Graduate Programs


M.Sc. Program 

The M.Sc. program requires the submission of a research thesis and is recommended for anyone planning to proceed later to a Ph.D. or to otherwise continue in research.

A candidate for the M.Sc. in Biology must spend at least one calendar year in full-time graduate study at McMaster University and must complete satisfactorily one full graduate course (or two half courses) in biology or related fields. Upon completion of their research, the candidate must present a thesis embodying original results, and have an oral defense before a departmental examining committee.

Ph.D. Program 

Candidates may enter the program with an Honours B.Sc. or an M.Sc. It is customary for graduate students holding a bachelor degree to enter a M.Sc., rather than a Ph.D. program. If the student wishes to proceed to a Ph.D., at the end of an appropriate period of study, they will be asked to submit a critical report on their research to date. The candidate will be examined on this report for evidence of research potential to determine whether they will be granted permission to transfer to the Ph.D. program.

The requirements to complete a Ph.D. in Biology are:

  • Satisfactory completion of at least two half or one full graduate course beyond the baccalaureate degree in biology or related fields.
  • Successful completion of a comprehensive examination designed to test the Ph.D. candidate’s breadth of knowledge and competence in biology. The examination will comprise two parts: the preparation of a formal research proposal and the presentation of a public seminar, followed by a meeting with the examination committee.
  • While not a requirement, most students hold teaching assistantships during their graduate career. The financial remuneration forms a significant part of the graduate stipend and affords the opportunity to acquire teaching skills and experience.
  • Successful defense of a thesis of original research. Upon completion of their research, a Ph.D. candidate is required to present and defend a thesis embodying the results of their original research.

This is a brief overview of the M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs. For details on program requirements, please visit the
“Guide to Graduate Studies in Biology”  at McMaster University or contact the Academic Program Assistant (Graduate).