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Graduate Studies – How to Apply

Each year approximately 25 new students enter the M.Sc. or Ph.D. programmes in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. These students typically represent a very diverse group, coming from all parts of Canada and from many different countries around the world. The total number of physics graduate students is currently about 100. The total time required to go from the B.Sc. to the Ph.D. is usually between four and six years.

Entrance Requirements

The minimum requirement for admission to the M.Sc. programmes is an Honours B.Sc. degree in Physics or Engineering Physics with at least a B+ average in the final year, although the applicants who are accepted typically have an average of A- or higher. Applicants with an Honours B.Sc. in other science disciplines will be considered for admission if they have received a good grounding in physics. Students wishing to study astrophysics need not have undergraduate training in astronomy or astrophysics. Since instruction is in English, foreign students whose first language is not English must take the TOEFL (iBT) and achieve a score of at least 92 (580 on the written version or 237 on the computer version). Admission to the Ph.D. programme generally requires completion of an M.Sc. degree in Physics with at least a B+ standing. However, students who wish to proceed to Ph.D. studies without completing the M.Sc. may apply to transfer after their M.Sc. coursework is complete. They must have an A- average in their M.Sc. graduate course work at McMaster and show clear evidence of research ability. If the transfer application is successful, then all of the graduate work completed up to that time may be applied directly to the Ph.D.

Degree Requirements

Two full-time M.Sc. programmes in Physics and Astronomy are available which differ in their emphasis on research. In the thesis programme, which is the most common choice, a student must satisfactorily complete at least two full graduate courses (four half-courses) and submit and defend an M.Sc. thesis embodying the results of original research. Students typically spend between 12 and 24 months in this programme. The thesis programme should be chosen by those wishing to proceed to a Ph.D. either by completion of the M.Sc. or by the transfer option described above.

For the coursework programme, three full graduate courses (six half-courses) must be completed as well as a project report, which is shorter and less formal than a thesis. This option usually takes 12 months and is often chosen by those intending to qualify as science teachers at secondary schools.

The main objective of the Ph.D. programme is that the student must learn the skills and techniques required to produce original research of a high quality that is published in peer-reviewed international physics journals. In addition, the student must complete a minimum of two graduate half-courses beyond those required for the M.Sc. All Ph.D. candidates must have successfully completed at least two out of the four half-courses in the “core curriculum”, which consists of Quantum Mechanics I and II (Physics *739 and *740), Statistical Mechanics (Physics *750), and Advanced Classical Electrodynamics (Physics *746). Typically, these courses are taken in the first year of the M.Sc. programme. All Ph.D. candidates must also pass an oral Comprehensive Examination in the first or second year of their Ph.D. studies.

Click here for application procedures and additional information.

School of Graduate Studies Calendar

Additional Information For The Department Of Physics And Astronomy

  • While full financial support is guaranteed for all admitted graduate students, international applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their application materials by February 1st, in order to be considered for internal scholarships.
  • We have no formal due date for applications for domestic students. However, offers are made on a first-come, first-served basis as soon as we have a complete application. As all our students are fully funded, we can only make offers while we still have funding available. Typically the first offers go out before Christmas, and the last offers are sent in late spring.
  • We strongly encourage all Canadian citizens/permanent residents who are potential MSc students to apply for the NSERC CGS-M scholarship (application deadline December 1). Most of our internal scholarships at the MSc level are dependent on receiving a CGS-M application.
  • In your statement of interest, please include a CV, or include information on any previous research, teaching or work experience.
  • Applications must be submitted online, including copies of transcripts and letters of reference.
  • For interest in joining a specific research group, contact the faculty member directly and inquire if they are planning on taking on any new students. They will gladly provide you with more information about their research and potential positions.

You Will Need The Following Information And Documents When You Apply:

  1. Name and contact for 2 References
  2. Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended (upload)
  3. IELTS or TOEFL test (if required) (upload)
  4. Resume/CV (upload)
  5. Statement of interest (1-2 pages) (upload)

Information Box Group

Graduate Studies General Enquiries

Rosemary McNeice

Graduate Administration


Phone: (905)525-9149 Ext. 24558

Associate Chair

Dr. Laura Parker


Phone: (905)525-9140 Ext. 27348