SFU Graduate Student Handbook

Effective September 2023 until August 2024



Terms + Conditions of Admission

Offer of Admission

Your offer of admission and funding (if applicable) is valid for no more than 21 days from the date of the offer, unless otherwise specified. Should you be unable to follow the specified timeline to accept your offer of admission, please contact the academic unit offering admission to discuss your options.

To officially accept your offer of admission,you will need to accept in goGRAD and pay the non-refundable deposit online. The admission deposit will hold your place in the program, will be applied toward your tuition in the first term, and is non-refundable. If you are unable to pay your admission deposit online, please refer to other payment options.  

Your admission is valid only for the academic term stated on your offer of admission letter. If you require a deferral of your admission to a later term, you must submit the request directly to the program to which you have been admitted. You are responsible for dropping courses within the refund deadlines from your original term of admission if your deferral is approved. Deferrals are not guaranteed. If your admission is contingent upon providing SFU with additional documentation, any required documentation (e.g. final transcript showing degree conferred) must be submitted to Graduate Studies prior to the beginning of the term you have been admitted unless specified.

Learn about Qualifying or Conditional admission.

Verification of Documents

By accepting our offer of admission, you agree to allow Simon Fraser University to submit the documents that you included with your application for verification by an external agency such as the World Education Service or the International Credential Evaluation Service at our discretion. In the event that any document, including all supporting documents (a reference letter, CV, etc.) is found to be fraudulent in any way, the offer of admission may be revoked regardless of length of time in the program.

Revoking and/or Rescinding Admission Offers

Students receiving offers of admission to most programs will have their offer of admission revoked and their eligibility to register cancelled if any of the following, or other factors deemed appropriate apply:

  • failure to accept the offer by the specified date or register by the deadline;
  • submission of fraudulent documents;
  • violation of our student code of conduct or laws of Canada;
  • were part of an admission decision mistake.

The decision to revoke an offer is never taken lightly.

Following Admission Acceptance (What to Expect)

Visit Getting Started to help guide you through your first steps as a graduate student.


goSFU is SFU’s secure student information system. Learn about the services available to you in goSFU.

Enrolling in Courses

Approximately two months before the start of your first term, you will receive an email that contains your SFU computing ID and instructions on how to activate it. Your computing ID is used as your login to the SFU email system, goSFU (used for enrolling in classes, ordering transcripts, reviewing fees, etc.), and as the access login to various other campus systems. Note the following:

  • Your computing ID is not your 9-digit student number, nor is it the same login information used to access the admission application portal.
  • You may self-enroll from the start date of enrollment up to the second week of the term. We advise you to enroll prior to the start of the term to ensure best selection of courses, access to any online content and to receive any award payments.
  • You will not be able to enroll in courses if you have been granted conditional admission with requirements due prior to the start of the term. Once your conditions have been met you will be able to register online.

Learn more about Enrollment.

Failure to Enroll

If you are not enrolled or not on an approved leave of absence by the end of the 6th week of classes within a term, you will be discontinued from your program. If you have been discontinued from your program, you may apply for reactivation in that same term. Once reactivated, students must maintain continuous enrollment for the length of their program.

If you fail to apply for reactivation you will not be able to enroll in subsequent term(s). When this occurs, you will need to apply for readmission.

Readmission is completed through the regular admission process and normally you must still be within your program time limit, plus three terms of possible extension time. A $90 readmission fee applies.

Students who are readmitted to their program maintain the same start date, time limit and program requirements from when they were first admitted to the program.

Tuition and Fee Structure

Learn about Tuition and Fees (payment, ancillary fees, late penalties) and take advantage of our Budget Calculator Tool.

Student Responsibilities, SFU Calendar + the Graduate General Regulations

Student Responsibilities

Familiarize yourself with your responsibilities as a graduate student at SFU. This includes the student declaration; important policies, regulations, and rights; academic integrity and more.

It is your responsibility to be aware of program requirements and Graduate Regulations 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 requreiments which are most beneficial to you.

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

SFU Calendar

The SFU Calendar outlines the faculties, academic programs, courses, fees and campus services. It is available online only, and is updated every term. The University reserves the right without liability or penalty, and without notice, to make changes in the services and programs it offers, and to cancel particular courses due to low enrollment.

Graduate General Regulations

The SFU Calendar contains the Graduate General Regulations, which provide a consistent and equitable framework for the pursuit of graduate education at SFU. These regulations are in effect ‘the rules’ for graduate study at SFU. They include important details on enrollment, leave of absences, examinations, supervision, time limits and much more. It is your responsibility to review and familiarize yourself with the Graduate General Regulations.


