Registration and Progression

The academic year in the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) consists of three terms, commencing on or about September 1 (Fall Term), January 1 (Winter Term), and May 1 (Summer Term). MSc Students are admitted for the Fall Term.

MSc students must maintain continuous registration in the SGPS in each successive term from initial registration until all requirements for the degree are completed.

The maximum registration period for completing a Master's degree is three calendar years from initial registration. For students admitted part-time to an approved part-time Master's program, the maximum registration period is four years. 

Due to students coming to our program from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, there is a fairly heavy course-work requirement. To ensure timely completion of the degree, there is a necessary rate of progress through the program. MSc students must complete 3.5 credits (consisting of core and elective courses) and maintain continuous registration by paying tuition fees in each successive fall, winter and summer terms (from program entry, until the thesis is successfully defended, and corrections submitted to SGPS).

Students are entitled to 2 weeks vacation time per year, the timing of which must be pre-approved by their supervisor(s).

The Master's degree must be completed within six terms (two years) from initial program entry. The deadline for degree completion will be extended in exceptional circumstances, in the case of an approved leave of absence (refer to section on Leave of Absence).

Acceptable Progression

This progress includes: following the recommended time line, regularly meeting with the thesis supervisor and maintaining a continued effort on the thesis research, acheiving prorgam milestones, and maintaining a cumulative average of at least 70% calculated each term over all courses taken for credit, with no grade less than 60%.

Change of Registration

SGPS coordinates the administration of changes to students’ registration status as requested. Those changes proceed through various channels of approval. For more information on these requests please select the required change below: 

Applying to Transfer from MSc to PhD Program
Some MSc students are eligible to submit an application for a transfer to the PhD program once they have completed all of their core courses, as early as the end of the second term, or as late as before the end of the fifth term in the MSc program. MSc students who completed our undergraduate program may consider applying sooner than the end of the second term, provided that they have completed all core courses.

Eligibility: MSc students whose core course grades are in the upper half of their cohort, and who have support and funding from their supervisor(s), are eligible to apply for a transfer. Upon email request, the Academic Programs Coordinator can share with the potential applicants whether or not they are eligible to apply, after all grades for core courses have been submitted by the instructors.   

Application requirements: Eligible MSc students should submit to the Academic Programs Coordinator the following documents:  1) the Transfer Request form and 2) a letter of recommendation/support from their supervisor(s) that confirms funding availability and outlines the intended scope of research for the PhD-level thesis.

Adjudication of Applications: The Graduate Affairs Committee reviews all transfer request applications. The Committee’s decision on whether to approve a request is based on a multi-dimensional assessment of the student’s suitability for transfer to the Doctoral program (e.g., student’s academic performance in the MSc program, consultation with the instructors of the core courses, reason for request, originality and scope of the proposed research, and support from the supervisor). Meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee the approval of the transfer request. Not meeting the eligibility criteria for a transfer or not being approved to transfer to the Doctoral program does not imply that MSc students are ineligible to be admitted to our PhD program after completion of the MSc program.

Program Requirements


MSc students in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program must complete their core courses (2.5 credits) in the first two terms of registration (fall and winter). Students are also strongly encouraged to complete all elective courses (1.0 credits) in the first two terms of registration (fall and winter); however, an alternate arrangement for the completion of the elective courses may be approved by their supervisor(s).

MSc students in the Biostatistics Collaborative Program must complete their core courses (2.0 credits) in the first two terms of registration (fall and winter), except Biostatistics 9681Q and Epidemiology 9690R which must be taken in term four. Students are also strongly encouraged to complete all elective courses (1.5 credits) in the first two terms of registration (fall and winter); however, an alternate arrangement for the completion of the elective courses may be approved by their supervisor(s).

Additional courses may be taken at the student's discretion at any time, in consultation with his or her supervisor(s). Please review information on Graduate Course Descriptions, and the Graduate Course Schedule.

Seminar Series Milestone

All first-year MSc students are required to attend the weekly departmental seminar series in the first two terms of registration (fall and winter). This seminar series milestone will appear on the transcript as complete or incomplete, based on student participation (at least 80% attendance is required). Students who miss more than 20% of seminars in the first year will have to complete the missed seminars in their second year. The Seminar Series Schedule is available online.

