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Thesis Programs ~ Academic Progress

The Department of Human Genetics at McGill was established in 1994. Our department inherited a varied and thriving program of research and teaching in Human Genetics that overgrew the boundaries of other traditional departments in the science and medical faculties. Much of the current research work performed by the faculty of the Department of Human Genetics occurs in laboratories located at university-affiliated hospitals reflecting the understanding that there is much that genetics can contribute to, and learn from, the study of that part of human inheritance and variation presenting as disease. The Department of Human Genetics offers both M.Sc. and Ph.D. thesis programs. Students entering the graduate program following a bachelor's degree may wish to be considered for either degree. A common course, however, is to enroll in the M.Sc. program and transfer to the Ph.D. program providing this option meets the requirements of the student, the supervisor and the graduate training committee of the Department of Human Genetics. Both the M.Sc. and the Ph.D. programs are focused on research training and both culminate in the submission of a thesis. Both programs carry course requirements as well as the expectation that students will participate in research seminars and journal clubs. The Department of Human Genetics also offers a MSc degree in Genetic Counselling (Non-Thesis) at the following link.

PhD Program

A Ph.D. is awarded for demonstration of original scientific work and is judged, in part, by its contribution to scientific knowledge. The Ph.D. thesis usually requires 4-6 years for completion and acceptability of research results for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals is generally expected as a precursor to initial submission. Upon admission to our Ph.D. program, students will spend the first year taking the required graduate course (HGEN 692) and preparing for the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination (QE). The QE must be completed within the first 15 months of study. The student prepares a written proposal, which becomes the basis for a Qualifying Examination in which a committee of faculty members conducts an oral examination of the student's knowledge in the area of the proposal and determines whether the student has the ability to proceed toward the degree. Full details regarding the QE is available on the QE page. In the final year of the Ph.D. program the candidate is required to present a Ph.D. seminar to the department. Upon initial submission, the thesis is evaluated by the supervisor (and co-supervisor if applicable), an internal examiner (within McGill) and an external examiner (outside of McGill). If the evaluation is favourable, a thesis defense committee is convened and the candidate presents a public oral defence of the thesis. Full details regaring the Ph.D. Seminar and Thesis Submission can be found at the following link. In addition to thesis work, the Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 18 credits (6 one-semester courses) or 9 credits (if entering Ph.D. after completing a Master’s degree, 3 one-semester courses) for the Ph.D. program at the 500 level or higher. A minimum grade of 65% and an overall average of B is required.

MSc Program

The M.Sc. thesis is not required to display original scientific work. The thesis will be judged on its demonstration of "technical mastery" and upon presentation of results in an organized, clear and literate style. Theses are graded as "Pass" or "Fail" by the supervisor, one internal (departmental) examiner and one external (outside of the Department of Human Genetics) examiner. Typically, a M.Sc. thesis requires 2-3 years for completion and results in a publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. In addition to the research requirement, the department requires that M.Sc. students' complete 9 credits of course work (3 one-term semester courses). The courses will be chosen by the student and supervisor to conform to the needs of the student's research project as well as to the student's previous training. Courses eligible for the M.Sc. requirement must carry a "500" number or higher. For graduate students a "pass" mark in required courses is 65% and students are required to have a "B" average in all required courses.