Graduate Admissions

Thank you to applicants who applied for the early deadline date of January 20, 2017.  Your patience is appreciated as the checklist update is currently a manual process in Mosaic. 

You are encouraged to inform potential supervisor(s) of your graduate application to our program.

We are still accepting applications for May and September 2017 – Extended Deadline: May 15, 2017.

*For international students, please see below – the deadline has passed February 3, 2017 for 2017-18.

Graduate Studies in Biology Brochure 2016/17

Students holding a B.Sc. Honours (4 year program) with a minimum B+ average in Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology or related fields are welcome to apply for graduate studies in Biology.

Your on-line application will be automatically submitted to the Academic Program Assistant (Graduate).   In the event of “acceptance”,  original transcripts must be submitted directly to Barb Reuter, Academic Program Assistant (Graduate) in the Department of Biology at the following address:

Academic Program Assistant (Graduate)
Department of Biology
Life Science Building – Room 223
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1

I.    Application Package:

The Associate Chair (Graduate Studies) and Academic Program Assistant (Graduate) deal with all inquiries about the graduate program.  A completed on-line application in Mosaic consists:

  • the application form for Graduate Studies at McMaster University,
  • a statement of interest,
  • two recommendation letter forms – preferably from academics; this includes a ranking form and request for additional written comments,
  • a CV,
  • official university ‘up-to-date’ academic transcripts and,
  • $100.00 CDN application fee, (payable on-line).

For “acceptance”, as noted above, final original transcripts must be sent directly to the Department of Biology when an offer is submitted by a supervisor to the School of Graduate Studies.  If there are concerns with an original being available in sufficient time, please contact

Foreign applicants must provide documentation of a TOEFL or IELTS if their language of instruction is not English.  English Language Proficiency Certification Guidelines from the School of Graduate Studies include: a TOEFL score of 92 (iBT – Internet-based) or IELTS score of 6.5 min score overall, “academic” with 5.5 minimum score in each section. The test date must be within two years of application.

II.    Application Procedure:

We encourage you to consider the following helpful tips to assist you with identifying a research laboratory to pursue graduate studies in our department.

Have you reviewed the graduate section of the McMaster Biology website?
Have you reviewed the areas of research in Biology to identify all potential supervisors?
Have you had an interview (in person or via video chat) with a potential supervisor(s)?
Have you made prospective supervisors aware of your academic and research experience background?
Have you discussed your specific research projects
and interests in the lab with

  • potential supervisor(s)?
  • students from the prospective lab(s), one-on-one in person and/or by email?

To ensure support from the Teaching Assistantship funding, students need to submit their full application before the “preferred” application deadlines to be reviewed for a graduate student position:

September 2017 admission:  Update – Extended Deadline – May 15th 2017-  for domestic/permanent resident applicants;

May 2017 admission: Update – Preferred Deadline – March 31st – for domestic/permanent resident applicants;

*May 2017 and September 2017 admission:  Update –  PASSED:  February 3rd – for international applicants.  

 *PLEASE NOTE:  International Applicants:

As admission to our graduate program is highly competitive, effective September 1, 2017 international students will be admitted to the program, once annually with a September program start date.  International students must contact a potential supervisor prior to the application being reviewed.  The faculty member will then provide written confirmation to the Biology Graduate Admissions Committee, to ensure that the graduate application is considered for during the ranking process.  Update:  Our international deadline for September 2017 admission has passed: February 3, 2017.

Documents are submitted directly to the Department and are kept on file until the application is complete.  Students should apply on-line (see section 3. below) and forward their documents to the Department.  Incoming documents are scanned and posted on “Red Folders” (our departmental application database) for faculty to review.

Completed applications are sent to the Biology Graduate Studies Admissions Committee.  The Admissions Committee’s expertise is divided into research areas.  The Committee meets to finalize and agree on the eligibility status.  If the student is academically acceptable, the student’s information (status, program, comments from the Admissions Committee Reviewer and location of file on Red Folders) is sent by electronic mail to all Biology Faculty and Associate Members.   The application is on-line for faculty review.   (The completed file with original documentation is kept in the Biology Graduate Studies Office).

If requested by faculty, an interview can be arranged or a potential supervisor can contact the student directly.

Students are welcome to visit potential supervisors on campus, informing the Academic Program Assistant at  The Associate Chair (Graduate Studies) may authorize funds to support the travel of a prospective student for an interview. The source of financial support is described in the letter of offer to the student from the Office of the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

III.   On-line Application:

For acceptance in a graduate program at McMaster University, prospective students should first enroll on-line by visiting the following URL:

When you decide to apply, please inform Barb Reuter at to provide assistance if required.   Attachments are to be submitted in PDF format.

These attachments include:

  • your statement of interest,
  • up-to-date (unofficial or official) transcript(s) ,
  • and CV.

For further information regarding the graduate application process in Biology, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.

IV.    Acceptance:

Recommendation for admission of each student is handled by the Associate Chair and the Biology Graduate Studies Admissions Committee.  Acceptance is recommended on the basis of:

  1. academic ability (normally an upper second class degree or better, equivalent to a McMaster 8.5 GPA in the last year of an Honours undergraduate program or M.Sc. program if applying to Ph.D. program),
  2. availability and confirmation of an appropriate supervisor who is willing to take the student, and
  3. availability of both financing and space.

All three criteria must be met in order for acceptance to be recommended. Official acceptance is made by the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies on the basis of the recommendation made by the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies.

Rejection.  If the three criteria are not met, the application is rejected by the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.  Notifications of rejection are sent by the Department of Biology.

For additional information, please contact Barb Reuter at

Updated: April 2017