Understanding Your Role

Student Responsibilities

Student Declaration

The student declaration is important. It imposes obligations on you as a graduate student and affects rights and privileges including property rights. You must not enrol as a student at the University if you do not agree to become bound by the declaration below. By agreeing to become a student, you make the declaration below and agree to be bound by it.

Upon enrolling in classes, you have initiated a contract with the University and you are bound by the following declaration:

I hereby accept and submit myself to the policies, rules and regulations of Simon Fraser University and any amendments thereto, which may be made while I am a student of the University, and solely to the laws of the Province of British Columbia and the federal laws of Canada, as applicable, and I promise to observe and be bound by the same and, in any litigation, to attorn to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of the Province of British Columbia or Canada, as applicable.

Graduate Student Handbook

Policies, Rules, Regulations & Ordinances

University Level

You are required to inform yourself of the policies, rules and regulations, and ordinances (including bylaws and codes) and to any amendments thereto applicable at the University. These regulations may change during the course of your program and it is your responsibility to review and follow the current applicable policies.  

Program Level

It is your responsibility to be aware of program requirements stated in the Calendar. Should the academic program requirements change during your credential, please contact your graduate program chair as you may select to use the program requirements which are most beneficial to you.

You must also adhere to any additional handbooks or guidelines provided by your program.  

Program Rules & Regulations

SFU Calendar →

Important Policies to Understand

Enrolling or Applying for Leave of Absence

It is your responsibility to enroll or apply for a leave of absence before the start of the term. It is your responsibility to ensure that Student Services has the proper information regarding courses in which you should be enrolled (in your Student Service Centre in GoSFU). You may only receive credit for courses in which you are officially enrolled according to Student Service’s records. If you are not enrolled or not on an approved for a leave of absence by the end of the 6th week of classes within a term, you will be discontinued from your program.

If you enroll for a course and subsequently need to withdraw from that course or all courses, you may do so yourself until week 9 in GoSFU. It is essential that you understand the applicable deadlines, transcript notations and refund policies. See Enrollment under Managing Your Program for more details. 

Time Limits for Program Completion

Time limits for completion are intended to encourage you to complete your program and not unnecessarily protract your graduate education. They are not intended to be the normal times for completion and incorporate a wide variety of extenuating circumstances and events that may delay completion. The time limit in a graduate certificate, diploma, or master’s program is nine terms from the start of the program. The time limit for a doctoral program is 18 terms. Individual programs may specify their expectations of normal credential completion times as a guide to determining whether your progress is satisfactory.

If you have reached your time limit, you may be able to apply for an extension. Each program has their own conditions and guidelines.

Graduate General Regulations

Read about Time Limits and Extensions →

Student Conduct

The S.1.50 Academic Integrity and Good Conduct Policy defines your basic responsibilities as an academic community member, defines non-academic student misconduct, and provides procedures and outcomes to be invoked if you engage in such behaviour. You are responsible for your conduct which affects the University community. The code shall not be construed to unreasonably prohibit peaceful assemblies, demonstrations or free speech.

Student Support, Rights & Responsibilities

Visit the Office of student support, rights & responsibilites →

Academic Integrity

Simon Fraser University is committed to creating a scholarly community characterized by honesty, civility, diversity, free inquiry, mutual respect, individual safety, and freedom from harassment and discrimination.

Academic dishonesty, like other forms of dishonesty, includes misrepresentation with intent to deceive or without regard to the source or the accuracy of statements or findings. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University; it is furthermore unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.

Academic dishonesty in any form will not be tolerated. You have a responsibility to ensure you are familiar with the standards and requirements of academic honesty. Ignorance of these standards will not preclude the imposition of penalties for academic dishonesty.

You are responsible for understanding what constitutes plagiarism and ensuring you do not commit any acts of plagiarism.

Understand & Avoid Plargarism

SFU’s Library website offers an online tutorial to help you gain a better understanding of plagiarism as it is defined in Canada. 