All graduate students at SFU have some form of faculty supervisor. Learn more about the GGRs related to Supervision as well as more information and guidelines for your supervisory experience.

Funding: Conditions + Regulations

Conditions of Admission Funding Offer

Your offer of admission and funding is valid for 21 days, unless otherwise specified in your admission letter. If you applied to several different programs, you may only accept one offer of admission and your funding will be tied to the department in which you accepted admission. You may or may not be offered funding for all programs.

The following rules apply to the Offer of Funding outlined within your admission offer:

  • Your funding is tied to your academic term of admission and subject to availability. If you must defer your admission, your offer of funding may no longer be valid; some funding sources cannot be deferred. You should consult the program that has made you the offer of funding to discuss options.
  • Your offer of funding is connected to both the degree and the program that recommended you for admission and funding. Cancellation of your funding will likely occur if you change your degree program, enroll in less than 6 units if in a per unit fee program, withdraw from your courses, choose to take time off from your program, or are not progressing at an acceptable rate. For example, if your offer of funding includes a scholarship and a Research Assistantship (RA) or Research Support (RS) positions in an MASc program in engineering, you will forfeit all your funding if you switch to an MEng program. It will be up to the new program to determine if a financial offer will accompany your admission to that program.
  • If you transfer to a PhD program from your master’s degree prior to completing your degree, a new funding offer is required at the time of transfer, as your previous funding offer was tied to your master’s degree. For master's to PhD transfers, the first term of your master’s is considered the ‘start date’ of your PhD.
  • The offer of funding is based on you not receiving support from external granting agencies, either domestic or international (ie., CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC). If you receive external agency funding at any time after accepting your offer of admission, you must notify your graduate program and Graduate Studies. In such instances, your offer of funding from SFU may be reviewed and changed, but in all cases the total amount of funding that you receive from your external award plus SFU funding sources will exceed your original offer of funding/financial support.
  • Most funding offers are based on an annual amount. The amount received each term may vary
  • Most funding offers include a variety of sources of financial support including Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA) or Research Support (RS) positions. In some instances, the funding sources may need to vary to meet the funding obligation but, subject to available funding, the total amount of support will equal or exceed the offer of funding.
  • Incidents beyond the control of your home department (e.g. a faculty member losing his or her research grant, job action, or changes in banking interest rates) may affect your funding. For example, if you are scheduled to TA in the fall term, but there is a strike, your annual funding will be reduced accordingly.
  • Teaching and research assistantship support is governed by collective agreements and funding agency policies. For example, your TA funding is covered in the collective terms of Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU).
  • If you decline any component of your funding offer (i.e. award or TA) your funding will be reduced by this amount for that academic year.
  • The offer of funding, exempting TSSU funding, is subject to your continued good academic standing and continued satisfactory performance and progress in courses and research. If you have been offered a specific award, you must continue to meet the terms of reference/eligibility for that award.
  • All major SFU entrance award recipients (ie., GDES, and IGES) are required to apply each year for external funding as long as they are eligible, such as CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC and/or an equivalent. Students who do not apply will forfeit remaining funding.
  • If you are offered an RA or RS position at the time of admission, but choose to switch supervisors, you will forfeit your RA or RS position offered by the original supervisor.

Regulations Governing Awards + Scholarships

Senate regulations govern university awards and various award holder guides govern funding from external sources/agencies. Award holders are responsible for reviewing and abiding by the appropriate regulations and guides. Senate regulations governing awards administered through SFU, state the following:

  • The annual maximum support you are permitted to receive from university administered awards and scholarships is $60,000 unless otherwise specified in the terms of reference for the award. This includes external agency awards administered by SFU (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC).
  • You must meet the terms of reference/eligibility for any award offered. This includes full time registration in your intended graduate program, maintaining good academic standing and continued satisfactory performance/progress in courses and research. This also includes the minimum CGPA of 3.50 (B+ to A- average), required for all merit-based awards.
  • For awards that are paid over more than one term or year, subsequent payments are contingent on you maintaining full time registration in your intended graduate program, maintaining good academic standing and continued satisfactory performance/progress in courses and research.
  • All awards are competitive and merit-based, and meeting the eligibility requirements does not guarantee that you will receive that award.

Funding: Merit-based Scholarship + Awards

Throughout your graduate program, you may have the opportunity to apply for, or be nominated for various internally and externally-funded awards and scholarships. We recommend reading email announcements from your department/school to stay informed about various opportunities. Students in professional programs are generally not eligible for university merit-based awards and scholarships.

