COVID‑19 Info for Grad Students

Frequently asked questions for new applicants and current students

Last updated: March 27, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. ADT

These FAQS only address issues pertaining to Graduate Studies at Dalhousie. For information that affects all students and the wider university community, please see this page.


Office Operations

Can I still get assistance in person at the Faculty of Graduate Studies office?

No. In order to align with social distancing best practices, effective Tuesday, March 17th, the Faculty of Graduate Studies will be moving all in-person services to an online format. If you require service, please email with your name, student ID number and the nature of your request. We will respond as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this unique situation.


Applying to Dalhousie

Is Dalhousie still considering applications to graduate studies for September 2020 from applicants living outside of Canada?

Yes, Dalhousie is still accepting applications and expects to accept new graduate students from outside of Canada for the September semester. The university is adapting the delivery of its programs to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you find you are unable to travel to Dalhousie in September, there may be options to study online until you are able to travel to the university to study in person. Please contact your prospective department for more information.  

When applying, please note that we are making accommodations for the official documents required, which may help you. See the questions that follow for more information. 

Please note we are not able to receive documents by mail or courier until further notice.

I received conditional admission to Dalhousie based on unofficial documents. Is there anything I should be aware of?

Please ensure you obtain your official documents before travelling to attend Dalhousie. These documents will be required before you begin classes.

I live in a region impacted by COVID-19 and am having difficulty obtaining the official documents required to apply to graduate studies. What should I do?

The Faculty of Graduate Studies is making temporary allowances for applicants living in regions experiencing school, test centre and/or postal service closures. If this affects you, Dalhousie will accept:

  • Unofficial transcripts to evaluate your application for a conditional admission. Please note that a conditional admission decision is not final. You will need to provide official transcripts for review before the start date of your program.
  • Unofficial copies of current English language test score reports (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL) or applications with no test scores for conditional admission. You will need to provide official test score documents before the start date of your program.

My referee has been unable to send their reference letter. What should I do?

If your referee is unable to send their reference letter, please contact

Will the Faculty of Graduate Studies be extending the deadline for applications for the September semester to all applicants impacted by COVID-19?

FGS will accommodate late applications from individuals who are impacted by COVID-19. However, you are encouraged to first contact your prospective department to confirm if they are accepting late applications for admission.   

I deferred my acceptance to a graduate program once and would like to request a second deferral because of issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Is this possible?

The Faculty of Graduate Studies is temporarily allowing students to defer their acceptance a second time with the approval of their prospective department. Please connect with your supervisor or advisor to make the request.


Beginning my program at Dalhousie

Can I start my program in May?

Please contact your supervisor or program director to determine if this is possible.

If I start my program remotely, when do I need to relocate to Dalhousie?

If you begin your program remotely, then you're expected to relocate to Dalhousie when travel restrictions are lifted. Please stay in contact with your supervisor or program director to plan your travel collaboratively.

Research, courses and professional development

What advice can the Faculty of Graduate Studies provide to students for working remotely with their supervisors during the COVID-19 pandemic?

In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, work with your supervisor to explore appropriate ways to continue research and scholarly activities. Beyond making arrangements to ensure continuity of research, it is important to remember that these are exceptional times calling for mutual support and understanding. The decisions you make today will likely require continuous adjustment and accommodation.

Transitioning to a work-from-home environment:

1. Establish a daily work schedule and plan to take weekends off. If possible, designate a home working space.

2. In consultation with your supervisor, make sure you have transferred or have remote access to appropriate resources from your study or research spaces on campus.

3. Ensure IT supports are in place to access data/resources.

4. Ensure any data or information related to your research is safely stored and not easily accessed by others.

5. Ensure that your supervisor has up-to-date contact information for you.

6. Make yourself accessible to safe and secure telecommunications via such tools as Teams/Skype/Zoom, FaceTime or telephone.   

7. Communicate your work schedule to people staying with you at home and adhere to it.

8. Take breaks.

9. When working from home, try to maintain online interactions with friends beyond strict research-related work.

10. International students may be especially vulnerable given their greater distance from family members. Please keep this in mind and reach out and support them.

Practical research considerations:

1. Work with your supervisor to develop a personalized plan that allows you to conduct research remotely to the fullest extent possible (e.g., performing data analysis, literature review, modeling and computation, writing manuscripts and applications, and planning).

2. Prioritize activities, and discuss which activities can be ramped down, curtailed, or delayed and possible alternatives that can limit potential research interruptions.

3. Discuss possible impacts on activities and deadlines involving external collaborators or partners as well as planned research-related trips. Develop strategies to deal with these while working from home.

4. Consider sharing your COVID-19 research plan with your Graduate Coordinator.

What should I do if my research is delayed or stopped?

Our current focus is to minimize delays in degree completion and financial impacts by encouraging students to work with their supervisor to find alternative research activities that can continue remotely. We are waiting for news from several funding agencies on the long-term supports which may be available for students whose research cannot be continued due to COVID-19. If your research is directly and significantly impacted by COVID-19, please work with your supervisor on the individual approach that makes the most sense for your specific situation.

I depend on Dalhousie's libraries to conduct my research. What should I do now that their buildings are closed?

While library buildings are closed, library services and many of its collections are available remotely, including e-books and e-journals. Library staff are standing by to assist with research questions via LiveHelp, which can be found at the bottom of their homepage. They have also launched a webpage to address updates in their operations related to COVID-19.

What do I do if another university is offering a course online that I'm interested in taking this summer?

If you’re interested in taking a course online from another university this summer, please work with your supervisor or advisor to identify the equivalent course at Dalhousie and submit a Letter of Permission request to FGS has relaxed limitations on the number of courses students can take from other post-secondary institutions and are temporarily allowing up to 50 per cent of your degree course requirements to be taken this way. 

