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Biology

Location

  • Department of Biology
  • Stewart Biological Sciences Building, Room W4/8
  • 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue
  • Montreal QC H3A 1B1
  • Canada
  • Telephone: 514-398-5478
  • Fax: 514-398-5069
  • Email: graduate-admissions [dot] biology [at] mcgill [dot] ca
  • Website: http://biology.mcgill.ca

About Biology

The Department offers graduate training in many areas of biology with particular strengths in the following areas: Molecular Biology and Genetics; Cell and Developmental Biology; Ecology, Biodiversity, and Conservation; Evolution; Neurobiology; Bioinformatics; and Plant Biology. In addition to the regular M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs, the Biology Department offers specialized programs, known as “concentrations” in certain specific areas: Neotropical Environment (NEO), Bioinformatics, and Environment.

Graduate programs leading to the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees are offered. Both are research-intensive degrees, and the emphasis in both programs is on development of the intellectual and technical skills necessary for independent research. The main component of both degrees is a thesis presenting results of this work and the student’s original contribution to scientific knowledge. Formal coursework, usually in the form of literature-based seminar courses, is minimal and typically completed within the first year. To complement their classroom and laboratory training, students regularly attend other seminar series and journal clubs and present their own work annually in a formal seminar.

In addition to working with world-class researchers, graduate students in Biology have access to top-notch research infrastructure. The recently renovated Stewart Biology Building and the newly constructed Bellini Life Sciences Complex are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for sophisticated imaging, robotic, and genetic techniques, to name a few. These in-house capabilities are complemented by a wide range of field research facilities, which include the Gault Nature Reserve at Mont St. Hilaire (Quebec), the Morgan Arboretum (Quebec), the Huntsman Marine Science Centre (New Brunswick), the Subarctic Research Laboratory (Quebec), the Bellairs Research Institute (Barbados), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama), and the limnology research station at the Wilder and Helen Penfield Nature Reserve on Lake Memphremagog (Quebec). These resources are also extended by affiliation with other organizations such as the Redpath Museum, the Biotechnology Research Institute of the National Research Council of Canada, the Groupe Interuniversitaire de Recherches Océanographiques du Québec (GIROQ), the McGill Macdonald campus, the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, the Jewish General Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Montreal Children's Hospital, and the Royal Victoria Hospital. (Note that MUHC-affiliated hospitals and institutes are scheduled to move to the new Glen site in June 2015. Buildings and room numbers are to be confirmed.)

The Department specifies a minimum level of support for all graduate students. This amount is $15,500 per annum plus tuition fees. The required minimum duration of support is two years for the M.Sc. program, five years for a Ph.D. student entering as Ph.D. 1 (directly from a bachelor's degree), and four years for a Ph.D. student entering as Ph.D. 2 (after having completed a master's degree).

The graduate program of each student is established and regularly evaluated by a three-member supervisory committee appointed by the Graduate Training Committee and chaired by the student’s thesis supervisor.

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

The typical graduate student in this program has a strong background knowledge in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, organismal biology, ecology, developmental biology, and statistics, often with special strengths in the area of proposed study. Given the continuing trend toward interdisciplinary work, the program also accepts some students with a high scholastic standing who have completed a program in fields other than biology (medicine, engineering, chemistry, physics, etc.). Admission is based on an evaluation by the applicant’s potential supervisor, who is the faculty member who will provide supervision and financial support for the student’s research, and by the Biology Graduate Training Committee. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact faculty members with whom they wish to study before applying for admission.

Alumni have gone on to pursue a wide range of careers. Many go on to pursue postdoctoral research and later assume faculty positions, while others work as researchers in industry, wildlife biologists, forensic technologists, or science policy advisers, to name a few.

Master of Science (M.Sc.); Biology (Thesis) — Environment (48 credits)

The Environment graduate concentration offers students the opportunity to pursue environment-focused graduate research in the context of a range of different fields, including Anthropology, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Biology, Bioresource Engineering, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Entomology, Epidemiology, Experimental Medicine, Geography, Law, Microbiology, Plant Science, Parasitology, Philosophy, Renewable Resources, and Sociology. Through a program consisting of research, seminars, and two courses, this concentration adds a layer of interdisciplinarity that challenges students to develop and defend their research and think in a broader context. Students graduating from the M.Sc. or Ph.D. program under the Environment concentration will therefore be able to understand and critically analyze an environmental problem from several perspectives (e.g., social, cultural, scientific, technological, ethical, economic, political, legislative) and at a local, national, regional, and/or international scale. In addition, they will be able to explore and critically assess analytic and institutional approaches for alleviating the selected environmental problem, and to effectively communicate research findings to both specialist and lay audiences. Coordinated and administered through the McGill School of Environment (MSE), the Environment concentration is aimed at students who wish to use interdisciplinary approaches in their graduate research on environmental issues and who wish to benefit from interactions that will occur as they interact with students from a wide range of disciplines.

