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Graduate Students' Association (GSA)

The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) provides a strong foundation for graduate students at the University of Calgary by advocating on their behalf, 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, 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. The President is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the GSA’s strategic plan. This includes being the graduate students’ representative 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 the academic interests and concerns of graduate students, overseeing graduate assistantships, the Collective Agreement, GSA awards, and joint oversight of the Ombudsperson.

The Vice-President External is the chief government relations officer of the Association. This person is responsible for the GSA’s government and community engagement. This includes being 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), planning and organizing social events, representing the GSA in the University of Calgary’s Mental Health Strategy, community engagement initiatives, issues surrounding Residence and Family Housing, and International Students. The Vice-President Student Life also oversees the communication of the GSA, including the weekly News and Views e-newsletter, which is sent out every Tuesday to all graduate students.

The Vice-President Finance and Services is responsible for all GSA services including the oversight of the GSA’s Health and Dental plan, the GSA’s employer liaison program, and professional development workshops in collaboration with My GradSkills. The Vice-President Finance and Services is also responsible for the oversight of the finance of the GSA and the Last Defence Lounge.

For more information, visit:

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 Vice-President Student Life 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. The process to form a new DGA is described 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 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 second floor of the MacKimmie Tower (MT 214) 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:

Employer Liaison

The GSA operates an Employer Liaison program that is dedicated to help graduate students attain their desired career goals, whether this means entering industry after graduation or continuing on with academia. Various professional development workshops are offered throughout the year and a mentorship program is offered for those that would like to make a connection in their industry of interest. Please contact for any questions.

Awards, Bursaries, and Grants

There are several ways in which the GSA provides funding and recognition for our members. Professional Development Grants and Group Project Grants are available to individual students and groups who are seeking funding to pursue an academic project outside of the purview of their degree requirements. Individual bursaries and family 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 and volunteers. Students also have the opportunity to apply for the Alberta Graduate Citizenship Award in the fall term each year. For more information, contact

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. For more information, visit:

GSA Contact Information

The Graduate Students’ Association
214, MacKimmie Tower
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary AB
T2N 1N4
Tel: 403.220.5997
Fax: 403.282.8992

GSA Office Hours

Monday to Friday, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm