Frequently asked questions

New section: Vaccine validation, added September 3, 2021.

Academic continuity


Most departmental examinations (e.g. qualifying, comprehensive, and/or general examinations) can take place without physical presence. More information will follow from your graduate program regarding arrangements for the completion of departmental examinations in your program.

Please refer to your graduate program for further information.

Graduate students registered with Accessibility Services should continue to contact Accessibility Services to receive accommodations and supports.

We know this situation brings a whole new level of stress for everyone – and some will feel this harder than others. Please know that if you are struggling, there are excellent resources you can use. The University has a list of helpful Quick Links to health resources.

Contact your graduate administrator. Doctoral thesis exams continue to be held on a remote basis during the period of the university closure. Your graduate administrator will follow the usual processes for confirming the exam committee, and booking the exam with the School of Graduate Studies. Exams need to be booked at least 6-8 weeks in advance of the defence date. The pro-rated fee schedule remains in effect for Final Year doctoral students, available on the Student Accounts website.

Yes, all exams are being held remotely while the university buildings are closed. Please contact your unit graduate administrator for more details on which modality will be used. Keep in mind that doctoral thesis examinations are closed to the public, and your administrator will provide you with a form that confirms you are defending from a secure location. The pro-rated fee schedule remains in effect for Final Year doctoral students, available on the Student Accounts website.

Financial support & funding opportunities


The University of Toronto is working to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing emergency financial support and work-study opportunities for students. The new Funding Opportunity Directory provides resources to access those university financial aid supports as well as provincial and federal government programs. The Directory will be updated as new initiatives are introduced.

Funded graduate students, including those on stipends, will continue to receive their funding packages as stated in their funding letters. TA contracts and offers may need to be adjusted to reflect changes in course delivery and/or where a student abroad is unable to legally fulfill their TA assignment. Where the funding circumstances change during the course of the year, a graduate unit may issue a revised funding letter to reflect any changes in composition or payment.

SGS Research Travel Grant
After receiving a grant offer, you may request changes to or defer your proposed travel plans, provided that your supervisor/adviser approves and the deferred travel occurs prior to April 1st. Eligible students also have the option of reapplying in the future should they not be able to take advantage of the current offer. See SGS website.

SGS Conference Grant
If details about your conference presentation have changed since you were awarded the grant, you may request to apply your grant to a different conference presentation, provided your supervisor/advisor approves, and the conference occurs within the appropriate timeframe. Eligible students also have the option of reapplying in the future should they not be able to take advantage of the current offer. See SGS website.

If you are experiencing immediate financial hardship, you can apply for an SGS Emergency Loan or SGS Emergency Grant. Please also check your department websites for possible additional resources.

The funding commitments made to you in the annual funding letter of fall 2020 remain in effect.

There may be new or existing funding available within your faculty or department, or from the Principal Investigator/Supervisor, to support your research beyond your funded period This might include, for example, completion awards, research pivot funds, RAships/TAships/GAships, PI stipendiary support, SGS tuition fee exemption, or emergency grants.

Students granted a program extension are assessed academic fees at 50% the regular rate and doctoral students in the final year of their program are assessed tuition based on a monthly prorated schedule according to when they submit their final thesis.

Yes, students who were making good progress prior to COVID-19 but were then significantly impeded due to pandemic-related impacts and had to extend their program as a result, should inquire with their graduate unit about the SGS Tuition Exemption, COVID bursaries or completion or research pivot funds. Updates can also be found on the new Funding Opportunity Directory that provides resources on University financial aid supports as well as provincial and federal government programs.

Graduate research


In addition to the FAQs below, please see the General Approach to Research Recovery and Adaptation above as well as the SGS Research Engagement/Re-Engagement Guidelines.

For more information about graduate research re-engagement and planning, please click here.

For updates on library service changes due to COVID-19, please click here.

Please visit the Vice-Provost Students FAQs website for more information regarding international activities and travel.

The provincial government is leading the vaccine rollout, guided by a framework that gives priority to those that are most vulnerable, such as long-term care residents, First Nations communities and frontline healthcare workers. Researchers will be prioritized in the same way as other members of the public, as determined by the provincial framework.  Please visit UTogether vaccine FAQ for updates. 

Vaccine validation


As stated in this recent Provostial memo, beginning September 13, in order to attend University premises for any reason graduate students, postdocs, and others must: 

  1. Provide proof of vaccination.
  2. Complete daily health screenings via UCheck.

Those awaiting their final vaccine dose (required by October 15) or who have a University-approved exemption must submit negative rapid screening results through UCheck.

Starting September 6, you will be able to upload proof of vaccination in UCheck. Only the vaccine receipt(s) that provide(s) proof that you are fully vaccinated is/are required to be uploaded. For example, if you have a Government of Ontario vaccine receipt showing the second of two doses, upload only this document. 

Instructions on how to upload documents are available on the UCheck website.

You are expected to comply with the local policies of the institution(s) where you are conducting studies or research. This applies to all students or employees associated with the University of Toronto, including those on short research visits as required for collaborative work and graduate student rotations.

Given the variety of student opportunities that exist in our U of T community, there will likely be scenarios where students will be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination more than once. We ask for your patience and readiness to do so in order to continue to provide the safest environments possible.

Where possible, the University of Toronto and its partners aim to incorporate the tracking of COVID-19 vaccination status into existing processes that monitor similar information. Where partnership agreements exist, processes must be compliant with those agreements.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are expected to provide proof of vaccination or proof of exemption to the institution outlined beside their category below. If, at any time, you have questions or require further guidance, please contact your placement coordinator or graduate associate chair/graduate coordinator/program director.