Avoiding Plagiarism →
Plagiarism Tutorial →


Students should be proactive in coming to an agreement on expectations between themselves and their supervisors.

All graduate students at SFU have some form of faculty supervisor. In some programs, the program director assumes supervisory responsibilities for the students. In research-based programs students will have a supervisor and supervisory committee. Unless otherwise stated, the graduate program chair will act as a newly admitted student’s faculty advisor until a supervisor (if appropriate) is appointed. Supervisors should be appointed as soon as possible, but, no later than the beginning of the second term. For those programs requiring students to have a supervisor, we advise students to consider available supervisors during the application process to SFU.

Supervisors & Guidelines

Read more about the list of expectations and a guide to coming to an agreement about expectations with your supervisor.

Learn more about supervisors →

Distributing & Witholding Research Results

In most graduate programs, the student completes original scholarly research as part of the graduate program. The generation of new knowledge through scholarly research is one of a university's main functions in society. In most cases, the research is reported in a thesis which is presented and defended at the end of the program.

In some Master's programs, the research component is more limited in scope and the work constitutes a project or two extended essays, which are presented and examined, either through a formal defence or a review of the written work, at the end of the program. In some other Master's programs, a research component is contained in the course work and there is a final Field Examination based on the areas covered by the coursework.

Students have an obligation to make the results of their research accessible (above and beyond distribution of the thesis) to an appropriate audience through publication. The form of publication will vary according to the discipline and level of the program but may include books, journal articles and conference presentations.

In exceptional circumstances, the results of the research may be withheld temporarily because of pending patents or licences or because of financially sensitive information. In no case may the results be withheld indefinitely.

Research Distribution

Read more about the list of expectations and a guide to coming to an agreement about expectations with your supervisor.

Graduate General Regulation 1.11.3 →
Thesis Publication Postponement Request Form →


All research plans involving human or animal subjects must receive ethics approval. Copies of the policy, procedures and forms for this review may be obtained from the Office of Research Services.

Research at SFU is conducted under the general authority of the Vice President, Research who administers several relevant University policies; for further information on these policies, consult the Office of the Vice President, Research.



Intellectual Property

The result of research is the generation of new knowledge. The "ownership" of that new knowledge, especially when it is knowledge with commercial implications and/or results in scholarly publications, is a sensitive issue. The question of ownership in the context of the student-supervisor relationship is often complicated by the close collaboration between supervisor(s) and student during the course of the research. It is further complicated by the fact that the University and possibly an outside agency provide resources (e.g. space, library, equipment, supplies) in support of the research.

At Simon Fraser University, unlike many other universities, the person (student, staff or faculty member) who generates patentable new knowledge is the owner of that knowledge; the University makes no claim on it, unless the University is asked to help with the patenting of the idea. The main federal and provincial agencies which support university research through research grants (NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR and SCBC) also make no claims on the results. On the other hand, copyrightable new knowledge (e.g. books and software) is usually owned jointly by the author and the University.


The question which is most likely to cause difficulty is the calculation of the degrees of "ownership" held by the student and by the supervisor(s) who are involved in the research. There are no University regulations governing this area and research contracts normally do not differentiate among the University researchers as to which of them retain the rights not claimed by the sponsoring agency.

It is therefore very important that students and their supervisors reach agreement, in advance, on the principles under which the "ownership" of patent and license rights and the authorship of resultant publications will be decided. Because of the uncertainties intrinsic to research, it is often not possible to agree in advance on the rights to specific discoveries. The principle that all students who participate in research that leads to publication (or profit) should receive appropriate credit should be maintained.

There is very wide variation among the disciplines in the style and nature of supervision and in the degree of involvement of the supervisor(s) in the research. Therefore, it is not possible to provide further guidance that would be generally useful; some academic units have their own policies in this area and students should consult the graduate program chair.


Intellectual Property

Read more about ownership of intellecutal property.

Patent Policy [R30.02] →
Copyright Policy [R30.01] →
Intellectual Property Policy →