Program Requirements

Program Requirements for Graduate Degrees

Master's Degrees

Master's Degrees

Residency Requirements – Master's Degrees

Refers to the period of time, measured in terms or years, necessary for the completion of the program. You are not permitted to graduate until you have fulfilled the residency requirement (and paid the corresponding fees) in your program.

  • The following master's programs have a minimum residency requirement of three full-time terms: M.Arch., M.A., M.Eng., LL.M., M.Mus. (except M.Mus. in Sound Recording), M.Sc., M.S.W., M.Sc.A. (except M.Sc.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders).
  • The following master's programs have a minimum residency requirement of four full-time terms: M.I.St.; M.Mus. in Sound Recording; M.U.P.; M.A. (60 credits – Counselling Psychology – thesis; 78 credits – Educational Psychology); M.A. Teaching and Learning – Non-Thesis; M.Sc.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders; S.T.M., Religious Studies.
  • The residency requirement for the master's program in Education (M.Ed.); Information Studies (M.I.St.); Management (M.B.A.); Religious Studies (S.T.M.); M.A. Counselling Psychology – Non-Thesis; M.A. Teaching and Learning – Non-Thesis; M.Sc. in Public Health – Non-Thesis; M.Sc.A. Nursing; M.Sc.A. Occupational Therapy; M.Sc.A. Physical Therapy; and students in part-time programs, is determined on a per course basis. Residency requirements are fulfilled when students complete all course requirements in their respective programs.
  • For master's programs structured as Course, Project, or Non-Thesis options where the program is pursued on a part-time basis, residency requirements are normally fulfilled when students complete all course requirements in their respective programs (minimum 45 credits or a minimum of three full-time terms) and pay the fees accordingly.

These designated periods of residency represent minimum time requirements. There is no guarantee that the work for the degree can be completed in this time. You must register for additional terms as needed to complete the program.

Coursework – Master's Degrees

Program requirements are outlined in the relevant departmental sections of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies eCalendar.

The minimum credit requirement for any thesis or non-thesis master’s degree at McGill is 45 credits.

Non-thesis degrees normally specify the course program which the candidate must follow.

The department concerned will examine the student's previous training and then decide which of the available courses in the area of specialization or related fields are required to bring the candidate to the proper level for the master's degree. Due account will be taken of relevant graduate level courses passed at any recognized university or at McGill.

The candidate is required to pass, with a grade of B- or better, all those courses that have been designated by the department as forming a part of the program, including additional requirements.

Students taking courses at another university must obtain a minimum grade of B- (65%) if the course is to be credited toward their McGill degree. In the cases where only a letter grade is used, a B- is the minimum passing grade and no equivalent percentage will be considered. In the cases where only a percentage grade is used, 65% is the minimum passing grade.

As a rule, no more than one-third of the formal coursework (excluding thesis, project, stage, or internship) of a McGill master's degree can be credited with courses from another university or degree (for example, courses taken before admission to the McGill degree, or courses taken through the IUT agreement during the McGill degree, if permitted).

Normally, if courses completed elsewhere or at McGill prior to admission to the McGill master’s degree were not used to complete a degree, they could be credited toward the McGill degree, keeping in mind the one-third rule as described above. These would be entered as exemptions with credit at the time of admission.

If the courses completed elsewhere or at McGill prior to admission were used to complete a degree, exemptions may be granted without credit, i.e., the exempted course(s) must be replaced by other graduate course(s) at McGill. Double counting is not allowed, unless the department offering the master’s degree permits it and the degree has an overall credit requirement greater than 45 credits. In other words, instances where exemptions with credit may be granted will be limited to the credit amount beyond the minimum of 45 credits for a McGill master’s degree. The one-third rule as described above continues to apply.

Research and Thesis – Master's Degrees

All candidates for a research degree must present a thesis based on their own research. The total number of credits allotted to the thesis in any master's program must not be less than 24. The title of the thesis and the name of the examiner must be forwarded on a Nomination of Examiners form, available at www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/thesis-guidelines/initial-submission, in accordance with the dates on www.mcgill.ca/importantdates, through the Unit head or delegate of the department concerned at the same time that the thesis is submitted to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. A thesis for the master's degree, while not necessarily requiring an exhaustive review of work in the particular field of study, must show familiarity with previous work in the field and must demonstrate the ability to carry out research, organize results, and defend the approach and conclusions in a scholarly manner according to disciplinary norms. The thesis must be written in compliance with norms for academic and scholarly expression and for publication in the public domain. The thesis will not normally exceed 100 pages; in some disciplines, shorter texts are preferred. Guidelines and deadlines are available at www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/thesis-guidelines.

