Biology

Biology

Location

  • Department of Biology
  • Stewart Biological Sciences Building, Room N7/18B
  • 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue
  • Montreal QC H3A 1B1
  • Canada
  • Telephone: 514-398-5478
  • Fax: 514-398-5069
  • Email: ancil.gittens [at] mcgill.ca
  • Website: mcgill.ca/biology

About Biology

The graduate training programs towards M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in the Department of Biology are focused on excellence in research in a diverse range of topics in biology, from molecules to cells, from cells to organisms, and from organisms to ecosystems. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, and so are our trainees and faculty members. McGill Biology graduate students enjoy a rigorous training program with the goal of becoming successful research scientists. Besides doing cutting-edge research, our graduate trainees acquire professional skills, including writing and communication, which are essential for careers inside and outside academia. Graduate students choose a project in one of the department’s three main research focus areas:

In addition to the regular M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs, the Biology Department offers specialized program options in Environment, Neotropical Environment (NEO), and Bioinformatics.

Both the M.Sc. and Ph.D. are research-intensive degrees, and the emphasis in both programs is on developing the intellectual and technical skills necessary for independent research. The main component of both degrees is a thesis presenting the results of this work in the form of a student’s original contribution to scientific knowledge. Formal coursework, usually in the form of literature-based seminar courses, is minimal and typically completed within the first year. To complement their classroom and research training, students regularly attend seminar series and journal clubs, and present their own work annually in a formal seminar.

Graduate trainees in the Department of Biology are actively mentored by experts in their respective fields to reach their ambitious individual professional goals. We are embedded in an outstanding and collaborative research environment with access to state-of-the art infrastructure in the Stewart Biology Building and Bellini Life Science Complex, as well as excellent field facilities in Canada and abroad. Affilitated centres and field stations include:

Graduate students in the Department of Biology receive financial support to cover their living expenses, tuition, and fees. Unless they are supported by external fellowships, which they are encouraged to apply for, graduate students receive a living allowance of at least $16,222* and a full tuition and fees subsidy. Thus, the total minimum support provided ranges from $20,870* for Québec residents to $35,132* for international students (extra amount to cover international tuition). Students are expected to take on teaching assistantships to cover part of their living allowance, typically for 180 h per year. The living allowance is therefore composed of a stipend (non-taxable) and a salary for teaching assistantships (taxable), and it will increase by 1% annually (*2020-2021 figures). Financial support for graduate students from departmental and research sources is assured for 2 years for the M.Sc. program, 5 years for students entering as Ph.D. 1 (students holding a BSc degree), and 4 years for students entering as Ph.D. 2 (students either holding or transferring from a MSc degree).
*: Please note that these allowances are from the 2020-2021 academic year, and are for general consideration only. For updated finacial information, including allowences that pertain to you, please contact the department directly.

Our graduate students are each assigned a Supervisory Committee whose position is to oversee the progress of their research and provide guidance and feedback in support of their studies. Each Supervisory Committee will consist of the research supervisor, who will serve as the chair of the committee, and at least two other faculty members, usually appointed from the Department of Biology.

Master of Science (M.Sc.) Biology (Thesis) (45 credits)

The Master of Science in Biology is a research-focused program that encompasses a diverse range of topics in biology, from molecules and cells to organisms and ecosystems, including development, behaviour and evolution. Research themes include: (1) molecular, cellular and developmental biology, (2) conservation, ecology and evolution, and (3) neurobiology and behaviour. This program allows students considerable flexibility in their choice of research and coursework and encourages cross-disciplinary thinking.

Incoming graduate students will have a strong background in the biological sciences, often with specific strengths in their proposed area of study. To encourage interdisciplinary work, the program may also accept students with a high scholastic standing in fields other than biology (medicine, engineering, chemistry, physics, etc.). Alumni have gone on to pursue a wide range of careers in academia and beyond, including as researchers in industry, wildlife biologists, forensic technologists, or science policy advisors, to name a few.

Master of Science (M.Sc.) Biology (Thesis): Bioinformatics (45 credits)

The goal of the Bioinformatics option is to train students in the interdisciplinary field of Bioinformatics, which lies at the intersection of biological/medical sciences and mathematics/computer science/engineering. This work includes the development of strategies for experimental design, the construction of tools to analyze datasets, the application of modeling techniques, the creation of tools for manipulating Bioinformatics data, the integration of biological databases and the use of algorithms and statistics.

Master of Science (M.Sc.) Biology (Thesis): Environment (45 credits)

The M.Sc. in Biology; Environment option is a research program offered in collaboration with the Bieler School of Environment (BSE). As a complement to the unit’s expertise, the program considers how various dimensions (scientific, social, legal, ethical) interact to define environment and sustainability issues. Students learn to explain and defend their research and thinking in a broader context and understand how knowledge is transferred into action with regard to the environment and sustainability.

