MSc Neuroscience

MSc Milestones


The chart below shows the progression of a typical MSc degree, excluding


Each of the stages is described below, and in greater detail in the navigation tabs above. (The timeline assumes satisfactory progress at all stages.)

Get Assigned and Contact your Mentor

This should happen within two weeks of you starting in IPN. We strongly recommend that you make contact with your mentor by email to introduce yourself early on.

Select your Advisory Committee

An advisory committee of your supervisor and at least two professors who are familiar with the research field of your project should be chosen within the first semester.

Advisory Committee Meeting

The preliminary advisory committee meeting must be held within the first year. It is the responsibility of the student to arrange for the date, time and place of their advisory committee meeting, and to ensure that all members of the committee can attend.

If the project is deemed to be in an unsatisfactory state by the committee, another meeting must be scheduled within 4 months.

The second year's advisory committee meeting is to be held within a year of the first, unless an MSc seminar is held in its place.

MSc Proposal

An MSc Proposal must be emailed with the MSc Proposal Form to the IPN office within 18 months of admission. It is highly recommended that you hold a meeting once the proposal is drafted in order to get feedback from your committee.

MSc Seminar

An MSc Seminar is to be held three months before the planned submission of the thesis.

MSc Submission

The initial MSc thesis must be submitted within three years of entry into IPN. The Nomination of Examiners must be satisfactorily completed before submission.


Students may graduate during the semester after the one of thesis submission.


MSc Requirements

The MSc degree in Neuroscience Requires:

  • A laboratory research project - leading to a written MSc thesis
  • All students in the IPN program must complete NEUR-705, Responsible Conduct of Research (0 credits) to graduate
  • 45 credits in course work and research (9 credits for in-class courses, 36 credits for research based courses)
    • 9 credits from in-class courses
      • 1 required course chosen from PNI (NEUR-630) and PNII (NEUR-631) and 2 elective courses (may include the other PN)
  • The breakdown of the 36 research credits is:
  1. NEUR 697 - Master's Thesis Proposal (9 credits)

  2. NEUR 698 - Master's Seminar Presentation (9 credits)

  3. NEUR 699 - Master's Thesis Submission (12 credits)

  4. NEUR 696 - Research Course (6 credits) 

The research must be conducted under the supervision of a faculty member of the Integrated Program in Neuroscience.

A Master's thesis must:

  • Show familiarity with the research topic.
  • Demonstrate the ability of the candidate to carry out research.
  • Demonstrate the ability of the candidate to organize the results.


Students in the MSc program, who wish to continue on and obtain a PhD degree in the IPN, may do so in one of two ways:

1) By obtaining an MSc degree and then applying to the PhD program.
2) By transferring directly from the MSc to the PhD program through the transfer seminar/candidacy exam.


The Graduate Program Committee has instituted a mentorship program by which each student will be matched with a specific member of the Committee. Our graduate program is very large (approximately 300 students) and laboratories are spread out over several research institutes. Thus, we are concerned that all students feel included, are kept informed and stay on track throughout their course of study. During the first term of study, each student will be assigned a mentor who will ensure that the student meets the program requirements in a timely manner.

The Program Mentor ensures that the student, the supervisor(s) and other members of the Advisory Committee are aware of and meet key milestones throughout the course of the student's graduate study. The Mentor will also serve as an additional person to provide information on administrative matters, answer questions, or assist with any specific needs. He/she will chair the Master's thesis seminar and the candidacy examination, and will represent the Program at the Ph.D. Oral Thesis Defence. When planning these events, the student must ensure that the mentor will be available and should not leave organization to the last minute.

Advisory Committee & Annual Reports

Selecting the Advisory Committee

In conjunction with the thesis supervisor, students must select an Advisory Committee. This committee will consist of the thesis supervisor and two other professors who will participate in discussions with the student about his/her research program. The Advisory Committee from the M.Sc. program is retained should the student complete the candidacy exam for transfer to the Ph.D. program. It is the responsibility of the student to arrange for the date, time and place of their advisory committee meeting, and to ensure that all members of the committee can attend.

Responsibilities of the Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee members will serve as resource persons and have the following responsibilities:

  1. All members of the Advisory Committee will review the written thesis proposal and attend the oral presentation and/or candidacy examination (see sections on thesis proposals and candidacy examinations for both M.Sc. and Ph.D.)
  2. Members of the Advisory Committee will meet annually with the student to evaluate progress. The first meeting should take place no later than 12 months after the start of the first term, preferably sooner, and then once again every following 12 months (or more frequently, as needed). The advisory committee also should convene shortly after initial registration of the student [within the first term] to make his/her acquaintance and discuss course work
  3. The Advisory Committee will attend the student's thesis research seminar, which is to be presented by the student prior to the writing of his/her thesis
  4. Members of the Advisory Committee will be available for advice and direction during the time that the student is enrolled in the program.

Annual Advisory Committee Meeting

Presentation of research work accomplished at an advisory committee meeting is required once a year from the start of the student's program, and no more than 12 months should pass before the subsequent meeting. (Only a candidacy exam may substitute an advisory committee meeting, and meetings cease, unless special circumstances arise, after the thesis seminar).

  • At the meeting, the student will orally present his or her progress (approximately 30 minutes) followed by a question period.
  • The Progress Form is to be completed at every committee meeting. (Students should complete Progress and Objectives sections with their supervisor in preparation for the committee meeting, the rest is to be completed by the advisory committee at the meeting itself.)
  • The advisory committee will meet in a closed session at the end of the meeting to evaluate the student's progress, and will complete the rest of the progress form.
  • The student should keep a copy of the form (to refer back to at the next meeting), and forward the signed form to the IPN office via e-mail (ipn [at]

The Mentor is not expected to attend advisory committee meetings, but must be notified that the meeting has taken place.

  • It is obligatory that each student meet with his/her advisory committee at least once a year.
  • If unsatisfactory progress has been noted, the deficiencies should be documented and remedial action taken.
  • Failing to hold an advisory committee meeting will lead to an unsatisfactory progress report in research (Note: According to the regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, a second unsatisfactory progress report, either for research deficiencies or for failing to hold a meeting, may lead to the student being required to withdraw from the program). In addition, failure to have done so will disqualify you from applying for internal IPN awards.

Arranging meetings can be challenging - your committee members are busy people! Click link: Use to plan your next meeting.

MSc Thesis Proposal

NEUR 697 Master's Thesis Proposal 9 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Masters students are required to submit a written thesis proposal to their Advisory Committee no later than 18 months following admission. It is highly recommended that you hold a meeting once the proposal is drafted in order to get feedback from your committee.

  • The thesis proposal will state the hypothesis being tested, review the relevant background literature and summarize the methods that will be used to address the research question.
  • The thesis proposal will be evaluated by the student's Advisory Committee to ensure that the proposed research project meets the academic requirements of the degree sought and that the written proposal is satisfactory in both content and style.
  • A copy of the thesis proposal, along with the approval form will be sent via email to the IPN office showing confirmation that the thesis proposal has been approved. Digital signatures are acceptable.
  • If a proposal proves to be unsatisfactory, it will then be necessary for the supervisor to discuss with the student the weaknesses of the proposal and to supervise the incorporation of changes that will ameliorate the proposal. The student will then submit the final revised proposal to the IPN office.

Format of the Written Proposal

The written thesis proposal must state the hypothesis being tested, review the relevant background literature and summarize the methods that will be used to address the research question. The proposal should be approximately 20-25 pages in length, double-spaced (including references). A recommended format is:

  1. Introduction and statement of the problem (1 page)
  2. Background information - i.e. relevant literature leading up to your studies (5 pages)
  3. Rationale for the study, hypothesis and specific aims (1 page)
  4. Methods for each specific aim, including the rationale for the choice of methods when alternatives exist, possible problems that may be encountered and their solutions, analysis and interpretation of data, etc. (5 pages)
  5. Summary of results to date (specific items may be included in methods, if preferable)
  6. Short conclusion and statement of expected contributions to original knowledge (1 page)
  7. Preliminary bibliography


MSc Thesis Seminar

NEUR 698 Master's Seminar Presentation 9 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Prior to writing his/her thesis, the student is required to give an open thesis research seminar. In this seminar, she/he will explain the direction of her/his research and present the findings.

  • The seminar will be attended by the student's Advisory Committee and other interested individuals, and will be chaired by the student's Graduate Program Mentor.
  • The presentation should take approximately 45 minutes and will be followed by a question period.
  • Following the seminar, the Advisory Committee and program mentor will meet in closed session to review (1) the student's file, (2) the student's performance in the seminar and (3) whether sufficient and satisfactory data is available for writing a successful thesis.
  • The decision of the committee will be made by consensus on a pass/fail basis.
  • The student's mentor will provide a brief written summary of this discussion to the student with copies sent to the thesis supervisor and the IPN office.
  • In case of failure in the performance of the thesis seminar, one repeat will be permitted.

It is the responsibility of the student to arrange for the date, time and place of their thesis seminar, and to ensure that all members of the committee (including the mentor) can attend.

The IPN office must be given at least three weeks notification of the seminar (email ipn [at] ). Seminars should not be scheduled during July and August.

MSc Thesis Submission

NEUR 699 Master's Thesis Submission 12 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


All Masters students are required to submit a thesis for evaluation. The thesis must be based on the research of the student. While not necessarily requiring an exhaustive review of work in a particular field, the thesis must show familiarity with such work and demonstrate the ability of the candidate to carry out research and to organize the results, all of which must be presented in a good literary style.

McGill University regulations do not require a "great deal of original scholarship" at the M.Sc. level, however IPN expects the student's research to be of sufficient quality for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Submitting the MSc Thesis

Master's students must fill out various submission forms in accordance with the rules on thesis submission on the Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies website. The Nomination of Examiners and Thesis Submission Form should be brought to room 141 at the Montreal Neurological Institute to be signed by the IPN Director or Associate Director.  Then, these forms, along with one copy of your thesis, must finally be sent electronically to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.  It is essential you read through the Thesis page of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.

The supervisor (in consultation with the student) will choose whom to approach to be the examiner, keeping the following points in mind:

  • Can be a member from within the department who has not collaborated with the research
  • Must have an academic appointment at a university and be actively engaged in research
  • Must not be in conflict of interest. See Nomination of Examiners and Thesis Submission form.