Please note: if there is any discrepancy between a department or program handbook and the School of Graduate Studies Calendar, then the School of Graduate Studies Calendar shall prevail.
It is the student’s responsibility to:
- Maintain current contact information with the University, including address, phone numbers, and emergency contact information.
- Use the University provided e-mail address or maintain a valid forwarding e-mail address.
- Regularly check the official University communications channels. Official University communications are considered received if sent by postal mail, by fax, or by e-mail to the student’s designated primary e-mail account via their @mcmaster.ca alias.
- Accept that forwarded e-mails may be lost and that e-mail is considered received if sent via the student’s @mcmaster.ca alias.
2.1 Admission Requirements
McMaster University seeks candidates for graduate study who show high scholarly promise. Admission to a graduate program is based on a judgement by the University that the applicant can successfully complete the graduate degree program. The University’s minimum requirements are identified in this section. Departments or programs may establish additional requirements, such as scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants should read the admission statement for the program or department, as well as the section here. Admission is competitive: meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. Final decisions on matters of admission rest with the Graduate Admissions and Studies Committee for each Faculty. The admission decision is not subject to appeal.
2.1.1 Admission Requirements for Master’s Degree
The University requires, as the major indicator of ability to complete a Master’s program successfully, the holding of an Honours bachelor’s degree with at least a B+ average (equivalent to a McMaster 8.5 GPA out of 12) in the final year in all courses in the discipline, or relating to the discipline, in which the applicant proposes to do graduate work. In a Master’s program in the Faculty of Engineering the requirement is at least a B- average (equivalent to a McMaster 7.0 GPA). Strong letters of recommendation are also required.
Degrees and grades from foreign universities are evaluated for their equivalency to McMaster’s. In recognition of the changes taking place in the structure of university education as a consequence of the Bologna Accord, three-year, first-cycle degrees that meet the criteria of the “Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area” will be accepted in place of a four-year Honours degree. The equivalent of at least a B+ average (B- in Engineering) will still be required. A Diploma Supplement should accompany the official transcript [item (a) under Section 2.2 ].
Prospective applicants who lack some background in the discipline they wish to enter should consult the Undergraduate Calendar with regard to Continuing Student status. A continuing student is a university graduate who is not currently enrolled in a degree program, but who wishes to take one or more undergraduate classes.
Prospective applicants who did not attain the required standing in their undergraduate degree, but who have several years of work experience that is relevant to the program they wish to undertake, should discuss their situation with the department of interest. Evidence of ability to do graduate work will still be required.
2.1.2 Admission Requirements for Ph.D. Degree
Applicants may be admitted to a regular Ph.D. program at one of three stages in their academic work. First, entry after completion of a Master’s program. Second, admission to Ph.D. studies from a Master’s program at McMaster without completing the Master’s degree. Students still enrolled in a Master’s with thesis program beyond 22 months must complete the degree requirements including the thesis prior to admission to the Ph.D. program. And third, in exceptional cases, admission may be directly from a bachelor’s degree.
- For applicants who hold a Master’s degree, the primary requirements are distinction in their previous graduate work (equivalent to at least a McMaster B+), and strong letters of reference.
- Students enrolled in a Master’s program at McMaster University may be transferred to the Ph.D. program prior to completion of the Master’s degree. Not sooner than two terms and no later than 22 months after initial registration in the Master’s program here, students may request to be reclassified as Ph.D. students. After proper review, the department will recommend one of the following:
- admission to Ph.D. studies following completion of the requirements for the Master’s degree;
- admission to Ph.D. studies without completion of a Master’s program;
- admission to Ph.D. studies but with concurrent completion of all requirements for a Master’s degree within two months from the date of reclassification;
- refusal of admission to Ph.D. studies.
For students in (b), the recommendation for admission to Ph.D. must identify which if any courses taken as a Master’s student can be credited toward the requirements for the Doctoral program.
A student in (b) may re-register as a candidate for the Master’s degree, provided that work to date has met the standards for the Master’s program.
Students in (c) who do not complete the requirements for the Master’s degree within the two months will lose their status as a Ph.D. candidate and be returned to Master’s status.
- In certain programs, applicants with a first degree only, may be admitted directly to Ph.D. studies. Such students must show sufficient promise, including at least an A average. Within one calendar year the progress of students admitted to Ph.D. studies directly from a Bachelor’s degree will be reviewed by their supervisory committee and the program. The program then will recommend one of the following:
- proceed with Ph.D. studies;
- not proceed with Ph.D. studies but re-register as a Master’s candidate;
- withdraw from the University.
A student admitted to a Ph.D. program who re-registers as a candidate for a Master’s degree must meet all of the requirements for the Master’s degree in order for it to be awarded.
Transfers to a Ph.D. program take effect at the start of the next term, or are retroactive to September 1st for students whose request to transfer is received by the School of Graduate Studies by the end of the second week of October. Students are encouraged to transfer before the fall term.
2.1.3 Admission Requirements for Part-Time Ph.D. Degree
Admission to a part-time Ph.D. program is possible only for an individual holding a Master’s degree whose circumstances preclude uninterrupted full-time doctoral studies. Because of the divergent nature of academic disciplines, part-time doctoral work is not feasible in some areas. Accordingly, no Department or Program is obligated to offer part-time doctoral work. As part of their applications prospective part-time students are required to provide a plan of study, including a clear account of when and where the thesis research is to be conducted. If facilities at the place of employment are to be used for the research, the signed agreement of the employer, recognizing the conditions surrounding graduate work, is also required. In addition, departments may have other requirements for admission to a part-time doctoral program. A part-time doctoral student must be geographically available on a regular basis, and must be able to participate regularly in departmental seminars and colloquia.
2.1.4 Admission of Students to a Cotutelle Ph.D. Degree
A cotutelle is a single Ph.D. awarded by two post-secondary institutions, typically from different countries. A cotutelle degree is a unique way to promote and structure research collaborations, and allows students access to a broader range of research supervision than would be available at a single institution.
