COVID-19 and graduate students

Frequently Asked Questions for students in the Faculty of Graduate Studies 

Fall-Winter 2020/21

Updated April 2021.

Additional information for international students, including details on travelling to Canada to study, is available from International Student Services.

  1. Study permits and travel to Canada

    I am an international student with a valid study permit OR a study permit approval. May I enter/return to Canada?

    The Government of Canada recently announced an update to travel restriction exemptions. As of Oct. 20, 2020 UCalgary international students with a valid study permit or a study permit approval will be allowed to enter Canada. UCalgary's COVID-19 readiness plan has been approved by the provincial government.

    This update applies to all international students, regardless of where they are travelling from or when their study permit was approved.

    Students should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and received all necessary authorizations. Details about what is required are available on the Government of Canada travel exemptions website .

    The Government of Canada also requires all students, and any family members accompanying them, arriving from an international location to present documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. This must be a PCR (COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction) test taken within 72 hours prior to your departure.

    The Government of Canada also requires all students, and any family members accompanying them, arriving from an international location to quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms. The University of Calgary has processes in place to support students while in quarantine. Incoming students must:

    For information and resources to help you plan your quarantine in Canada, please visit our information page for international graduate students travelling to Canada.

  2. Study permits and starting in of Fall 2020/Winter 2021 terms

    Will I be eligible to begin online classes if I don't have my study permit by the start date for my classes?

    • At the moment, there is no requirement for a student to have a study permit to attend online courses, and thus permit delays should not impact a student’s start date. However, should the student's study permit get refused, the student might not be able to complete the program when in-person delivery resumes in Canada. We would recommend the student defer to a later start date to avoid any such risk.
    • International students in programs of two years or less should obtain a study permit approval before starting programs remotely. 
  3. Post Graduate Work Permits

    I am an international graduate student in a PGWP-eligible program and my courses changed to remote delivery, AND/OR my status changed from full-time to part-time during the Winter, Spring or Summer 2020 terms due to COVID-19. Will I still be eligible to apply for a PGWP?

    • Yes. Your eligibility for a PGWP will not be impacted by changing to remote courses, or by changing to part-time status. 
    • The Government of Canada announced recent changes to the PGWP program that will allow students to complete 100% of their programs from outside of Canada to remain eligible for a PGWP. Learn more.
    • Please contact should your status change to determine any impact on your study permit.
  1. Tuition and fees for international students

    I am an international student and cannot be on campus. How can I pay my tuition and fees or per-course fees?

    • All graduate students can pay their fees through on-line banking. International students also have the option of paying by credit card. Learn more here.
    • CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) offers CIBC Student Pay, which provides another online option for both course and thesis-based students. Currently, this payment method is only available to international students. Learn more about CIBC Student Pay here.
    • Thesis-based students who are fully funded by their program and cannot be on campus, will normally have their fees automatically paid by their program.
  2. Funding and scholarships for international students

    I am a continuing international graduate student and cannot be on campus. Will I still receive funding and/or scholarships? 

    • Yes. Funding and/or scholarships will be paid out if you are not on campus.  

    I am a new international graduate student starting my program remotely from my country of residence. Will I still receive funding and/or scholarships? 

    • International students who are registered in a graduate program but are not in Canada due to COVID-19 travel restrictions are eligible to receive their guaranteed program funding and/or competitive scholarship funding while in their home country.  

     Information about your funding payments:   

    • Funding will be paid directly to your tuition account.  

    • Any credit accrued in the account will apply to future charges.  

    • Once you are in Canada, have opened a Canadian bank account and notified the Faculty of Graduate Studies, payments will be made to your Canadian bank account.  

    • Payment of this funding is conditional on you making academic progress while in your home country.  

    • If you cannot proceed unless your funding comes to you directly, you may defer or decline admission. Please contact your program to discuss these options. 

  1. Tuition and fees for Fall & Winter 2020-21

    Am I required to pay fees and tuition if I am not able to be on campus?

