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Research Program FAQs

I don’t have much research experience, and have never done a research thesis. Can I still apply to your Ph.D. program?

Yes. Highly motivated students with an excellent academic record and good potential to succeed in research can be admitted directly into our Ph.D. program without any research experience. You would be admitted directly into our Ph.D. program, but you would be required to successfully complete a Qualifying Year involving courses in Communication Sciences and Disorders, statistics, and a research project. Instead of the Ph.D. program taking a minimum of three years to complete, your program would take a minimum of four years with the Qualifying Year option.

I only have a Bachelor’s degree. Can I apply to the Ph.D. program?

Yes. We offer a Qualifying year option in the Ph.D. program for those students who are working in a field related to Communication Sciences and Disorders, but have not successfully completed a graduate-level (Master’s) thesis.

What are the prerequisites of the Ph.D. program?

We accept high-quality students with a Bachelor’s or Master’s level degree (or equivalent) in Communication Sciences and Disorders or in a closely related field (e.g., Psychology, Linguistics, Cognitive Science). Given the inter-disciplinary nature of research in our field, approximately half of our Ph.D. students did their initial training in a field other than Communication Sciences and Disorders. Because students are being admitted with quite different backgrounds, there are no specific course requirements for applying to the Ph.D. program; rather, we look at your entire record to establish that you are well suited to our Ph.D. program.

I have some general ideas about what type of research I would like to do for the Ph.D., but I’m not sure what to focus on or how to apply. What should I do?

The best approach is to look at the research interests of current SCSD faculty to see what interests you, and/or to try to match your general interests with what is currently going on in the School. Then, when you have found potential supervisors who you would like to work with, contact them to discuss your research interests and goals. These discussions should help you to select your research topic and to prepare your research statement/ proposed research program for the Ph.D. application.

Do I need to speak French to conduct my degree at McGill?

No. Formal instruction at McGill is conducted in English, and you do not need to know any French in order to succeed in the Ph.D. program. However, since Montreal is a French-speaking city, if you know some French or wish to learn it, this is likely to enrich your experience while living in Quebec. Also, depending on the population of research participants you will work with, familiarity with French may be an asset or essential.

My first language isn’t English. Do I need to prove my English language proficiency before I can be admitted?

Yes, if you are not Canadian and you have not already completed a university degree at an approved English-language institution, you will have to provide evidence of your English-language proficiency and meet minimum criteria specified by the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office. For precise details see english language proficiency information.

Do I have to contact a potential supervisor before applying to the Ph.D. program?

No, but it is highly recommended that you do this. Irrespective of the quality and potential of the applicant, no student can be admitted to the Ph.D. program unless a faculty member (or members) of the School with the appropriate expertise agree to supervise the applicant’s research program. At times, faculty members with the appropriate expertise to supervise the student’s proposed research program are not available to accept new graduate students when the application is received. Alternatively, when students do not discuss their research ideas with potential supervisors before applying, they sometimes propose research in an area that is not currently being addressed by faculty in the SCSD. To avoid these situations, it is always better to plan ahead and to directly contact professors who are working on research that interests you to discuss your ideas for the Ph.D. Note that having these discussions with a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the program.

How are Ph.D. applicants evaluated?

The quality of each applicant is evaluated on an individual basis by an Admissions committee of the department. The applicant’s academic record, recommendation letters, research and/or clinical experience, and research statement/proposed research program are all carefully inspected to arrive at a conclusion about the applicant’s research potential and suitability to the Ph.D. program. If not pre-established, the Admissions committee must also match the applicant’s research goals with a faculty member who will act as the research supervisor before a recommendation can be made to admit the student.

How long does it take to make a decision about my application?

Typically, you should know whether or not your application was successful within 6-8 weeks following the application deadline.

How long does it usually take to finish the Ph.D. and get my degree?

It takes a minimum of three years to complete the Ph.D. (four years if admitted into the Qualifying Year option). Often, we find that many students take one to two years longer than the minimum residency period to finish their degree; this varies considerably from student to student depending on the type of research you are conducting, the extent to which you are involved in other research and teaching activities while at McGill, and different personal factors.

Can I do the Ph.D. degree part-time?

No. We do not offer a part-time program. All Ph.D. students in the SCSD are working full-time on their research, in order to maximize their future potential to contribute to research and teaching at the highest possible level.

Can I do the Ph.D. program long-distance?

No, at least not during the Ph.D. residency period (which is a minimum of 6 semesters). In addition to attending classes, Ph.D. research training at McGill is based on the “mentoring” model and it is important for you to be physically present at McGill to develop research skills from your supervisor. In addition, there are other important facets to your research training that would be missed if you are not physically present at McGill (e.g., attending research colloquia, lab meetings, etc.).

