams are welcome. This course should be particularly valuable to students who desire a more in-depth study of the intersection at which cultural theory, combined methods, and research practice meet.

Note that this is a compressed course that takes place over 6 weeks. There are accordingly twice as many “class” hours per week than in a regular course. Classes will consist of individual creative autoethnographic exercises, reflections, written lectures and -- providing students are willing and able -- virtual meetings via Zoom.

 
Courses in Master's in Development Practice: Indigenous Development Program
GDP-7713 (3) Business Planning in Indigenous Communities
Online. Scheduled class times will take place using an online platform. Students are expected to be available during the posted lecture times for live streaming and/or group interactions. MTuWThF 9:00 - 16:00
Instructor: N. McCorrister
In many Indigen
ous communities, people are turning to new ventures as a way to create income and as a way to meet community needs. This course will introduce the basics of innovation and help students understand the stages involved: from clarifying the idea to planning and implementation. Students complete a business plan during the course, including marketing, budgeting, and strategic and feasibility planning within the business plan as well as the creation of financial projections. Students are also introduced to the basics of not-for-profit management and corporate social responsibility.
 
Courses in Master of Management Program
GBUS-7210 (3) Business Strategy (May 4- July 29, 2020)
ONLINE
Instructor: S. Albert

Business Strategy will introduce you to the tools used to assess strategy and the process of strategic management in organizations from the perspective of senior management. You will be provided with a framework to diagnose and solve critical problems in organizations using cases (some live), exercises and discussions, touching on all management disciplines: accounting, finance, human resources, marketing, operations, information technology, and innovation. Although this approach emphasizes the senior management’s perspective, functional specialists are also expected to understand the entire organization and how they contribute to the organization’s mission and objectives. Since this program emphasizes innovation and technology, we will include discussions and cases that incorporate these topics in the development of strategy and in the assessment of the operational impacts of technology and innovation.


The intent of the course is to encourage students to reflect and think critically on how they would correct a problem and the factors that must be taken into consideration in making a decision when planning a successful implementation. The modules and topics throughout the course encourage the student to balance the linear approach of strategic management with a holistic perspective of the organization.

Q: Can international students go on compassionate leave for summer 2020 due to COVID-19 and still be eligible to work?

A: In regards to working on or off-campus, given that COVID-19 is beyond your control, we anticipate that if you are an international student who was eligible to work on or off-campus, you can continue to work on or off-campus even if you have been forced to drop to part-time studies or take a break in studies. However, you are still subject to the authorized number of hours you would have been permitted had you been a full-time student. Therefore, you can work part time (up to 20 hours a week) off campus during an academic session and full-time during a regularly scheduled break. Source: https://cbie.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/200320-ircc-covid19-EN.pdf

Please note, at this time, this information has not yet been posted on the IRCC website. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/visitors-foreign-workers-students.html

As graduate students at SFU don't have a "scheduled break" in the summer term, we interpret this may mean that on an exceptional basis, individuals on "compassionate leave" who met all of the eligibility requirements to work on or off campus, would continue to be permitted to work 20 hours off campus, as well as up to full time "on campus". See https://www.sfu.ca/students/isap/explore/enrollment/studying-working/active.html

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Q: I’m an international student. Can I withdraw from a course?

A: Withdrawing from courses may impact your study permit. We ask that you consult with an international student advisor before withdrawing from a course.  

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Q: How long do I have to complete deferred work from Spring 2020?

A: The DE (deferral) grade deadline for graduate courses taken in the Spring 2020 term has been extended until the Summer 2020 grade deadline term (August 26, 2020). This additional time should allow you to successfully complete all course requirements and to move forward in your program without financial penalty or adding more time to your degree.

Note: Completion of Spring 2020 deferred coursework during Summer 2020 does not constitute continuity of enrollment for Summer 2020. (See GGR 1.4.1 and 1.4.5)

NOTE: Please work with your course instructor to set deadlines for submission of term work.  

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Q: What are my grading options in Spring 2020?

A: You may request a Deferral (DE) for as many courses as you wish. DE is a temporary grade, which warrants an extension to allow you additional time to complete course requirements. If facing challenges with completing course work on time, it is recommended utilizing this option before considering any other options listed below. Only the DE option will provide you with a letter grade.

