The transition to a new school (not to mention a new city, province, or country!) can be stressful with many bureaucratic tasks to keep organized. Below we provide a checklist designed to help you keep track of what needs to be done and in approximately what order.
Note, the list below is NOT meant to be completed right away. It will take you from the moment you receive your offer letter until the first month or two of your program to work through everything. Pace yourself, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org for Chemistry; email@example.com for ChemBio) or Supervisor if you have questions. McMaster also has lots of resources to support you in the transition to Mac and we’re happy to point you to these if needed.
Getting Started at McMaster
- Check the website of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) for more information about what to do once you’ve accepted your offer (which duplicates a lot of what we include below).
- Activate your MacID and McMaster email (SGS will send you an email with instructions)
- Lots of offices on campus will be sending your valuable information to help you get settled at a new school so it’s important to activate your email early and check it regularly.
- Have official copies of all required condition clearing documents (listed in your offer letter) sent to the Grad Admin, these can come by email or regular mail but must be sent directly by your institution
- Upload a photo to Mosaic for your student card (which gives you access to the gym, library etc.)
- This card may be sent to the CCB office or you may need to pick it up from the Registrar’s Office – we’ll let you know
- If you did your undergrad degree at McMaster, you can visit the Registrar’s Office to replace an old photo and have a new card printed if you like
- Send the same photo to the Grad Admin for your program for your Working @ McMaster card (which you’ll use to access your lab and other spaces in the building; this is a different card from your student card) – pick this up from the Parking Office once you get the email that it’s ready
- Review the access request webpage and fill out the access request form once you pick up your Working @ McMaster card (you will need to upload proof that you’ve completed required safety training – check with your supervisor about which safety training is required for you and which rooms you need to request access to)
- Let the Grad Admin know if they can put your Working @ McMaster photo on the website or submit a different photo that you prefer to use for the website
- Review registration dates and deadlines (last day to add a class, last day to drop a class, end of on-time registration etc.)
- Register for courses or SGS 700 as soon as possible for the remainder of the academic year (as many terms as possible until the end of August; one, two, or three terms depending on when you start); if you are not taking specific courses in a particular term, enroll in SGS 700 as a placeholder.
- Check the enrolment deadline to ensure you register on time to avoid late fees.
- Note, SGS 700 is not an actual course (there is no course work and no classes to attend), it just lets SGS know that you are registered and doing lab research. If you are not registered for SGS 700 (or other courses), you cannot receive any funding for that term.
- Register for SGS 101 and 201 (online courses on accessibility and research ethics) and complete within one month of your official start date in the program
- Pay your tuition and supplementary fees by the deadline (25th of the first month of the term)
- Review the Chemistry or Chemical Biology website for your degree requirements and their timing
- Find out when you are TAing (this may not be in your first term) and which class(es)
- If you are on the department distribution list, watch out for an email from the TA Coordinator with your assignment (the first version usually goes out sometime in July, with sporadic updates after that)
- If you are not on the mailing list, or you get your McMaster email after July, you can email the relevant Grad Admin to ask about your TA assignment
- Coordinate with the instructor for your course about your expected role in the class; you will fill out an Hours of Work form with them at the beginning of the term to determine how your hours will be allocated
Getting Started in Hamilton/Ontario/Canada
- Apply for a study permit as soon as possible – you cannot come to Canada until your study permit is approved
- Consult McMaster Immigration if you have questions about your specific situation (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Apply for a Social Insurance Number
- You can do this online, by mail, or in person (the latter is usually the fastest)
- Review the required documents you will need to provide
- Once you arrive, email email@example.com (the UHIP office that handles health insurance for international Students) to let them know your specific arrival date in Canada
- Once you arrive, open a Canadian bank account – you cannot get paid unless you have a bank account in Canada
- Apply for OHIP (health insurance) coverage at a Service Ontario location
- check whether there is a waiting period and if supplemental health insurance is required (if your province/territory doesn’t cover you while you wait)
- review required documents before you go
- Check whether you need to apply for any other Ontario documents/ID – driver’s licence, licence plates etc.
- If you are not commuting to campus, look for a place to live – there is a McMaster off-campus student housing website you can consult
- Update your personal information in Mosaic (address, phone number) once you have found a place to live
- Submit personal and banking information to HR so you can get paid (if you don’t separately receive an email about this, you can submit this form to firstname.lastname@example.org – attach your offer letter, too, and let them know that you are a new grad student who needs their banking information entered in to the HR system so you can receive your research scholarship)
- Note that your student fees cover a local Hamilton bus pass; if you start your graduate program in May, you won’t receive (or pay for) a bus pass until September
Getting Started with your Supervisor
Things to talk about:
- What courses if any should I take?
- What specific safety training do I need to do for our lab?
- What parts of ABB do I need to request keycard access to?
- How often should I expect to meet with you individually? How often should I expect to attend group meetings?