Students interested in a cotutelle Ph.D. degree must have finalized arrangements completed within the first 12 months of their Ph.D. study. Partner university arrangements may vary and students must investigate what is required to fulfill that institution’s cotutelle requirements. For information on how to apply please view the Cotutelle Policy on the McMaster Senate Secretariat’s website: http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/index.html
2.1.5 Admission of Students with Related Work Experience or Course Work Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree
As noted in Section 2.1 of the Graduate Calendar, “Admission to a graduate program is based on a judgement by the University that the applicant can successfully complete the graduate degree program”. Some potential applicants may not satisfy our admission requirement for a 4-year honours degree with a B+ average in the final year. However, work experience and/or completed course work beyond the Bachelor’s degree, may have some bearing on the applicant’s ability to complete a graduate program. The admissions process will recognize these accomplishments as follows.
Admission to graduate studies for a student with related work experience and/or course work beyond the Bachelor’s degree will be based on the following criteria:
- References from reliable sources, which specifically identify the applicant’s aptitude for research and graduate education.
- University 4-year undergraduate degree or equivalent, completed more than 4 years ago, together with additional course work taken since that time.
- Significant record of workplace experience, the relevance of which will be assessed by the graduate program of choice.
2.1.6 Admission Requirements for Graduate Diploma Programs
See Section 12 for descriptions of McMaster’s approved diplomas. The admission requirements for a graduate diploma are the same as are identified in Section 2.1.1 for admission to a Master’s program.
Graduate Diploma students with at least a B+ average in their diploma course work may be eligible to transfer to a Master’s degree in a related program, subject to the recommendation of the department or program to the relevant Faculty Graduate Admissions and Study Committee. If the diploma has not been completed, credit may be given toward the degree requirements for all graduate courses completed successfully. Approval of the department is required for any such credit to be applied toward a degree; it is not automatic. Departmental or program approval is normally based on an assessment of the amount of additional coursework that will be required for the degree.
If a student wishes to enter a related Master’s program after the diploma has been completed, credit may be granted towards the subsequent degree program for those courses completed successfully, with a limit of one full course or half of the course requirements for the degree, whichever is less.
2.1.7 Admission Requirements for Post-Degree Students
A Post-degree Student is one who has not been admitted to a graduate degree or diploma program but who holds a university degree and has been given permission to take a specific graduate course. Permission to take a course as a post-degree student requires the approval of the course instructor, the Department Chair, and the School of Graduate Studies. An application is required for each course.
Although acceptance as a post-degree student carries no implications with respect to acceptance for a degree program in the School of Graduate Studies, the level of academic achievement expected for admission under this category is the same as that required of students admitted to a Master’s program (Section 2.1.1 ). Courses taken as a post-degree student may be eligible for credit toward a Master’s degree in a related program, to a maximum of one-half of the degree’s course requirement, subject to the recommendation of the department or program to the relevant Faculty Graduate Admissions and Study Committee.
A student who has completed a relevant undergraduate degree and is not admissible under current standards, but who is currently in (or has had) full-time employment in the intended area of study may be admitted as a post-degree student. In such cases, any courses taken as a post-degree student will not be available for credit in a subsequent graduate program, because they will have been necessary to demonstrate admissibility.
The deadline for registration is the same as for graduate degree programs (see Sessional Dates, Registration ).
(Note: A Graduate Diploma is distinct from a baccalaureate, Master’s or Ph.D. degree, or diplomas and certificates awarded by the Centre for Continuing Education at McMaster University).
2.1.7 Non-Credit Participants in Graduate Courses
Graduate courses are not normally open to “auditors” who attend a course without the usual qualifications and without seeking academic credit. Under some circumstances, however, people who are not registered graduate students and who do not meet the requirements for admission as Post-degree (see Section 2.1.4 ) may attend a graduate course. This requires the written permission of the course instructor, the Department Chair, and the School of Graduate Studies. Upon completion of the course, and subject to confirmation from the instructor that his/her expectations regarding the student’s participation were met (i.e. that the student attended at least 80% of the instruction), a transcript notation “Audit” will be recorded. No other grade will be assigned. Enquiries should be directed to the instructor or the Chair of the Department offering the course.
A fee is charged for each course taken as a non-credit participant (by persons who are not registered graduate students). See Section 5.1, Fees for Graduate Students , for the fee schedule.
2.1.8 Visiting Students
Visiting Students are individuals who are currently registered in a graduate degree program in another university, and who have made arrangements through both their home university and a graduate program at McMaster to spend some time at McMaster as part of their degree program at the home university. While they are visiting students, they will not be enrolled in a degree program at McMaster. They are not part of any official exchange agreement including Ontario Visiting Graduate Student (OVGS) arrangement, although there may be an agreement between the McMaster program and their home institution. McMaster currently allows out-of-province and international students to visit in one of three ways: to take course work in a specific program; to conduct research in a specific lab; or to participate in an internship with a specific program or faculty member. In any case, students will be registered as full time students for a maximum of one year. Acceptance is on the recommendation of the department or program at McMaster. Details about these options are available in Section 11 of the Graduate Calendar.
The student is expected to pay the incidental fees (see Section 5.1, Fees for Graduate Students ) and the appropriate Canadian or international equivalent per course fee for the time that they are registered here. It may also be necessary for them to enrol in the UHIP program to ensure adequate health insurance coverage during their stay.
2.1.9 Exchange Students
Exchange students are individuals who much like visiting students, are registered in a graduate degree program in another university and are paying fees to that university. The difference between a visiting student and an exchange student is that the exchange student participates in a formal exchange program between McMaster University and their home institution. A complete list of exchange agreements that McMaster participate in can be found on the Office of International Students Affairs webpage (http://oisa.mcmaster.ca).
Students participating in a formal exchange program are not assessed incidentals, or course fees, and are entitled to take a full course load (assuming they are registered for a full course load at their home institution). It may be necessary for them to enrol in the UHIP program to ensure adequate health insurance coverage during their stay.
2.1.10 English Language Requirements
English is the language of instruction and evaluation at McMaster, except in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in French. Hence it is essential that all students (except in the French program) be able to communicate effectively in English.
Applicants whose native language is not English will be required to furnish evidence of their proficiency in the use of the English language. Such applicants are required to supply this evidence as part of their application. Applicants may be exempted from this requirement if they have completed a university degree at which English is the language of instruction.