Summary of Approaches Across Categories of Students and Postdoctoral Fellows:

Categories of studentsApproach to Tracking Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination or Medical Exemption
Clinical Learners (graduate and undergraduate)As per current practice, the University may request information related to eligibility for clinical placements, and will coordinate with its hospital partners to confirm learners meet all requirements for placement.Clinical learners’ COVID-19 vaccination validation will be managed via UCheck.
Graduate Research Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, and International Visiting Graduate StudentsGenerally, the local institution where student is onboarded is responsible for collecting relevant information to confirm compliance with local policy (e.g. in many cases required vaccinations may be requested and will be verified by the local organization’s Occupational Health and Safety office).

Vaccination validation protocols for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at other third-party sites are expected to follow the principles outlined above in Q2 and Q3 above. Generally, the local institution where the student/postdoc is located is responsible for collecting relevant information to confirm compliance with local policy.

International students


Please read answer of Question #7 in this section of the Information for University of Toronto Students FAQs website.

Please visit this FAQ for international students for information. Additional information for newly admitted international students is also available. For information about U of T support for students during quarantine, please visit the Vice-Provost Students website.

As of October 20, 2020, international students meeting the conditions listed on the Vice-Provost’s FAQ page (under “For international students: entry to Canada and pre-arrival”) will be allowed to come to Canada. Any student in the IVGS program who was forced to postpone travel, or any new applicants to the program, should consult Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) information on study permit application processing timelines. Study permit applications are taking significantly longer than usual to process, and students and supervisors need to plan accordingly.

Yes. If you are arriving from outside of Canada, a 14-day quarantine is currently required upon arrival in Canada. The Government of Canada has outlined the requirements for Mandatory Quarantine for Travelers to Canada. In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act. This applies to all travellers to Canada regardless of the country of origin. For more information, please visit: https://www.viceprovoststudents.utoronto.ca/covid-19/#Quarantine.

The University will facilitate access to quarantine accommodations for IVGS students at cost. For information on costs and registration, please contact info.quarantine@utoronto.ca.

Academic considerations/accommodations


Students are experiencing varying levels of personal challenges in the current pandemic. Within our community, some are at the front lines of the health emergency, either because they have lost loved ones or fallen sick themselves, or because they’re braving the risks of exposure in hospitals and other sites of essential services.

Many can work from home and are eligible for government supports. Others aren’t eligible for government supports, have lost outside jobs, and find themselves experiencing significant financial hardships. And those with caregiver responsibilities or accessibility challenges may be finding it particularly challenging to work from home and advance their academic work. Students living with disabilities or health concerns may also be experiencing an exacerbation of symptoms that may impact their academic progress. The University has several supports and resources available for  students in these challenging time.

Students may take a leave at any time for a variety of reasons, including COVID-19, and the decision to take a leave must remain with the student. Students who had been accessing care from Health & Wellness prior to the start of their leave maintain uninterrupted access to healthcare without opting in. Access to UTGSU health and dental plan coverage is available for a fee. Students on leave may request continued access to library services (no fee). During a leave, funding is paused and tuition fees aren’t charged.

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.

Consider meeting with your graduate coordinator or supervisor to discuss options other than taking a leave. For example, personal circumstances may affect your capacity to engage in academic work, but you may be able to continue with interventions like course extensions or temporary modification of academic activities.

Academic Progress and Accomodations
If your physical or mental health concerns are impacting your academic progress (courses, research, comprehensive examinations, proposal and dissertation writing), contact Accessibility Services to connect with an accessibility advisor and explore your options. These may include extensions, assessment accommodations, or leaves, where appropriate.

Mental Health
If you’re struggling you are encouraged to explore these mental health resources and if the issues feel urgent, make an appointment with a wellness counsellor at Health & Wellness.

Illness
Students may take a leave at any time for a variety of reasons, including COVID-19, and the decision to take a leave must remain with the student. If you have an illness or need time to recover from an illness click hear to learn about the SGS Leave of Absence Policy.

We recognise your caregiving responsibilities affect your ability to work and the pace of work. The Family Care Office provides services and resources to meet diverse family needs including childcare and eldercare.

Students who are unable to progress academically due to COVID19-related caregiving responsibilities may need additional time beyond the program length to complete program requirements. If your academic progress was significantly impeded due to COVID-19 related disruptions, you will have the option to register with a tuition exemption for up to one academic session. This duration may be re-assessed as the situation evolves. You’ll still be charged the usual non-tuition ancillary, incidental and system access fees that are associated with the registration session.

Student academic services


GCAC Courses: The next round of courses will be offered in October/November with registration opening Tuesday October 6 at 10:00 a.m.

GCAC Workshops: A partial fall 2020 workshop schedule is posted. The full schedule will be posted by the end of September. All workshops will be offered online. While some workshops will be live at specific times, others will be recorded and available at your convenience. Registration for online workshops will be required.

GCAC Writing Centre: Appointments will be offered online rather than in-person.

For updates on coming workshops and course registration, visit this site or join our listserv to receive weekly updates.

Please visit the Graduate Professional Development website, including the Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) program and the 3 Minute Thesis competition, to learn about virtual offerings.

St. George TCard is available by appointment only. Remote appointments available now, and in-person appointments start on September 8, 2020. For more information, please visit the TCard website.

More information