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QLS Program

Program Highlights

Research Rotations

In their first year of studies, QLS students rotate through 3 different research groups, allowing them to sample several labs and supervisors. Each rotation lasts 3-4 months. To expand their repertoire, students are strongly encouraged to do rotations in a variety of domains. During this time, they will either undertake a short-term research project, or assist with a longer-term project, and will be expected to work with their rotation groups full time, with the exception of QLS-related activities such as courses or seminars. When possible, the rotations will be selected to be complementary.

Thesis Supervision and Thesis Advisory Committee

At the end of their first year, students choose a thesis supervisor(s) and settle into a research lab for the remainder of their degree. After choosing their supervisor(s), students will establish a Thesis Advisory Committee ensuring that both quantitative and life science disciplines are represented.

Research Seminars

Throughout the academic year, QLS hosts a weekly research seminar, co-organized with CAMBAM, MiCM, and the Ludmer Centre, featuring high-profile guest speakers from diverse quantitative life sciences research domains. QLS students must register for QLSC 601 D1/D2, QLSC 602 D1/D2, and QLSC 603 D1/D2 during their first three years in the program.

Foundations Course

First-Year QLS students take QLSC 600 "Foundations of Quantitative Life Sciences", a two-semester (Fall and Winter), six credit course. This foundational course provides an overview of important problems in the life sciences, and introduces students to the latest computational, mathematical, and statistical approaches involved in their solution. The course includes a survey of modern technologies for biological data acquisition and promotes a common language to communicate across the biological, physical, mathematical, and computational sciences.

Additional Requirements


Students are required to take a minimum of 9 credits of complementary courses, including 3-6 credits of "life science" courses and 3-6 credits of "quantitative" courses. The choice of the complementary courses will be made with input from the student's thesis advisory committee.

Comprehensive Exam

Students are required to pass a comprehensive exam, usually held after approximately two years in the program. The comprehensive exam consists of three components: a written proposal, an oral presentation of the proposal, and an oral examination assessing breadth and depth of knowledge.

Thesis and Oral Defense

All QLS students are expected to follow the thesis guidelines established by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at McGill University. In general, the thesis must demonstrate a mastery of appropriate research as well as contribute original scholarship relating to the area of specialization. An oral examination of the content and implications of the thesis will be held in a public forum to determine the quality of the written thesis and the student’s oral defense of the thesis.

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