When should I start looking for a supervisor/school for graduate studies?
If you are an undergraduate student considering graduate school, you should start thinking about this as early as September of your last year (assuming you will finish in April or May of the following year). It can take a considerable amount of time to decide on locations, schools and supervisors, and you do not want to be rushed. This is a big decision, one you will have to live with for at least a few years (if you decide to do an MSc) or longer if you decide to transfer to the PhD program. Also, there are a lot of studentship awards you can apply for in your last year of undergrad, but many of these have early deadlines, or you may have to apply through an internal process first. For instance, CIHR offers a Master's level studentship, and the deadline for application is February 1 but McGill has an internal selection prior to sending on applications. Please see following links: https://mcgill.ca/internalawards/
On another note, if you are completing an MSc, you are in a slightly different position. If you know you are interested in doing a PhD, but have decided to make a change in location or supervisor, you should start looking as soon as you can after you decide to finish your MSc in your current location (even if you don't have permission to write just yet, you can still start looking). Again, this will be important for possible funding deadlines (often October 15 for PhD level studentships) It's important to let your current supervisor know you're looking for a new lab though - anyone you contact about positions may wish to contact your current supervisor for references and you don't want him or her to learn of your search when someone calls to ask about you.
How do I find and/or choose a supervisor?
First, you should look for someone who is doing research in an area that really interests you. This may sound obvious, but remember, this may be something you will work on for as long as six years, so think carefully about what interests you the most.
Second, you should have an idea of cities or universities that you are interested in. If you are going to be moving, it helps to narrow down your choices by thinking in advance about where you might like to go. (That being said, this can also cause you to miss out on really interesting research opportunities so there needs to be a balance). Start by doing a web search (even on Google ) for the area that interests you. Having some specific search terms will be helpful! This can get you started. Alternatively, if you are interested in specific schools (say, McGill for instance) you can visit the school website and do your search there. By searching you will find people working in the area that interests you, and this may help in your search.
The IPN website has an online application to help you, with a searchable keywords and a list of our supervisors.
Third, visit the department webpages at McGill that interest you. Some departments have job opportunity or graduate student opening listings on their webpages. Some departments offer recruitment competitions to try to attract graduate students. These tools may help you determine if departments or individual supervisors are actively recruiting.
Fourth, visit webpages of the potential supervisors you've identified. Sometimes they will indicate that they are not currently accepting new students. This can save you a lot of time (and possibly annoyance) because you can remove them from your list. It's important to get a good idea of what is being done in the lab, and what you might want to study in the lab. This will really help you make a good impression when you talk to the potential supervisor.
Finally, contact the investigators you are interested in working with by email. Tell them a little about yourself (your current educational situation, what you are interested in, etc) and let them know WHY you are interested in their lab. Show the supervisor that you have read their publications and know about their research. Ask if they are currently accepting graduate students. It is helpful if you can attach a CV to the email, this will help them in their decision whether to pursue you as a potential student (this is a two-way street, after all!). And now you wait. They will likely contact you to either express interest in knowing more about you, or to tell you they are not currently accepting students (these replies often come quickly... but don't take it personally.)
IF POSSIBLE, visit the lab. Meet the supervisor and the people working in the lab. This will really help with the decision making. I would definitely recommend visiting all the labs that interest you. It is really the best way to know if you feel comfortable in the lab.
CHOOSING a supervisor:
Choosing a supervisor is a very personal decision and should not be taken lightly. Here are some things to consider when making your final choice:
- Is this an area I am really passionately interested in studying?
- Do I feel comfortable with this supervisor? Will my learning environment be supportive?
- Do the other students in the lab enjoy working there? Did I get along with them?
- Does the lab have, or have access to, all the supplies, equipment, etc that I need?
- What has my supervisor offered to pay me? (some departments have minimum salary rates for students but some supervisors will offer you more. While money shouldn't be your primary reason for choosing a lab, it is important to have enough to live on).
- Do I like the city? Do I see myself living there for several years?
- Student fees: https://mcgill.ca/student-accounts/tuition-charges/fallwinter-term-tuition-and-fees/graduate-fees
In the end, you will have to make the decision for a whole host of reasons that pertain to you specifically. Take the time to think it through.
You will find a current listing of academic staff with supervisory privileges within the IPN on our website.
Do not hesitate to contact individuals regarding graduate study in their labs. All applicants have up to one month following the application deadline to locate a supervisor.
What funding is available for IPN students?
The IPN offers guaranteed stipend levels for IPN students from their supervisors. Find more information about minimum annual stipends on our Financial Support page.
Students applying of the highest caliber may be offered Top-Up awards of $1,500 to $10,000 for their achievements and prior academic standings.
For further information on funding opportunities please refer to:
And optimizing your funding situation: https://mcgill.ca/studentaid/
For further information on Tuition fees, please refer to: https://mcgill.ca/student-accounts/tuition-charges/fallwinter-term-tuition-and-fees/graduate-fees
Also, be sure to look through our Financial Support page for external funding options.
Additional Potential Questions and Answers
- Is the GRE required? No.
- What is the McGill TOEFL Code? Insitution Code: 0935.
- How long does it take to receive a decision on my application? Decisions are made on a rolling basis.
- How long should I wait for a response on the communication tool in UApply? If you do not get an answer in ten days, send an email to ipn.admissions [at] mcgill.ca.
- Can someone enter directly from a Bachelor degree to a PhD? It depends, please consult the admissions office at ipn.admissions [at] mcgill.ca
- Do I need to send documents to the IPN office? No, please upload all your documents on UApply.
- Will you review my GPA or CV before I apply? No, we will only review your documents once you have applied (submitted on UApply and paid the $100 fee).
- It is possible to combine programs (i.e. neuroscience and biotechnology)? No.
- Are the IPN deadlines and the UApply deadlines the same? No, we have different deadlines than UApply.
- When uploading documents to UApply, please make sure the file is no more than 3MB in size.
- Please do not send multiple emails to all the people in the office.
- Please take note that it TOEFL and IELTS marks may take time to upload to UApply
- Please answer the additional questions on UApply even if you have not found a supervisor or do not have funding. You can make note that you are looking for a supervisor or funding. If you do not do this, your application will not be indicated as complete.
- No student in the IPN program can be self-funded, we only allow for students with internal funding or external institutional funding.
Where can I get even more information?
If you have any further questions relating to the Program and/or the admissions process, do not hesitate to contact our office at ipn.admissions [at] mcgill.ca or by calling (514) 398-6243.
If you want to ask questions of current students, we also have a Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/IPNeuro