Research Project / Tracking

The second year of the program is normally devoted to an individual research project (MDPH690), leading to the M.Sc. thesis. The procedure for selecting a project is for the student to discuss possible projects with potential supervisors on a one-to-one basis during the second (winter) term of the first year. It is recommended that students have 3 or 4 such discussions before reaching a decision. Each instructor has the authority to accept or refuse any given student and projects are allotted on a "first-come/first served" basis. However, no firm arrangement should be reached before the mid-term break in the winter term, so that every student has a fair chance to become acquainted with the available projects. Once a firm arrangement has been reached, after the mid-term break, the project should be "registered" with the MPU office.


Research projects nominally commence in September at the beginning of the second academic year. However, a student may opt to begin his/her project in the summer term prior to the second year. This option is in fact encouraged, particularly if appropriate financial arrangements can be made. However, students should understand that there is no obligation to start the project early, if they have other commitments in the summer months. The student should aim to finish the experimental portion of the research project by the end of August of the second academic year. Extensions have to be arranged with the supervisor and entail a registration for the fifth semester. Extensions beyond the sixth semester will normally not be granted.

Progress Tracking

McGill requires annual tracking of doctoral students' progress toward the degree. Units may also use the Form for Master’s students in thesis and non-thesis research programs. Regulation on Graduate Student Research Progress Tracking, also the fillable .pdf tracking form itself, can be found at:


The right to a research project does not apply to a student who has not completed all requirements for one or more of the four "core" courses and obtained the necessary pass marks. A first-year student in this position may nevertheless go through the process of selecting a project. However, no firm agreement may be reached between the supervisor and the student, i.e., the project cannot be registered until the case has been referred to the Program Director who will submit it to the Graduate Committee. Only after the Graduate Committee has given its approval may the student begin the project. Moreover, the student should be aware of the fact that failure to abide by the "16 months rule", stated in the Course Completion section, may involve withdrawal from the program even though he/she is already undertaking a research project.

Financial Support

The "firm arrangement" between the project supervisor and the student will often include a financial provision, i.e., an emolument for the student as a Research Assistant, but the amount (if any) and duration of such financial support will vary from case to case. Students are therefore advised to discuss this aspect of the project with prospective supervisors before committing themselves. Students with government fellowships should not expect to get extra support from their supervisor. Students applying for government support from NSERC, MRC, FRSQ or FCAR should have a GPA of 3.5 or more in the 12 first year courses to secure the support of their application by the Medical Physics Unit. Potential students with GPA of above 3.5 in their undergraduate physics studies are encouraged to seek financial support from government agencies before or during their application to the M.Sc. program. If their application for a government grant is successfull they will have support for both years of M.Sc. studies and will also have an easier time finding a thesis project and supervisor of their choice.

Right to Research Project

Every student, who has obtained the 27 credits for the first-year courses, has the right to an individual research project. Any student who, having secured the 27 course credits, nevertheless has difficulty in making arrangements for a project, should report this fact to the Program Director who will then assist the student in obtaining a suitable project. This right to a project does not extend automatically to a student who has not yet obtained 27 credits. However, in practice, it will be assumed that a first-year student who has passed the three "core" courses in the first term, will eventually obtain the full 27 credits and the "right" to a project might therefore be extended to such students.

Back to top