The most common evidence is a score on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Equivalent scores on other recognized tests may also be considered.
Students taking the IELTS are required to achieve a minimum score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each category.
TOEFL requirements may vary across programs.
- In most Faculties a minimum of 92 IBT (internet-based test) is required.
- In Business, Ph.D. and MBA programs require a minimum score of 100 with a minimum of 22 in the reading component, 22 in the listening component, 26 in the speaking component and 24 in the writing component on the IBT. The Master of Finance Program Requires a minimum score of 92.
- In Engineering, some programs require a minimum score of 80. Please check with the program to see specific requirements
Students who have completed an Academic ESL program through Canadian academic institutions may petition to have this considered in lieu of TOEFL.
2.2 Application for Admission
Enquiries about graduate work should be made directly to the department of interest. Our online application system is located at
Applications may be submitted at any time but applicants should refer to the department or program to which they are applying for department specific deadlines. However, most University scholarships and awards are adjudicated in late March or early April, so students applying later than March cannot be considered for these awards.
Applications from outside Canada should be completed at least five months before the desired date of entry in order to allow for any delays and for obtaining the necessary visa.
Applications must be accompanied by the required $100 application fee. This fee is non-refundable and must be paid in Canadian dollars by means of a credit card payment or a cheque drawn on a Canadian bank made payable to McMaster University. Cheques drawn on Canadian banks should also include a $15 processing fee for a total of $115.
The following items are required before your online application will be considered complete.
- One official transcript of academic work completed to date, sent directly from the issuing institution. If the final transcript does not show that a completed degree has been conferred, an official copy of your diploma is also required.
- Two confidential letters of recommendation from instructors most familiar with your academic work. Please note that McMaster University uses the Electronic Referencing System. By entering the email address of your referee through the online application, the system will automatically send an eReference request on your behalf.
- see Section 2.1.9 - English Language Requirements
- Statement of interest in pursuing graduate studies.
A graduate of a university outside Canada may also be required to submit a description of undergraduate and graduate courses taken in the field of specialization and in similar fields.
Collection of Personal Information
Under the authority of the McMaster University Act, 1976, and by applying to McMaster or by enrolling in a program at the University, students expressly acknowledge and agree that the collection, retention, use and disclosure of relevant personal information is necessary for McMaster University to:
- establish a record of the student’s performance in programs and courses;
- to assist the University in the academic and financial administration of its affairs;
- to provide the basis for awards and government funding; and
- to establish the student’s status as a member of relevant student governmental organization.
Similarly, and in compliance with McMaster University’s access to information and protection of privacy policies and Canadian and Ontario privacy laws, the University provides personal information to:
- the Canadian and Ontario government for the purposes of reporting purposes; and
- to appropriate student government organizations for the purposes of allowing such organizations to communicate with its membership and providing student government-related services consistent with the enrolment by a student at the University.
By applying and/or enrolling at McMaster University the student expressly consents to this collection, retention, use and disclosure of such personal information in this manner. Questions regarding the collection or use of personal information should be directed to the University Secretary, Gilmour Hall, Room 210, McMaster University.
2.3 Advance Credit and Determination of Course Equivalency
Application for advance credit is normally done through the admissions process or as a petition and requires an Associate Dean’s approval. Credits from other institutions must have been received in the last 5 years with a minimum grade of B-. In general, no credits used towards a previous degree or used as a basis of admission will be approved as credit toward a McMaster graduate degree. Normally, a maximum of 50% of the course degree requirements only will be approved for advance credit. Approved advance credit appears as a sentence on the student’s transcript with no grade.
Credits from other institutions can be used to substitute a specific McMaster University course requirement; however, the student may be required to take alternate courses. Students wishing to apply for advance credit or course requirement equivalency should fill out the Petition for Advance Credit or Course Requirement Equivalency form and submit it to the School of Graduate Studies (GH 212).
Initial assessment of completed applications is the responsibility of departments. If that assessment is favourable, the department will recommend to the School of Graduate Studies Office of a favourable decision, or by the department of a negative decision. Applicants may be accepted conditionally before completing their present degree programs. Such conditions must be cleared at the time of registration.
Official letters of admission are sent only by the School of Graduate Studies, and are valid only for the program and term stated in the admission letter. Successful applicants are required to respond in writing to the offer of admission within the interval identified in the offer letter. Some programs require a deposit fee when accepting the offer of admission. The value of the deposit fee will be deducted from the student’s tuition fees. If circumstances develop making it impossible for a student to begin graduate work in the specified term, the department and the School reserve the right to revoke the offer of admission, and any financial aid offered.
The graduate program and the University reserve the right to revoke an offer of admission if a final transcript does not meet admission requirements or if it contains an annotation about an academic integrity or code of conduct matter.
All graduate students, in both the regular and part-time programs, are required to register and pay fees annually in September until they graduate or withdraw. If they fail to do so they do not retain the status of graduate student and must apply for re-admission if they wish at a later date to continue their studies. If the department approves, a student may be allowed to begin graduate work in the winter or summer term (January or May), in which case they will first register at the start of that term, but in any following years will register in September.
It is the joint responsibility of the student and program to determine the appropriate program of study.
2.5.2 Provincial Definition of Full- and Part-time Status
Under the regulations of the Government of Ontario, A full-time graduate student must:
- be pursuing his or her studies as a full-time occupation;
- identify himself or herself as a full-time graduate student;
- be designated by the university as a full-time graduate student;
- be geographically available and visit the campus regularly. Without forfeiting full-time status, a graduate student, while still under supervision, may be absent from the university (e.g. visiting libraries, doing field work, attending a graduate course at another institution, etc.) provided that, if any such period of absence exceeds four weeks in any one term, written evidence shall be available in the Graduate Studies Office to the effect that the absence has the approval of the department or program Chair and Graduate Associate Dean.
- be considered to be a full-time graduate student by his/her supervisor or equivalent (designated by the university).
2.5.3 McMaster University’s Regulations for Full- and Part-time Status
In accordance with the above provincial regulations, McMaster requires students to register annually, and to confirm their status as a full-time graduate student. Only full-time graduate students are eligible for scholarship support. University-related employment should be limited to an average of ten hours per week for full-time students, and full-time students are expected to limit time spent on employment both inside and outside the University.
