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Master's program

We offer a highly-regarded 45-credit graduate program leading to the M.Sc. degree that prepares our students for scientific careers in many areas of biochemistry and related sciences. 


Completing the M.Sc.

All M.Sc. students are required to complete 45 credits for their degree, including:

  • 36 thesis course credits (see below);
  • complete the three (3) credit Research Seminar course (BIOC 696D1/D2) during the first year of residency, and each of the three Master's Research Project courses during the first three terms of residency. BIOC 696 is graded pass/fail, based on participation. It is the responsibility of all students registered in the Master's program to add these courses during their residency period;
  • complete a minimum of six (6) complementary course credits. The Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) may stipulate additional course work depending on the background of the candidate (e.g. one or both of BIOC 450 and BIOC 454 for students who have not taken equivalent courses in their previous programs). Unless specific courses are stipulated, and after consultation with their research supervisor and the GAC, students may choose their courses from those offered by Biochemistry, Experimental Medicine, Biology, Chemistry and Physiology as well as other graduate courses in the medical and allied sciences.

Students must submit a thesis acceptable to referees selected by the Department and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Important Notes:

A Pass at the graduate level is B- (65%).

All biochemistry graduate students are required to attend all Department seminars in the unified series, and a minimum attendance of 70% is required to pass course BIOC 696. See Regulations & Guidelines for the attendance formula.

 Students are encouraged to provide documentation at the time they apply to demonstrate that they have completed previous course work equivalent to McGill’s BIOC 450 (Protein Structure and Function) and BIOC 454 (Nucleic Acids). Such documentation could include course descriptions from the University calendar or class synopses. The GAC will evaluate such documentation to determine course requirements.


List of master's-level courses

Students must complete 45 credits. Of the 45 Master's credits, 39 credits are thesis courses and the Research Seminar course. The other 6 credits are from 500-600 level complementary courses. Courses can be found in the McGill Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Calendar available on the web.

Master of Science (M.Sc.); Biochemistry (Thesis) (45 credits)

Thesis Courses (36 credits)

BIOC 697 Thesis Research 1 9
BIOC 698 Thesis Research 2 12
BIOC 699 Thesis Research 3 15

 Required Courses (3 credits)

BIOC 696 Seminars in Biochemistry 3

 Complementary Courses (6 credits)

At least 3 credits must be chosen from the following:

BIOC 570 Biochemistry of Lipoproteins 3
BIOC 600 Adv Strat in Genetics&Genomics 3
BIOC 603 Genomics and Gene Expression 3
BIOC 604 Macromolecular Structure 3
BIOC 605 Protein Biology & Proteomics 3
EXMD 615 Essentials of Glycobiology 3
EXMD 635D1 Experimental/Clinical Oncology 3
EXMD 635D2 Experimental/Clinical Oncology 3

Plus additional credits, to a minimum of 6 total complementary course-credits, of 500- or higher level courses in the biomedical and allied sciences.

Complementary courses are chosen in consultation with the research director. The GAC may stipulate additional coursework depending on the background of the candidate. It is highly recommended that all course work be completed within the first two semesters. Additional fees will be charged for courses taken which are not required.


Transfer to Ph.D. (fast-tracking)

Fast-tracking to a Ph.D. degree is granted to those students who have shown adequate research promise.

Admission to the Ph.D. program for a student currently carrying out M.Sc. studies is formally decided by the GAC at the time the Research Seminar I (BIOC 701) is presented, during the M.Sc. year 2. At that time, the Committee will review the student's complete record, including performance in required courses. As a result of the review, the student will be asked to:

  1. write a Master's thesis and terminate his/her graduate studies at this level, or
  2. promote to the Ph.D. (Ph.D. year 2)

Students wishing to proceed to the Ph.D. must complete the following before transfer to Ph.D. 2 is allowed:

  1. BIOC 696 Seminars in Biochemistry, plus
  2. 6 credits of complementary courses, and
  3. BIOC 701 (Research Seminar 1)

       Students who wish to graduate with a M.Sc. and not fast-track should inform the Student Affairs Officer as soon as possible.

Thesis submission

Before thesis submission, the composition of the student's Research Advisory Committee (RAC) must be set, and the names of the committee members must be submitted to the Student Affairs Officer. A RAC meeting must also be held in the year preceding the thesis submission and a copy of the report showing approval to submit must be on file before submission will be allowed.

Guidelines for Master’s Thesis preparation, submission and examination are found under Doctoral Thesis, as many procedures are the same. However, an oral defense is not required for examination of a Master’s Thesis at McGill, unlike a Doctoral Thesis.