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Graduate Student FAQ's

I have decided to apply for a Master's in Political Science. Why should I choose McMaster?

McMaster offers an exciting program with specific areas of study in Canadian politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory and public policy and administration.

What are the admission requirements?

The M.A. Program
Generally, the minimum admission requirement for the M.A. program is a B+ average in a honours political science Bachelor's degree or a four year major political science degree.

The Ph.D. Programs
Admission to the Ph.D. programs in Comparative Public Policy and International Relations will normally require a Master's degree in political science with an average of at least A- (A minus). Applications from students with a Master's degree in a cognate discipline will be considered, but such students may be required to complete the course work toward an M.A. in political science before admission to the Ph.D. program.

Please note that the statement of interest is a crucial element of the application process.  Public Policy applicants should highlight the comparative nature of their research and policy area which concerns them.  International relations applicants should identify the international, transnational or global elements of their research projects.  All applicants would benefit from indicating particular faculty members or research clusters that overlap with their projects.

Please note that admission is competitive: meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

What application documents are required?

Please consult the application checklist.

Does the Department of Political Science allow students to complete the MA or PhD degree part-time?

Yes, however most, if not all graduate courses meet during the day.  We do not offer on-line or distance education at the graduate level.

How much is the application fee?

The application fee is $110 CAD. The application fee is non-refundable and must be paid in Canadian dollars by means of a credit card.

How should I pay the application fee?

The application fee must be paid by credit card when you finalize your online application.

Can my application fee be waived?

The application fee will not be waived, refunded or deferred.

I have accidentally applied for the wrong program.  Can this be changed, or can the application fee be refunded?

The fee for the incorrect application cannot be refunded.

I want to apply to more than one program. Do I have to submit more than one application?

Yes.  If you wish to apply to more than one program, you must pay separate application fees and submit separate sets of documents for each application.

Can I submit a paper application?

No, you need to submit your application online.

I am an international applicant. Will you recognize my degree?

Degrees and grades from foreign universities are evaluated for their equivalency to McMaster's.

English is not my first language. Do I need to write an English exam?

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit the results of a recognized English language test with their application.  The most common evidence is a score on one of the following exams:

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

Do I have to list all of my previous schools and education training?

A complete record of all post-secondary attendance is required for all applicants.

How many reference letters are required for admission?

If you are applying to our MA program, two (2) academic reference from instructors most familiar with your academic work are required. If you are applying to our PhD program, three (3) academic references must be submitted.

How do my referees submit their reference letters?

McMaster University uses an 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.

My referee's contact information has changed and I have already submitted my online application. How can I edit the referee's contact information?

If you need to change your referee email address or other contact information please forward the new information to

I am having technical difficulties with my application. Who can assist?

If you are having any technical difficulties please send an email to and include the details of your query. Please be sure to include details such as error messages and the name of the program to which you are applying.  Screen shots are very helpful.

Where can I find information about the status of my application?

Once you have submitted your online application, you will receive an email confirming your application has been successfully submitted within the next few days. The email will contain important information about how to access Mosaic to follow the status of your application and your checklist of required documents.

When will I be notified of the status of my application?

The admission process varies for each student and program.  We can not give specific dates for a decision. You can check your application status online anytime by logging into Mosaic.

Do I apply for funding at the same time as I apply for admission?

A separate application for financial assistance is not necessary, since all applicants for graduate studies at McMaster are automatically considered for financial support. Students who are enrolled part-time are not eligible for financial support.

Will I have the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant (TA) within this program?

As a graduate student in the Department of Political Science, you will receive financial support in the form of scholarships and teaching assistantships. Teaching assistants are responsible for conducting undergraduate tutorials and/or marking. Full teaching assistantships pay approximately $10,906.00.

McMaster offers both full and half teaching assistantships. Ph.D. students normally receive full teaching assistantships. The responsibilities of a full teaching assistantship usually take up ten hours a week during the term and normally involve leading two 50 minute tutorials of about 25-30 first or second year students.

While some MA students receive teaching assistantships, most financial support for MA studies is scholarship based. 

How big is the Department and what is the Graduate enrollment?

We believe that the Department of Political Science at McMaster offers you an excellent choice for both master's and doctoral work. With a complement of twenty-four faculty, an annual enrolment of approximately thirty-five M.A. students and an intake of about six Ph.D. students each year, we have an excellent faculty-student ratio that allows for small seminars, and encourages close supervision and good working relationships.

Can I transfer into the Political Science PhD from another discipline or PhD program?

In the case of students seeking to transfer into Political Science PhD from another PhD discipline, candidates are required to prepare a regular application which will be evaluated along side all new applications in the next admission cycle. 

Where can I get more information on Graduate Studies at McMaster?

If you require further information about graduate programs in Political Science, please contact:

Administrative Assistant, (Graduate Program)
Department of Political Science
McMaster University
Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4 
Tel: (905) 525-9140, ext. 24742
Fax: (905) 527-3071