Master of Science (M.Sc.); Biology (Thesis) — Neotropical Environment (48 credits)

The McGill-Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Neotropical Environment Option (NEO) is a research-based concentration for M.Sc. or Ph.D. students in the departments of Anthropology, Biology, Bioresource Engineering, Geography, Natural Resource Sciences, Plant Science, and Political Science at McGill University. The NEO is aimed at students who wish to focus their graduate research on environmental issues relevant to the Neotropics and Latin American countries. The typical NEO student has a very strong interest in conservation because NEO courses focus on conservation issues. Students in the program have diverse backgrounds, including both Latin American and Canadian students, and must either speak Spanish or enrol in a Spanish course when they enter the program. NEO favours interdisciplinary approaches to research and learning through the participation of researchers from McGill and from STRI. Accordingly, each student will have two co-supervisors, one from McGill and one from STRI. Students will complete their research in Latin America, and the NEO's core and complementary courses will be taught in Panama. Participation in the MSE-Panama Symposium presentation in Montreal is also required. Through this educational approach, NEO seeks to facilitate a broader understanding of tropical environmental issues and the development of skills relevant to working in the tropics.

Master of Science (M.Sc.); Biology (Thesis) — Bioinformatics (48 credits)

The goal of the Bioinformatics concentration is to train students to become researchers in the interdisciplinary field of Bioinformatics, which lies at the intersection of biological/medical sciences and mathematics/computer science/engineering. This work includes the development of strategies for experimental design, the construction of tools to analyze datasets, the application of modelling techniques, the creation of tools for manipulating Bioinformatics data, the integration of biological databases, and the use of algorithms and statistics. The Bioinformatics graduate concentration consists of a number of interdisciplinary courses, as well as a seminar designed to bring students from many backgrounds together and to provide a thorough overview of research in this field. The typical entering student will be affiliated with one of about fourteen different “home” departments in three different faculties, chosen based on his/her specific field of expertise, and will therefore meet the specific requirements for that department. The student will additionally be evaluated according to requirements specific to the Bioinformatics concentration. Students in this concentration will have access to five specialized courses that are open only to students within the Bioinformatics concentration. At the M.Sc. level, students successfully completing the Bioinformatics concentration will be fluent in the concepts, language, approaches, and limitations of the field.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.); Biology

The typical graduate student in this program has a strong background knowledge in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, organismal biology, ecology, developmental biology, and statistics, often with special strengths in the area of proposed study. Given the continuing trend toward interdisciplinary work, the program also accepts some students with a high scholastic standing who have completed a program in fields other than biology (medicine, engineering, chemistry, physics, etc.). Admission is based on an evaluation by the applicant’s potential supervisor, who is the faculty member who will provide supervision and financial support for the student’s research, and by the Biology Graduate Training Committee. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact faculty members with whom they wish to study before applying for admission.

Alumni have gone on to pursue a wide range of careers. Many go on to pursue postdoctoral research and later assume faculty positions, while others work as researchers in industry, wildlife biologists, forensic technologists, or science policy advisers, to name a few.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.); Biology — Environment

The Environment graduate concentration offers students the opportunity to pursue environment-focused graduate research in the context of a range of different fields, including Anthropology, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Biology, Bioresource Engineering, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Entomology, Epidemiology, Experimental Medicine, Geography, Law, Microbiology, Plant Science, Parasitology, Philosophy, Renewable Resources, and Sociology. Through a program consisting of research, seminars, and two courses, this concentration adds a layer of interdisciplinarity that challenges students to develop and defend their research and think in a broader context. Students graduating from the M.Sc. or Ph.D. program under the Environment concentration will therefore be able to understand and critically analyze an environmental problem from several perspectives (e.g., social, cultural, scientific, technological, ethical, economic, political, legislative) and at a local, national, regional, and/or international scale. In addition, they will be able to explore and critically assess analytic and institutional approaches for alleviating the selected environmental problem, and to effectively communicate research findings to both specialist and lay audiences. Coordinated and administered through the McGill School of Environment (MSE), the Environment concentration is aimed at students who wish to use interdisciplinary approaches in their graduate research on environmental issues and who wish to benefit from interactions that will occur as they interact with students from a wide range of different disciplines. This concentration is available in: Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (Bioresource Engineering, Entomology, Microbiology, Plant Science, Parasitology, Renewable Resources), Arts (Anthropology, Geography, Philosophy, Sociology), Law, Medicine (Epidemiology and Experimental Medicine), and Science (Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Biology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geography).