Donor Funded Awards

A number of individuals and organizations have contributed substantial funds to the University through bequests, endowments and donations, in order to help support students in various fields of study:

  • A full list of donor funded awards is available on our website.
  • Although you can apply and accept an award, you must be registered full-time in the program for which the award is intended to receive the award payment.
  • Donor funded awards may be paid in one lump sum or in equal installments over multiple terms.
  • Names of recipients, their program, and research topic are normally given to University Advancement, and donor(s) of the award(s).

External and Government-Funded Awards

There are various external agencies which provide funding to graduate students. While some of these award opportunities are promoted and applied for through SFU, some are applied for directly by students. Please note:

  • If you receive an award from an external agency you must notify your graduate program and supervisor.
  • It is important to inform Graduate Studies as your award may be paid through our office, depending on the agency.
  • Please refer to the award holder’s guide of the relevant external agency for the terms and conditions of your award.

Award Payments, Limits + Adjustments

Award Payments

Payment of most merit-based awards and scholarships are through Graduate Studies. Award payments will be applied to your goSFU student account first, paying off any outstanding tuition and fees. The remaining funds will be transferred to your personal bank account, if you have signed up for direct deposit on goSFU. Learn more about award payments.

Award Adjustments

Withdrawals and Leaves are permitted for certain circumstances (refer to GGR 1.4.5). For students holding awards:

  • During leaves: awards are not paid during leaves; students must advise Graduate Studies to arrange for the interruption and restart of their award payments. Payment of single term awards after a leave of absence is not guaranteed because of timing, availability and source of funds. All awards for which the terms and conditions are not established by SFU will be paid/interrupted according to the terms and conditions established by the donor or granting agency.
  • Withdrawals: awards are prorated to the effective date of withdrawal from a degree program. By withdrawing from a degree program, award holders also forfeit any future payments for awards held. When a student withdraws and applies for re-admission, their original offer of funding is no longer valid.
  • Award reversals: to avoid an account reversal (money owed), students need to advise Graduate Studies of any leaves, withdrawals or changes to their degree program as soon as possible.

Early completion of a graduate program is common and the following rules are applied to funding:

  • Funding offers are prorated to the end of the month in which students complete their degree program, which is normally the date the final copy of the student’s thesis is accepted by the SFU Library.
  • To avoid an account reversal (money owed), students need to advise Graduate Studies of early completion of degree programs where funding has been paid.

Award Limits

Senate regulations governing university awards states that the annual maximum support you are permitted to receive from university administered awards and scholarships is $60,000 unless otherwise specified in the terms of reference for the award. This includes external agency awards administered by SFU (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC).

Funding: Other Sources of Funding

Research Assistantships and Research Support Positions

A component of your offer of funding may be a Research Assistantship (RA) or a Research Support (RS) position funded by contract research, or other grant funds, which may require some work related to your research. Note the following:

  • The value of the RA or RS may not be the same in each academic term.
  • Continuation of this component of your offer of funding may depend upon satisfactory performance of the duties assigned by your research supervisor and on the availability of funds.
  • If you have received an external award/scholarship, the value of your award may impact the value of your RA or RS.
  • Students are required to maintain full-time status in the term in which the RA  or RS is paid.
  • If you change your degree program, you may lose your RA or RS position unless your new supervisor can provide funding for an RA or RS position for you. For example, if you change from an MASc program in engineering to an MEng program, you will lose your RA or RS unless your new supervisor can provide RA or RS funding for you.
  • In addition, if you change supervisors while in your graduate program, you may also lose your RA or RS position unless your new supervisor can provide funding for a RA or RS position for you.
  • Please contact your program to verify how your RA or RS is paid.

Teaching Assistantships

Registered graduate students are eligible to apply for Teaching Assistant (TA) and Tutor Marker (TM) positions across the university. If your offer of funding consisted of TA/TM positions, you are required to apply for these positions. Generally:

Financial Need

If you find yourself in financial need, please visit SFU Student Services (Financial Aid & Awards Office).

Supplementary Information

Graduate Studies Community Guide

The Community Guide is a compilation of resources that can help support you throughout your time at SFU. Find resources on research, learning, wellness, peer support, and more.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

Simon Fraser University gathers and maintains student information used for the purposes of admission, enrollment and other fundamental activities related to being a Simon Fraser University community member and attending a public postsecondary institution in the Province of British Columbia. We recognize and respect the importance of privacy. Personal information that we collect is kept confidential. Please contact Graduate Studies should you have any concerns about your name being given to third parties or in news releases as the recipient of an award.

When you submitted your application for admission, you were advised that the information you provide and any other information placed into the student record will be protected and used in compliance with British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Learn more about FOI/POP policies, procedures and standards at SFU.

