Graduate Student Handbook
The physics department graduate student handbook outlines all of the requirements that must be met in order to obtain a degree.
The checklists on this page are based on feedback provided by graduate students. These are provided with the intent to offer some guidance to new students on what they may generally need to do when they first apply to the University and are accepted. Some items will be more relevant to international students. There are Academic and Non-Academic checklists:
- Receive formal acceptance
- Next get a study permit
- Enrollment with the University (courses, etc.)
- Sign a department contract
- Meet your supervisor
- Obtain your office keys
- Go on a department tour
- Set up your office space (computer, unpack books, etc.)
- Pay tuition (either as a lump sum or via monthly installments)
- Obtain your study permits
- Figure out how you will get to the University before arriving (for example, transport from the Airport)
- Determine where you will live (accommodation) before arriving in Saskatoon.
- Sign and obtain a copy of the U of S Department Contract to have proof of enrollment/employment. Get a physical copy mailed to your residence address in Saskatoon. This can be used for proof of residence for a bank account.
- Apply for a Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN). There is a notary in the Peter McKinnon building who can sign documents. You can get your SIN on Preston Avenue (use your UPASS to get there).
- Get a bank account (there is a Royal Bank, RBC near the University), make a small initial deposit so that you can get a bank statement for proof of residence
- Get Saskatchewan ID (need 2 document that prove residence in Saskatchewan, hence the suggestion to have a bank statement and physical mailed copy of the proof of enrollment/employment)
- Obtain a Saskatchewan Health Card
- Optionally, get a credit card from your bank
- Optionally, obtain a cell phone (may need a credit card)
Living in Saskatoon
Getting to Saskatoon
If you are arriving via air travel, the two major airlines within Canada that provide service to Saskatoon are Air Canada and Westjet. You may also wish to use your local travel agency to book flights.
Transportation in Saskatoon
Saskatoon Transit operates a bus service that is likely the best option for transportation in Saskatoon. Graduate students pay for a bus pass from September to April as part of their fees. The bus service can take you from the airport to the university. Taxis and Uber are also available.
The University has on campus housing options that you can find out more about with this link. Another option is to find an apartment or room in a house by searching for housing on Kijiji (here’s an example link for searching on Kijiji). There are various grocery stores near the University. For example, Superstore and Wholesale Club.
Graduate Housing rates include utilities, cable TV, wireless and wired internet, telephone (free local calling) and laundry; these can often be separate costs in off campus housing. Even so, University Housing may be close to campus, but the rates tend to be far above the average for the area. If you have the time to search for the most affordable housing, these may be useful resources:
- CMHC Housing Information Data: Database of average rents in Canada sorted by city, rental type, and city suburb.
- Kijii: Local online classifieds. Popular place for people to advertise rental suites.
- Craigslist: Local online classifieds. Not as popular as Kijiji, but the odd rental is posted there.
- Padmapper: A third-party application for visualizing a map of rentals on both Kijiji and Craigslist.
- Saskatoon Transit/Google Maps: It’s important to have an easy way to get around the city if you’re not living close to campus. Saskatoon Transit has maps and schedules of the available route, and all of the schedules and routes are also built into the navigation tools in Google Maps. Keep in mind that a what looks like a short walk in summer conditions may become an uncomfortable commute come winter.
The following are neighborhoods bordering the University, and are good starting places to look for housing.
Please refer to our non-academic checklist before searching for housing; it may be necessary to obtain documentation before a landlord will allow you to sign an agreement.
When renting housing off campus, you will typically be required to pay a damage deposit up front. This can from anywhere from a half- to full-month’s rent, so remember to have on cash on hand if you intend to look for housing immediately.
Important Offices and Websites
Here you can find information about foreign embassies and consulates, GSI offices and some other useful international websites:
- Embassies in Canada
- SGI – Driver’s License Issuer
- City of Saskatoon Website
- Province of Saskatchewan Website
For information on visas or permits for those who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada, please visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Specifically for information about study permits, click here. For information specific to Saskatchewan, have a look at the Sask Immigration Canada website.
