Academic Information

Academic Activities

Students are encouraged to participate in a variety of academic activities offered by the Department and by its Divisional affiliates (based in the McGill University teaching hospitals). These include both departmental, and divisional weekly seminar series, journal clubs, discussion groups, being a course grader, being a small group tutorial teacher for undergrad medical students, and more!

Academic Integrity

McGill University and the Graduate Program in Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health demand the highest ethical conduct from our students. It is every student’s responsibility to be aware of the code of conduct and to act according to these ethical principles in all aspects of academic life including research and course work. McGill’s Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures appears in the Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities. PDF files may be downloaded from the McGill Secretariat web site. The document is available in English and French version. Ignorance (not knowing or not understanding) will be no excuse. If you are uncertain, you must meet with your program advisor or program director.

Academic Integrity Tutorial: Effective Fall 2011, it is mandatory for all new students to complete the new on-line academic integrity tutorial on Minerva. New students will be advised of this by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. A reminder will be sent to new students who have not completed this tutorial by mid-October with a warning that a Hold will be placed on their record at the end of November. For new students with this Hold, the hold will automatically be lifted when the student completes the tutorial.

Adding/Dropping Courses

Students who wish to add or drop courses after initial registration must do so by MINERVA.  Please take note of course add or drop deadlines.  You may have to pay late fees if registering late for a course.  If you drop a course after the drop period, you will receive a ‘W’ designation on your transcript indicating that you have withdrawn from the course.


McGill University does not permit auditing.

Course Exemptions

Exemptions may be granted upon review with the course instructor of the syllabus and materials for each completed course.  Exemptions will then require approval from the student’s Program Advisor.  Please contact the Program Advisor for further information.

Grading & Failure Policies


The passing grade for graduate studies is 65% (B-). Most courses in the department are graded according to the following scheme.  Some courses are pass/fail.


Grade Points

Numerical Grade (%)



















How to Calculate Grade Point Average (GPA): ∑ (Course credits x Grade Points) in a period (e.g. one semester) / ∑ (Course credits attempted)

J - Absent

to be recorded for the student who did not write the final examination and had not been granted deferred status, or who did not complete an essential part of the course requirements without a valid reason. This is a failure and is calculated in the TGPA and CGPA as a failure. (Students may appeal the assignment of the grade of J, but circumstances such as appearing at the incorrect time for an examination would not be sufficient reason for this grade to be replaced by a deferral. Students, who have earned sufficient marks to pass the course even though the final examination is not written, may opt to have their grade based on the record to date.)

Departmental Policy on Failure to Write Exams

A student who is absent from a final examination or a mid-term examination with no deferred status i.e., a legitimate medical note, another confirmed reason such as death or major disease in the family, or another similar major valid reason (as approved by GPS), will get a mark of zero for that exam.  The Failure Policy applies if this results in a failure mark for the course.

Failure Policy

Students who have failed a required course may automatically write a supplemental examination, if the departmental policy permits, or retake that course, or substitute an equivalent course.  This must be approved by the Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies Office. For the purposes of this policy, "required course" includes either a course required by the student's program of study, or a course that has been designated by the department for an individual student's program of study. When a student retakes a course, he/she is required to pay the fee charged for the course in question. Students with any further failures in that course, including the supplemental, or a failure in any other course, will be required to withdraw from their program of study. Ph.D. students and Master's students in thesis programs can also be required to withdraw from their program of study for documented lack of performance in research. The Failure Policy does not pertain to the failure of comprehensive examinations, doctoral oral defenses, or thesis failures. In the case of a failed thesis or oral defense, the Thesis Failure Policy applies. In the case of a failed comprehensive examination, the Ph.D. Comprehensives Policy applies.

Travel Registry

Registering the details of your trip is a mandatory requirement for every student traveling outside the Greater Montreal Area on university-related activities. The Greater Montreal Area includes the communities within Montreal, Laval, Longueuil, The North Shore and South Shore. To register, you must know your McGill ID, travel dates, destination, host institution name and host-location contact person’s name, and personal emergency contact information.

You are required to fill out a separate travel registry for each trip that you take. If your university-related trip involves activities in more than one country, you must fill out a separate registration for each trip. If you are unable to use the McGill Student Travel Registry app due to technical reasons, contact McGill Abroad at safetyabroad [at] with the details of your trip no later than 3 weeks before your departure. For additional information please see

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence may be granted by the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for maternity or parenting reasons or for health reasons (see Leave of Absence Status). Such a leave must be requested on a term-by term basis and may be granted for a period of up to 52 weeks. Students must make a request for such a leave by completing the web form and submitting a medical certificate. The department shall forward the request to the GPS. Students who have been granted such a leave will have to register for the term(s) in question and their registration will show as "leave of absence" on their record. No tuition fees will be charged for the duration of the authorized leave. Supervisors are not obligated to remunerate students on leave.


