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Leave of absence & vacation policy

Vacation policy

Graduate students and postdocs should normally be entitled to vacation leave equivalent to university holidays and an additional total of fifteen (15) working days in the year. Funded students and postdocs with fellowships and research grant stipends taking additional vacation leave may have their funding reduced accordingly.

You may review your department's policy on vacation by visiting the Graduate e-Calendar and selecting the link to your faculty from the search options displayed.

Leave of absence

Graduate and Postdoc Leave of Absence Policy

A leave of absence may be granted for reasons such as:

  • maternity or parenting
  • personal or family health
  • professional development (graduate students only)
  • required military service (graduate students only)
  • employment that precludes progress towards the degree (graduate students only)

A leave must be requested on a term by term basis and may be granted for a period of up to 52 weeks.

Students and postdocs must submit a request, by completing the appropriate web form, to their department along with supporting documentation justifying the leave. The department shall forward the request for approval to Enrolment Services, Management of Academic Records.

A status of “leave of absence” will display on the records of students and postdocs during the specified period of the authorized leave.

It remains the student's responsibility to verify their own record; in particular, as it pertains to term and course registration to ensure that the accurate information is reflected.

During a leave of absence for parental or familial reasons, a student will not be eligible to take courses but he/she may request and expect guidance on thesis and research work. Students and postdocs will have free access to the University's academic facilities. Library services will continue to be available by registering at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (McLennan-Redpath).

During a leave of absence for personal health reasons, a student will not be eligible to request guidance on thesis and research work or to take courses. Students and postdocs will not have access to the University's academic facilities but library services will normally continue to be available by registering at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (McLennan-Redpath).


  • Requests for a leave of absence due to health, familial or parental reasons must be supported by a medical certificate.
  • Requests for a leave of absence due to professional development are for activities that preclude progress towards the degree.
  • A request for leave without proper justification and supporting documents will not be considered.
  • A request for retroactive leave of absence will not be considered.
  • No tuition fees will be charged for the duration of the authorized leave.
  • Research supervisors are not obligated to remunerate students and postdocs on leave.
  • In order to be covered by the graduate supplemental health insurance and/or international health insurance during a leave, The Post Graduate Student Society (PGSS) and/or International Student Services must be contacted to make arrangements. Additional student society fees must be paid in order to be considered as a member and to be eligible for the insurance plans. For information about the PGSS supplemental health and dental coverage, click here. For information about international health insurance, click here.
  • A postdoc requesting a personal health or parental leave will extend their five-year eligibility term for registration. If granted, the leave must not exceed an eligibility window of 10 years from the date the Ph.D. degree was awarded.
  • If you have concerns about disclosing your medical condition, you may contact the Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for advice before submitting your request for leave.
  • For a maternity or parental leave, the eligibility period of a maximum of 52 consecutive weeks is determined based on when the child is born; if the leave is interrupted for one or two terms, the eligibility period cannot be extended.
  • For unionized Postdocs, if agreed-upon terms, working conditions, etc. contradict those laid out in the AMURE (Postdocs) collective agreement, the provisions in the collective agreement shall prevail. 

Leave vs. Residency Requirements

A leave in a residency term may be requested; however, upon return and re-registration in the program, it is the student's responsibility to ensure that the missing residency requirements are completed. A leave indicates a break in the program.

For more information on residency requirements refer to the program requirements in McGill's eCalendar.

Procedures for Requesting a Leave

**Special note for award holders: Please refer to your award holder's guide and the Graduate Funding webpage as well as following the instructions below.

To submit a request for leave to the department, the student or postdoc must:

  • complete the Request for a Leave web form available at; and
  • submit the necessary supporting documents (e.g., a medical certificate, proof of employment, proof of mandatory military service) to the graduate department

Once the department has received and reviewed the request and supporting documents, if the request is justified, a recommendation for approval will be sent via email to Enrolment Services, Management of Academic Records.

The student or postdoc will be notified once their record has been updated to indicate the leave.

Applying to Graduate Following a Leave

If on leave of absence during the Fall term, the student must register for an active term of study in the Winter term (at least) in order to apply for graduation.

If on leave of absence during the Winter and/or Summer terms, the student must register for an active term of study in the Fall term (at least) in order to apply for graduation.

Additional Information Regarding Medical Certificates

  • A medical certificate must contain at least the following items:
    • the student or postdoc's name, as well as complete contact information for the physician;
    • a clear statement by the physician justifying the student or postdoc's inability to perform their academic duties, with start and end dates;
    • if the request is submitted during a term for which the leave is requested, a clear explanation as to why the health condition(s) in question did not prevent the normal performance of academic duties at the beginning of the term.
  • Requests without supporting documentation will not be considered. 


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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