Master of Science (M.Sc.) Biology (Thesis): Neotropical Environment (45 credits)

The McGill-Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Neotropical Environment Option is aimed at students who wish to focus their graduate research on environmental issues relevant to the Neotropics and Latin American countries. NEO favors interdisciplinary approaches to research and learning through the participation of researchers from McGill and from STRI. Students will complete their research in Latin America and NEO's core and complementary courses will be taught in Panama. NEO's educational approach seeks to facilitate a broader understanding of tropical environmental issues and the development of skills relevant to working in the tropics.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Biology

The Doctor of Philosophy in Biology is a research-focused program that encompasses a diverse range of topics in biology, from molecules and cells to organisms and ecosystems, including development, behaviour and evolution. Research themes include: (1) molecular, cellular and developmental biology, (2) conservation, ecology and evolution, and (3) neurobiology and behaviour. This program allows students considerable flexibility in their choice of research and coursework and encourages cross-disciplinary thinking.

Incoming graduate students will have a strong background in the biological sciences, often with specific strengths in their proposed area of study. To encourage interdisciplinary work, the program may also accept students with a high scholastic standing in fields other than biology (medicine, engineering, chemistry, physics, etc.). Alumni have gone on to pursue a wide range of careers in academia and beyond, including as researchers in industry, wildlife biologists, forensic technologists, or science policy advisers, to name a few.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Biology: Bioinformatics

The Bioinformatics Option trains students to become researchers in the interdisciplinary field of Bioinformatics, which lies at the intersection of biological/medical sciences and mathematics/computer science/engineering. This work includes the development of strategies for experimental design, the construction of tools to analyze datasets, the application of modelling techniques, the creation of tools for manipulating Bioinformatics data, the integration of biological databases and the use of algorithms and statistics.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Biology: Environment

The Ph.D. in Biology - Environment optionis coordinated by the Bieler School of Environment (BSE) in partnership with the Biology Department, among several other departments. As a complement to the unit's expertise, the program considers how various dimensions (scientific, social, legal, ethical, etc.) interact to define environment and sustainability issues. Students learn to explain and defend their research and thinking in a broader context and understand how knowledge is transferred into action with regard to the environment and sustainability.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Biology: Neotropical Environment

The McGill-STRI Neotropical Environment Option (NEO) is a research-based program in which students work under the supervision of researchers from McGill and/or the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Aimed at students who wish to focus their graduate research on environmental issues relevant to the Neotropics and Latin American countries, the NEO favors interdisciplinary approaches to research and learning through the participation of researchers from McGill and from STRI. Students will complete their research in Latin America, and the NEO's core and complementary courses will be taught in Panama.

Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2021-2022 (last updated Apr. 1, 2021).

Biology Admission Requirements and Application Procedures

Admission Requirements

Admission is based on evaluation by the Graduate Training Committee and on acceptance by a research supervisor who can provide adequate funding for personal and research expenses. Before applying to Graduate Studies in Biology, students should contact professors with whom they wish to study. Research strengths in the Department of Biology include:

  1. Neurobiology and Behaviour
  2. Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  3. Conservation, Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour.

Prospective graduate Biology students must have a Bachelor of Science degree in a discipline relevant to the proposed field of study. In particular, applicants should have adequate background knowledge in cell and molecular biology (or biochemistry), organismal biology, ecology, developmental biology and statistics. Students with high scholastic standing who have completed a program in fields other than biology (medicine, engineering, chemistry, physics, etc.) may be excused from some of the courses normally required for a major in Biology

The minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) is 3.0/4.0, or a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.2/4.0 in the last two years of full-time studies. Students who wish to be fast tracked to Ph.D1 with a B.Sc must have a minimum CGPA of 3.5/4.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of applicants to graduate studies whose mother tongue is not English, and who have not completed an undergraduate or graduate degree from a recognized foreign institution where English is the language of instruction or from a recognized Canadian institution (anglophone or francophone). A score of 86 on the TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) with each component score not less than 20, or 6.5 on IELTS is the minimum standard for admission.

Application Procedures

McGill’s online application form for graduate program candidates is available at mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply. All applicants should read about the academic faculty and admission procedures on the Biology Prospective Graduate Students section of the Biology Department website before completing the application form. These guidelines contain specific information on the application process, required documents, summaries of faculty research areas, and contact information.

See University Regulations & Resources > Graduate > Graduate Admissions and Application Procedures > Application Procedures for detailed application procedures.

Additional Requirements

The items and clarifications below are additional requirements set by this department:

  • Acceptance by a supervisor who can provide adequate funding for personal and research expenses

Application Dates and Deadlines

Application opening dates are set by Enrolment Services in consultation with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS), while application deadlines are set by the Biology Department and may be revised at any time. Applicants must verify all deadlines and documentation requirements well in advance on the appropriate McGill departmental website; please consult the list at mcgill.ca/gps/contact/graduate-program.

  Application Opening Dates Application Deadlines
  All Applicants Non-Canadian citizens (incl. Special, Visiting & Exchange) Canadian citizens/Perm. residents of Canada (incl. Special, Visiting & Exchange) Current McGill Students (any citizenship)
Fall Term: Sept. 15 Jan. 15 March 15 March 15
Winter Term: Feb. 15 Aug. 15 Oct. 15 Oct. 15
Summer Term: N/A N/A N/A N/A

Admission to graduate studies is competitive; accordingly, late and/or incomplete applications are considered only as time and space permit. All inquiries pertaining to admission procedures should be directed to the Graduate Admissions Coordinator, ancil.gittens [at] mcgill.ca (Ancil Gittens).

Note: Applications for Summer term admission will not be considered.
Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2021-2022 (last updated Apr. 1, 2021).
Back to top