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Graduate Studies

International Grad Navigator

Nervous about starting school in an unfamiliar place? Make a familiar connection and get support from a current international graduate student to help you adjust to your new life in Canada.

Are you beginning your graduate journey in Winter 2022? Registration will open in late-November.

International grad navigators are current international graduate student volunteers who has “been there, done that”. They are eager to connect and help new international graduate students navigate their first-term experience by providing support from the perspective of a shared cultural background using a shared language that will help new students feel at home.


a silver compass, with the arrow pointing north

  • Ease the transition period and create a sense of belonging.
  • Build lasting connections between students, the university, and the community.
  • Decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Address unique cultural needs with shared perspectives.

What to expect

Registration for new students starting in Fall 2021 is now closed. Registration for new international graduate students starting their program in Winter 2022 will be open in late-November. 

After you sign up, you will be matched with an international grad navigator. You are encouraged to communicate with your navigator through any preferred way that you both agree on (email, video chat, social media, etc.).

Benefits of connecting with an international grad navigator:

  • Establish connections with another student who have been through similar experiences.
  • Communicate in a language with which you are comfortable.
  • Access and learn about other university and community resources.

International Grad Navigators

International grad navigators are current McMaster international graduate students who are caring, mature, and understand the challenges incoming international grad students may face before – and during – their first term.

Registration to become a navigator for September 2021 is now closed. Thank you to all who signed up and attended an orientation session. You will receive your new student matches starting mid-July, and as new students sign up for the program throughout the summer.

Benefits of becoming an international grad navigator:

  • Enhance leadership and communication skills.
  • Gain volunteer experience that can be added to your resume.
  • Receive a letter that confirms your role in the program (upon request).
  • Connect new students to other student and community groups.
  • Connection with staff from Graduate Studies for additional support.

Requirements and expectations of navigators:

  • Be a current student who is in your second term of program or later.
  • Attend one of the four welcome sessions to receive basic training and guidelines.
  • Initiate communications with assigned new student.
  • Ensure a minimum of one communication a month, to check in with assigned new student during their first term.
  • Refer new students to relevant departments and service areas of the university, if the student’s needs are beyond the navigator’s scope.

Image: “compass” by samwilliamson99 is licensed under CC BY 2.0