The following information includes definitions used by Northeastern University Canadian campuses to determine whether an international student enrolled in a graduate program at the NU Toronto or Vancouver campus is considered to be a full-time student for Canadian immigration purposes.

Academic Sessions

Semester-Based Programs

For semester-based programs, NU has three semesters per year:

  • Spring Semester: January to April
  • Summer Semester: May to August
  • Fall Semester: September to December

Please see a list of semester-based programs below:

  • Master of Science in Computer Science 
  • Master of Science in Computer Science Align 
  • Master of Science in Data Analytics Engineering 
  • Master of Science in Information Systems 
  • Master of Science in Information Systems – Bridge 
  • Master of Science in Information Design and Data Visualization 
  • Master of Science in Bioinformatics 
  • Master of Science in Biotechnology 
  • Master of Science in Cyber-Physical Systems 


Quarter-Based Programs

For quarter-based programs, NU has four quarters per year:

  • Winter Quarter: January to April
  • Spring Quarter: April to July
  • Summer Quarter: July to August
  • Fall Quarter: September to December

Please see a list of quarter-based programs below:

  • Master of Professional Study in Analytics 
  • Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs 
  • Master of Science in Project Management 
  • Master of Professional Studies in Informatics 
  • Master of Professional Studies in Digital Media 
  • Master of Professional Studies in Digital Media Connect

Scheduled Breaks

Scheduled breaks are clearly outlined in the program map and academic plan of each program. The following information on scheduled break is a general guide and students should check their program plan for specific guidance that is applicable to their program.  

  1. Spring Break 
    • One week in March for semester-based programs  
    • One week in April for quarter-based programs
  2. Summer Break (if applicable) 
    • Summer semester for semester-based programs 
    • Summer quarter for quarter-based programs 
  3. Winter Break
    • Last two weeks in December 
    • First week in January (depending on final exam schedule) 


Modified course map 

If summer is a scheduled break in your program but you choose to take courses and graduate in the summer semester, you’d be modifying your course map and summer semester will no longer be a scheduled break for you. For details about work eligibility during academic sessions, please check Working While Studying.   

Breaks in Studies or Leaves of Absence

Except for scheduled breaks, as a Study Permit holder in Canada, you cannot take a break or leave of absence from your studies for a time period that is longer than 150 days. If you do so, you may be considered not actively pursuing your studies and therefore not complying with study permit conditions.  

IRCC allows for authorized leave, approved by Northeastern University, for various legitimate reasons. IRCC has outlined some of these reasons as follows: 

  • medical reasons or pregnancy 
  • family emergency 
  • death or serious illness of a family member 
  • any other type of leave your school authorizes 

Any other leave, or period of non-study, such withdrawing from your classes, or delaying your program start, while in Canada with a study permit, may be considered as an unscheduled break.   

Non-compliance may put your immigration status at risk and may further impact your eligibility for PGWP. 

Work Eligibility during Non-Scheduled Breaks and Leave of Absence 

You are not authorized to work in Canada if you are on a Leave of Absence – even if this leave is approved by Northeastern University. This includes on or off campus work.  

Leave of Absence and Immigration Implications 

In the event that you need to take a break and you are approved a Leave of Absence by Northeastern, you are advised to keep a record of the approval as you may be requested to provide the documentation to IRCC in the future when you apply for immigration programs such as a study permit extension or PGWP. 

It is important to keep in mind that IRCC will assess the reasons for your leave to decide whether you meet the condition of actively pursuing your study. The approval from the institution does not automatically satisfy IRCC with this regard. 

In general, if you will be away from your study for more than 150 days, you need to either  

  • Leave Canada, or 
  • Change your status to a visitor or a worker

Please consult an International Student and Scholar Advisor of Office of Global Services Canada team for questions. 

You can find more information about taking an authorized leave of absence on the IRCC website. 

Definition of Full-Time for Immigration Purposes

Current Students

Students enrolled in graduate programs at Northeastern University are considered to be full-time students for the purpose of Canadian immigration if they are registered in 8 or more credits per academic semester/quarter, except during scheduled breaks. 

During scheduled breaks, students may choose to take the break or have part-time/ full-time course load if courses are available*. 

*Students are advised to verify with their Academic Advisor that they will have enough on-ground courses available in the remainder of the program before choosing to take classes during scheduled break. PGWP eligibility requires the majority of the program to be completed in person, in on-ground courses.  


Students on Co-Op

Students are considered to be full-time for immigration purposes if they are registered with the proper non-credit co-op course during the co-op term, as reflected on their transcript. 


Students with Special Accommodations

Students with reduced course load are considered to be full-time for immigration purposes if they have received official approval from the Disability Resource Center of NU for special accommodations. 


Graduating Students

Students who have completed the final course towards graduation and while awaiting the letter of completion to be available are considered by NU to be full-time for immigration purposes.