COVID-19 Information for Graduate Students
Last updated May 27, 2021
I am a newly admitted student. What will my studies in the fall term look like?
The fall session will proceed as scheduled in September 2021. The University is preparing for a gradual and safe return to in-person activities in the fall 2021 term. We will continue to follow public health guidance closely and will provide updates to students as new information becomes available. For more information on University planning for fall 2021, visit the UTogether website.
How will I submit transcripts to clear the conditions in my admission letter?
We will accept e-transcripts sent securely by an e-transcript service from your university. E-transcripts must be sent to the graduate administrator in our department.
If your school does not issue e-transcripts, they can be mailed to us at the following address. Please note, there will be a delay in processing transcripts sent by mail. We are not able to accept courier shipments at this time, if you are not able to send transcripts by letter mail, please contact the graduate office staff for further instructions.
Graduate Office, Geography & Planning
University of Toronto
Room 5047, 100 St. George St.
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3G3
Do I need to be on campus to register and enroll in courses?
Students will be able to register and enroll in courses online. The department will provide detailed instructions when registration opens in mid-July.
For a more detailed FAQ for international students, please visit the Office of the Vice-Provost COVID-19 Information website.
Funding, Financial Support and Tuition
What financial assistance is available?
The Faculty of Arts & Science and SGS have a number of COVID-19 mitigation/funding programs for graduate students who were registered in winter 2020 session and had their progress and research impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will time in the funded cohort be extended?
At this time, there are no plans to extend the time in the funded cohort.
Programs and Courses
Will the start of the fall session be delayed? Will fall session courses be held online?
The fall session will proceed as scheduled and we are currently planning to return to in person activities (including courses) in the fall 2021 session. We do expect that some instructors will choose to offer their courses online. Further details will be included in the graduate timetable which will be finalized in July.
Are defenses and other oral exams taking place?
During the summer 2021 session, exams will proceed as usual, with the following modifications:
- For PhD comprehensive exams, all formats are to be written off campus. The 2-day exam option has been suspended until further notice. The oral exam should take place with the student and all committee members attending remotely (video or tele-conference).
- For master’s and PhD thesis defense exams the oral exam should take place with the student and all committee members attending remotely (video or tele-conference).
- Exam results will be submitted electronically (instructions will be provided to the student’s supervisor).
- All SGS Final Oral Exams (FOEs) are currently being held by video conference only.
When in person gatherings are possible on campus, we will update our exam processes and provide an update to students and faculty.
Will program timelines be extended?
At this time, SGS deadlines are not being extended. Our own program timelines will be maintained, but wherever possible, we are committed to being flexible and supporting extensions (including requests for extensions to SGS deadlines) on a case-by-case basis for student’s who had their research and progress interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Students should be in dialogue with their supervisors about any changes in program advancement schedules.
Graduate Student Research
Can I continue working on campus or in a lab?
Campus buildings and offices are currently closed. All students should remain at home and continue to work remotely at this time. We will provide updates to students and faculty as public health guidelines change.
- Labs: Academic divisions have begun planning a phased approach to the recovery and adaptation of research including on-campus research and off-campus sites. Please consult the website of the Office of Vice-President Research and Innovation which will be updated daily; we will also share information with you as we receive it. At the present moment, only research labs conducting critical COVID-19 related research or other time-sensitive critical projects that have been exempted by the University are permitted to operate. All other research should continue remotely where possible and researchers are encouraged to consider alternative procedures for projects that do not disrupt scientific merit and integrity (e.g. changing in-person interviews to phone interviews).
- Libraries: Libraries are open, however physical access to buildings may be restricted. Curbside pick-up is available and students, staff and faculty can access some collections online. Visit the Libraries COVID-19 website for more information about library operations.
- Residences: The university will continue to operate on-campus residences for incoming and continuing students. More information for students in residences is available on the Office of the Vice-Provost Students website.
My research plans have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. What should I do?
Some students will need to adapt their research plans. These adaptations should be undertaken in dialogue with supervisors and, where appropriate, the members of the supervisory committee. SGS has published some information on research recovery and adaptation which some students may find useful.
Travel for Fieldwork and Conferences
Are students currently able to travel to do research or attend conferences?
The University of Toronto has cancelled future University activity to international locations for all students until December 31, 2021. If you’re able to postpone or shift your travel to a later date, please arrange to do so. If you’re unable to change your plans, please note that, regrettably, your activity is cancelled.
PhD students planning to travel abroad for dissertation research during this time should contact the Safety Abroad Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Given the current situation, there are significant travel restrictions and it will be difficult for you to make travel arrangements. We encourage you to postpone or shift your travel to a later date if you’re able to do so. If your work abroad can be carried out safely and in consideration of government advisories regarding travel, you may be able to proceed if approved by Safety Abroad and the Graduate Chair..
I have received funding prior to March 2020 to travel to do fieldwork or attend a conference. What will happen to this funding?
The university has suspended all student travel through June 1 (this may be extended beyond June). Students who received conference/travel funds should alter their travel plans accordingly.
- Department funding: Students who received funding from the department in the fall session may hold this funding and apply it to a future trip.
- SGS funding: Students who received SGS travel and/or conference award, may alter or delay their travel dates. Using the SGS Change Request Form, students can opt to change or defer their proposed travel or decline the grant and reapply to a future application cycle, should the travel not be expected in the near future. In either case, students will receive – at a minimum – the same level of support, provided the destination and duration remains the same. Students who must cancel or pay to reschedule their pre-purchased travel, can access the SGS Emergency Grant. to help cover the unexpected additional expenses. Travel grant recipients who are currently traveling with an SGS grant and must either extend or shorten their trip due to COVID-19, can request a reassessment by submitting an SGS Travel Special Circumstances Form along with the usual SGS Conference / Research Travel Grant Payment Activation Form
How do I request a leave of absence?
Students may take a leave of absence from their graduate program for a period of one session, up to 3 sessions (1 year). While on leave, students are not expected to complete work and will not have access to university resources. Time to completion and funding eligibility is put on “hold” while a student is on an approved leave and resumes when they return to their studies. Please be assured that COVID-19 is an acceptable reason for personal leave and taking such a leave will not negatively impact time-to-completion, funding when you return from leave, or jeopardize future access to leaves of absence.
Please feel free to discuss this option with your supervisor and the graduate administrator if you have questions. To request a leave, complete the SGS LOA Request Form and submit it to Jessica Finlayson (geography and PhD planning) or Parveen Malli (MSc Planning).
- University of Toronto Updates
- SGS Updates
- Arts & Science Updates
- Mental Health and COVID-19 (CAMH)
- Mental Health Resources
- Health & Wellness
This page will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have further questions, please contact us:
- MSc Planning students – contact Parveen Malli at email@example.com
- All other graduate students – contact Jessica Finlayson at firstname.lastname@example.org