Future Students

Which graduate program to attend is a personal choice influenced by many different factors. Beyond the specific project to be undertaken and the relationship with your supervisor, there’s compatibility with the research group and department. The Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology provides wide-reaching opportunities for research in virtually all branches of chemistry, and a highly supportive and collegial research atmosphere. Students are given the opportunity to learn, first hand, how to use advanced characterization equipment within our facilities, providing invaluable training for future careers.

Admission Requirements

chem student in laboratory

The specific requirements for admission into a graduate program at McMaster University are described in the current Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies / General Regulations / Admission Requirements (section 2.1).

Admission into the Chemistry M.Sc. program requires as a minimum of:

  • An Honours Bachelor's degree or an equivalent 4-year university degree in Chemistry, with a B+ (or 9/12) average for Chemistry and other Science courses
  • Excellent letters of recommendation
  • A strong performance in the final year of studies, including good marks in undergraduate research projects.

Admission into the Chemistry Ph.D. program requires as a minimum of:

  • Either an M.Sc. degree in Chemistry (or the equivalent) with a B+ (or 9/12) average
  • Or a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry with at least an A (or 11/12) average
  • Excellent letters of recommendation

Summer research experience will be considered when evaluating an application.

Some additional notes:

  • If English is not your first language, a minimum TOEFL (iBT) score of 92 (580 on the paper-based TOEFL test or 237 on the computer-based TOEFL test) or a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required for admission into the Chemistry program.
  • Prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact potential supervisors directly prior to submitting a formal application, but it is not required.

How To Apply

Most graduate students start in our fall term, beginning September 1. To apply, use the McMaster On-Line University Application System. Please contact us if you have questions about the online application process. For Canadian students coming to McMaster, your application fee may be reimbursed; contact us for details.

Before Applying

We recommend prospective students review faculty members' research interests and contact potential supervisors with a copy of your resume, information on grades from recent degrees, and a statement of your future research interests. This provides you with an opportunity to introduce yourself and helps potential supervisors to determine whether your background and future plans are a good match with their research program. If you are presently in Canada, we can arrange a visit to the Department so you can meet potential supervisors and current graduate students.  For qualified students, most travel and accommodation costs will be covered.

If you do submit your application without contacting a potential supervisor, the Department will try to find a potential supervisor based on your interests.


Our early application deadline for a September 1 start is February 1. If we receive your application by that deadline, you will receive first priority for internal and entrance scholarships. You may also receive an invitation to visit the Department.

We are no longer accepting new applications for admission in September 2021 or January 2022. 

If you are applying for admission in May 2022, applications opened August 30, 2021 and must be submitted by January 1, 2022. You can access the online application here.

If you are applying for admission in September 2022 or later, please refer to the deadlines listed on McMaster's Online Application website.

These due dates are for the initial online application only. Other required documents may need be sent after the due date. Please note that applications will not be accepted past the deadline date, except under special circumstances. Contact us  for more information.

Required Documents:

The following items are required before your application will be considered complete. You may submit unofficial copies with your online application but we may request that official copies of these documents be sent to the department if you are accepted into the program

  1. One official transcript of all academic work completed to date should be sent directly from the issuing institution. An applicant can send the transcript as long as it comes in a sealed envelope issued by the institution. If the final transcript does not show that a completed degree has been conferred, an official copy of your diploma is also required.
  2. Two confidential letters of recommendation from instructors most familiar with your academic work. Please note that McMaster University uses the Electronic Referencing System. By entering the email address of your referee through the online application, the system will automatically send an e-Reference request on your behalf. If, for some reason, you are unable to use the Electronic Referencing System, the Reference form can be downloaded here.
  3. If English is not your native language, an original of your TOEFL or IELTS score in English is required. A minimum TOEFL score of 92 (internet based), 237 (computer based), or 580 (paper based), with a minimum of 20 per band, or a miminum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5, with at least 5.5. in each section, is required.  The GRE General Test is not a required document.
  4. A statement of interest in pursuing graduate studies. (Please include your full name on the statement.)