Language Requirements – Master's Degrees

Many master's degree programs do not include language requirements, but candidates who intend to proceed to a doctoral degree should take note of any language requirements and are strongly advised to take the examinations in at least one language while working for the master's degree.

Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral Degrees

Residency Requirements – Doctoral

Refers to a period of time, measured in terms or years, necessary for completion of the program. You are not permitted to graduate until you have fulfilled the residency requirement (and paid the corresponding fees) in your program.

Only exceptional candidates holding a bachelor's degree will be considered for direct admission to Ph.D. 1 level.

Candidates entering Ph.D. 1 must follow a program of at least three years' residency (end of Ph.D. 3). This is a minimum requirement, and there is no guarantee that the work of the degree can be completed in this time. Students are expected to complete their degree within the maximum specified period.

A student who has obtained a master's degree at McGill University or at an approved institution in a relevant subject and is proceeding to a Ph.D. degree will, on the recommendation of the department, be admitted to Ph.D. 2; in this case, the residency requirement for the program is two years.

It is required that candidates spend the greater part of each summer working on their theses, and those who do not do so are unlikely to complete a satisfactory thesis in the prescribed minimum time (see Vacation Policy for Graduate Students and Postdocs).

In the doctoral program, students must be registered on a full-time basis for one or more years after completion of the residency (i.e., Ph.D. 4 year) before continuing as Additional Session students until completion of the program.

As a rule, no more than one-third of the McGill program formal coursework can be credited with courses from another university.

Comprehensive Examinations – Doctoral

Doctoral programs at McGill require candidates to pass a comprehensive examination or set of examinations or equivalent, such as qualifying examinations, preliminary examinations, candidacy papers, comprehensive evaluations, thesis proposals, etc. The results of this examination determine whether or not students will be permitted to continue in their program. The methods adopted for examination and evaluation and the areas to be examined are specified by departmental regulations and approved by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. It is your responsibility to inform yourself of these details. For more information, see University Regulations & Resources > Graduate > Guidelines and Policies > Ph.D. Comprehensives Policy.

Language Requirements – Doctoral

You should consult their academic units to inquire about language requirements.

You must contact their department to assess the Language Reading Proficiency Examinations. You may, however, demonstrate competence by a pass standing in two undergraduate language courses taken at McGill (see departmental regulations).

All language requirements must be fulfilled and the grades reported before submission of the thesis to GPS (see Regulations Concerning Theses).

Candidates are advised to fulfil their language requirements as early in their program as possible.

Thesis – Doctoral

The thesis for the Ph.D. degree must display original scholarship expressed in good literate style and must be a distinct contribution to knowledge. Formal notice of a thesis title and names of examiners must be submitted to eGraduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) on the Nomination of Examiners eform, available at www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/thesis-guidelines/initial-submission, in accordance with the dates on www.mcgill.ca/importantdates, at the same time as the thesis is submitted. The list of examiners must be approved by the eGraduate Program Department Director, the supervisor and the student. The Thesis section of eGraduate and Postdoctoral Studies should be notified of any subsequent change of title as early as possible. Guidelines and deadlines are available at www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/thesis-guidelines.

Special regulations for the Ph.D. degree in particular departments are stated in the entries of those departments.

eDoctoral Oral Defence

After the thesis has been received and approved, a final oral examination is held on the subject of the thesis and subjects intimately related to it. This is conducted in the presence of a Committee of at least five members presided over by a Pro-Dean nominated by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The Chair of the candidate's department and the Thesis Supervisor are regularly invited to be members of the Committee; at least one member of the Committee is appointed from outside the candidate's department. Guidelines are available at www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/thesis-guidelines.

Coursework for Graduate Programs, Diplomas, and Certificates

Coursework for Graduate Programs, Diplomas, and Certificates

If an upper-level undergraduate course (excluding 500 level) is taken by a graduate student, it must approved by the Graduate Program Department Director. The recommendation must state if the undergraduate course is an additional requirement for the program (must obtain B- or higher) or if the course is extra to the program (will be flagged as such on the record and fees will be charged). See document at www.mcgill.ca/gps/students/registration.

English and French language courses offered by the French Language Centre (Faculty of Arts) or the School of Continuing Studies may not be taken for coursework credits toward a graduate program.

All substitutions for coursework in graduate programs, diplomas, and certificates must be approved by the Graduate Program Department Director before registration. Double counting of courses is not permitted.

Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2019-2020 (last updated Aug. 13, 2019) (disclaimer)
Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2019-2020 (last updated Aug. 13, 2019) (disclaimer)