4. Admissions

Admission to the School of Graduate Studies may be offered to graduates of universities of recognized standing who also meet the necessary academic requirements. Admission may be as a regular graduate student or it may be subject to a probationary or qualifying period (explained further below). A regular graduate student is one who has been accepted without qualification as a candidate for a higher degree or diploma. The normal minimum requirement for admission as a regular graduate student is a bachelor's degree (or a similar program with intensive specialization in an appropriate discipline) with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. For foreign applicants, these requirements translate to at least a B average (North American System) or upper second class standing (British System) in a baccalaureate degree. Note that the requirement for specific graduate programs may be higher.  

Applications are processed through the SGS (see Section 4). Admissions decisions are made by the SGS in consultation with the GAUs. In the case of Interdisciplinary degrees, the School of Graduate Studies is the GAU. Admissions decisions are not appealable.  

Admission to all graduate programs is limited and competitive. Consequently, admission cannot necessarily be guaranteed for those who meet, or even exceed, the minimum academic requirements.


An applicant may be admitted to a Qualifying period when their background preparation is not entirely adequate for the proposed course of study, but where the standard of academic performance otherwise meets the stipulated admission standards. Such a situation could arise where:

1. The student proposes to continue in the same discipline as the undergraduate degree, but the transcript indicates inadequate depth in the number or type of courses taken in that or related disciplines; or
2. The student is proposing to do a graduate program in a discipline different from their  undergraduate degree program, and it is not appropriate to start the graduate program until an academic background in the new discipline is established.

Students in a Qualifying period are expected to carry a full load of courses (minimum 12 credit hours per term), most of which will of necessity be at the upper undergraduate level. Because the program deficiencies may vary, the duration of the Qualifying period may be for one or two terms. The required courses for the Qualifying period are to be determined in consultation with and approved by the DoGS. The academic performance must be at an acceptable level – normally a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) with no mark below a B-. Normally, students who successfully complete a Qualifying period are subsequently admitted as regular graduate students.

For part-time students admitted to a qualifying period, the minimum number of credit hours required per term will be set at an appropriate level by the GAU.

During the Qualifying period, the student does not have regular graduate student status and therefore may not commence research work towards a report or thesis project, nor receive financial assistance from the SGS. However, the student may receive support from other funds available to the GAU.

Note that graduate program credit will not be granted for the required courses taken during the Qualifying period. With the prior approval of the DoGS and SGS prior to course registration, students may be allowed to take a maximum of 3 additional credit hours per term of upper undergraduate or graduate level courses in addition to those required of their Qualifying Period; transfer credit for these additional courses toward a graduate program may be allowed if completed with a minimum grade of B. No more than 6 credit hours may be transferred in this fashion towards a graduate degree program. Credit towards residence requirements for a graduate degree program will not be granted for time spent as a Qualifying Student. Fees paid during a Qualifying period will not be credited towards the subsequent fees for a graduate degree program.


A student may be admitted to a Probationary period in one of two scenarios outlined in detail below where their standard of academic performance, or their background preparation to undertake the proposed graduate degree program, is either deficient or uncertain. In both cases, the student is required to obtain a grade of B or better in the first four courses identified by the GAU. If the student fails to do so, enrolment in the graduate program will be terminated immediately. A student on Probation is considered to be a regular graduate student and is eligible to receive financial support from the usual sources according to the pertinent guidelines and regulations.

A probationary period may be defined in terms of either academic terms or credit hours (ch) depending upon the status (full-time or part-time) of the student and nature of the program (thesis, report, or course based).

I) Probationary Assessment Period (one to three terms, or up to 24 ch)

A student may be admitted to a Probationary Assessment Period if, on the basis of their application materials, it is difficult to assess their academic credentials, level of achievement, or suitability to undertake the proposed graduate degree. It may be appropriate, for example, where a student with a Master's degree from a foreign country has applied for a PhD. The student may be accepted to a Master's level (Probationary Assessment) for one or more terms while the student’s academic and research ability are assessed, following which a decision is made on their suitability for PhD work.
II) Probationary Period (Student on Probation; three terms, or 15 to 24 ch)

A student may be admitted to the normal first year of the graduate program, but is placed on Academic Probation during that year or equivalent period. In general, a student is admitted on Probation when the academic performance of the student as an undergraduate does not meet the canonical admission standards of the SGS, but where there are other very strong indications of potential. [For example, it may be appropriate where a student has a cumulative GPA below 3.0 (B) but where there is both an acceptable explanation for this level of performance and evidence also of exceptional (A range) performance in the last two years of study.]

This form of Probationary Admission will be granted only on the basis of very strong supporting evidence and documentation. It will be for the complete period indicated in the letter of acceptance, and it will not, under any circumstances, be extended. When full-time admission on probation is granted on an academic term basis, the GAU involved is expected to require the student to register in at least 6 ch of graduate courses per term, so that both the academic and research abilities of the student can be assessed.  For students admitted on Probation, the assessment will be based on completion of the first 12 ch of graduate level courses in thesis/report based programs or 15 ch of graduate level courses in course based programs.