Once you have completed the residency requirement, it may be possible for some of your research to be completed from a location outside of McGill. This possibility must be discussed and agreed upon by your supervisor and program committee, in the best interests of your research development and progress.

Will I have opportunities to teach during the Ph.D. program?

There is no formal teaching requirement, but whenever possible Ph.D. students are given the opportunity to refine their skills at teaching (typically in the middle or late stages of the Ph.D. program). For example, you may be invited to give guest lectures, or occasionally, to prepare and teach a half or full course in our M.Sc. program in Speech-Language Pathology.

What are some of the advantages of doing my Ph.D. at McGill?

McGill is one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities (many would say the very best!). McGill is frequently ranked as one of the best universities in the world, and we have earned an enviable and long-standing reputation for training some of the world’s best researchers.

In Communication Sciences and Disorders, we established the first Ph.D. program in this field in Canada and have maintained a vibrant research training program which has grown considerably in recent years. All faculty members are active, funded researchers involved in highly visible, national and international research collaborations. Our students benefit not only from research activities taking place in the School, but also as members of the inter-disciplinary Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music CRBLM. Through the School and the CRBLM, there are now impressive facilities available to students to explore different questions in Communication Sciences and Disorders using behavioural, acoustic, and clinical approaches, as well as a variety of neuro-investigative techniques (e.g., EEG, TMS, fMRI).

Plus, Montreal is a fantastic city to live in, and the cost of living is much lower here than in most big cities in North America. See more information about Montreal for more details.

Can I do clinical training in Speech-Language Pathology while completing my Ph.D. degree?

No, these are two different degree programs which must each be completed separately on a full-time basis. If you are interested in attaining clinical competency in Speech-language pathology, you must apply separately to the M.Sc. Applied program.

If I apply, will I be considered for research funding?

Yes, all students are automatically considered for any available funding when they apply. Student funding is determined on a case-by-case basis, considering the quality and individual circumstances of each student, and the availability of funds to the department at the time of application. Ph.D. applicants who apply for the February deadline have the most opportunities to receive funding due to the timing of funding allocations received from the Faculty of Medicine to the School.

Currently, most students are being supported through a combination of external awards, internal (McGill) awards, and research stipends and assistantships offered by the student’s research supervisor. This funding is meant to defray the costs of the student’s education and living expenses during the residency period, allowing them to progress well in their research program; frequently, the student must also share some of the costs of their education. Students should discuss these important issues with their prospective supervisor.

I am an International student. Are there any special funding sources available to help me complete the Ph.D. program?

Yes. All International students admitted to a Ph.D. program at McGill can apply for a McGill Graduate Excellence award (GEF). These awards are competitive and vary in amount. You don't need to apply for this award; if you are admitted you will automatically be considered for a GEF. There are also several additional competitive fellowships that you may be eligible for as an international student see Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Fellowships & Awards for details. (Note: The MIDAS program that was available in previous years is no longer in effect.

I am a Canadian student. How can I fund my Ph.D. research?

In addition to being considered for internal awards when you apply, Canadian students are eligible to receive external funding from the three major research councils (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC). If you are a Quebec resident, you are also eligible to receive funding from the Quebec research councils (FQRNT FQRSC, FRSQ). It is very important to plan ahead—deadlines for these competitions always fall between September and November of the year preceding your expected date of admission to a Ph.D. program. For details and links see the research council websites.

I am interested in gaining research experience in Communication Sciences and Disorders, but I don’t want to do a Ph.D. Are there any other options?

Yes, you can apply to our M.Sc. Research program instead. If admitted, you would do coursework in the department, statistics, and an M.Sc. thesis under the direction of a research supervisor. The duration of this program is 1-2 years. See: M.Sc. Research for details.

Typically, students in our M.Sc. Research program have fewer opportunities to obtain research funding than Ph.D. students; also, if you are an international student, note that you would have to pay the full international tuition fees (in contrast to Ph.D. students who automatically receive the McGill International Doctoral Award).

Will I get a job after I finish my Ph.D.?

Our Ph.D. graduates have been very successful in securing positions in academia as well as industry. There is currently a great need for individuals who hold a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and can assume academic (research/teaching) positions in these departments. Our Ph.D. graduates also routinely take up academic positions in other departments that study communication and its disorders; for example, Psychology, Rehabilitation Sciences, and Applied Language Studies (among others). So, while we can’t be certain what the future will bring for you, the prospects are definitely good!