For details about how to submit required documents once you have been accepted into the program (including circumstances in which it may be acceptable to submit official electronic documents), please refer to McMaster's Conditions of Admission website

Any documents mailed to the Department should be sent to:

Graduate Assistant
McMaster University
Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
1280 Main Street West, ABB 156
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M1

Any documents sent to the Department electronically should be forwaded to chemgrad@mcmaster.ca.

Please contact us if you have questions.


Financial Support

Graduate students accepted into the Chemistry Graduate Program receive or are eligible for financial support. We describe the most common types below. For more detailed information, please contact the Graduate Program Administrator.

Graduate Stipends

All students who are accepted into the graduate program and do not hold a scholarship designed to cover all or part of these costs receive a graduate stipend. For full-time graduate students during a full academic year (September 1 to August 31), this financial support is typically:

  • a Teaching Assistantship ($11,957 for 260 hours as September 2021) and
  • a Research Scholarship ($13,250 for M.Sc. and $14,750 for Ph.D.).
Our graduate stipend is intended to cover the costs of tuition and living expenses. Hamilton boasts a relatively low cost of living and students can expect to live comfortably on their stipend alone.

A foreign student Tuition Bursary ($9,000 for visa students) is available for students studying at the Master’s level to cover the difference in tuition. Visa PhD students pay the same tuition and are compensated in the same way as their domestic counterparts. More information on other sources of funding is available from the School of Graduate Studies.

The total level of this support is reviewed annually to ensure students are paid at a level competitive with other Canadian Chemistry Departments. The time limits for financial support in the M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs are described in the Chemistry Graduate Handbook. A separate application for financial assistance is not required; all applicants are automatically considered for financial support.


Graduate students are encouraged to apply for major scholarships awarded at the national (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council or NSERC) and provincial (Ontario Graduate Scholarships) level. More information about external scholarships is available from the School of Graduate Studies.

The Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology also awards a number of entrance scholarships to qualified incoming students and offers scholarships to in-course students based on their graduate program performance. All incoming students are automatically considered for an entrance scholarship at the time of application. For more information on the awards listed below, please contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Current awards available include:

  • International Excellence Awards
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) Awards (internally allocated)
  • Brian McCarry Graduate Chemistry Scholarship for research with industrial focus
  • Ronald J Gillespie Prize for research in inorganic chemistry
  • Impact Awards for students in Chemistry who have published a high impact research article or communication. Two to three are typically given each year.  Articles selected for this award typically have the recipient as the first author and are published in high-impact peer-reviewed journals
  • Manske-McLean and Brooman Bursaries
  • Ed Hileman Travel Awards to assist with the cost of conferences in North America (value $500)
  • Russell Bell Travel Awards to assist with the cost of conferences outside of North America (range $1000 to $2000)
  • $500 travel awards from the McMaster Graduate Student Association (GSA) (2 deadlines for applications each year, typically in September and May)

  Graduate Tuition and Other Fees

Why McMaster?

Beyond the Department, Hamilton is a great place to start your academic journey.

mcmaster students on campus

Our Campus and Cootes Paradise Marsh

McMaster sits beside Cootes Paradise Nature Santuary with its ample hiking trails. The sanctuary, including Cootes Paradise March, is owned and managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens, the largest botanical garden in Canada. 

Hamilton + McMaster

Hamilton is experiencing a renaissance, growing from its industrial past to a high tech future. McMaster Innovation Park plays a key role hosting start-up companies and incubator space for entrepreneurs. The University is actively working with the City and local community to support this renaissance offering students great opportunity.

A Great Place to Live

Hamilton is a great place to live, with numerous walking, hiking, running and biking trails throughout the city. The Niagara Escarpment, aka “the Mountain”, is surrounded by parkland and boasts dozens of waterfalls and hiking trails. The Royal Botanical Gardens is a world-class botanical centre, with its own numerous gardens and hiking trails. 

Located Nearby

Located half-way between Niagara Falls and Toronto, Hamilton has easy access to both. The Niagara area contains picturesque towns such as Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls. It’s Canada’s premier wine-making region, with numerous well-known wineries and a growing craft brew community. Toronto is Canada’s largest city, providing outstanding night-life that includes clubs, theatre, shopping, cultural events, sports, etc.