Graduate Student Vacation Policy

  • Graduate students are entitled to three weeks of vacation (15 working days) from their academic obligations per academic year.
  • For the purpose of calculating vacation allotments, the academic year means the period of time from September 1 to August 31 of the following year.
  • Any vacation time taken during the period between the Christmas and New Year statutory holidays is not included in the three-week vacation allotment.
  • Vacation allotments will be prorated for the portion of the year in which you are registered.
  • Vacation leave will not interrupt disbursement of student stipends or merit-based student financial assistance.
  • There will be no vacation pay in lieu of any vacation time not taken.
  • The exact duration and timing of any vacation, including extensions of vacation, are subject to prior approval by your supervisor and by any faculty member providing you with Research Assistantship (RA) or Research Support (RS) funding. Vacations must be arranged so that there is minimal impact to your research and other obligations to the University.
  • This policy does not affect your employment as a Teaching Assistant (TA). Although you may make a request to align vacation taken under this policy with that taken from paid employment, vacation taken under this policy is approved separately from that for paid employment at the University.
  • Attendance at academic conferences shall not be considered vacation time.
  • Vacation requests within these guidelines will not be unreasonably denied.
  • Should a conflict arise between your vacation request and a supervisor’s expectations, the graduate program chair will make a final determination.
  • The time taken for vacation leave will be counted toward the maximum time allotted to degree completion.
  • All program requirements, academic unit expectations and deadlines will remain the same.

Information for Indigenous Students

Welcome to Indigenous Graduate Students

We strive to create a space that is welcoming to the diversity of Indigenous graduate students from across Turtle Island by supporting you in the academic, professional and cultural domains.

Our Associate Director, Indigenous Policy & Pedagogy Dr. Dorothy Cucw-la7 Christian, Secwepemc and Syilx Nations works towards demystifying graduate school for Indigenous graduate students. She works with other staff at Graduate Studies who manage the Scholarships and Awards and the Admissions and all other areas within graduate programs. Dorothy is all about decolonizing and indigenizing colonial policies and practices.

Dr. Christian will help Indigenous graduate students look at creative ways of how you can write your thesis/dissertation, or how to indigenize your defence process, and to offer assistance in navigating the institutional processes. She works collaboratively with the Indigenous Student Centre to provide culturally specific services to Indigenous students at the graduate level at SFU. Dorothy Cucw-la7 is committed to ensuring that the Indigenous graduate experience is enhanced by the support of this office in Graduate Studies.

Since she joined Graduate Studies in July 2021, Dr. Dorothy has created various ways to strengthen Indigenous graduate experience at SFU.

  • Currently, she sets aside two hours, every two weeks on Wednesdays from 1 to 3 pm at the Indigenous Student Centre for a “drop in” to connect, visit, share, or to discuss your graduate experience.
  • There is a “Writer’s Room” on zoom from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, every Tuesday, which is a place where you can come and work on anything you are writing, a chapter for publication or your research proposal, or your beginning to organize your thesis/dissertation writing. 
  • A “Conversations With Indigenous Graduate Students” series started in 2022 to hold up individuals to highlight the diversity of Indigenous Nations and for them to discuss their research. 
  • Dorothy also organizes webinars that enhances areas that Indigenous graduate students may be researching. For instance, in 2023 two webinars are scheduled, “Indigenous Knowledge(s) in the Community” (February 28, 2023)  and “Indigenous Knowledge(s) and Languages in the Academy” (March 16, 2023).  See Graduate Studies website for further details.   

For more information please contact Dr. Dorothy Cucw-la7 Christian, Secwepemc & Syilx Nations at dchristi@sfu.ca. Learn more about Dorothy on People of SFU.

Learn more about Supports and Resources specifically available to you as an Indigenous graduate student at SFU.

Information for International Students

Prepare for your Graduate Studies

International graduate students bring valuable perspectives, insights and experiences to the university. If you are an international student, please visit Getting Started for information that will help you find your way through getting settled in Metro Vancouver and getting established in the Canadian university system. Have a look at the various resources that you can access as an international graduate student, a step-by-step guide for graduate students from international pathways, and a guide for studying and living in Vancouver and Canada.

Important Contacts

The International Services for Students Office (ISS) at Simon Fraser University offers programs and services such as:

  • Non-academic advising including immigration (study permits, visas, work permits) and non-immigration support (medical insurance, taxes, transition support)
  • Events and workshops throughout the year including the Welcome/Welcome Back Event
  • Intercultural engagement opportunities such as the Global Community Mentorship Program
  • Employment and settlement support
  • Exchange and study abroad opportunities

If you have questions, please contact an International Student Advisor.