Program Requirements

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Program Requirements

Master's Degrees

Master's Degrees

Residence Requirements – Master's Degrees

Refers to the number of terms (or years) students must be registered on a full-time basis to complete their program. Students are NOT permitted to graduate until they have fulfilled the residence requirement (or paid the corresponding fees) in their program.

  • The following master's programs have a minimum residence requirement of three full-time terms: M.Arch, M.A., M.Eng., LL.M., M.Mus. (except M.Mus. in Sound Recording), M.Sc., M.S.W., M.Sc.A. (except M.Sc.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders).
  • The following master's programs have a minimum residence requirement of four full-time terms: M.L.I.S.; M.Mus. in Sound Recording; M.U.P.; M.A. (60 credits – Counselling Psychology – thesis; 78 credits – Educational Psychology); M.A. Teaching and Learning – Non-Thesis; M.Sc.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders; S.T.M., Religious Studies.
  • The residence requirement for the master's program in Education (M.Ed.); Library and Information Studies (M.L.I.S.); Management (M.B.A.); Religious Studies (S.T.M.); M.A. Counselling Psychology – Non-Thesis; M.A. Teaching and Learning – Non-Thesis; M.Sc. in Public Health – Non-Thesis; M.Sc.A. Nursing; M.Sc.A. Occupational Therapy; M.Sc.A. Physical Therapy; and students in part-time programs is determined on a per course basis. Residence requirements are fulfilled when students complete all course requirements in their respective programs.
  • For master's programs structured as Course, Project or Non-Thesis options where the program is pursued on a part-time basis, residence requirements are normally fulfilled when students complete all course requirements in their respective programs (minimum 45 credits or a minimum of three full-time terms) and pay the fees accordingly.

These designated periods of residence represent minimum time requirements. There is no guarantee that the work for the degree can be completed in this time. Students must register for such additional terms as are needed to complete the program.

Coursework – Master's Degrees

Program requirements are outlined in the relevant departmental sections of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Programs, Courses and University Regulations publication, available at

The department concerned will examine the student's previous training and then decide which of the available courses in the area of specialization or related fields are required to bring the candidate to the proper level for the master's degree. Due account will be taken of relevant courses passed at any recognized university.

As a rule, no more than one-third of the McGill program formal coursework (not thesis, project, stage, or internship) can be credited with courses from another university.

Non-thesis degrees normally specify the course program which the candidate must follow.

The candidate is required to pass, with a grade of B- or better, all those courses that have been designated by the department as forming a part of the program, including additional requirements.

Students taking courses at another university must obtain a minimum grade of B- (65%) if the course is to be credited toward their McGill degree. In the cases where only a letter grade is used, a B- is the minimum passing grade and no equivalent percentage will be considered. In the cases where only a percentage grade is used, 65% is the minimum passing grade.

If courses were not used for a degree, they could be credited toward a McGill degree, keeping in mind that a maximum of one-third of the coursework (not thesis, project, stage, internship, and practicum) can be credited. If an exemption is granted, it must be replaced by another graduate course at McGill toward the degree. No double counting is ever allowed. This regulation also applies to doctoral programs.

Research and Thesis – Master's Degrees

All candidates for a research degree must present a thesis based on their own research. The total number of credits allotted to the thesis in any master's program must not be less than 24. The title of the thesis and names of examiners must be forwarded on a Nomination of Examiners form, in accordance with the dates on, through the chair of the department concerned at the same time as the thesis is submitted to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. A thesis for the master's degree, while not necessarily requiring an exhaustive review of work in the particular field of study, or a great deal of original scholarship, must show familiarity with previous work in the field and must demonstrate the ability to carry out research and to organize results, all of which must be presented in good literate style. The thesis will not normally exceed 100 pages; in some disciplines, shorter texts are preferred. Guidelines and deadlines are available at

Language Requirements – Master's Degrees

Most master's degree programs do not include language requirements, but candidates who intend to proceed to a doctoral degree should take note of any language requirements and are strongly advised to take the examinations in at least one language while working for the master's degree.

Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral Degrees

Residence Requirements – Doctoral

Refers to the numbers of terms (or years) students must be registered on a full-time basis to complete their program. Students are not permitted to graduate until they have fulfilled the residence requirement (or paid the corresponding fees) in their program.

Candidates entering Ph.D. 1 must follow a program of at least three years' residency at the University; this is a minimum requirement, and there is no guarantee that the work of the degree can be completed in this time, but students are expected to complete within the maximum specified period. Only exceptional candidates holding a bachelor’s degree will be considered for direct admission to Ph.D. 1 level.

It is required that candidates spend the greater part of each summer working on their theses, and those who do not do so are unlikely to complete a satisfactory thesis in the prescribed minimum time (see Vacation Policy for Graduate Students and Postdocs).

A student who has obtained a master's degree at McGill University or at an approved institution, in a relevant subject and is proceeding to a Ph.D. degree will, on the recommendation of the department, be admitted to Ph.D. 2; in this case, the residency requirement for the program is two years.