Exceptions to this rule are possible with the approval of the School of Graduate Studies. A full-time student seeking an exception must provide a study plan that has been approved by the departmental graduate studies committee or its equivalent, along with a written statement from the student’s supervisor. Ph.D. students who seek an exemption from the rule must arrange for a supervisory committee meeting, with a report of that meeting submitted to the Graduate School, every four months during the time they are employed beyond ten hours per week. No exceptions totalling 505 hours or more in a single academic year will be approved.
All active graduate students other than full-time graduate students as defined above are part-time graduate students.
2.5.4 Employment Regulations
In the McMaster context, there are three terms in the School of Graduate Studies for purposes of interpreting the rule in Section 2.5.3 limiting employment with the University to ten hours per week on average: Fall (September through December); Winter (January through April); and Summer (May through August). These are deemed to have 17, 17, and 18 weeks respectively. The ten-hour limit includes work as a Teaching Assistant at McMaster.
If the student is to be employed at the University other than as a TA, the School of Graduate Studies should be informed in writing of the nature of the employment, and the approval of the supervisor and the chair of the department is required. The approval of the School of Graduate Studies is required if the student is to be hired for University teaching.
2.5.5 Leaves of Absence
Leaves of absence are normally granted on a term-by-term basis. Whenever possible the leave should start and end at the beginning of a term (i.e., January 1, May 1, or September 1). During the period of a Leave the student cannot expect to be given supervision or be entitled to use the University’s facilities. During a Leave of Absence, no tuition will be charged, nor will the student be eligible for any scholarship support. The length of time for completing the degree, and for scholarship support eligibility (see qualifier below), will be extended by the duration of the Leave on the resumption of studies. If a leave begins or ends in the middle of a term, term count will be determined upon return in consultation with the Associate Dean.
Leaves of absence affecting Teaching Assistantship duties are covered by the Collective Agreement with Local 3906 (Unit 1) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Students should be aware that in the event of Leaves of Absence, continuation of the same research project and/or supervisor cannot be guaranteed. Students applying for a leave of absence for personal reasons must normally have completed at least one year of full time graduate studies. Students who have not completed a minimum of 16 weeks of graduate studies at McMaster will not be eligible for parenting leave scholarship funding as noted below. For additional information related to parental and maternity leaves, please refer to the next section.
Reasons for Leaves of Absence
A leave of absence for up to one year is permitted for reasons of illness, provided that the request is supported by adequate medical documentation. Students who have successfully completed at least one full year in a graduate program may apply for a leave of absence once for up to one year for other personal circumstances, provided that the student’s supervisor and the department support the request. Alternatively, the student may request withdrawal (Withdrawal at the Request of the Student). Should the student opt to withdraw, he/she may be eligible for reinstatement upon reapplication.
A leave of absence to obtain externally paid relevant work experience may be granted for one term for a Master’s student and for two terms for a Ph.D. student. No two Leaves taken to obtain relevant work experience may be consecutive.
A leave of absence will not be granted to pursue another program of study.
Note: Students who hold fellowships, scholarships or grants from NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR, or OGS should be aware that these agencies have policies governing the interruption and continuation of awards that may differ from the University’s policy on leaves of absence. Students holding such awards and who intend to keep them are responsible for ensuring that any leave of absence taken does not conflict with the granting agency’s regulations. The appropriate agency should be contacted for details.
Parenting Leave Policy
The Parenting Leave Policy (the “Policy”) is intended to assist parents in successfully combining their graduate studies and family responsibilities with minimum financial and/or academic impact. The University will provide the following arrangement for parents requiring parenting leave from their studies. The Policy applies only to full time graduate students as defined by the School of Graduate Studies.
“McMaster Graduate Scholarship Funds”- The sum total of departmental and graduate scholarships as well as research account support committed to the student. It does not include funding from external sources; funding from employment such as Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships, or; most scholarships held in trust.
“Parent”- Includes the birth mother of a child; a person with whom a child is placed for adoption; and a person who is in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of a child and who intend to treat the child as his or her own.
“Parenting Leave”- An unpaid leave of absence from studies of up to 52 weeks’ duration for a birth mother of a child or up to 37 weeks’ for the parent of child who is not the birth mother.
Leave of Absence from Studies
A leave of absence for up to 52 weeks is permitted for Parenting Leave. A student electing not to take the maximum amount of time available for parenting leave will not have the option of taking any unused portion at a later date.
A Parenting leave for the birth mother may consist of two parts - a pregnancy leave and parental leave. The pregnancy leave must begin, at the earliest, up to 17 weeks before the anticipated due date or on the date the child comes into the care and control of the parent for the first time and lasts for 17 weeks. The parental leave must begin right after the pregnancy leave and lasts for up to 35 weeks. Alternatively, the birthing mother may only take the parental leave. In this case the leave can be a maximum of 37 weeks in length and must begin at latest within 52 weeks after the birth of the child or the date on which the child comes into the care and control of the parent for the first time.
The Parenting leave for a non-birth mother can be a maximum of 37 weeks in length and must begin at latest within 52 weeks after the birth of the child or the date on which the child comes into the care and control of the parent for the first time.
It is understood that when a student takes a Parenting leave, the duration of the leave will not be counted as time towards the time limits in which the student is required to complete or make progress in his or her graduate studies program.
In order that the student’s supervisor and/or program can make suitable arrangements to cover ongoing responsibilities during the student’s absence, students are expected to provide as much notice as possible of the intention to take a Parenting Leave under this Policy.
A student is normally expected to give at least four weeks’ notice of the date on which he/she intends to take his/her leave(s) and at least four weeks’ notice of the date on which he/she intends to return from leave, should this date be different from the date agreed upon at the time the leave was granted.
A Parenting Leave or a portion thereof may be taken simultaneously with a Pregnancy and/or Parental leave from employment, in accordance with the Employment Standards Act, should the student also be an employee of McMaster University.
