McMaster University
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Regulations for the M.Sc. Degree in Chemistry

Course Requirements

The minimum course requirement for the M.Sc. degree is four graduate modules or the equivalent, selected from any of the offered Chemistry modules, 600-level courses (one module credit each), or extra-departmental graduate courses (usually two module credits each). The minimum passing grade for any course is B-.  Students are strongly encouraged to complete a minimum of two prescribed modules within their sub-discipline (see below).  A maximum of one 600-level course may be included in the minimum course requirement. Additional courses beyond the minimum requirement may be recommended by the supervisory committee.


Colloquia and Seminars

All graduate students are expected to attend departmental colloquia and seminars regularly. M.Sc. students will present a departmental colloquium on their own research during Term 4 of their graduate program.


Options for M.Sc. students

1. M.Sc. Degree Option: Students must complete and defend an M.Sc. thesis reporting the results of his or her research within 24 months from entry into the M.Sc. program. The M.Sc. thesis will be examined by a committee of not fewer than three people - usually the student's supervisory committee plus one other faculty member selected by the supervisor. The candidate will defend the thesis at an oral examination normally held about two weeks after the completed thesis has been submitted to the Department. It is the policy of the Department and of the University that no student intending to graduate with an M.Sc. degree will receive financial support beyond 6 terms, or 2 years.

2. M.Sc. to Ph.D. Transfer Option:  Students who have satisfactorily completed the requirements for the M.Sc. degree and have made satisfactory progress in their research are encouraged to apply to the department for transfer to the Ph.D. program, without first satisfying the M.Sc. thesis requirement. Transferring removes the need to write and defend a separate M.Sc. thesis, lets students use their research to date for the Ph.D. thesis, and potentially allows them to graduate with a Ph.D. degree faster.  The transfer must occur within 22 months of starting the M.Sc. degree. The transfer examination involves the submission and defence of a report detailing the student’s research progress and a comprehensive proposal for future research. The transfer exam is designed to ensure that students have the skills to succeed in the Ph.D. program, including a good understanding of the scientific principles of their research and the ability to discuss research in a broader context.

For the transfer, the student is asked to submit a report summarizing research results to date, and outlining plans for your Ph.D. work (see the guidelines below). At the meeting, the student gives a 20-minute summary presentation, and field questions on your research and on related background knowledge. The whole meeting will last no more than 2 hours.

The transfer exam committee will consist of the M.Sc. supervisory committee plus one additional faculty member, and will be chaired by the Transfer Coordinator, usually the Associate Chair. The possible outcomes of the transfer exam are:

1. Transfer approved
2. Transfer approved, with required registration in specified courses, or required readings.
3. Transfer not recommended. The student would then be advised to submit and defend an M.Sc. thesis by the end of term 6. Students may subsequently apply to enter the Ph.D. program.

Approved transfers become effective at the start of the term following the transfer exam.


Guidelines for the preparation of the transfer report:

The transfer report and the transfer exam differ from earlier committee reports and meetings, as their main purpose is to allow the transfer committee to assess the candidate's level of scientific thinking. It is important to structure the report and presentation according to this purpose.

The report should start with a review of the relevant literature, and then summarize the research questions that have been addressed to date, supported by key results. The report should go on to outline the planned Ph.D. research. Again, the focus should be on the big picture, with only enough detail to permit the committee to appraise the research plan.

In format, the transfer report is closer to an extended supervisory committee report than to an M.Sc. thesis, which typically requires much more detail. Transfer reports should be 20-30 pages in length, double spaced, font size 12, plus tables, figures and references. Manuscripts and published papers may be appended to the report, which may be correspondingly shortened. Early drafts should be vetted by the research supervisor.

Details of the thesis requirements and the procedures for thesis submission and defence are described in the School of Graduate Studies Calendar (Sections 2.7 and 4.4) and on this School of Graduate Studies web page.


Information on graduate admissions, funding, fees, and programs of study is subject to periodic revision. The only official statement for these and other related regulations is the most recent online edition of the School of Graduate Studies Calendar.