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 note that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has implemented a new 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.



Students applying to be a graduate research trainee

  • must be registered in a graduate degree program at another university
  • must have permission from the sponsoring institution and include a letter of permission with the application
  • must have the approval of a McGill professor and graduate program to supervise the research
  • may apply for a start date throughout the academic year
    • A trainee may spend up to a total of 12 months at McGill, but the time does not have to be consecutive. The trainee can therefore apply for multiple stages as long as the cumulative time spent as trainee at McGill does not exceed 12 months. 
  • must include copies of transcripts (as part of the application package)
    • transcripts issued in languages other than English or French must be accompanied by a translation to English or French
  • must demonstrate adequate proficiency in English to function in the university environment, including any required safety training and understanding of policies and procedures
    • Assessment of written and verbal language skills is the responsibility of the supervising professor
  • must arrange for basic health insurance coverage prior to arrival at McGill and may be required to provide proof of coverage
  • are not charged fees for any term of registration including summer terms
  • are not charged any Student Services or Ancillary fees and thus do not have access to these services (including health insurance)
    • Trainees have access to McGill libraries, email, and required training in research ethics and safety
    • Membership to Athletics Services may be purchased
    • may not register for courses at McGill

Admissions/registration checklist

1. Complete the Graduate Research Trainee registration form.

2.  Obtain your Letter of Permission.

Obtain a letter of permission 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, 2015 to July 15, 2015)
  • describe the purpose of the training period at McGill (see Eligibility)
  • be an original, bearing the signature of the signing official
  • be on letterhead of your University
    • Note:  To expedite the processing of your file, an email version of the Letter of Permission will be accepted as a placeholder.  However, the original must be submitted upon your arrival for completion of your file.

3.  Prepare your transcripts.

  • Enclose copies of transcripts from the university where you are currently enrolled (these need not be official).

4.  Submit your documents.

  • Submit the completed registration form and supporting documents to the academic unit where you wish to pursue your research.

Review Process

1. ​Academic Unit

Once your file is complete (i.e., all required documents received by McGill academic unit), it will be reviewed and forwarded to the Management of Academic Records, Enrolment Services.

2. Management of Academic Records, Enrolment Services

The Management of Academic Records, Enrolment Services will review your documents, create your McGill trainee record, and send you a formal invitation letter.

3. Academic Unit (for foreign nationals only)

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

NOTE1: All the above steps must be completed before you come to McGill.  Invitations cannot be made retroactively.

NOTE2: If you have received an invitation letter from McGill and are not able to attend or your start date is delayed, you must inform Management of Academic Records by [at] (email), in order for your traineeship to be cancelled or your start date changed.

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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