International Access

Hamilton has easy access to three airports including Pearson International Airport, Canada’s largest with flights to practically anywhere in the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Applying Students

Do I have to secure a supervisor before applying to the program?

  • No. While we strongly encourage you to reach out to potential supervisors during the application process, you do not have to secure a supervisor in order to apply. Please note, however, that the application will ask you to list potential supervisors based on your research interests.

What GPA is required to apply?

  • For the MSc program, you need 9/12 (B+) in a BSc (or equivalent degree). For the PhD program, you need 9/12 (B+) in an MSc or 11/12 (A) in a BSc.

Can I apply even if my GPA is too low?

  • Yes, but in this case you would have to secure the strong support of a prospective supervisor before you submit your application to be considered for admission into the program.

What are the required English Language Proficiency scores?

  • TOEFL: minimum score of 92 (internet based), 237 (computer based), or 580 (paper based) and a minimum of 20 per band
  • IELTS (Academic): minimum overall score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in each section

Can I apply if my English Language Proficiency Scores are too low?

  • Yes, but in this case you would have to secure the strong support of a prospective supervisor before you submit your application to be considered for admission into the program.

Can the English Language Proficiency requirement be waived?

  • Yes, but only if you have completed a university degree at an institution where the language of instruction is English (we may ask for official documentation to show this).

Is the GRE required?

  • No.

Can I submit GRE test results anyway?

  • Yes.

Can I submit unofficial documents as part of my application?

  • Yes. Scans and unofficial copies are totally fine for the online application. If you are offered admission to the program, we may ask you for official copies as a condition of the offer.

How will I hear whether my application has been accepted or not?

  • McMaster’s online application system will send you an email notification telling you to check your application portal as soon as a decision has been reached.

When should I expect a decision about my application?

  • For September admission, expect to hear from us in March or April. For January admission, expect to hear from us in October or November. For May admission, expect to hear from us in February or March. If you have secured the support of a prospective supervisor before applying, your application will be processed as soon as it is complete, and a decision will be available sooner.

Accepted Students

I’ve been admitted to the program: where do I send my official condition clearing documents?

  • If you are sending them by email, they must be sent directly by your institution (they cannot be sent by you). Please have documents forwarded to chemgrad@mcmaster.ca
  • If you are having them sent by mail, please forward to:

Graduate Assistant
McMaster University
Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
1280 Main Street West, ABB 156
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M1

Do I have to do anything to apply for an Entrance Scholarship?

  • No. All students are automatically considered for an Entrance Scholarship based on the transcripts they submit.

What other scholarships can I apply for?

  • Canadian citizens/permanent residents should plan to apply for the NSERC CGS-M (master’s competition) or CGS-D (doctoral competition) in the Fall whether you are already at McMaster or planning to come to McMaster.
  • If you miss these applications, Canadian citizens/permanent residents (including those who have accepted offers but haven’t started at McMaster yet) can apply for the OGS through the department in the Spring term.
  • There is also an international OGS competition in the Spring (for both enrolled students and those who have accepted offers).
  • You can find more information about scholarships here: https://chemistry.mcmaster.ca/graduate/chemistry/current-students.html#external-scholarships

How do I set up my McMaster email address?

How do I get access to the Chemistry building and labs?

  • Once you know when you will arrive at McMaster, email the Research Laboratory Manager, Darko Ljubic (ljubicd@mcmaster.ca), to request a Working at McMaster card (this is not the same as your student card).

Do I have to apply for the TA positions mentioned in my offer letter?

  • No, if your offer letter includes TA work, you will automatically be assigned a TAship by the TA Coordinator.

How many courses should I sign up to take?        

  • All new students (MSc or PhD) must sign up to take CHEM 700 (offered every September)
  • Beyond this, you should consult with your supervisor about which additional courses to take
  • MSc students should plan to take four additional CHEM courses at the 600- and 700-level (at most one can be 600-level)
  • PhD students should plan to take two additional courses at the 700-level in the first year of their program
  • It is possible to get permission to count courses outside of the CHEM program toward your degree – consult the Grad Admin for information about how to request permission and how these count toward your course requirements
  • For more information about current course offerings: https://chemistry.mcmaster.ca/graduate/chemistry/current-students.html#graduate-courses


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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Chemistry & Chemical Biology