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Graduate Admissions

View Brochure: Graduate Studies in Biology Brochure

Thank you for your interest in graduate studies in Biology at McMaster University. Please review the information below in its entirety to learn more about the application process. Please also visit our admissions F.A.Q. for more information: Frequently Asked Questions.

You are strongly encouraged to contact potential supervisor(s) prior to applying.

International students may apply for September intake only. It is necessary to review the information below.

*For international students, please note:

We receive far more applications than we can accept per year. The selection process is very competitive and acceptance rates are approximately 2-3%. Acceptance for international students only include the September term start-dates, please see more information below.

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 online application will be automatically submitted to the Academic Program Assistant (Graduate). In the event of “acceptance”,  original transcripts (with the exception of McMaster University applicants) must be submitted directly to Haley Johnson, Academic Program Assistant (Graduate) in the Department of Biology at the following address:

Academic Program Assistant (Graduate)
Department of Biology
Life Science Building – Room 218
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.

Applications are completed online (please see section III below). An application consists of:

  • the online application form
  • a statement of interest
  • Email addresses for two references – preferably from academics;
  • a CV
  • official academic transcripts* (to be uploaded to your online application) and,
  • $110.00 CDN application fee, (payable online),

*Upon acceptance, students must provide the Academic Program Assistant (Graduate) with official copies of all transcripts, sent directly from the issuing institution. For more information, please contact

International 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.   A copy may be uploaded on Mosaic.

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:

January 2024 admission:
Deadline: December 1st, 2023 

May 2024 admission:
Deadline: March 30th, 2024

September 2024 admission:
Deadline: May 31st, 2024*

*PLEASE NOTE: The deadline for international applicants for September 2024 is January 31st, 2024.  

International Students: As admission to our graduate program is highly competitive, effective September 1st, 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.

As noted above, we receive far more applications than we can accept per year.  The selection process is very competitive and acceptance rates are approximately 2-3%.

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).

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 online application is available to all Biology Faculty and Associate Members who are recruiting Graduate Students. Such “eligible” applications will be kept on file for one academic year. “Ineligible” applicants will be notified via email (please see section IV below for more information).

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

III – Online Application:

For acceptance in a graduate program at McMaster University, prospective students should complete their application online by visiting the following the graduate website:

If you require any assistance with your application, please contact the Graduate Administrator at if required.  Attachments are to be uploaded in PDF format to your application.

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.


If the three criteria are not met, the application is rejected by the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.  Students will receive an email notification from the School of Graduate Studies.

Please note that eligible applications will be kept on file for up to one academic year.

For additional information, please contact the Graduate Administrator at