The onus on student to get proper insurance for travel, tenant insurance, medical, etc. but the Graduate Student Association provides Health and Dental Insurance once you have paid tuition. You can get tenant insurance from a local bank, like the Royal Bank (RBC) near the University.
In Canada, the number to dial for any emergency is 911. For non-emergency situations, there are other options. The University of Saskatchewan has an on campus police force called Protective Services. To report an on campus incident, call 966-5555. In the case of an on campus emergency, first call 911 and then contact campus safety. If you need to contact the Saskatoon city police for any non-emergency situations you can visit theirwebsite or call them at 975-8300.
Storms can be pretty beautiful, eh? Aurora Borealis (link for forecast) can be a lifetime experience you ever going to have in Saskatoon, Canada. Important advice: Keep in mind to check the weather temperature every day! Saskatoon has a humid continental climate with severe winters, no dry season, warm summers and strong seasonality, with average temperature of 2°C! Canada experiences the four seasons in full. If you are not familiar with the potential weather conditions of a Canadian winter, have a look at this Environment Canada website. In the winter months, it is not uncommon for the temperature to drop below -20C for weeks at a time and sometimes the temperature will drop below -30C for a week or more. You should also be familiar with the effects of wind chill. The university has a website about how to be prepared for the cold weather in Saskatoon.
Here is a handy list of clothing that is useful to have in the winter:
- Winter boots (thick soles, insulated)
- Winter jacket (down/feather filled is best)
- Wind pants/Winter pants
- Fleece jacket
- Warm sweaters/hoodies (“Bunnyhugs”)
- Long underwear
- Warm socks
- Face mask
There are many services and facilities available on campus, for example:
- Food Services
- Physical Activity Complex
- Computer Labs
- Student Learning Services
- University Libraries
Financial Support Available
There are many options for financial support. Check out this College of Graduate Studies and Research website and this Department website. Of course, the best thing to do is to talk to your supervisor about financial support options available. The Graduate Student Association also offers annual bursaries.
There are many interesting events and festivals that you can find in Saskatoon such as: Broadway Artfest, Saskatchewan Marathon, etc. On top of the events you can look for something fun to do such as art & entertainment, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, outdoor activities, and so on. Some great locations to visit are the Berry Barn, the Bessborough (free ice skating in the winter), the River Landing, and the Weir. You can easily find any information on tourism and activities in the city in the following links:
You might find it useful to check social media like Facebook or Twitter the University of Saskatchewan and/or the City of Saskatoon. @yxeservicealerts is a useful Twitter page and many news and events are posted with the #yxe hashtag.
Grad School Tips
- Graduate Writing Workshops: https://library.usask.ca/studentlearning/workshops/grad-writing.php
- On-Campus Writing Help: https://library.usask.ca/studentlearning/writing-help/#DropinWritingHelp
- There is an offical U of S Latex template available to remove some of the pain of thesis writing.
- Introduction to Python programming for science and data analysis: https://scipy-lectures.org/
- A tutorial to help you get started with the programming techniques that are often an important part of physics research.
- U of S Information Technology Services Catalogue: https://servicecatalogue.usask.ca/it/index.php
- A list of all the technology resources the university provides.
- U of S Health Workshops: https://students.usask.ca/health/be-well.php
- GSA Health and Dental Plan: https://gsa.usask.ca/services/health-and-dental-plan.php
- Women in Physics Canada: http://womeninphysicscanada.ca/
- Occurs every summer and is open to students of all genders. Includes discussions of both physics and equity and diversity issues. Typically the conference is able to provide travel funding.
- CAM Graduate Student Physics Conference: https://www.cap.ca/congress-conference/cam/
- CAP Congress: https://www.cap.ca/congress-conference/
- A general physics conference organized by the Canadian Association of Physicists.
- University Travel Awards: https://students.usask.ca/academics/study-abroad/awards.php
- American Physical Society: https://www.aps.org/programs/honors/travel/index.cfm