Attendance is mandatory for all new students. Returning students are welcome to attend. During this session you will choose your courses in consultation with your advisor. Once you have decided your course schedule, you must register on-line via MINERVA at the following website: You will need your 9-digit student ID number and your PIN.  The first time you log on to MINERVA your PIN is your birthday (YYYYMMDD).  Make sure to update your personal contact information in Minerva.

Research Environments

All first-year Ph.D. students are assigned a desk at Purvis Hall.  After the first year, students and their supervisors make arrangements for thesis research closer to the supervisor’s place of work.  This may be in one of several off-campus sites, such as a hospital or a research institute.

Research Ethics

( On-Line Interactive TCPS-Tutorial
All students, postdocs and their supervisors should use this on-line tutorial on Research Ethics that was released by the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE), a multidisciplinary body mandated by the three granting agencies to further develop the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS). 

This tutorial is a voluntary independent learning tool covering the first five chapters of the TCPS. It includes case studies, progress checks and a printable certificate of completion. The Tutorial is the only one of its kind in Canada in regards to research ethics involving humans and is offered in both French and English.

This tool will facilitate the use, interpretation and implementation of TCPS for researchers, students, members of Research Ethics Boards, administrators, research participants and the general public.


The Department holds weekly Epidemiology and Biostatistics seminars. The Epidemiology Seminars take place on Mondays from 4pm to 5pm, and the Biostatistics Seminars on Wednesdays from 3:30pm to 4:30 pm. The listing and location of up-coming Departmental seminars is available on the Seminars page; weekly email notifications will also be sent to all students. See EBOH seminar attendance policy.

Seminars at the various research units affiliated with the department and at other McGill departments are advertised in the McGill Reporter or McGill Events on the main McGill website.  Grand rounds are often given at affiliated and non-affiliated McGill hospitals.   Students should consult the websites of the research units appropriate hospital departments to enquire about specific times of seminars.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

All students are encouraged to read The Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook compiled by the Dean of Students’ Office and the Secretariat. The handbook is a compendium of regulations and policies governing student rights and responsibilities at McGill University and includes topics such as the Code of Student Conduct, Grievance Procedures, Research Ethics, Plagiarism, Cheating, Conflicts of Interest, among others.

For further information on any policy, or if you need advice, contact the Office of the Dean of Student in the William and Mary Brown Student Services Building, 3600 McTavish Street, Suite 4100. Phone: 514-398-4990. deanofstudents [at] (Email).

Other useful contact:

McGill Legal Information Clinic: 514-398-6792

Ombudsperson: 514-398-7059

Harassment, Sexual Harassment & Discrimination

Summer Courses

The Department offers courses during the summer months of May and June.  This provides health professionals the opportunity to gain familiarity with the principles of epidemiology and biostatistics and it also offers graduate students from McGill and other universities the opportunity to acquire academic credits and thereby accelerate course work during a summer term.

A wide variety of courses are offered from general epidemiology and biostatistics to more specialized topics, such as pharmacoepidemiology and clinical trials.   Course offerings vary each year.  Courses may be of one week to one month in duration.  Please refer to the Summer section of the department website.  Information for the upcoming summer is usually posted in January.


Students are initially advised by their Degree Program Advisor.  The Advisor’s role is to counsel the student about his/her academic program and also to mentor the student.  The relationship between the Advisor and the student can last for the student’s entire academic program although, once a supervisor has been approved, the supervisor normally takes on the primary mentorship role. Students are encouraged to speak with different professors and with other students, and to peruse the websites of potential supervisors, in their search for a supervisor.

Thesis Supervisor Nomination/Letter of Understanding Form [.docx]

M.Sc. students are expected to identify a supervisor by no later than 15 February of their first year of study.

Ph.D. students are expected to identify a supervisor by no later than 15 February of their first year of study.

Ph.D. and M.Sc. students are supervised by a thesis supervisor and thesis supervisory committee as described in section “Thesis Information”.  Meetings with all members of thesis supervisory committees are recommended as frequently as necessary to ensure efficient progress of the thesis research.  A minimum of twice a year is generally considered to be the norm.


Time Limitation

Candidates for Master's degrees must complete the degree within three years of initial registration; although it is expected that most candidates will complete within 24 months.  If the degree is pursued on a less than full-time basis, it must be completed within five years of initial registration.  Doctoral candidates have until the end of Ph.D. 7 to submit their thesis; although it is expected that most candidates will submit within 48 to 60 months.  As per University policy, no extension will be granted.

Transfer Credits

Students who wish to take a course at another university for credit towards their degree in our Department should first obtain approval from their supervisor and submit it to the Student Affairs Office (SAO) who will in turn seek approval from the program advisor/director.  Once approval is obtained, the SAO will follow up with the student regarding the registration process. Note that a maximum of one-third of required credits (excluding thesis or project) may be completed at another institution.


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