Updated: Mon, 07/22/2024 - 15:29

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Graduate Research Trainee


If you are enrolled in a graduate program at another university and would like to attend McGill for a limited period of time (up to a maximum of 12 months) to conduct research only, you must apply as a Graduate Research Trainee. This category of registration is for students registered in a graduate program at their home university to conduct PART of their thesis research at McGill under the supervision of a McGill professor.

Please note: Extensions beyond 12 months are not granted.

If you are an international student planning to attend McGill as a graduate research trainee, you will need to obtain valid immigration documents. Please refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for details on the process for employers hiring foreign nationals who are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This includes graduate research trainees. Employers must submit an offer of employment online through the Employer Portal and pay a compliance fee before the work permit application is submitted. Ensure that that the offer of employment and compliance fee payment have been submitted electronically by your academic unit before you submit your work permit application. You will need a copy of the completed form for inclusion with your work permit application.

The purpose of the training period at McGill must be described. Acceptable reasons include:

  • the student is engaged in collaborative projects between professor(s) at McGill and the student’s sponsoring institution;
  • the student wishes to take advantage of specific expertise, academic resources or technical capabilities at McGill to enhance the thesis research being conducted at the sponsoring institution;
  • the student is completing a stage at McGill under a specific Memorandum of Understanding between McGill and the sponsoring Institution;
  • the student’s thesis supervisor has relocated to McGill, but the student remains registered at the former institution to complete his/her graduate degree

Please note: The category of graduate research trainee cannot be used to conduct the majority of a student's thesis research at McGill under the supervision of a McGill professor.


Admissions/registration checklist

1. If you are an international student review the following document:

2. Obtain your letter of invitation/offer from McGill

This letter must be from the McGill supervisor/academic you will pursue your research with, and should include the department name, the dates of your research and any applicable funding arrangements.

  • Note: To expedite the processing of your file, an email version of the Letter of Invitation may be submitted with your application.

3. Obtain your Letter of Permission.

This letter, in PDF format, is signed by a competent authority at your home university (such as the Registrar). The letter of permission must:

  • acknowledge that you are permitted to pursue your research at McGill University
  • give a specific start and end date for the period you are permitted to be at McGill (for example: January 1, 2024 to July 15, 2024)
  • describe the purpose of the training period at McGill (see Eligibility)
  • include the signature of the signing official
  • be on letterhead of your University and should be in PDF format

4. Prepare your transcripts.

  • You will need a copy of your most recent transcript, including the current term, from the university where you are currently enrolled (this need not be official).

5. Complete the Graduate Research Trainee form in the Application Portal and submit your documents. To use the portal, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Create an account in the application portal using your name, email, and birthdate.

  • A temporary PIN will be sent to your email account: retrieve the PIN, enter it in the portal and set a new password. NOTE: Previous McGill students also need to create an account

Step 2 – Start a Graduate Research Trainee application by clicking on Start new application. Next, from the application type picklist select Postdoctoral and Graduate Research Trainee Research and click on create new application.

Step 3 – Complete all the corresponding forms, which include: language of choice, personal and biographical information, Legal status in Canada (requires uploading proof), Graduate Research Trainee requirements (requires uploading documents mentioned above), permission to disclose, applicant census (optional) and agreement, and submit your application.

Review Process

1. Academic Unit

Once you submit your Graduate Research Trainee application in the portal and upload the required documents, your file will be reviewed by your respective McGill academic graduate unit. If your file is complete, it will be recommended for review by the Management of Academic Records, Enrolment Services.

2. Management of Academic Records, Enrolment Services

The Records Unit in Enrolment Services will also review your file and documents in the application portal and validate your eligibility. If you meet the criteria, your McGill trainee record will be created, you will receive an email confirmation and be issued a registration confirmation letter in the Graduate Research Trainee application portal.

3. Academic Unit (for foreign nationals only)

For foreign nationals who require a work permit, upon confirmation of your trainee status at McGill in the Graduate Research Trainee application portal, the academic unit will submit an offer of employment and pay the associated compliance fee using the IRCC Employer Portal.

NOTE: All the above steps must be completed before you come to McGill. Invitations cannot be made retroactively.

CHANGE TO RESEARCH DATES OR CANCELLATIONS: If the period of research, as indicated on your invitation letter or registration confirmation letter from McGill, changes (e.g. start date is delayed) or you are not able to attend, you MUST inform the McGill supervisor and department, and Management of Academic Records by gradresearchtrainee.es [at] mcgill.ca (email), in order for your traineeship to be cancelled or your start date changed. Note: a change in dates also requires a revised letter of permission from your home institution.

Please remember that you must make your own arrangements for health coverage (insurance) for the duration of your visit to McGill. You may be required to provide proof of coverage upon your arrival at McGill.

As a Graduate Research Trainee, you will not be charged any tuition or ancillary fees; however, this means that you will not be a member of any student society and will not be eligible for services provided by Student Services (e.g., Student Health Service, advice on immigration issues, etc.). You will be issued a McGill Student ID card which will give you access to university buildings and labs pertinent to your area of research as well as the libraries. Should you wish to use the athletics facilities you may purchase a membership.


Tax information

McGill University will not issue T2202A forms to Research Trainees, as they are not registered at McGill in an eligible program for the Canadian federal income tax "Education amount". Therefore, any scholarship, fellowship or stipend received while a Research Trainee at McGill may be subject to Canadian federal income tax, unless the trainee is eligible for the "Education amount" through an appropriate student status at their home university during that period. Please consult the relevant Canadian federal income tax guide for further information.


Other categories of research trainees

Undergraduate research trainees: Please refer to the Undergraduate Research Trainee website for application and registration procedures.

Postdoctoral research trainees: Please refer to the Postdoctoral Research website for application and registration procedures.

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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