    • Tuition and fees are approved by the Board of Governors. Tuition rates (including per-course fees) will not change due to course delivery mode. 
    • The UPass program will not be available for the Fall 2020/Winter 2021 terms; students will not be charged the UPass fee for those terms.
  1. Fall 2020/Winter 2021

    I am uncomfortable being on campus, or am unable to travel to Calgary to start my program. Can I defer my program start date?

    • Please contact your program. In most cases, deferral is an option but please be aware that deferring your program may impact your funding/scholarships. 
    • Remember, your program may start using remote delivery due to the pandemic. Many programs will not require students to be on campus starting in Fall 2020 or Winter 2021. Please contact your program to learn more. 
    • Some programs follow a cohort-based model, which may restrict your options for a deferred start date. 
    • If you are a current student, you also have the choice of taking a leave of absence or withdrawing from your program. 
    • Deferral may also carry the risk, though slight, of losing your admission due to unexpected changes in budget or supervision resources.
  1. Remote program delivery

    What will my upcoming classes/academic program look like, and how can I complete lab/field components of my program?

    • Faculties will determine the format (online, on campus, blended) and scheduling of different course components (lectures, labs, tutorials). Contact your program for the most current information on your course formats. For more information about online courses, please visit the university's general Fall 2020/Winter 2021 term FAQ.
  2. Remote course delivery

    Will remote courses be offered on the same schedule as in-person courses?

    • Faculties will determine the format (online, on campus, blended) and scheduling of different course components (lectures, labs, tutorials). Contact your program for the most current information on your course formats. Go here for more information about online courses.

    Will courses be delivered live or are they recorded sessions?

    • We understand the concern of our students living in time zones different than that in Calgary. It is anticipated that most content that is delivered live will also be recorded and made available asynchronously.
    • Other than not being able to have in-person interaction with the instructors, the overall quality of the program will not be negatively impacted by the online mode of delivery. Given the current global COVID-19 pandemic, online mode is the best option for program delivery.
  3. Supports for remote learning

    What overall supports are available to help grad students navigate remote learning?

  4. Completed Requirements/Fail (CR/F) grades

    Is it possible to choose between CR/Fail or a letter grade for courses that are taught remotely?

    • Graduate students have the option to choose CR/Fail or a letter grade for a single course for Fall 2020 in which a grade of B- or above is achieved; graduate students can request the CR option rather than having their letter grade shown on their transcript.
    • CR grades are not included in GPA calculations; however, failing grades (C+ and below) will remain unchanged and will be used in GPA calculations. You must request the CR grade by January 15, 2021. Details will be posted here.

  5. Working from home

    Keep these practices in mind:

    • Designate a work space and establish a daily schedule
    • Take clearly defined breaks
    • Communicate your work schedule to people at home
    • Be accessible via Skype, Zoom or phone
    • Ensure your connection is safe and secure
    • Ensure you have remote access to appropriate resources on campus
    • Contact IT for support accessing resources
    • Ensure research information is safe and not easily accessed by others
    • Avoid isolating yourself; maintain personal interactions with colleagues, friends & family
    • Keep current contact information for your research group and supervisor

    UCalgary information on working from home

  1. Returning to research/creative spaces

    I would like to return to or initiate research or creative spaces on campus, in the field or in the community. What should I do?

    • Your supervisor or your research groups' principal investigator are required to prepare a Workspace Safety Plan (WSP). If you will participate in research or creative activities on campus, in the field or in the community, contact your supervisor to ensure that you are included in their WSP. 
    • You have the right to stop research or creative activities on campus, in the field or in the community if you have concerns about COVID-19.
  1. In person exams (Field of Study, thesis defence)

    Can I undergo exams in person during the pandemic?

  2. Remote exam support

    I don't have access to a stable or reliable internet connection. how will the university support me taking my exam remotely?

    • The Taylor Family Digital Library has space available for graduate students who require a stable internet connection for conducting a remote exam. Learn more.

    Is there technical support for Zoom meeting arrangements?

