Graduate students must maintain continuous registration in the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in each successive term from initial registration until all requirements for the degree are completed.

Categories of Registration 

Full-Time Student

To be registered as a full-time student, a student must meet the following criteria:
  • make satisfactory progress toward degree completion in alignment with full-time program expectations and requirements. Failure to meet progression requirements may result in being required to withdraw from the program.
  • be present on campus as required by their program
  • have paid, or make arrangements to pay, full-time tuition fees.

Part-Time Student in Approved Part-Time Program

Students may be admitted as part-time students in approved part-time programs (listed below) as stipulated in the program's regulations. During the course of study, and with the approval of the program and SGPS, such a part-time registrant may be approved to register as a full-time student; they may then register as a part-time student at a later date by meeting the requirements as stipulated in (c) below. Students who begin as full-time students in programs that have an approved part-time course of study may only change to part-time registration as stipulated in Part-Time Students in Full-Time Programs below.

Students registered part-time may take no more than two courses in a term. Undergraduate courses taken as extra courses or as degree requirements are to be included in the totals above.

Students can enroll part-time in the following established part-time programs:

  • Computer Science MSc
  • Education MEd
  • Engineering Sciences MEng
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics MSc
  • Family Medicine MClSc & PhD
  • Foods and Nutrition MScFN - Thesis Stream
  • Law LLM
  • Library and Information Science MLIS
  • Media Studies MA
  • Music MMus (Music Education)
  • Nursing MScN
  • Master of Nursing
  • Pathology and Laboratory Medicine MSc & PhD
  • Public Administration MPA
  • Theology MA (Huron University College)

Part-Time Students in Full-Time Programs

Part-time registration in full-time programs may be granted in exceptional circumstances and only with the approval of both the Graduate Program and the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). Examples of such circumstances are: admission to another full-time university program or medical or compassionate circumstances that make it impossible for the student to continue to devote full-time attention to their program of study. Supporting documentation must be submitted with the request for part-time status.

Part-time status is not to be used as a means for reducing or avoiding tuition fees. Being beyond the funding eligibility period will not, by itself, constitute grounds for a change from full-time to part-time status. Part-time status may be granted for up to a cumulative total of three terms.

Students registered part-time may take no more than two courses in a term. Undergraduate courses taken as extra courses or as degree requirements are to be included in the totals above.

Thesis Defense Only Student

The purpose of this status is to allow a student who: a) has completed all program requirements (including thesis submission), but b) has not been able to defend their thesis before the end of term, to register at the University in the subsequent term without paying tuition fees. Thesis Defense Only registration (TDO) can be held for only one term.

  • This registration category will not require payment of tuition fees; however, students will be required to pay part-time ancillary fees.
  • In order to be considered for TDO status students must upload their thesis electronically.
  • TDO status will be granted to those students who have submitted a thesis by the final official day of term but have not been able to secure an examination board and/or examination date that falls before the end of the term.
  • Programs are required to inform SGPS as soon as possible (and in any case no less than 10 working days before the last working day of the term) when a thesis examination will need to be scheduled into the subsequent term.
  • The thesis examination must be successfully completed, all required revisions done, and the final thesis submitted to SGPS prior to the end of the TDO term. A student who does not meet these conditions will be required to pay part-time tuition for the TDO term and will continue to be registered until the final thesis is submitted.
  • TDO applies only to students in programs that have a thesis requirement.
  • A student will be given TDO status for no more than one term.
  • When the thesis examination is unsuccessful at either the preliminary or examination stages, the student will not have met the TDO conditions and will be required to pay part-time tuition and fees for the TDO term.

Non-degree Part-time Student

Non-degree part-time students must meet normal admission requirements. If a student in this category is subsequently admitted to a degree program, no more than 20% of the course requirements for the degree may be credited from courses taken while a non-degree student. Non-degree part-time students are not required to maintain continuous registration. For each term in which they are registered, however, they must inform their Graduate Chair before the start of the next term whether they plan to take courses during that term or whether they plan to withdraw. Without withdrawal, they will receive a tuition bill for the following term, as if they were in a degree program. Once withdrawn, they must apply for readmission to resume their non-degree part-time studies. In such cases, SGPS waives the readmission fee.

Concurrent Degree Student

Students in the following programs will be registered in both programs and are eligible to receive degrees in each:

  • MD-PhD
  • MBA-LLB in Business and Law

Doctoral Flex-time Registration

Students must select flex-time registration prior to commencing their program of study and cannot alter their registration status once selected.* Students enrolled in flex-time studies pay full-time tuition fees for the first four years of their registration, and part-time fees until they complete their program. As the flex-time option is intended for working professionals, Western’s doctoral funding guarantee does not apply to students in flex-time studies. Flex-time enrolment will normally require two additional years of study for students to complete the program, in comparison to students in a regular full-time enrolment status. Completion within six to eight years while in flex-time enrolment is expected.

*Please note that the flex-time registration option is available only for doctoral programs with an approved flex-time option.

Interdisciplinary Combined PhD

A Western Interdisciplinary Combined PhD entails the completion of the combined degree requirements of two Western doctoral programs simultaneously under the supervision of a faculty member from each program.


Home Program: For the purposes of the Interdisciplinary Combined PhD Degree Agreement Form, “Home Program” will refer to the graduate program that has administrative responsibility for the student, including providing work/office space, assignment of GTAships, completion of annual progress reports, etc. The Home Program is also the “fall-back” program in the event that the student wishes to discontinue in the combined option.

Partnering Program: For the purposes of the Interdisciplinary Combined PhD Degree Agreement Form, “Partnering Program” will refer to the second graduate program.

  1. Program Structure
    • The student shall have two supervisors – one supervisor with doctoral membership in each graduate program. In exceptional circumstances, a single supervisor, with doctoral membership in both programs may be approved by SGPS, conditional upon the supervisory committee representing both programs.
    • One of the two programs will be identified as the "Home Program” for the purpose of registration and administration.
    • Programs are encouraged to “share” or “merge” some of their usual requirements. For example, a required course in one program can also be counted as an optional or elective course in the second program.
    • One thesis is to be completed; the thesis must meet the expectations of both programs, the content of the thesis should represent a blending of the disciplines.
    • The composition of the examining board for the dissertation will include representation of both participating programs and disciplines. Some variation from the usual PhD Examination Board structure may be needed to achieve this; such variation must be approved by SGPS.
    • The student's individual program (structured to support completion in 4 years) must be determined and agreed upon by the two programs normally no later than by the second term, including:
      • All courses to be completed to meet the learning outcomes of both programs
      • The nature and timing of comprehensive(s) to satisfy both programs (if feasible, the comprehensive exam requirements of the two programs can be merged into one exam)
      • Any additional milestones required to meet the learning outcomes of both programs
      • The topic of the dissertation/research
  2. Inclusion on Transcripts and Degrees
    • One degree/parchment will be awarded; it will list both graduate programs.
    • The student’s transcript will note registration in both graduate programs, with one degree awarded upon completion of all requirements.
    • The student’s transcript will read under “Academic Program History”:
      • Program: Home Program
      • Plan: Interdisciplinary Combined Doctor of Philosophy Home Program and Partnering Program
      • Status: Active in Program (or later, “Completed Program”)
    • The final degree awarded will appear on the parchment as: DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY, Home Program and Partnering Program

SGPS coordinates the administration of changes to your registration status as requested.  Those changes proceed through various channels of approval.  For more information on these requests please select the required change below: 


Senate Academic Policy, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Registration: