Leaves of Absence
Help, Advise, Support
Who to call or where to go when you need a bit of help navigating Graduate School? Please read the Help, Advise, Support page for advice.
The Graduate Calendar provides guidance regarding expectations for students to be full-time ON campus: link to 2020-2021 calendar.
Note that midterm break (aka reading week) in fall and winter terms is a break from undergraduate courses, but it is not vacation time for graduate students. Graduate courses may still be held, and research and other duties in the lab do not stop. A full-time graduate position is a full-time job; graduate students get 2 weeks vacation per year, in addition to statutory holidays and the longer December break. Talk to your supervisor about the length and scheduling of your vacation.
- Vacation entitlement is discussed in section 2.5.9 of 2020-2021 calendar:
- Full-time graduate students are expected to be on campus for all three terms of the university year, as specified in Section 1.3. In addition to statutory holidays (see Sessional Dates in the calendar) and the closure of the University in December (normally late December until early January), normal vacation entitlement for a graduate student is two weeks of vacation during the year, to be scheduled by mutual agreement with the research supervisor. An exception to this allotment requires approval from the supervisor.
- IMPORTANT note about Teaching Assistantship responsibilities: Make note of the first day of classes for undergraduate courses in fall and winter terms (see Sessional Dates in the undergraduate calendar for the relevant year). Teaching Assistant duties begin on that day so plan to be on campus.
Leaves of Absence (and other special petitions)
For detailed information about taking a leave of absence, students should read section 2.5.7 Leaves of Absence in the Graduate Calendar (2020-2021). The graduate calendar is updated each year, so if this link takes you to last year's calendar (if we have not managed to update this page in time) then go to the Registrar's Office calendar page and select the current year's calendar from the drop-down box in the upper right corner, then search for section 2.5. Note that the Graduate Calendar and the Undergraduate Calendar are distinct documents.
The Petition form to request a leave of absence can be found on the SGS Resources page (this is the same form that is used for other kinds of requests from SGS):
- Direct link to the petition form.
- If the direct link doesn't work: explore the SGS Resources page - click on the “Students” tab and look for the link to the form “Petitions for Special Consideration to the Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study".
- The form to request a parenting leave is here. If the link has changed, follow the directions in the previous bullet point.
Withdraw in Good Standing
Occasionally a student may need to withdraw in good standing. The student must then then apply for re-admission at a later date to continue their studies. The form to request a change in your standing must be completed and submitted to the Graduate Chair (through the Graduate Administrative Assistant, Nancy Riddell).
- If this direct link to the Request for Change in a Graduate Student's Status does not work, visit the SGS Resources page to look for the form.
Full-time Off Campus
If a student wants to spend a period of time away from the university in order to complete their research, they must apply to be Full-time Off Campus and complete the form RMM 801.
Students who will be away from campus for more than four weeks require not only permission from the Department but also that of the appropriate Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and must submit a Request to be Full Time Off Campus. This permission is needed for field work or study elsewhere in the world, in order to allow the University to comply with the government regulation requiring that a written explanation for such absences be lodged in the Graduate School office. In cases of unauthorized absence the student will be deemed to have withdrawn voluntarily from graduate study and will have to petition for readmission. No guarantee of readmission or of renewal of financial arrangements can be made.
Students may arrange, through the Department and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, to be “full-time off-campus” for periods of up to a year. Students may also be required to complete the Risk Management Manual (RMM) 801 forms and gain approval through EOHSS.
- Procedure to be followed:
- Each request to be full-time off-campus should be forwarded by the Department to the School of Graduate Studies not later than one month prior to the date on which it is hoped the recommendation will be effective. The student and supervisor should complete the form (see below for link), including signatures, and then submit the form to the PNB main office (Nancy Riddell) for the Associate Chair’s review, approval and signature. If approved, the request will be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies. Be sure to provide sufficient information so that the Associate Dean has a sound basis for arriving at a decision, otherwise approval of the request may be delayed or denied. Keep a copy of all forms for your own records.
- Full-time Off Campus forms (visit the [https://gs.mcmaster.ca/current-students/forms-and-policies-for-graduate-students-staff-and-faculty/ SGS resources page if the link does not work).