If both parents of a child are McMaster Graduate Students, only one parent is eligible to access Parenting Leave under this Policy at any one time. This Policy does not preclude the other parent from applying for a leave of absence under another policy or program and the approval or denial of that leave application will be determined on the basis of the parameters of that leave policy or program.
Combination with Other Leaves
If a student is also an employee, it is incumbent upon the student to review their terms and conditions of employment and/or Collective Agreement (if any) and apply for the appropriate leave of absence from employment there under.
Financial Support from the School of Graduate Studies for Parenting Leave
Students who have not completed a minimum of 16 weeks of graduate studies at McMaster will not be eligible for Financial Support under This Policy. They will remain eligible for a leave of absence from studies, in accordance with the above.
A student in receipt of McMaster Graduate Scholarship Funds who has a child (or children) by birth or adoption may receive the financial support available under the Policy for a minimum period of 4 months and a maximum period of 8 months.
A student electing not to take the maximum amount of time available will not have the option of taking any unused leave at a later date.
A student in receipt of McMaster Graduate Scholarship Funds who takes a Parenting Leave under the Policy will be entitled to continue to receive graduate scholarship funds at the normal monthly rate, to a maximum of $750 per month and to a maximum total of $3,000, provided that a “Leave of Absence Information Form” has been submitted to and approved by the School of Graduate Studies.
The formula used to determine the “normal monthly rate” when a student is not currently in receipt of scholarship funds is the total of their McMaster Graduate Scholarship Funds averaged over the previous or current academic year depending on the start date of the parenting leave.
Combination with Other Forms of Financial Support
To maximize flexibility, the financial support available under the Policy can be combined with stipends from sources, excluding those from the Tri-Agencies (noted below) and can be spread over a period of between 4 and 8 months at the discretion of the student. However, in no case will funding for Parenting Leave from the School of Graduate Studies exceed a total of $3000 (and $750.00/month).
If the parent of the child for whom the Parenting Leave is being taken is eligible to receive parental support from CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC or another agency that provides parental support for the leave at any time during the Parenting leave, the parent is not eligible for financial support under McMaster’s Parenting Leave Policy.
When two McMaster graduate students are the parents of a child, only one of those students will be entitled to claim the financial support under the Policy.
Financial support during Parenting Leave for students who are also employees of the University, provided as part of their terms and conditions of employment, are distinct and separate from the financial support available under this Policy. Other financial benefits, except as specifically excluded herein, can be taken concurrently with the financial support provided under this Policy provided that the individual meets the eligibility requirements for those plans for the duration for which they are accessing financial support under those plans.
The financial support provided under this Policy is not considered an approved Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan for the purposes of receiving Employment Insurance. Therefore, students wishing to access financial support under this Policy in addition to Employment Insurance (“EI”) benefits should be aware that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (“HRSDC”) may consider financial support under this Policy to be earnings and could therefore require repayment of some of all EI benefits received. It is incumbent upon the student accessing financial support under this Policy to contact HRSDC if they have questions in this regard.
For questions on the administration of the Policy, contact the School of Graduate Studies.
Full-time graduate students are expected to be on campus for all three terms of the university year, as specified in Section 1.3 . In addition to statutory holidays (see Sessional Dates ) and the weeklong closing of the University from late December until early January, normal vacation entitlement is two weeks of vacation during the year, to be scheduled by mutual agreement with the research supervisor and the employment supervisor. Exception to this allottment requires approval from the supervisory committee.
2.5.7 Appeals and Petitions for Special Consideration
The University wishes to assist students with legitimate difficulties. It also has the responsibility to ensure that degree, program and course requirements are met in a manner that is equitable to all students. Students may submit, in a prompt and timely manner, a Petition for Special Consideration to the office of the Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies in those instances where a student acknowledges that the rules and regulations of the University have been applied fairly, but is requesting that an exception be made because of special circumstances (compelling medical, personal, or family reasons). The appropriate form may be found on the School of Graduate Studies website. The student’s supervisor and Associate Chair are normally required to provide their independent assessments of the student’s statement in the petition. Supporting documentation will be required but will not ensure approval of the petition. The authority to grant petitions lies with the School of Graduate Studies and is discretionary. It is imperative that students make every effort to meet the originally-scheduled course requirements and it is a student’s responsibility to write examinations as scheduled.
In accordance with the Student Appeal Procedures, decisions made on Petitions for Special Consideration cannot be appealed to the Senate Board for Student appeals. However, if a student believes that a decision is a violation of his/her human rights, he or she must contact the office of Human Rights and Equity Services in room 212 of the McMaster University Student Centre, to initiate a complaint.
2.6 Graduate Course Work
2.6.1 Averaging of Letter Grades
Grades in graduate courses are reported as letter grades. However, instructors may record grades for individual components of the course either as letter or numerical grades. The averaging of letter grades assigned to individual components of a course must be done by using the McMaster 12-point scale, as follows: A+ = 12, A = 11, A- = 10, B+ = 9, B = 8, B- = 7, C+ = 6, C = 5, C- = 4, D+ = 3, D = 2, D- = 1, F = 0. Further, all .5 marks should be rounded up. The passing grades for courses at the graduate level are A+, A, A-, B+,B, and B-. Graduate students enrolled in undergraduate courses will be subject to the same set of passing grades as courses at the graduate level.
Graduate Student Grading Scale:
Note: Grades in graduate courses are reported as letter grades. Averaging of letter grades must be done using the McMaster 12-point scale.
Example of Weighted Average Calculation, using the grade points and units for courses completed:
|To calculate Average: 135 ÷ 18 = 7.5
Note: 6-unit course is equivalent to a full course
3-unit course is equivalent to a half course
Note: McMaster University’s Policy on Graduate Course Outlines is available at:
2.6.2 Course Levels and Types
Courses available for graduate credit are numbered either at the 700- or 600-level (e.g. 771 or 6D06). Courses are restricted in enrolment to graduate students, with the exception of those undergraduate students registered in approved, accelerated M.Eng. programs and with written permission of their department (or program) chair, director, or designate. (Departments may have restrictions on the number of 600-level courses allowed for graduate credit). Graduate students taking 600-level courses are regularly required to do extra course work beyond that required of undergraduates in the corresponding 400-level course. Each department offers only a selection of its courses in any given year.