For Spring 2020 only, you may choose a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) or Aegrotat standing (AE) designation instead of letter grade for any of the course work that you are currently enrolled in. Both notations will count towards the University minimum requirements but will not affect your GPA.

The rarely used Aegrotat standing (AE) may be used in the cases when a course is rendered incomplete due to a medical situation, or other exceptional circumstances. Given the unusual situation of this term, with the switch-over to online course delivery, you are able to apply for an AE notation to recognize the course was incomplete.

NOTE: Consultation with your supervisor or graduate program chair is required prior to applying for any of the above options.

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Additional Sources of Support

Q: I'm working at home and my computer/internet connection isn't working. What can I do?

A: IT Service has some information and links to software and support. You can connect with them with questions.

There is also a technology fund set up to help you work effectively online. Please check out the Financial concerns webpage, which details funding and support available for a number of specific needs. If you require more technological support for your online research and teaching, you can check out the question regarding “remote learning.” All of the emergency financial aid requests begin with a person-to-person phone call with someone at Financial Aid and Awards at 778-782-6930. For more information, please contact fiassist@sfu.ca.

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Q: I'm feeling anxious/isolated/lonely right now. Where can I go to get help with my mental health and/or well-being?

A: Your health and well-being is important to us. In addition to the services offered through SFU’s Health & Counselling Services and MySSP, our office has collected and collated some resources to ensure that you are taking the time and space for self-care where ever you may find yourself at this time.

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Q: I don't think I'm being treated fairly. Who can I contact for support?

A: If you're not able to get support through the channels mentioned above, you can connect with the SFU Ombudsperson. They are an independent, impartial and confidential resource for students. They provide information and assistance on issues relating to students' rights and responsibilities, and University regulations, policies and procedures. Please contact them at ombuds@sfu.ca and 778-782-4563.

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Q: I'm looking for additional support and information. Where else can I go?

A: While there is a lot of information out there, SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre has put together a comprehensive website of information and resources. Learn more at wegotchu.ca

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Q: I'd like some suggestions with how to transition to an online learning environment or help my undergrad students do so. What resources are available?

A: SFU Centre for Educational Excellence has a number of workshops, resources, and helpful suggestions for remote learning. Graduate Students can take advantage of their support. SFU Student Services also prepared a toolkit for online learning that you might find useful.

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Newly Admitted Students

Q: What are my options for submitting my final transcripts?

A: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made adjustments for students who have been admitted only.

Please note: We accept securely delivered digital transcripts.

If this option is available, please feel free to have your institution(s) send them directly to us at gradap@sfu.ca.

If these aren't currently available, we understand that some documents may be delayed, and ask that you check back with your institution(s) until such a time as they can be sent. 

If, by mid-June, your transcripts are still not able to be sent, please contact your program to inform them, so that they can liaise with our office regarding your documents.

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Newly Arriving Graduate Students to Canada

Q: I am an international student who recently arrived in Canada and I’ve been asked to self-isolate. What does this mean?  

A: All travelers arriving in Canada are required by law to self-isolate (quarantine) for 14 days. Please see our self-isolation guide to learn more about how to self-isolate and what contactless options for getting food (necessities) are available.

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Q: I am an international graduate student and have questions regarding my immigration status (e.g, effect of taking distance learning courses online on my post-graduation work permit and/or can I start my program online from my home country). Who should I contact?

A: Newly admitted international graduate students who have concerns about their immigration status (study permit, post-graduate work permit, visa) should contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist at International Services for Students. As every international student's situation is unique, Immigration Specialist with proper knowledge and training will provide more credible answers based on your program and individual circumstances. For more information, please visit COVID-19 FAQ for International Students.

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Fall 2020

Q: Will classes be held in-person or remotely for the fall 2020 term?

A: To ensure the health and safety of all our community members, most instruction will continue to be delivered through remote methods with some exceptions where there may be some in-person instructional activities, such as some graduate classes, laboratory-based classes, and co-op education, where the learning objectives associated with such activities cannot easily be replicated through remote instruction and provided that personal health and safety can be maintained. However, these will be limited and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. More information about which classes/activities will be in-person will be made available soon.

As we are still learning more, please continue to check here or with your Graduate Program as more decisions are made in the near future.

Please direct your inquiries to your Supervisor, Graduate Program Assistant, or send an email to us: gradstdy@sfu.ca.

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