In the doctoral program, students must be registered on a full-time basis for one more year after completion of the residency (i.e., Ph.D. 4 year) before continuing as Additional Session students until completion of the program.

Note: The master’s degree must have been awarded before initial registration in the doctoral program; otherwise, the admission level will be at Ph.D. 1 and residency will be extended to three years. Once the level of admission is approved, it will not be changed after obtaining the master’s degree if the date falls after registration in the program. If a previous awarded degree is a condition of admission, it must be fulfilled before registration in another program.

As a rule, no more than one-third of the McGill program formal coursework can be credited with courses from another university.

Comprehensive Examinations – Doctoral

A comprehensive examination or its equivalent is usually held near the end of Ph.D. 2. The results of this examination determine whether or not students will be permitted to continue in their programs. The methods adopted for examination and evaluation and the areas to be examined are specified by departmental regulations approved by the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of these details at the commencement of their programs. For more information, see Programs, Courses and University Regulations > University Regulations and Resources > Graduate > Guidelines and Policies > Ph.D. Comprehensives Policy.

Language Requirements – Doctoral

Most graduate departments in the Faculties of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Management, Medicine, and Science do not require a language examination. Students should inquire in their departments if there are any such requirements or whether any other requirements have been substituted for those relating to languages.

Graduate departments in the Faculties of Arts, Music, and Religious Studies usually require proficiency in one or two languages other than English. In all cases, students should consult departmental regulations concerning language requirements.

Language requirements for the Ph.D. degree are met through demonstrated reading knowledge. The usual languages are French, German, or Russian, but in particular instances another language may be necessary.

All language requirements must be fulfilled and the grades reported before submission of the thesis to GPS (Thesis Section).

Students must contact their departments to make arrangements to take the Language Reading Proficiency Examinations. Students may, however, demonstrate competence by a pass standing in two undergraduate language courses taken at McGill (see departmental regulations).

Candidates are advised to discharge their language requirements as early in their program as possible.

Students expecting to enrol in Professional Corporations in the province of Quebec are advised to become fluent in both spoken and written French.

Courses in French language are available at the English and French Language Centre. The teaching is intensive and class sizes are kept small. While undergraduate students are given preference, graduate students who are certain they can devote sufficient time to the work may enrol.

Thesis – Doctoral

The thesis for the Ph.D. degree must display original scholarship expressed in good literate style and must be a distinct contribution to knowledge. Formal notice of a thesis title and names of examiners must be submitted to the Thesis Section of GPS on the Nomination of Examiners form in accordance with the dates on, at the same time as the thesis is submitted. The list of examiners must be approved by the Department Chair, the supervisor and the student. The Thesis Section of GPS should be notified of any subsequent change of title as early as possible. Guidelines and deadlines are available at

Seven copies of the thesis must be provided by the candidate. Of these, two copies will be retained by the University and five copies returned to the candidate. Some departments may require one or more additional copies. The final corrected copy is submitted electronically.

Special regulations for the Ph.D. degree in particular departments are stated in the entries of those departments.

Thesis Oral Examination – Doctoral

After the thesis has been received and approved, a final oral examination is held on the subject of the thesis and subjects intimately related to it. This is conducted in the presence of a Committee of at least five members presided over by a Pro-Dean nominated by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The Chair of the candidate's department and the Thesis Supervisor are regularly invited to be members of the Committee; at least one member of the Committee is appointed from outside the candidate's department. Guidelines are available at

Ad Personam Programs (Thesis Option Only)

Ad Personam Programs (Thesis Option only)

In very rare circumstances, an applicant who wishes to engage in Master's (thesis option only) or Ph.D. studies of an interdisciplinary nature involving joint supervision by two departments, each of which is authorized by the Government of Quebec to offer its own graduate programs, may be admitted to an Ad Personam program. For more information, see and contact the relevant department.

Coursework for Graduate Programs, Diplomas, and Certificates

Coursework for Graduate Programs, Diplomas, and Certificates

Upper-level undergraduate courses (excluding 500 level) may not be considered for degrees, diplomas, and certificates unless they are already listed as required courses in the approved program description. If an upper-level undergraduate course (excluding 500 level) is taken by a graduate student, it must come as a recommendation from the Graduate Program Director in the department. The recommendation must state if the undergraduate course is an additional requirement for the program (must obtain B- or better) or if the course is extra to the program (will be flagged as such on the record and fees will be charged). See document at

English and French language courses offered by the French Language Centre (Faculty of Arts) or the School of Continuing Studies may not be taken for coursework credits toward a graduate program.

All substitutions for coursework in graduate programs, diplomas, and certificates must be approved by GPS.

Courses taken at other institutions to be part of the requirements of a program of studies must be approved by GPS before registration. Double counting is not permitted.

Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2012-2013 (last updated Dec. 20, 2012) (disclaimer)
Desautels Faculty of Management—2012-2013 (last updated Dec. 20, 2012) (disclaimer)
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