For 700-level courses, there are three types of courses. Full-year (i.e. two-term) courses do not have a prefix. One-term courses (half courses) are indicated by an asterisk (*) sign preceding the course number. Half-term (quarter courses or modules) are indicated by a pound (#) sign preceding the course number. In all cases, the expectation is that the course will meet at least three hours per week (on average). For 600-level courses, the first character represents the level of the course (combined graduate-undergraduate), the second character is a letter identifying the specific course within a department, the third character is a letter identifying the area of study within a program or simply a zero, and the fourth character indicates the number of units of course credit. Generally, 3-unit and 4-unit courses are one-term courses; 6-unit courses are full-year courses.
2.6.3 Course Categories
Courses can be designated as being in one of the six categories:
M (Count towards the Master’s degree requirements)
This category identifies the courses that are to count towards the Master’s degree requirements (including any additional graduate requirements or undergraduate courses specified by the supervisory committee or Department Chair). The passing grades for an M course are A+, A, A-, B+, B, and B-.
D (Count towards the Doctoral degree requirements)
This category identifies the courses that are to count towards the Doctoral degree requirements (including any additional graduate requirements or undergraduate courses specified by the supervisory committee or Department Chair). The passing grades for a D course are A+, A, A-, B+, B, and B-.
EC (Extra Course)
This category identifies courses that the student is taking with the approval of the supervisor but that are not necessary to the student’s current degree program. If a failing grade (i.e. less than B-) is received in a course taken as Extra, the courses (and grade) will not appear on the student’s transcript unless because of academic dishonesty. Students may petition to change the designation of an EC course to an M or D course prior to the deadline to drop a course provided that this change is supported by the supervisor and program. Changes of designation after the drop date will not be approved. Courses designated as EC may subsequently be counted towards graduate degree requirements and the course designation changed to M or D, if approved by the Faculty Admissions and Study Committee or the Associate Dean acting on its behalf. The passing grades for an EC course are A+, A, A-, B+, B, and B-.
Courses that are required by the supervisory committee or the Department Chair as additional requirements in excess of the stated minimum for the program must be designated as M or D.
DIP (Diploma Course)
This category identifies courses that are to count towards the requirements for a diploma. The passing grades for a DIP course are A+, A, A-, B+, B, and B-.
CER (Certificate Course)
This category identifies courses that the student is taking as individual courses not counting towards the requirements for a diploma. The passing grades for a CER course are A+, A, A-, B+, B, and B-.
AUD (Audit Course)
Graduate courses are not normally open to “auditors” who attend a course without seeking academic credit. Under some circumstances, however, graduate students may audit a graduate course. This requires the written permission of the course instructor and the student’s supervisor (or graduate advisor if no supervisor exists) on the form entitled ‘Audit Add Form’. Permission must be obtained prior to the deadline for adding courses. Upon completion of the course, and subject to confirmation from the instructor that his/her expectations regarding the student’s participation were met (usually that the student attended at least 80% of the course), a transcript notation of “Audit” for that course will be recorded. No other grade will be assigned. Enquiries should be directed to the instructor or the Chair of the Department offering the course.
A fee may be charged for a course taken for audit if the graduate student is in a part-time program. See Section 5.1 - Fees for Graduate Students , for the fee schedule.
McMaster students enrolled in a program wishing to take a course at another institution need to fill out the OVGS form (see section 6.10 - Inter-University Cooperation - Ontario Visiting Graduate Student ).
2.6.4 Failing Grades and Incomplete Grades
All instances of failures are reviewed by the appropriate Faculty Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study or the Associate Dean acting on its behalf. The Faculty Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study or the Associate Dean acting on its behalf requests a departmental recommendation regarding the student, and this recommendation is given considerable weight. In the absence of a departmental recommendation to allow the student to continue, the student will be required to withdraw. Those allowed to remain in the program must either repeat or replace the failed course. A failing grade in a CER, DIP, M or D course remains on the transcript. Students who fail a second course will not normally be allowed to continue in the program.
Under exceptional circumstances a course instructor may approve an extension for the student for the completion of work in a course and assign an Incomplete grade (INC). Normally this extension is in the range of a few weeks. A student who receives this permission must complete the work as soon as possible, and in any case early enough to allow the instructor to report the grade to the School of Graduate Studies by the date specified in the Sessional Dates near the beginning of this Calendar. If the INC grade is not cleared by the deadline, a failing grade will automatically be recorded.
2.6.5 Required Course and Training for All Graduate Students
All graduate students, including part-time students, must complete and pass the course SGS #101 Academic Research Integrity and Ethics within the first twelve months after their admission to graduate studies at McMaster. The purpose of this course is to ensure that the standards and expectations of academic integrity and research ethics are communicated early and are understood by incoming students. All students are required to take and pass SGS #101 . Students may not graduate or register in subsequent academic year without having successfully completed this course. The course description for SGS #101 may be found in Section 11.
All graduate students are required to complete appropriate training required to complete their research and studies (health and safety training, ethics training, biosafety training, etc.), as determined by their home Department or Program. All graduate students also are required to complete and pass SGS #201 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) , which can be completed on-line [www.mcmaster.ca/accessiblity]. Having an understanding of how we can identify and reduce attitudinal, structural, information, technological, and systemic barriers to persons with disabilities is core to McMaster University’s commitment to supporting an inclusive community in which all persons are treated with dignity and equality, and completion of AODA training is critical as McMaster’s graduates move forward in their varied, chosen professions.
Students may not graduate or register for subsequent years in their program until they have completed their required training.
It is the responsibility of the department/program to ensure that every graduate student has, at all times, a faculty advisor or a properly constituted supervisory committee. The department/program should ensure that the members of a supervisory committee are sufficiently competent and experienced to serve at the required level. In identifying a supervisory committee, the department/program should consider the following, among other things: the balance of the committee by rank and experience; publications and other demonstrations of competence in scholarship or research on the part of the supervisor. Supervisory committees for Ph.D. candidates shall be reviewed annually by the department/program.
