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Graduate Students' Association (GSA)

Message from the GSA President

The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) provides a strong foundation for graduate students at the University of Calgary by advocating on their behalf, and addressing their needs by offering essential services and programs that support and empower them during and after their academic endeavors.

Through services such as professional development workshops, mentorship opportunities, leadership opportunities, social events, a health and dental plan, and awards, grants, and bursaries, the GSA is dedicated to enhancing the well-being and student experience of graduate students.

The GSA also owns and operates the Last Defence Lounge, a full service restaurant located on the third floor of the MacEwan Student Centre (MSC 350).

For a full list of GSA services, visit:

GSA Membership

All full-time and part-time graduate students registered through the Faculty of Graduate Studies are members of the Graduate Students’ Association. Every member pays an annual Association fee. To see a breakdown of fees, visit:

GSA Executive

The affairs of the GSA are overseen by the Board of Directors. This board is elected each spring for a one-year term. The executive positions are:

Vice-President Academic:
Vice-President External:
Vice-President Student Life:
Vice-President Finance and Services:

The five executives and their team of staff and volunteers support and advocate for the members of the GSA and advance the GSA’s goals. According to the Graduate Calendar, GSA Executives are released from course, research, and teaching responsibilities in proportion to the expectations demanded by their role with the GSA. As well, GSA Executives can qualify for an extra year of study without penalty.

Each executive is responsible for specific aspects of the Association. The following is a brief overview of each executive’s primary responsibilities:

The President is the official spokesperson and chief advocate of the GSA and is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the GSA’s strategic plan and overseeing the governance of the organization, and ensuring that the GSA adheres to our bylaws, policies, and procedures. The President represents graduate students on the University of Calgary Board of Governors.

The Vice-President Academic is responsible for all academic matters affecting graduate students. This includes advocating for their academic interests and concerns, overseeing GSA awards, and joint oversight of the Ombudsperson. The role also oversees academic workshops and events, including PEER Beyond, the GSA's annual academic conference.

The Vice-President External is the chief government relations officer of the Association and is responsible for the GSA’s government and community engagement. This includes overseeing advocacy efforts, social media, and the GSA's employer liaison and mentorship program. The VP External is also the graduate students’ representative on the University of Calgary Senate.

The Vice-President Student Life is responsible for non-academic student matters that impact graduate students. This includes all matters relating to Departmental Graduate Associations (DGAs) and Graduate Student Groups (GSGs), planning and organizing social events, representing the GSA in the Campus Mental Health Strategy and community engagement initiatives. The Vice-President Student Life also oversees the GSA's weekly News and Views e-newsletter, which is sent out every Tuesday to all graduate students.

The Vice-President Finance and Services oversees the finances of the GSA and the Last Defence Lounge and is responsible for all GSA services. This includes oversight of the GSA's Health and Dental plan, management of the process and procedures for Quality Money, and ensuring that the GSA's financial and strategic goals are aligned.

Volunteering Opportunities

The GSA offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for graduate students to get involved with the University community. From one-time events to long-term volunteer positions, there are many ways students can become involved and help shape the graduate student experience. For more information, please visit: or contact the Volunteer and Services Coordinator at

Departmental Graduate Associations

Through the GSA, each department of the university is able to form a Departmental Graduate Association (DGA). Some of the benefits of joining a DGA include funding opportunities for Association events and functions, as well as a group discount at the Last Defence Lounge. Many departments already have DGAs and the GSA encourages students to join – not only because it provides a networking opportunity within the department, but it also because it fosters a stronger sense of community for graduate students. More information, along with a list of existing DGAs, can be found here:

Graduate Student Groups

Graduate students are also able to form student groups based on interests outside of academic ones. Further details about registered groups and the process for forming new ones can be found here:

Graduate Representative Council

The Graduate Representative Council (GRC) provides direction to the GSA’s Board of Directors on political, financial, and operational matters of the GSA. The GRC includes representatives from all active DGAs and is responsible for GSA oversight including budget and fees approval, appointing the auditor, and monitoring GSA policies, practices and activities as reported by the Board of Directors. The GRC meets at least six times per year and is essential in setting the overall direction of the GSA.

Graduate Student Representation

GSA representatives include both the GSA Executives and GRC representatives, and sit as full voting members on most major committees at the University and provide a graduate student voice on issues on and off campus. Graduate students at the University of Calgary are also represented on provincial (the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council or ab-GPAC) and national (GU15) student organizations.

The GSA Office and the Last Defence Lounge

The GSA main office is located on the tenth floor of the Earth Sciences building (ES 1030) which houses all of the GSA’s operations, including the health and dental plan. The Last Defence Lounge, to which all members of the University community and their guests are welcome, is located on the third floor of the MacEwan Student Centre (MSC 350). For the latest lounge news and daily specials, visit:

GSA Health and Dental Plan

The GSA provides its members with access to a comprehensive extended Health and Dental plan. Through their enrolment in a full-time graduate program at the University, active members are automatically enrolled in the GSA’s extended Health and Dental plan (part-time students are also able to opt-in to the plan). The plan encompasses a wide variety of coverage and allows students to access critical services such as prescriptions drugs, dental, vision, and many other health care practitioners. For more information and a breakdown of fees, visit:

Awards, Bursaries, and Grants

There are several ways in which the GSA provides funding and recognition for our members. The Professional Development Grant supports graduate students' professional development and the GSA bursaries are given out to students who demonstrate financial need. In the spring of each year, the GSA presents awards of recognition to exceptional teachers, supervisors, administrative assistants, mentors, volunteers and student leaders. Students can also apply for the Alberta Graduate Citizenship Award in the Fall term each year. Visit our awards page for more information and to keep up to date on upcoming opportunities.

Quality Money

The GSA is committed to enhancing the graduate student experience. Quality Money is one way that the GSA invests in the student community. The GSA helps fund proposals that positively impact graduate students, promote multidisciplinary interactions, and align with the University’s Eyes High strategic plan.

GSA Contact Information

The Graduate Students’ Association
1030 Earth Sciences 
844 Campus Place NW
Calgary AB
T2N 1N4
Tel: 403.220.5997
Fax: 403.282.8992

GSA Office Hours

Tuesday to Thursday, 10am - 4pm (virtual: Monday 1pm - 3pm, Friday 9am - 11am)

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The University of Calgary, located in the heart of Southern Alberta, both acknowledges and pays tribute to the traditional territories of the peoples of Treaty 7, which include the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprised of the Siksika, the Piikani, and the Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Goodstoney First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta (districts 5 and 6).

The University of Calgary is situated on land Northwest of where the Bow River meets the Elbow River, a site traditionally known as Moh’kins’tsis to the Blackfoot, Wîchîspa to the Stoney Nakoda, and Guts’ists’i to the Tsuut’ina. On this land and in this place we strive to learn together, walk together, and grow together “in a good way.”

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