  3. Library resources for Field of Study exams

    Can I have access to library resources that I need to prepare for my examinations?

  1. Rights and responsibilities of academically employed graduate students

    What are the rights and responsibilities of academically employed students? 

    • The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) of the University of Calgary represents the collective interests of graduate students. The rights and responsibilities of academically employed graduate assistants and their employers are outlined in the Collective Agreement which is negotiated with the University by the GSA on behalf of UCalgary graduate students. See the collective agreement here.
  2. In-person appointments

    If my Fall or Winter GAT appointment requires me to participate in person, am I able to refuse the appointment if I am not comfortable due to COVID-19? Will I be offered another appointment instead? 

    • The University will take all reasonable precautions in the circumstances to ensure the health and safety of faculty and staff who return to work on campus. If you have health and/or safety concerns, please speak to your course instructor, researcher, graduate program director or department head or equivalent to review the concerns and determine whether any accommodations are required. 

  3. International students and academic employment

    If I am a new international student starting my program at UCalgary, can I apply for graduate assistantship appointments? 

    • UCalgary can only offer employment appointments to international students who have obtained a social insurance number as well as a work and/or study permit.   

    If I am an existing international student with an active SIN and study and/or work permit, can I continue working remotely in my graduate assistantship appointments in the next academic year? 

    • Yes. Continuing international graduate students can work remotely in GAT/GANT/GAR appointments if they have an active SIN. Net pay will continue to be paid into students’ existing Canadian bank accounts. 

  4. Support for GATs

    What support is available to support GATs in online, remote and face-to-face environments?

    • The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning provides a variety of supports and resources for GATs including resources specific to the transition to remote and online learning. Learn more.
    • In addition the TI has developed a variety of resources and sessions for graduate students and academic staff related to teaching and learning in online, blended and face-to-face context will continue to be offered throughout the fall semester.  Further information can be found at
  5. Additional GAT opportunities

    Will additional GAT opportunities be available for online courses in Fall 2020/Winter 2021? How can students apply for these opportunities?

    • Yes. The University will be providing additional opportunities for GAT positions in the fall semester. Please connect with your department for further information related to the specific opportunities available in your area. The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning will also be hiring graduate student learning technology coaches to support academic staff teaching in online, remote and blended contexts in the fall semester.  These opportunities will be posted via Career Link.
  1. Work placements and internships

    Is it still possible to pursue a work placement or internship during my graduate program?

  2. Professional development resources

    Are there any additional or alternate PD resources or workshops available to graduate students during the pandemic?

    • Yes! The Faculty of Graduate Studies' My GradSkills program has collated the numerous online, at your own pace or 'live' workshops and training resources available to graduate students. Check back often as the resource is updated regularly.
  1. Work permits

    What impact will changes to program delivery formats have on my Post-Graduation Work permit?

    • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced a temporary process that clarifies how online study is counted toward a post-graduation work permit. Get more information from IRCC here and here.




  1. Office of the Registrar

    Contact the Registrar's office for information about the university's emergency financial assistance program. To qualify, you must :

    • Be enrolled and attending the university
    • Demonstrate financial resources and have a plan for how to repay the loan
    • Not have overdue fees or fines.
    • Have used all available assets and resources to support your education prior to applying for an emergency loan.
  2. GSA bursaries

    The Graduate Students' Association offers bursaries to help ease financial strain faced by GSA members. The bursary program is available in the Fall and Winter terms. Applications are only accepted within specific periods. Learn more on the GSA website.

Other UCalgary COVID-19 FAQs

Get more information about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the Fall 2020 term across the university.

International student services FAQ

Learn more

Research services FAQ

Learn more

Faculty and staff FAQ

Learn more

Academic staff FAQ

Includes information about course materials, learning technologies, face-to-face classes and more.

Learn more

Fitness Centre and Active Living FAQ

Learn more

Residence Services FAQ

Learn more

General FAQ for current students

Includes information about services, resources, textbooks, medical notes and more.

Learn more