While the supervisor and student have a mutual obligation to meet on a regular basis, the department/program shall ensure there is a formal regular meeting of each Ph.D. supervisory committee at least once within the academic year (September-August), and possibly more often, to discuss the student’s progress. Each Ph.D. supervisory committee must report annually on the student’s progress and the department/program chair must forward such reports to the School of Graduate Studies. The report formally documents the supervisory committee’s assessment of the progress of the student’s program.
The department/program should prepare a set of guidelines for supervisors and students. The guidelines should deal with the selection and functioning of supervisory committees and should cover the joint responsibilities of faculty members and graduate students. The guidelines may be attached to or incorporated in department/program handbooks which give regulations supplementary to those in the Calendar. Items relevant to graduate supervision should be approved by the appropriate Faculty Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study. A copy of the guidelines shall be given to each faculty member and each graduate student.
It is possible to change supervisors or the membership of a supervisory committee, although this is not the norm. If the direction of the research changes, membership can be changed by mutual consent of the parties involved. Supervisors and/or supervisory committee members may not resign without the department’s/program’s approval. A change in supervisor is at the discretion of the department/program, not the student or supervisor.
If a student feels that she/he is receiving unsatisfactory supervision, he/she should consult the Department/Program Chair or Graduate Advisor. If this avenue is not sufficient, the student is encouraged to speak with the appropriate Associate Dean of Graduate Studies about the problem (see Section 4.5 - Supervision ).
Graduate students and supervisors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the McMaster University Graduate work Supervision Guidelines for Faculty and Students, which follow below and to list of policies, policies on accommodations available on the School of Graduate Studies website at http://graduate.mcmaster.ca/current-students/policies.html.
2.7.1 Graduate Work Supervision Guidelines for Faculty and Students
The relationship between the graduate student and supervisor/advisor is unique and provides a remarkable opportunity to guide and mentor the student engaged in advanced academic learning. What is considered ‘good’ supervision will vary from discipline to discipline, and it naturally evolves as the student advances through a graduate program. This document provides suggestions to initiate, promote, and sustain successful student-supervisor/advisor relationships.
Guidelines for the Graduate Student
- Commitment to scholarly activity is a pre-requisite for graduate success.
- To support mentorship and guidance, the student must engage in effective, timely and on- going communication with the supervisor/advisor regarding the status of their project.
- The student should discuss expectations with the supervisor/advisor to ensure that there is a mutual understanding of research goals and related activities, coursework, timelines and deadlines.
- The student must manage their time, meet deadlines, and prepare for regularly scheduled meetings (e.g., with the supervisor/advisor and supervisory committee). Students should recognize that graduate program academic expectations will not be modified if they choose to engage in other activities, such as working outside of his/her graduate studies, studying for professional program entrance exams or applying for jobs or postdoctoral fellowships. Student- supervisor meetings for thesis work typically occur at least monthly, although meeting regularity will vary amongst disciplines and at various stages. Students are encouraged to discuss concerns about the type and amount of supervision needed for their work with their supervisor. Students are expected to inform the academic head of the graduate program if they are concerned about inadequate or inappropriate supervision.
- The student is expected to develop effective communication and collaborative skills and to demonstrate respect for others. The student should carefully and earnestly consider advice, suggestions, comments and criticisms received from the graduate supervisor/advisor. The student should expect timely, but not immediate, responses (regarding meetings, feedback on written work, etc.) from the supervisor/advisor and supervisory committee.
- The student is obliged to act ethically in conducting graduate work. This includes, but is not limited to, following McMaster University policies on the ethical conduct of research and academic integrity. The student is required to document and honestly report research data, to conscientiously cite information and data sources, and to seek guidance on any data exclusions. He/she must acknowledge contributions of the supervisor/advisor, committee members and others, in accordance with the norms of their academic discipline.
- It is the student’s responsibility to carry out all work safely and in accordance with standard operating procedures. Potentially dangerous tasks should not be done while impaired and should not be done until properly trained. It is the student’s duty to learn about safe practices, ask questions, and seek appropriate help and guidance on safety matters.
- It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of all the requirements, regulations, and guidelines outlined in the Graduate Calendar as well as all University policies pertaining to graduate work.
See http://graduate.mcmaster.ca/images/files/graduate/forms/Graduate Work Supervision Guidelines.pdf (see Appendix).
Guidelines for Supervisors and Advisors of Graduate Students
- The supervisor/advisor must be aware of the inherent power imbalance in the relationship with students, behave professionally, and communicate appropriately. He/she must provide a safe, healthy environment that fosters productive scholarly work, curiosity, and freedom of expression. The environment must be free from harassment, discrimination, and intimidation.
- The supervisor/advisor is expected to have sufficient time and resources (as appropriate for the field) to support the student’s work effectively. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that students have appropriate safety training, and that they carry out all work safely, and in accordance with standard operating procedures, once properly trained.
- The supervisor/advisor should help the student develop a realistic thesis/research plan with reasonable plans, that balance exploration with achievable, manageable and focused goals, and allow completion of scholarly work “in time.”
- The supervisory committee must approve thesis project plans, including those that are part of a larger collaborative project led by others (e.g. research team members or collaborators).
- The supervisor/advisor may encourage the student to undertake some research that is not formally part of their scholarly paper project or thesis project, provided that it will not negatively impact the student’s academic progress. If appropriate, the additional work can be supported by a research assistant stipend.
- The supervisor/advisor should be aware that a student might experience changes in motivation and productivity. The supervisor/advisor should be prepared to adapt his/her mentorship approach to promote success in a range of different situations.
- The supervisor/advisor is expected to be aware of accommodation policies, procedures and support services, and to support students with disabilities in designing and organizing accommodations. They are expected to be respectful of graduate students who are dealing with stressful situations and personal difficulties. When appropriate, the supervisor/advisor should direct the student to campus resources and other supports. The supervisor/advisor is responsible for promoting a culture of respect and collaboration and encouraging timely conflict resolution when disputes arise, which may require consultation with the supervisory committee or others (e.g. head of the graduate program).
- The supervisor must regularly communicate and have face-to-face meetings with the student to provide feedback on the student’s progress, strengths, weaknesses, gaps in knowledge, and how well the student is addressing deficiencies. Written summaries of feedback should be prepared when there are significant deficiencies. When a student is struggling with meeting graduate program/thesis work expectations, a supervisory committee meeting should be scheduled early to assess progress and plans, and to provide a clear statement of requirements to meet expectations.
