Before You Apply

To receive the greatest benefit from your time in graduate school, it is essential that you take the time to research the graduate program you are interested in and the faculty member(s) with whom you would like to work. We kindly ask that before applying, you carefully read and follow the steps below.

1. Do your homework

The process should begin with a critical examination of your motives, interests, and goals in attending graduate school. Why do you want to enrol in graduate school? We have found that productive graduate students are motivated by a keen sense of curiosity and sincere desire to learn. An outstanding MSc applicant will typically have a good idea of the research they wish to pursue and can expect significant guidance from their thesis advisor in the selection of their final topic. In contrast, a PhD applicant is expected to have more focused research interests and be more proactive in the planning of their research.

2. Identify potential advisors

It is the responsibility of prospective graduate students to find an advisor. Please note that applications that do not indicate an advisor will not be reviewed. We invite you to check out our CBS ReSearch Database to identify faculty members whose research interests align with yours. You should take the time to find and read some recent papers by potential advisors and/or their graduate students. To get a sense of the diversity of research projects happening at CBS, you can also read about recently published research findings on our SCRIBE Research Highlights page. Some faculty are actively recruiting students for funded projects and you can find out more about these opportunities by visiting their respective pages: Integrative Biology Opportunities, Molecular and Cellular Biology Opportunities, Human Health and Nutritional Sciences Opportunities.

3. Write to potential advisors

At this point you can make an impression by indicating that you know something about potential advisors! Reach out to faculty members of interest (each department has a faculty list with contact info), explain what you would like to work on, and describe how your desired project aligns with their research program. Potential advisors will also want to know about your grades (having unofficial transcripts will come in handy) and whether or not you have applied for, or hold, a scholarship (e.g., NSERC, OGS, CIHR).

4. Interview potential advisors

After reviewing replies and narrowing the field, you should arrange to meet with faculty to discuss prospects for pursuing graduate work. At this time, we encourage you to ask about your potential advisor’s philosophies about graduate education, as well as the availability of research funding and graduate stipends. Potential advisors will get to know you in return and can ask their own questions about your experience and interests. We also recommend that you arrange to speak with your potential advisors' current (or former) graduate students and ask about their views on the advisor, the program, and the university. Another way to get to know more about your potential advisor and program is to follow them on social media. This might look like extra work, but it will contribute to a rewarding and happy career as a graduate student! We are currently planning for a phased-in return to campus, so we ask that in the meantime you reach out to potential advisors by email.

More information on the application process or where to get started? Please visit our Application Process site.