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.); Biology — Neotropical Environment

The McGill-Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Neotropical Environment Option (NEO) is a research-based concentration for M.Sc. or Ph.D. students in the departments of Anthropology, Biology, Bioresource Engineering, Geography, Natural Resource Sciences, Plant Science, and Political Science at McGill University. The NEO is aimed at students who wish to focus their graduate research on environmental issues relevant to the Neotropics and Latin American countries. The typical NEO student has a very strong interest in conservation because NEO courses focus on conservation issues. Students in the program have diverse backgrounds, including both Latin American and Canadian students, and must either speak Spanish or enrol in a Spanish course when they enter the program.

NEO favours interdisciplinary approaches to research and learning through the participation of researchers from McGill and from STRI. Accordingly, each student will have two co-supervisors, one from McGill and one from STRI. Students will complete their research in Latin America, and the NEO's core and complementary courses will be taught in Panama. Through this educational approach, NEO seeks to facilitate a broader understanding of tropical environmental issues and the development of skills relevant to working in the tropics.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.); Biology — Bioinformatics

The goal of the Bioinformatics concentration is to train students to become researchers in the interdisciplinary field of Bioinformatics, which lies at the intersection of biological/medical sciences and mathematics/computer science/engineering. This work includes the development of strategies for experimental design, the construction of tools to analyze datasets, the application of modelling techniques, the creation of tools for manipulating Bioinformatics data, the integration of biological databases and the use of algorithms and statistics.

The Bioinformatics graduate concentration consists of a number of interdisciplinary courses, as well as a seminar designed to bring students from many backgrounds together and to provide a thorough overview of research in this field. The typical entering student will be affiliated with one of about fourteen different “home” departments in three different faculties, chosen based on his/her specific field of expertise, and will therefore meet the specific requirements for that department. The student will additionally be evaluated according to requirements specific to the Bioinformatics concentration. Students in this concentration will have access to five specialized courses that are open only to students within the Bioinformatics concentration. At the Ph.D. level students will be fluent in the concepts, language, approaches, and limitations of the field and will also have the capability of developing an independent bioinformatics research program.

Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2014-2015 (last updated Jul. 28, 2014).

Biology Admission Requirements and Application Procedures

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a B.Sc. in a discipline relevant to the proposed field of study with an overall cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.0/4.0 or a CGPA of 3.2/4.0 for the last two full-time academic years. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required, but may be submitted. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of applicants to graduate studies whose mother tongue is not English, and who have not completed an undergraduate or graduate degree from a recognized foreign institution where English is the language of instruction or from a recognized Canadian institution (anglophone or francophone). A score of 550 on the paper-based TOEFL or 86 on the Internet-based test with each component score not less than 20 or 6.5 on IELTS is the minimum standard for admission. Specific programs may have additional requirements.

Admission is based on an evaluation by the Graduate Training Committee and on acceptance by a research director who can provide adequate funding for personal and research expenses. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact staff members with whom they wish to study before applying for admission.

Application Procedures

McGill’s online application form for graduate program candidates is available at www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply. All applicants should read the academic faculty and admission procedure sections on the Biology Department website before completing the application form. These guidelines contain specific information on the application process, summaries of the research areas of staff, and contact information.

See Application Procedures for detailed application procedures.

Additional Requirements

The items and clarifications below are additional requirements set by this department:
  • Acceptance by a research director who can provide adequate funding for personal and research expenses

Application Deadlines

The application deadlines listed here are set by the Biology Department and may be revised at any time. Applicants must verify all deadlines and documentation requirements well in advance on the appropriate McGill departmental website; please consult the list at www.mcgill.ca/gps/contact/graduate-program.

Canadian International Special/Exchange/Visiting
Fall: March 15 Fall: Jan. 15 Fall: Same as Canadian/International
Winter: Oct. 15 Winter: Aug. 15 Winter: Same as Canadian/International
Summer: N/A Summer: N/A Summer: N/A

Admission to graduate studies is competitive; accordingly, late and/or incomplete applications are considered only as time and space permit. All inquiries pertaining to admission procedures should be directed to the Graduate Admissions Secretary.

Note: Applications for Summer term admission will not be considered.
Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2014-2015 (last updated Jul. 22, 2014).

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