Graduate Students

Undergraduate versus Graduate at SFU

The vast majority of exchange students at SFU are admitted as undergraduates. At Simon Fraser University, undergraduate degrees are generally four years in length. This means that many exchange students who are graduate students at their home universities may actually be better suited to take undergraduate Upper-Division courses (300 and 400 level) at SFU, especially if they are in the first year of their graduate degrees.  Note that being admitted as a graduate student may impact which SFU Residence building for which you are eligible.

Graduate Exchange Application and Admission Process

Graduate applications must be approved by the relevant academic unit. Some of SFU’s graduate programs are oversubscribed, or are otherwise unsuitable for hosting exchange students. As such, admission to your preferred graduate program is not guaranteed. Once you have been nominated and applied for exchange with all of the required documents, we will submit a request to the academic department in which you have indicated wanting to take courses or conduct research. If you are approved by this department, you will be admitted to the university as a graduate student under this department. If you are planning to take courses, you will be required to take at least one graduate level course in this department and access to courses from additional departments cannot be guaranteed. If the request is not approved, we will ask for an alternative department in which you want to take classes. If it is not possible for you to be admitted into a suitable graduate department, we can admit you as an undergraduate student, if you wish.

Graduate Exchange Options

All exchange students are required to maintain full-time student status through their exchange period. Graduate students may meet this requirement in one of four ways:

  • Enrolled in at least 6 units of graduate courses per term
  • Enrolled in at least 3 units of graduate courses and 3 units of undergraduate courses per term (this option is not available in Computing Science)
  • Enrolled in 3 units of graduate courses per term and pursuing research
  • Pursuing full-time research

During the application review process some graduate students may be advised to be admitted as undergraduate students.

Graduate Courses

Graduate students will only be able to apply for courses from one department, and this is the department to which we will request students to be admitted. While you can request courses from additional departments, access cannot be guaranteed.

There are many specialized and cohort-based graduate programs at SFU, which exchange students may not be able to access. If you are considering attending SFU as a graduate exchange student please email to discuss the types of courses you want to take and whether this will be possible. For example, graduate-level courses offered in the Beedie School of Business are restricted, as all Graduate Business programs are cohort based.

 Graduate Research

Graduate students hoping to pursue research during their exchange will need to find an SFU supervisor. It is expected that you will maintain contact with your home supervisor, and that the role of your SFU supervisor will be to introduce you to SFU resources and provide general oversight during your time at SFU. While we will support you throughout the process, and you can email with questions, it will be your responsibility to ensure that you have a supervisor for your research.

If you will be pursuing research at SFU, email SFU’s International Advisors at to discuss the immigration documents you may require.