Will professional development for graduate students continue to be offered during the COVID-19 pandemic?

In-person professional development workshops have been cancelled. However, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and its partners are developing programming that can be delivered online. Please refer to our weekly eNewsletter or professional development webpage for ongoing updates. 

PhD Thesis Defence

Will my PhD defence go forward?

Yes, doctoral defences will proceed as scheduled and continue to follow FGS guidelines, including protocols for length of presentation, order of questions, role of the chair, “in camera” decision-making, etc.

Will I be able to schedule my PhD defence during the spring/summer semester?

Yes, you will be able to defend your PhD thesis remotely during the spring/summer semester. The process for initiating a thesis defence remains the same. Please refer to our "Preparing for a Doctoral Defence" webpage for further information.

Will PhD theses defences remain open to the public?

No, until further notice theses defences will be closed to audiences.

Are theses defences taking place in person?

No. Due to social distancing health recommendations, all theses defences will proceed by means of remote participation

How will remote participation work?

We support theses defences via video and teleconferencing. 

What will happen if both the videoconference and teleconference fail during my defence?

Your defence will be rescheduled.

Do I need to do anything differently to prepare for my defence?

Yes. You must submit your slide deck as a PDF to at least one day ahead of your defence. Graduate Studies will ensure your remote participants have a copy in case their videoconference link fails. 

What equipment do I need to defend my thesis remotely?

You will require a computer with a webcam for the videoconference and a phone for the teleconference. Ideally, you will use a landline phone with a handsfree option. If you need to use a cellphone, it should be plugged in to a power source during your defence to ensure it maintains power for up to 3 hours.

Will the external examiner and my examining committee ask the same questions remotely as they would on-site?


I am concerned that the necessary signatures on defence-related forms may not reach Graduate Studies on time. Is there any solution?

Yes, as an alternative you are permitted to submit scanned or photographed copies of signed forms. These can be emailed to

Will theses defences for masters students follow the same procedures as PhD theses defences?

At the master’s level, theses defences are the responsibility of your academic unit. Please contact your department for information on how your defence will proceed. Following Canada’s and Nova Scotia’s guidelines for social distancing, we anticipate that all theses defences will be conducted remotely.

What if I require an accommodation to proceed with my thesis defence?

Please contact


I have applied for a scholarship. Will the results be announced on expected timelines?

The Tri-Agency (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR) recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting students, researchers, and academic institutions across Canada and around the world. As such, timelines for some programs will be modified. The results release date for the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s Program (CGS-M) and the Canada Graduate Scholarships–Doctoral (CGS-D) will be postponed to mid-April. Departments will advise students when the Tri-Agency portal opens.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies has notified departments of the results of other award competitions including Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship, Killam Awards, Vitamin Scholarship and Abdul Majid Bader Graduate Scholarship. Please reach out to your departmental administrator for the results.

Are there any changes to upcoming scholarship deadlines or processes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, the Scotia Scholar application deadline has been extended to April 15, 2020 and the deadline for submission of reference letters is April 30, 2020. Please review the application instructions carefully. Note that unofficial transcripts from Dalhousie are now acceptable. Please print your academic record from Dal Online to PDF and upload it. Referees may email their references directly to the address in the guidelines (hard copies are not required). If you do not have or are unable to obtain official transcripts from previous institutions, please contact your department to obtain scanned copies. If this is not an option or you have further enquiries, please contact

I have received a scholarship but have chosen to defer the start of my program due to an issue related to COVID-19. Can I defer my scholarship?

Yes, you are eligible to defer scholarships managed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies for up to 12 months. This may be an appropriate action if you do not expect to be able to come to Dalhousie due to travel restrictions. Please contact your supervisor or graduate program administrator to submit a request for deferral. 

I will begin my program at Dalhousie in May through remote learning from outside of Canada. Will I be able to access my scholarship?

Yes, if you have determined that you will be able to take your courses online or have established how you will pursue your research with your supervisor, you will be able to access your scholarship. We are unable to direct deposit a payment to a bank account outside of Canada. Please contact to discuss alternatives.

I am a current student with a scholarship. Will my funding be affected by COVID-19?

FGS is currently processing scholarship payments for the summer for registered students. If you would prefer to place your studies on temporary hold, you can request a leave of absence. If you are considering a leave of absence, please discuss this option with your supervisor or graduate coordinator before the next academic term. 

I am in a difficult financial position due to COVID-19. Can I apply for an Emergency Bursary?

Support from the university is available for students who are experiencing unanticipated or unmanageable financial issues directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. If this is the case, and you are a domestic graduate student, please contact with your banner number, program and a description of your specific need. If you're an international student, please contact with the same information and your request will be reviewed in collaboration with the International Centre.

Will I still receive my monthly scholarship stipend?

Yes, payments will continue. Graduate Funding payments are being processed through the Graduate Funding Payment System by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Student Accounts and Payroll. Please direct any inquiries or concerns regarding funding payments to

I am a new student/postdoctoral fellow, and my scholarship/fellowship includes relocation support. Will this cover the cost of a 14-day self-isolation if I am traveling from a restricted area?

No. If you are unable to plan for a required 14-day isolation period upon arrival at Dalhousie from an area covered by travel restrictions, you are encouraged to consider deferring your start date. Please contact your supervisor or graduate coordinator for more information. 

I am a new postdoctoral fellow scholar with a start date in the next two months. Is this flexible?

Yes. Please contact your proposed supervisor and the Scholarships Liaison Officer to discuss deferring your start date.