Leave of Absence


If you need to apply for a leave of absence due to medical, compassionate, or pregnancy/parental grounds you can do so through the secure Graduate Student Web Services Portal.

The Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) may grant a leave of absence on pregnancy/parental, medical or compassionate grounds normally to a maximum of three terms or 12 months, on the recommendation of the program.

When recommending a leave of absence to the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), programs should contact SGPS about any academic considerations for outstanding coursework.

Pregnancy and/or Parental

Pregnancy/Parental Leave is intended to recognize the need for leave at the time of pregnancy, birth or adoption, and to permit a pause in studies in order to provide full-time care in the first year of parenting a new child. Either parent may request up to three terms of leave, which must be started within twelve months of the date of birth or custody. Provided the student has been a registered full-time graduate student for at least one term and is not receiving additional Tri-Agency benefits, they are entitled to a $1,500 pregnancy and parental bursary per leave. During a Pregnancy/Parental leave international students can opt into UHIP for up to 12 months.


Graduate students may apply for a medical leave by providing a Medical Certificate completed by a health care practitioner. During a Medical leave, international students can opt into UHIP for four months in a 12-month leave period. It is possible to extend UHIP for another four months subject to the approval of the insurance provider.

Doctoral Medical Leave Bursaries

Starting October 5, 2015, doctoral students may be eligible for a Medical Leave Bursary of up to $5,000 for one term of leave during the full duration of a student’s degree. The bursary will be available to any eligible doctoral students on a medical leave effective September 1, 2015. 

To be eligible, students must:

  • be enrolled full-time in a PhD program or in the DMA program
  • be within their funding eligibility period (e.g., in Year 1 to 4, or Year 1 to 5 in the case of direct-entry, Master’s to Doctoral transfer or combined PhD/masters programs)
  • provide a Medical Certificate completed by a health care practitioner
  • expect to return to full-time studies following the leave
  • request and be approved by the graduate program and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for a medical leave of absence

The bursary would be granted for a maximum of one term.  Students requiring a medical leave longer than one term would not receive additional funding. Students are eligible for a maximum of $5,000 of medical leave bursary funding during the full duration of their degree.

The bursary would be provided directly to the student to cover living costs while on medical leave.  Students who receive a medical leave bursary are subject to all aspects of the SGPS Regulation on Leaves of Absence (see Graduate Regulations).


Graduate students may apply for a compassionate leave for care and support of a seriously ill family member. This leave is not intended to cover circumstances related to travel, employment or other financial concerns.


Graduate students in programs without an internship requirement who secure an internship through Western’s Internship Program may apply for an internship leave. Students may apply for a leave of absence by completing an online request via the Graduate Student Web Services Portal. The request is then reviewed by the graduate program. If approved by the program, it is reviewed by SGPS. Once on leave, students are not registered with the University nor will they be required to pay tuition and ancillary fees for this period; however, they are entitled to receive/maintain certain benefits as described in the related Procedures.

While on leave, students are expected to be away from normal activities as graduate students (e.g. attending classes, conducting research). However, students and supervisors may negotiate ongoing communication during this period. Before the end of the approved leave of absence, students notify the Graduate Chair/Director, the Graduate Assistant and, where relevant, the Supervisor(s), to discuss the transition back to their studies. If students are applying for an additional leave of absence, it is important that the program and SGPS be notified as soon as possible.

To ensure that they are optimally supported throughout their degree, students requiring leaves of absence that extend beyond three terms are encouraged to communicate with programs about potential professional, academic or research implications of the extended period away from their studies. The start and finish of the leave may begin or end at any point in the term; normally the leave will coincide with the start and end of terms. Students are advised to consult with their graduate program to make special arrangements especially if taking courses during this period.

The date for degree completion and funding of the degree program will be extended by the duration of the time taken on leave, i.e. one, two or three terms as appropriate.

After submitting an application for leave, your request will be forwarded to your home program for approval and finally to The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for approval and processing. Once a decision has been made, you will receive notification via your Western e-mail address.

International students in Canada during their leave are required to opt into UHIP; however, international students are eligible for a maximum of four months of coverage while on a leave.