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M.Sc. (Thesis) 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 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 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-semester courses). Students must complete the courses HGEN 662, HGEN 680, HGEN 681, HGEN 682 (Lab techniques, and M.Sc. Research 1, 2, 3) and HGEN692 Human Genetics. Students must also complete 2 additional, 3 credit Graduate courses to complete their requirements. For graduate students, the minimum acceptable grade in required courses is B- and students are required to have a B CGPA (3.0) overall in order to graduate.

The following is the typical course of study for an M.Sc. student over two years (four academic terms).

Year 1, Term 1

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
HGEN 692 Human Genetics (Required Course)
HGEN 662 Laboratory Techniques
HGEN 680 M.Sc. Research 1

Year 1, Term 2

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
HGEN 681 M.Sc. Research 2
Varies Course work, 500+ level

Year 2, Term 3

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
HGEN 682 M.Sc. Research 3
Varies Course work, 500+ level

Year 2, Term 4

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
N/A M.Sc. Seminar*
N/A M.Sc. Thesis Submission**

Supervisory Committee

Students are required to schedule a Supervisory Committee (SC) meeting at least once a year and complete the Annual Student Progress Reports. For details, please consult the Supervisor Committee section of this document.

*M.Sc. Seminar

All M.Sc. students must give a public seminar of their thesis research as a requirement for graduation.

The date of the seminar should be established at the final SC meeting before the student begins to write their thesis. This will allow SC members sufficient time and opportunity to make themselves available to attend the seminar. The proposed date should be noted on the Annual Progress Reports.

The supervisor must confirm with the Graduate Program Coordinator (by email) at least 3 months before the thesis is to be submitted that the seminar has taken place.

The seminar may take one of three formats:

  1. At a research institute sponsored research seminars,
  2. At the Department of Human Genetics “Research Day”, or
  3. The student’s final supervisory committee meeting could be made public to provide a venue for such a presentation. Indeed, priority in scheduling students for these events will be given to those students who must fulfill the requirement for a research seminar prior to graduation.

Should students choose option 3, they must confirm the date and time of the seminar with the Graduate Program Coordinator at least two months in advance so there can be sufficient publication of the event.

**Thesis Submission

Please see the Thesis Submission Section for full details.

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. Degree

A Ph.D. in Human Genetics is awarded for demonstration of original scientific work and is judged, in part, on the originality of its contribution to scientific knowledge. The Ph.D. thesis usually requires 4-5 years for completion and acceptability of research results for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals is a must. The first step in the development of the Ph.D. thesis is the submission of a proposal. The proposal is presented within 12-15 months of the student enrolling in the Ph.D. program (or before transferring from a M.Sc. program to a Ph.D. program in the case of fast-track students). The proposal becomes the basis for a Qualifying Examination in which a committee of faculty members conducts an oral questioning of the student's knowledge in the area of the proposal and determines whether the student has the ability to proceed toward the degree.

In the final year of the Ph.D. program the candidate is required to present a Ph.D. seminar to the department. After submission, the thesis is evaluated by the supervisor, an internal examiner (within McGill) and an external examiner (outside of McGill). If the thesis is given a passing grade, a thesis oral defence committee is convened and the candidate presents and defends his/her work for approval. For more information, please consult the “thesis submission section”.

In addition to thesis work, students enrolled in the Ph.D. program are required to successfully complete HGEN692. This 3-credit course may count towards the minimum requirements of 18 credits (6 one-semester courses) or 9 credits (entering Ph.D. after completing a Master’s degree, 3 one-semester courses) for the Ph.D. program at the 500 level or higher.

The following is the typical course of study for a Ph.D. student:

Year 1, Term 1

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
HGEN 692 Human Genetics (Required Course)

Year 1, Term 2

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
Varies Course work, 500+ level

Year 2, Term 3

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
HGEN 701 Ph.D. Qualifying Exam
Varies Course work, 500+ level

*** If a student enters as a Ph.D. 1, he/she is required to complete 3 additional one-semester courses in order to complete the program. These courses are normally complete within the first three years of study (residency).

Final Year

Course Code Title
REGN RCGR Registration Confirmation Course
Ph.D. Seminar Minimum 3-months prior to submission
Ph.D. Thesis Initial Submission
Ph.D. Oral Defence 2 Months after initial submission
Ph.D. Thesis Final Submission Shortly after the Oral Defence

ALL PHD STUDENTS are required to add the REGN RCGR courses in Fall and Winter terms in every year they spend in full-time studies.

If a student plans to submit his/her thesis in August, they should add the REGN RCGR courses for the following Fall/Winter semesters. By adding them in advance, you will avoid paying late registration fees should your thesis submission be delayed for any reason, whereas if you do not register until the end of August, late registration fees will apply. GPSO will cancel your registration and reverse the fees when you make your initial submission.

Supervisory Committee

Students are required to schedule a Supervisory Committee (SC) meeting at least once a year and complete the Annual Student Progress Reports. For details, please consult the Supervisor Committee section of this document.

Ph.D. Seminar

All Ph.D. students must present a research seminar towards the end of their studies. This must be completed at least 3 months prior to the anticipated date of the thesis submission.

The seminar has two main purposes: (a) to help students solidify their aims, data and interpretations before a friendly, informed audience prior to submitting their thesis, and as a preparatory exercise for their Ph.D. Oral Defense, and (b) to keep the community, especially other graduate students, aware of the current research being conducted in the Department. This seminar is not an exam. Nevertheless, it is a degree requirement and a grade of “incomplete” will be recorded on the student’s transcript until it is delivered.

  1. The student’s supervisor must attend the seminar and introduce the student to the audience.
  2. The student’s SC members are very strongly encouraged to attend.
  3. It is the student’s responsibility to ascertain possible dates for the seminar and confirm the scheduling with the Graduate Program Coordinator at least one month in advance of the date.
  4. The department will not allow students to make their initial submission unless their Ph.D. seminar has been held.

The Ph.D. Seminar should be scheduled as part of the seminar series offered by the Department and widely advertised. Graduate students are expected to attend all Ph.D. seminars, as part of their academic development and as a courtesy to fellow graduate students. Presentations should be comprehensible to geneticists in specialties other than their own.

Human Genetics – Bioinformatics Option

The Department of Human Genetics offers a Bioinformatics Option (for both M.Sc. and Ph.D. students) which can be added after one term of residency, and must be added at least 1 year before graduation.

The following courses are required for completion of the Bioinformatics Option:

Required courses (6 credits)

COMP 616D1/D2 (3)
HGEN 692 (3)
HGEN 701 (0) (Ph.D. Students only)

Complementary courses (6 credits*)

6 credits (2 courses) from the following courses:
BINF 621, BMDE 652, BTEC 555, COMP 618, PHGY 603

* Note: Students who enter in Ph.D. 1 will need to take an additional 6 credits of complementary courses chosen from the departmental offerings listed for the Ph.D. in human Genetics and/or from among 500-, 600-, or 700-level courses in the Faculties of Medicine or Science

Further information regarding the Bioinformatics Option can be found at:

http://www.mcgill.ca/mcb/academic/graduate/