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IOP: What to Expect this Fall with COVID – Common Q&As



Q1: I expect it will take longer for me to complete my graduate program as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Can I have longer to meet my program milestones?


 Program Extensions

  • Master’s students: Initial program duration is five years

  • Doctoral students/Candidates: Initial program duration is six years


Due to COVID-19, G+PS will approve requests from graduate programs for one term of extension for any of their students without further justification or supporting documentation normally required. Students seeking such an extension should contact their graduate program to initiate such a request.


Extensions to Candidacy


Due to COVID-19, G+PS will approve requests from graduate programs for one term of extension to reach candidacy for any of their students without further justification or supporting documentation normally required. Students seeking such an extension should contact their graduate program to initiate such a request.



Q2: I’m a new/incoming student to IOP. How can I connect with other students in IOP during this time?


A2:  This year, we will be launching the IOP/IOGS Peer Mentorship program. This program is open to all incoming master’s and doctoral students. Students who join will be matched with a senior graduate student with whom they will meet regularly (for more information, see our page here). Mentors are encouraged to do small group activities with their mentees which will provide opportunities for new students to connect with others who are like-minded. Virtual mixers at the beginning, middle, and end of the academic year will also be opportunities for students to connect!  


Other opportunities that are not program specific include: 1) Signing up for the Faculty of Medicine Peer Mentorship Program 2) Attending and/or presenting at the BC Cancer Research Day and/or the Faculty of Medicine Research Trainee Day and Lecture Series this fall, and 3) Getting involved in student clubs such as the Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Society, the interdisciplinary Graduate Student Network, and the Graduate Student Society.



Q3: I am experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 containment. What can I do?


A3: Both domestic and international students who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 situation (extraordinary expenses, loss of employment, etc.) are strongly encouraged to schedule a confidential advising appointment with an Enrolment Services Advisor. Please call 604 822 9836 to speak with an ES Advisor or submit your concern online at An advisor will assess your financial situation and provide the best course of action for your situation. It may not be possible for Enrolment Services to provide immediate support in all circumstances, but meeting with an advisor will also enable the university to gather a clearer picture of the needs that exist and to direct its financial support resources more effectively. We also encourage students to communicate with your supervisor and graduate advisor regarding your circumstances and needs, to identify possible solutions.


If you are in financial need, some bursaries that you may be eligible for include 1) the IOP Emergency Bursary Fund, 2) the UBC Graduate Student Emergency Benefit Fund, 3) the Graduate Student Financial Aid Fund, and 4) the interdisciplinary Graduate Student Network Emergency Bursary.


Please see FAQ-Finance on the G+PS COVID-19 website for more information regarding finances.



Q4: What resources are available for mental health support?

A4: Amidst the current outbreak of COVID-19, many students may be developing feelings of fear, stress, worry and isolation – these feelings are natural when facing threats that are beyond our control. Everyone reacts differently to these feelings and they can be overwhelming for some. It is important to understand that if you need help in coping with these feelings, there are resources available. Below are articles and resources that will guide you in managing your mental health.

Taking care of your mental health during the outbreak

Other resources available online or on the phone to support your mental health

UBC Counselling Services Counselling Services will be offering appointments by phone during the COVID-19 outbreak. Students can call Counselling Services, 604 822 3811, to schedule an appointment by phone.

  • EmpowerMe - A mental health and wellness service that provides free access to qualified counsellors, consultants, and life coaches. Sessions are delivered by telephone, by video-counselling, or by e-counselling. Students can access Empower Me from any location 24 hours a day. 

  • MindhealthBC - Take a quick online assessment on your mental health and get resources for a variety of related concerns.

  • Here to Help - help you find quality information, learn new skills, and connect with key resources in BC

  • HealthlinkBC - If you still have questions call 811 to speak with a registered nurse, or access online resources for health-related questions.

  • CrisiscentreBC - If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or at risk of harm, call or chat online with a crisis responder any time

  • TAO - Manage your well-being with tools on stress, relationship problems, substance use, and more. Register with a UBC email, which you can set up for free.

  • Here2Talk - Provides all students currently registered in a BC post-secondary institution with access to free, confidential counselling and community referral services, conveniently available 24/7 via app, phone, and web.

  • More information on how to take care of your health and wellbeing can be found at


We appreciate that this is a very stressful time and we want to reassure you that UBC is here to support you.  All necessary steps are being taken, in conjunction with and in consultation with our health agency partners, in order to protect the health and safety of all of our students and the entire community. Your health and wellbeing is our priority.


If you have any further questions regarding any of the information you have received, please do not hesitate to reach out to:

  1. Dr. Marna Nelson, Director UBC Student Health Service (,

  2. Sandrine Espie, Grad & Postdoc Wellbeing Support Coordinator (, 

  3. Devon Heroux, IOP Student Representative (


Q5: What to expect with ONCO502, ONCO510, and directed studies courses? 


A5: Like nearly every university around the world, we face uncertainty about the constraints we'll be working under in the coming months. The IOP graduate program has assessed how we can adjust - as appropriate and feasible for our individual courses - to meet those constraints, and will be working to implement those adjustments as quickly as possible. ONCO502, ONCO510, and directed studies courses will proceed in September, with the understanding that modifications to delivery methods may be necessary in some cases.  

For further questions, please see the G+PS COVID-19 website for information regarding COVID-19 and our operations this 2020 W1 term. Topics range from newly admitted students, international students, housing, finance, theses and dissertations, and assessment, grade deadlines and course standings. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the IOP coordinator (Sharon Ruschkowski; or the program co-directors Drs. Wan Lam ( and Kevin Bennewith (

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