McMaster University

Medical Sciences
Graduate Program

Scope of Search


Prospective Students

Faculty Research


Degree Requirements

M.Sc. Degree


The candidate must complete, with at least B- standing, not fewer than one full graduate course, which must include at least one 700-level half course in Medical Sciences but may include one 700-level half course normally in the Faculty of Science or Faculty of Engineering. When appropriate, a maximum of one Health Research Methodology or Nursing half course may be taken by M.Sc. students. The candidate is also required to present a thesis, which embodies the results of original research. In a final oral examination the candidate will be required to defend the thesis.



Transfer to PhD

Students wishing to be transferred to the PhD program prior to the completion of a master’s degree (see Section 2.1.2 of the General Regulations of the Graduate School and the statement entitled "Policy and Procedure for Transfer from M.Sc. to PhD — Medical Sciences") must have an overall course average of B+ or better in the M.Sc. curriculum and must submit a Transfer Committee Report, embodying a statement of progress and achievement in the research work to date and a proposal for PhD research.

The Transfer Report must be submitted to the student’s Transfer Committee within 21 months from entry at the M.Sc. level as a full-time student. Approval to transfer will be determined at a meeting of the Transfer Committee at which the student will present his/her work and ideas for PhD study orally.



Ph.D. Degree


A candidate for the PhD degree must comply with the School of Graduate Studies Regulations for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy, including the completion of the equivalent of one and one-half full graduate courses beyond the B.Sc. or one additional half course in Medical Sciences beyond those required for the Master’s degree. The three half courses beyond the B.Sc. must include at least one full 700-level graduate course in Medical Sciences, but may include one 600-level half course in Medical Sciences or one 700-level half course normally in the Faculty of Science or Faculty of Engineering. When appropriate, a maximum of one Health Research Methodology or Nursing half course may be taken from the B.Sc. to the level of PhD.

Candidates must also:

  1. Obtain at least B- standing in course work.
  2. Pass a Comprehensive Examination before the end of the twenty- first month following the start of their doctoral studies at McMaster. The examination, which consists of a written and oral part, gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to acquire information about major issues in biomedical sciences and to evaluate critically such information. The written component of the Comprehensive Examination is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)-style grant proposal. In the oral component of the Comprehensive Examination, the student is expected to provide reasoned arguments in support of his/her interpretation of the scientific area under study, to demonstrate his/her ability to use the information acquired to formulate a hypothesis, and develop an experimental plan that addresses the hypothesis, to rationalize weaknesses and strengths of the experimental approach. The student and supervisory committee will agree on a topic that is of interest and value to the student and merit independent study. Further information regarding the comprehensive examination is contained in the Medical Sciences Graduate Program Comprehensive Examination, Purpose and Procedure booklet, which is available in the Medical Sciences Program Office, HSC-4H4.
  3. Present a thesis on an approved topic and defend the thesis at a final oral examination.

All graduate students in Medical Sciences are expected to present at least ONE research seminar during their M.Sc. and their PhD studentships at McMaster.




The MD/PhD program is offered in an integrated format with specific blocks of time provided for activities either in full- or part-time studies in either program. There will be opportunity for flexibility in the arrangement of a student curriculum, if requested and/or deemed appropriate. These requests will be reviewed by the MD/PhD program committee and the student’s doctoral program, before making a recommendation to the Associate Deans. The Program utilizes the established MD curriculum and the established graduate programs of Medical Sciences, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Health Research Methodology, or Biomedical Engineering.


Students in the MD/PhD program will complete both the MD curriculum requirements (eligible for MD residency programs), and the PhD curriculum requirements in order to be eligible for particular academic placements across institutions. The program will seek to train individuals who will pursue research as a major priority and to prepare graduates for leadership roles in integrated research initiatives, particularly those involving interdisciplinary and translational health research endeavors. The program expects that McMaster MD/PhD graduates will contribute significantly to the need for clinician scientists in a variety of roles. The program will accept up to 3 students on a yearly basis, and reach 10-15 students in the program at steady state.

MD program fulfillment (in the MD/PhD program)

The new MD curriculum, electives and clerkship periods. Horizontal electives (optional in current MD program, not optional in the MD / PhD program) must be completed during graduate research block (3 years). A minimum of 80 hours in horizontal electives must be completed satisfactorily.

PhD program fulfillment (in the MD/PhD program)

Time will be allowed for attendance at regular research group meetings while students are in the MD curriculum. Attendance at MD / PhD program group meetings (faculty and students) will be held a minimum of 3 times annually. Candidates must successfully complete the equivalent of three 700-level graduate half courses (credit for satisfactory completion of MD horizontal electives are provided within the graduate program such that only 3 courses are required), comprehensive examination and submission and defence of a research thesis (the research proposal should be completed as early as possible in the program).

All graduate students must also complete SGS 101 "Academic Research Integrity and Ethics" and SGS 201 "Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)" courses.