- The supervisor/advisor and supervisory committee are required to provide students with timely, but not instantaneous, feedback. As an example, corrections to a thesis chapter, major research project, or a manuscript optimally should occur within a few weeks. Faculty should be aware that they must respond to a draft of the thesis within the timelines outlined in the graduate calendar.
- Supervisors/advisors who undertake a research leave or other leaves must communicate to their graduate students, and graduate student applicants, the plans to provide supervision during the leave. Supervisors/advisors who will be away from campus for extended periods of time must name an alternate faculty member, with graduate supervisory privileges, who will have day-to-day responsibility and signing-authority for students.
- The supervisor/advisor is expected to encourage increasing independence as the student progresses through graduate work. Although the supervisor/advisor is not expected to be a copy editor for the student’s written work, he/she should review and provide feedback on materials that the student produces prior to external review or defence.
- Students’ contributions to research must be acknowledged in accordance with the University policies and the norms of the academic discipline.
- When feasible and appropriate, supervisors/advisors are expected to encourage students to submit their graduate work for presentation at conferences and workshops, and for publication.
- The supervisor/advisor should recognize that there are multiple career paths available to different students, and should be respectful of the student’s choice of career path, providing advice, where appropriate, on the best way for the student to reach his/her career goals. The supervisor also should be aware of professional development opportunities for the student offered through the Department/Program, Faculty, or University, and should encourage the student to take advantage of such opportunities.
- It is the supervisor/advisor’s responsibility to be aware of all the requirements, regulations, and guidelines outlined in the Graduate Calendar and University policies. See http://graduate.mcmaster.ca/images/files/graduate/forms/Graduate Work Supervision Guidelines.pdf (see Appendix).
The thesis will be a coherent work prepared as an electronic document (an e-thesis) that provides a complete and systematic account of the research accomplished by the writer. A printed paper version is no longer acceptable for thesis defense or for storage in the university library after a successful defense. A Doctoral student may prepare and defend either a standard e-thesis (see ‘GUIDE FOR THE PREPARATION OF MASTER’S AND DOCTORAL THESES’, May 2011;http://graduate.mcmaster.ca/images/files/graduate/ThesisGuide_Final_May2011.pdf) or a “sandwich” e-thesis at oral examination (also known as the ‘thesis defense’). Normally, a Master’s student may submit only a standard e-thesis (see ‘Thesis Guide’ section 5.2). Each department or program offering graduate work is wholly responsible for setting up oral examinations for Master’s candidates (see ‘Thesis Guide’ Sections 6.1 and 6.2 ). The School of Graduate Studies is wholly responsible for arranging all Ph.D. oral examinations (see ‘Thesis Guide’ Sections 6.3 , 6.4 , and Appendix 1).
Starting on May 1, 2011, all candidates for Master’s or Doctoral degrees who have successfully completed their oral examinations and who have made all required revisions to the satisfaction of their supervisor must upload an electronic version of their final e-thesis to ‘MacSphere‘ (see section 2.8.3 below).The e-thesis must be presented in a format acceptable to the School of Graduate Studies. Having filed the e-thesis to MacSphere, the student may choose to purchase printed and bound copies for their personal use or for presentation. Details of selected companies who are organized to print and bind the thesis are listed on the School of Graduate Studies website (http://www.mcmaster.ca/graduate). The cost of printing and binding will be borne by the student.
No research for the Master’s or Ph.D. degrees at McMaster may be secret or classified. All e-theses will be available to readers through MacSphere.
Individual Departments or graduate programs may issue special instructions concerning the expected forms of graphs, tables, maps, diagrams, and sound and video files which may be included within the e-thesis. Accepted forms of bibliographical reference in the particular discipline and other matters of format should be discussed with the thesis supervisor. Students may also refer to the instructions set forth in Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (7th ed., 2007). In those instances where an examiner requests a printed copy of the thesis, it is the student’s responsibility to produce a print version well before the oral examination. Doctoral students and their supervisors should keep in mind that theses of extraordinary length are to be discouraged. The preparation of a lengthy Ph.D. thesis almost certainly extends the time that the student takes to complete his or her degree. As a general rule, doctoral students are urged to limit their theses to no greater length than three hundred (300) pages of text (Master’s thesis to less than 200 pages).In cases where students and their supervisors believe that responsible scholarly treatment of the thesis topic requires substantially greater length than that specified above, a written approval from the appropriate Associate Dean of Graduate Studies must be obtained before the external examiner is contacted.
2.8.2 Response Times for Theses
Supervisory committees should respond to the draft of a Ph.D. thesis within 2 months. Providing comments on individual chapters will take proportionately less time. Very long theses or chapters may take more time. There are busy periods within the academic year when the time taken to provide comments might be a bit longer than this norm. However, in no case should the response time exceed 3 months.
For Master’s theses the corresponding times are 1 month and 2 months. Master’s students are entitled to defend within 2 months of providing the final draft of the thesis to the department/program.
2.8.3 Publication of Electronic Theses at McMaster University
Every successfully-defended thesis for a Master’s or a Ph.D. degree shall be published substantially as it was approved at the thesis defense, including any changes mandated by the defense committee, through the University Library’s MacSphere and the Library and Archives of Canada. To this end, as a final requirement of the degree, each student must sign a license enabling such digital publication, and must upload the thesis to MacSphere in electronic form. Note that the student may request postponement of digital publication for up to one year at the time of uploading the thesis to MacSphere, and all such requests will be automatically granted. E-publication delays normally would be requested for the shortest amount of time required to facilitate publication with external organizations, to protect any right to immediate commercial gain, or to permit a patent application to be completed. Students wishing extensions of their initial postponement must apply directly to the Associate Vice-President & Dean of Graduate Studies, at least 4 weeks before the termination of the initial e-publication postponement, with a full description of why an additional delay is requested and what steps have been taken to address the issues that required the initial delay. The Associate Vice-President & Dean of Graduate Studies will determine whether further publication postponement is warranted, and, in no case will a publication delay of more than 2 years be permitted.