Please note: The Department’s expectation is that first year MSc students attend every seminar in their first 2 terms of study. Any seminars missed should be due to extenuating circumstances. 80% is a minimum threshold and students should not choose which seminars to attend and which to miss based on this minimum attendance requirement.


Overview and Regulations.

Every candidate for the Master’s degree must complete a thesis. The Thesis Overview and Thesis Regulations pages from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies outline the process of preparing a master’s thesis, as well as defending it successfully.

All thesis research must take place under the direction of a thesis supervisor(s). A Master’s thesis is usually a project that addresses well-defined objectives and/or hypotheses. This may be:

  • the analysis and interpretation (related to objectives) of previously collected data
  • the analysis and interpretation of data from a discrete subsection of an ongoing project
  • a small stand-alone project involving study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation

On occasion, a student may instead develop a research protocol. A proposal-style thesis would be acceptable only in the situation where the actual study is too large to be fully implemented as an MSc project. It must be a protocol developed to the point of implementation together with evidence of its feasibility.

MSc students are expected to complete their thesis by the end of the sixth term (end of the second year). In exceptional circumstances, with supervisor approval, the thesis may be completed by the end of the seventh term or the student will be withdrawn from the program.

Thesis Format.

A thesis based on the report of research findings may take one of two formats: Monograph (traditional or proposal style format) or Integrated-Article (manuscript format).

A proposal-style thesis will ideally still contain a data collection and analysis component (perhaps a pilot study) and all implementation details should be specified. Please see the department's Principles & Guidelines for the Proposal Style MSc Thesis.

These formats are well described on the SGPS website, which must be followed by all MSc students. Students are reminded that, regardless of the format adopted, a thesis in Epidemiology and Biostatistics needs to contain a chapter devoted to a detailed, critical review of the literature.

Intent to Submit.

When the thesis is thought to meet recognized scholarly standards for the discipline and degree, and is ready for examination, the student, in consultation with the supervisor(s), will begin the process of arranging the Thesis Examination by setting a proposed date, and obtaining provisional consent from the potential members of the Thesis Examination Board. When MSc students are ready to defend their thesis, and after consultation with the supervisor(s) and supervisory committee, an Intent to Submit Thesis form must be completed and submitted to the Academic Program Coordinator at least six (6) to eight (8) weeks prior to the earliest proposed thesis examination date.

Thesis Exam Request.

Once the examination date is chosen, and no less than four (4) weeks prior to that date, the MSc Thesis Examination Request form signed by the student and supervisor(s), must be submitted to the Academic Programs Coordinator. This will allow examiners to have adequate time to review the thesis before the examination. Please review submission deadlines, as regulated by SGPS.

Information regarding preliminary thesis submission and final thesis submission, is provided through SGPS.

Completion Checklist

All MSc students who have received confirmation of completion from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies must submit a signed copy of the Completion Checklist. This checklist summarizes the various loose ends a student is expected to wrap up before leaving the university. It also contains very important information requests for post-graduation contact and success.

Review of Student Progress

Success in the graduate program is marked by achieving key milestones in a timely manner. The primary purpose of the annual review of student progress, conducted at the end of terms three (summer) and five (winter) and every term after term six (summer, if applicable) is to identify departures from the normal time line so that appropriate actions can be taken as soon as possible. It is the student's responsibility to initiate the process, and timely compliance is itself a formal progression requirement. All students are required to submit a completed and signed progress form by the deadline. Registration for future terms will be conditional on the student having submitted a progress form by the deadline. It is the student's responsibility to prepare the Annual Review of Student Progress Form when it is e-mailed out.

Review of student progress is a 2-step process whereby the student: (1) completes Part A of the form and (2) schedules an in-person meeting with his/her supervisor(s) to complete Part B. The form is then signed by both the student and supervisor(s) and submitted by the deadline to the Academic Program Coordinator. Copies should be kept by both the supervisor(s) and the student. Supervisor, and if applicable, co-supervisor signatures, are required on the form.

The Departmental Graduate Affairs Committee will require a student to withdraw from the program if he or she is not making adequate progress.