School of Nursing Graduate Program


Should you have any other queries, please email our Graduate Officer at


The application deadline date for September admissions is January 15.

Apply here.



If I don't have a thesis from my Master's degree is this a disadvantaged when I apply to the PhD program?

Our Admissions Committee considers your entire application package (e.g. your letter, references and your transcripts). Because you do not have a thesis, we look at what you have done since your master’s to demonstrate readiness to undertake doctoral work. For example, scholarship endeavors undertaken such as peer-reviewed publications (with a major part such as first author), co-investigator or research assistant on research projects (funded), or professional presentations. By including these activities in your letter and CV, you provide the Committee with relevant information as to how you have applied the knowledge gained in your Master’s and your readiness to commence PhD study.

Could you direct me to an appropriate resource person to ask about identification of a supervisor for thesis-based Master's or PhD?

Please visit our faculty page on this website. There you will see the names and research interests of our Faculty who can supervise MSc and PhD students — it is best to e-mail or call those who match your research interests and send them a brief overview of your clinical and research interests. The earlier you invite them to meet with you and discuss your application, the better.

If you are having difficulty selecting a potential supervisor, contact our Nursing Program Coordinator and she will suggest possible faculty for you to contact. For the course-based MSc option, you do not need to find a supervisor as the Nursing Program Coordinator will assign a faculty advisor once you have been accepted into the program.

What can I do after graduating with a Course-based Master's, as opposed completing the research-based thesis Master's program?

Both options lead to an MSc degree — the difference is that the course-based option emphasizes application of research and theory to practice. Students who enroll in this option are more interested in careers that focus on advanced practice roles in nursing. Students in both of the MSc options undertake a quantitative and qualitative research course and theory/clinical course, while course-based students take one extra clinical course, extra electives, no statistics, and complete a scholarly paper rather than a thesis.

If I am a recent graduate of a BScN program, who could provide an appropriate academic and clinical reference letter?

A PBL or theory course instructor would be appropriate for your academic reference, while a clinical tutor or preceptor would be appropriate for your clinical reference. The reference you do obtain should reflect the goals within the relevant program or field to which you apply.

For those of us who have been out in practice for a while, are there particular referees the admissions committee would like to see for the clinical and academic reference letters?

The clinical reference should be written by someone in authority who knows your practice well, such as your unit manager, or supervisor. If you have been out of school for some time, it may be more difficult to obtain a reference letter. You might like to consider taking a course now and use that professor to supply a reference. In some cases, applicants have submitted references from researchers for whom they have worked, who can assess the quality of writing and knowledge; however, they should not be at the level of a peer.

Can referee letters be sent as a complete application package or should they be sent directly to the school?

They don’t have to be in a complete package. Clinical Reference must be in a sealed envelope sent to the Graduate Officer, or may be submited by e-mail or fax directly from the Clinical Referee to the Graduate Officer. All Academic Referees submit on line in the MOSAIC system.

International Applicants

If I want to attend McMaster’s Nursing Graduate program (MSc or PhD), do I have to be registered as a nurse in Ontario? I know there are clinical placements I must complete as a Master’s student and there may be work within health care during my PhD studies that would place me in contact with clients/patients.

If internationally educated nurses are here for the purpose of completing their degree and then returning home they could apply to the College of Nurses for the Special Assignment class of registration. Details of this class of registration are as follows:

This is a short-term, non-renewable registration for individuals, usually from outside Canada, who have an appointment or assignment as an RN or RPN with an approved facility and who do not plan to stay in Ontario for more than one year. Individuals in this class can only practice within the scope of their appointment, and under defined terms, limits and conditions.

The above statement is taken directly from the CNO website under the Registration section (see Special assignment class of registration would allow internationally educated nurse graduate students to complete their clinical placement during the course of their graduate study, provided the clinical component was no longer than one year. Students could complete some of their coursework before applying for this class of registration with CNO prior to their clinical practicum. Special assignment is a one year, non-renewable registration which does not require applicants to have successfully completed the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE). For this class of registration, applicants would need to have completed a registration program, be successfully registered, and have evidence of recent safe nursing practice, all in their home country. Course-based students might complete some of their coursework before applying for this class of registration with CNO prior to their clinical practicum if they needed a full year to complete their clinical courses. if course-based students did not complete their two practica within the one year, CNO suggests that those students could apply to the General Class, provided their Special Assignment Certificate has not expired. The General Class involves writing and successfully completing the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE) (see below).

Students enrolled in PhD in Nursing programs and who have exposure to clients, even if they are not involved in direct practice, should be registered as members of the profession in Ontario. This registration can be through the Special Assignment Certificate which would allow them one year of access, so timing of the acquisition of this certificate should be discussed with their supervisor. These students may not need access to Controlled Acts, but would still be involved in nursing care or practice, in some capacity. For example, they may use their nursing knowledge, skills and judgment to establish a therapeutic nurse-client relationship or provide assessments while in the process of conducting research.

If the Special Assignment class of registration is too limiting for internationally educated nurse graduate students, the students would have to apply for the general class of registration prior to applying to the graduate studies program. We would recommend that this is done prior to even applying to the graduate program or simultaneously to ensure that they meet all of the registration requirements, including successful completion of the CRNE. You may want to have a policy for dealing with applicants who are unsuccessful at writing the CRNE after being accepted the graduate program. The student visa would then help the applicant meet the citizenship requirement for registration. If the Masters applicant was not successful passing the CRNE after being accepted into the graduate program, the student could not register for the courses requiring completion of a nursing practicum (NUR 701 or NUR 711) until they successfully passed the CRNE.

For the Special or General class of registration, the Nursing Graduate program would provide the applicant with a letter to the CNO stating that the student is either enrolled or authorized to enroll in the graduate studies program while they are applying for the Special Assignment class.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)has released new requirements related to Study Permits for Visa students. Visa students who apply for Study Permits must now show proof that the offers they receive are from CIC approved Designated Learning Institutions. McMaster is an approved Designated Learning Institution, and as such has been assigned a unique Designated Learning Institution Number (DLI#). Visa students will need this DLI# in the process of applying for their Study Permits. From this point forward all offer letters will include McMaster's DLI# at the bottom of the letter (under the signature of the Admissions Officer). Offers that have been made up until the beginning of July 2014 have not included McMaster's DLI#. However, this information is readily accessible and searchable on the CIC website:Designated learning institutions list. McMaster's DLI# is: O19395535729