Counselling, Leaves, Lapses and Time Off


The Department of Physiology regularly provides confidential counselling to graduate students on a variety of issues - supervisor and laboratory conflicts, personal problems, family care issues, English skills, course completion, how to write up a thesis, financial difficulties, and much, much more.  Our Graduate Coordinators are very familiar with the problems students encounter, and can offer personal suggestions, policy interpretation, and referral to many other student services.  Contact Martin Wojtowicz at to set up a meeting.

Leave of Absence

Students can take a leave of absence from their program for parental, personal or medical reasons. Students wishing to take a leave of absence should contact the Department of Physiology Office. Once on leave, students will not be registered nor will they be required to pay fees for this period.  In general, students on leave may not make demands upon the resources of the University, attend courses or expect advice from their Supervisor.  As an exception, Students on leave for parental or serious health reasons who wish to consult with their Supervisor or other faculty are advised to make special arrangements through the Department.  The terminal date of the degree program will be extended by the duration of the leave taken. Normally, the start and finish of the leave would coincide with the beginning and end of a term.  Students on any leave of absence are not eligible to receive any University of Toronto Fellowship support during their absence; however, they may defer their fellowship until they return from leave.  In the case of other graduate student awards, the regulations of the particular granting agency apply.  Students requesting a leave on the basis of serious financial reasons will first be required to apply to the SGS for a bursary.

Personal/Medical Leave

Students may apply to SGS through Department of Physiology for a one to three-term leave during their graduate program on the grounds of health problems or personal circumstances that temporarily make it impossible to study.  A Request for Leave of Absence form must be completed.

Parental Leave

Graduate students may apply to SGS through Department of Physiology for a one to three-term parental leave. This policy 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 completed within twelve months of the date of birth or custody. Where both parents are graduate students seeking parental leave, the total number of terms may not exceed four. The total number of parental leaves received is limited, of course, by the number of children. A Request for Leave of Absence form must be completed.

Program Lapse

Lapsing means that a student does not pay fees or register for a period of time, without withdrawing from the program. Lapsing may be done involuntarily, when a student forgets to pay fees, or may be done intentionally, as when a student has passed the normal time limit for a degree (2 years for a MSc; 5 years for a transfer PhD; 6 years for a direct entry PhD). Once lapsed, a student can only re-register for degree completion with the written permission of the Department of Physiology Graduate Coordinators.  Students who lapse and re-register before the time limit mentioned above will be required to pay fees for registration sessions missed.  Students who lapse after their time limit will be required to pay up to one year of fees for degree completion.  Contact the Department of Physiology office if you are considering lapsing or returning from a lapsed status!

Personal Time for Graduate Students

Department of Physiology Graduate Students have a requirement to maintain full-time registration while completing a degree program. However, faculty and students alike recognize that everyone needs a break now and then.  It is also essential that research endeavours maintain momentum. There is no extant policy on graduate student personal time, time off, or "vacation".  The Department of Physiology offers the following guidelines for faculty and students. These are guidelines, not policy, and a final decision on time off must be reached between Student and Supervisor. Students are NOT employees and therefore have no rights to paid vacation time as an employee benefit.  These guidelines take into account the existing SGS full-time attendance definition and minimum attendance limits for receipts of student awards, as imposed by granting agencies.  As a general rule, students may take up to three weeks per year in personal time off, plus statutory holidays, under the following conditions:

  • Time off is negotiated between Student and Supervisor. Consideration should be given to when the building or lab is closed (i.e. winter holidays and University closure are included in the three weeks) when taking time off.
  • Time off should not compromise the progress of their studies. Students must ensure that laboratory activities and experimentation is either completed, or arrangements made for others to continue ongoing work. Time sensitive deadlines (i.e. award applications, abstract submissions) must be taken into consideration.
  • Time off cannot be carried forward from year to year.
  • Time off should be requested from your Supervisor as far in advance as possible.
  • Student and Supervisor should be able to maintain contact as appropriate if the student is away for an extended period.

Also check: Faculty of Medicine Guidelines on Graduate Student Personal Time Off (June 2010)