Changes are coming to this website. Learn more ➜

Program extension

What are the time limits for my program?

The University Senate has defined Program Time Limits (Graduate Studies Academic Calendar) in which you must complete the degree requirements for your graduate program. Time limits also govern the eligibility criteria for many scholarships and awards.  The limits are intended to be targets for you (and your supervisor) to work towards while completing your degree. 

What if I need more time to complete my program?

While the limits are set up to help guide your academic journey, the University acknowledges that you may exceed the time limits of your program. Once you near the time whereby your degree requirements should have been, but are not yet met, you are required to complete the request for program extension process. 

This process serves as an opportunity for you, your supervisor, committee, program, and faculty to review your academic and research progress. For students who are progressing well, the process will normally result in constructive feedback to both you and your supervisor from the department/school and faculty that may include resources that may be helpful to you to facilitate or accelerate your academic progress.  It is also the intent that the continuation process will provide you with a revised timeline for completion – a checklist to help you stay on track. 

For students who have experienced documented challenges with their academic progress, the request for program extension is a time to honestly, transparently and collectively assess their likelihood of success to complete their program. If necessary, a decision to discontinue your enrolment either through voluntary withdraw or required to withdraw may be reached. 

The University is eager for you to succeed in your program within timelines that meet both the University’s and your goals. The Graduate Studies community encourages open conversations about your degree progression, and how you can be supported if you experience challenges that impact your academic path.  If you have a known or unknown disability, illness, or condition that may be impacting your progress, we encourage you to connect with AccessAbility Services.

What is the process? How much more time can I have?

If you reach the time limit for your program, you may request to continue your studies beyond term limits by following these steps:

  • Meet with your supervisor (and/or committee) to discuss your progress, proposed timeline for academic/research activities, and potential resources to assist you in successfully completing your degree requirements.
  • Submit a Request for Extension Beyond Program Time Limits (Graduate Studies forms website) to your academic department at the specified date prior to the term that the extension is required (i.e., fall: August 1, winter: December 1; spring: April 1; unless your academic unit specified otherwise).
    • If the request is within three terms of program limits, the decision will be made by your department’s graduate officer.
    • If the request is beyond the three terms of program limits, your request will be reviewed by the graduate officer and then sent to the associate dean, Graduate Studies of your faculty for a decision.
  • Be sure to include a progress report/plan for completion as part of the request.
  • Contact your graduate officer for further clarification on the process.

Within the first three terms of your program limits, up to three terms of continued studies may be approved at the Department/School level. For multi-term extensions to be considered, a clear rationale and well-defined timelines for academics beyond the single term need to be provided. Please note that not all faculties will approve multi-term extensions.

Further extensions beyond the first three terms must be approved at the faculty level, by the associate dean, Graduate Studies. Requests for continuation beyond the first three terms over program limits are considered on a term-by-term basis to allow for regular assessments of your progress relative to the revised timelines. Only in rare cases, will a request for multi-term extensions be considered beyond three terms (and only with clear rationale/documentation). Requests for extensions longer than three terms will not be considered.

Am I required to submit this form if I wish to continue beyond my program time limits?

Yes. This is an important process that is intended to facilitate a conversation about academic progression. You are required to complete the request for program extension process (as above) at the specified date prior to the term that the extension is required (i.e., fall: august 1, winter: December 1; spring: April 1- unless your academic unit specified otherwise). If you will be going inactive in a term which would have required a program extension (if you had stayed active), you are expected to submit a program extension form by the extension deadline for your next active term (and may wish to do so prior to changing your enrollment status to inactive).

Please note that you are required to submit a form even if you anticipate that you may be completing your degree requirements within the next term.

If the necessary forms are not submitted by this time, you will be withdrawn from your program. In such cases, an academic decision of required to withdraw will be applied to your academic record and you will have to reapply to the program for a future term. The appropriate refund of fees paid (if applicable) will be issued.

How am I informed of the decision?

If you are within three terms of your program time limits, you will receive notification of the decision of your request by your department or faculty. If you are beyond three terms of your program limits, the decision regarding your request for program extension will be communicated from the office of your faculty associate dean, Graduate Studies. (You will be provided with a decision before the tuition and fee arrangement deadline). If applicable (e.g., an extension is not granted), the appropriate refund of fees paid will be issued.

What if my request is not approved?

If your request for an extension of time limits has not been approved, you will be required to withdraw from your program. Upon receipt of this information, you may elect to voluntarily withdraw and your transcript will reflect whether the withdrawal was voluntary or required and will be recorded as of the start of the academic term in which the petition was not approved. The appropriate refund of fees paid (if applicable) will be issued. As with all academic decisions at the University, you may petition or grieve this decision using Policy 70.