International Students

You've received an offer to enter Graduate Studies at McMaster University and you've accepted ... Congratulations and welcome! 

More than 1,300 PhD and Masters students from around the world are studying here. And many of those students call the City of Hamilton "home." 

The information in this section is intended to help you find your footing at the beginning of your McMaster graduate journey.

Please Note: Many links found in this section will take you to sites external to the McMaster University School of Graduate Studies website. Please check those sites for the latest and most up-to-date information.

Before you arrive

Once you have received and decided to accept an Offer of Admission to a graduate program, you must apply for a Study Permit. For more information about obtaining a Study Permit, visit McMaster's International Student Services.

Depending on your country of origin, some students require a Visa to travel to Canada. More information about Visas — who needs one, how to obtain one, Visa offices outside of Canada — is available on the International Student Services site.

Register! Go to How to Enroll.

McMaster has three academic terms: Winter, Summer and Fall

Students starting in January should register for Winter and Summer terms. Enroll in at least one course for each term.

Note: For students who have completed course work, enroll in SGS 700 or 711 – these are placeholder courses. 

Contact your academic department for more information about attending McMaster, as well as your Course Schedule.

Getting to – and around – Hamilton

Map of Southern Ontario and the City of HamiltonWelcome to the heart of Ontario and the economic engine of Canada – Hamilton and south central Ontario.

Hamilton is the ninth largest city in Canada, fourth largest in Ontario, and ranked as one of the top 10 places to do business in Canada. Situated on the Niagara escarpment, Hamilton is only 45 minutes southwest of Toronto and northwest of the U.S. border.

McMaster is nestled in the west end of Hamilton in a residential area called Westdale Village. Bordered by Cootes Paradise, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the shores of Lake Ontario, the campus is connected to kilometres of nature trails, biking paths, and Hamilton's burgeoning waterfront.

Those in search of a more urban experience are never too far from amenities in downtown Hamilton – restaurants, concert theatres, hockey games, art galleries, street festivals and more.

Hamilton is also conveniently situated on major rail, air, water and road transportation networks to other large North American centres, including Toronto, New York, Chicago and Montreal.

From the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)*

McMaster University's main campus is a 40-minute drive from Toronto's airport. 

You can travel from Toronto to Hamilton via

From the Pearson Airport Terminal to Hamilton Go Centre, located in downtown Hamilton, you can use this fare calculator to determine the cost of a one-way trip. 

From the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM)*

McMaster's main campus is a 17-minute drive from Hamilton's airport.

You can travel from Hamilton's airport via

*The School of Graduate Studies is not responsible for making travel arrangements or covering any associated costs for students entering McMaster University.

Hamilton Street Railway – better known as the HSR – is Hamilton’s city-wide public bus transportation. You will need to pay HSR bus fare out-of-pocket until you pick up your HSR student bus pass at McMaster University. 

Visit the Graduate Students Association site for more information about your U-Pass/Presto Card.

For more about using your Presto Card, watch this video.

Hamilton Cab services


We have an Airport Welcome team at Pearson Airport during the month of August. We will be wearing bright orange shirts and holding signs outside the International arrival gates for most flights.

Make sure you come and say hi to us!

Our volunteers will be happy to help you find the bus stop or get a taxi to wherever you need to go.

What happens if you get lost?

Check out this interactive map:

Travel Options from Pearson Airport:

GO Transit

GO Bus and GO Train service to Downtown Hamilton. Please note that GO Bus service is the only available bus directly from the terminals.

You can find this at:

  • Terminal 1, Ground Level, second curb, Column Q2-Q4.

To get to Hamilton, take the 40 Hamilton (Richmond Hill Pearson Express) bus route.

Taxi and Limousine Pick-Up Locations

Terminal 1, Arrivals Level 

  • Taxis: Door D

  • Limousines: Door C

Terminal 3, Arrivals Level  

  • Taxis: Doors D, E & F

  • Limousines: Door F

Remember, your safety matters. Ensure you take a licensed Toronto Pearson taxi or limo.

Airport licensed taxis and limos offer fair, flat rates to your destination and meet specific safety requirements.

These are the only vehicles authorized to pick up fares from Toronto Pearson.

A licensed taxi or limo:

  • will pick up from the designated pick up area on the terminal curbs, arrivals level
  • will have a GTA number plate on the bumper and decal on the window
  • will have flat rate fare information in the vehicle
  • will not pick up in the terminal or parking garages

Considering Pre-Arranged Services?

Within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), flat rates for travel from the airport are determined based on the time and distance to your destination.

Fares for taxis to destinations outside of the GTA (including Hamilton) are listed on the Out-of-Town Tariff map.

Any area that is not listed on this tariff map will be $1.55/km for taxis, or $1.65/km for limousines.

Select one of the maps below for taxi fare information. Always confirm the fare with the driver before leaving the terminal.

Ride sharing services

Uber and Lyft

To request a pick up:

  • Download the Uber or Lyft app to your smartphone
  • Ensure your location services are enable
  • Enter your destination
  • Select the level of ride sharing service you prefer for your trip
  • Proceed to Ground Level (Door Q or P) in Terminal 1 or Arrivals Level (Door D, then proceed to outside curb) in Terminal 3 and follow the signs for “Ride App Pickup” to wait for your ride


Local Toronto Transit:

Union Pearson Express is a dedicated air-rail link that speeds travelers from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Union Station in the heart of downtown Toronto.

The UP Express station is located in Terminal 1 next to the Terminal Link Train.

From Terminal 1: Follow the "Train to City" signs.

From Terminal 3: Take the free Terminal Link Train to Terminal 1 and follow the "Train to City" signs.

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)

Express bus and subway service to downtown Toronto. This is located in: 

  • Terminal 1, Ground Level, second curb, Column R4.

  • Terminal 3, Arrivals Level, third curb, Column C12.

Here are the TTC routes available:

  • 52 Lawrence West
  • 192 Airport Rocket
  • 300 Bloor Danforth (overnight)
  • 307 Eglinton West (overnight)


Short-stay Accommodations

When you first arrive in Canada, you may need somewhere to stay for a short time, until you find long-term housing. Online searches may include:


Be patient when searching for long-term housing. McMaster University currently does not offer on-campus housing for graduate students, but you can secure housing in the private market.

You should anticipate spending time to research available spaces and several communications with landlords/rental agents/owners.

Some sites that you may find helpful

For information about rights and expectations as a renter, check out Residential Tenancy Act, Ontario

*These are public online sites and are not endorsed by McMaster University.

Learn more about housing options in Hamilton during a recent webinar hosted by McMaster University's International Student Services.


Often, landlords will require:

  • Application and deposit (to be used towards your first month's rent)
  • References
  • Renters sign a Lease Agreement
  • First AND last month’s rent to be paid on first day of tenancy (minus deposit)
NOTE: Ask your landlord for rent receipts.

For information about rights and expectations as a renter, check out Residential Tenancy Act, Ontario 



When you arrive in Canada, setting up your bank account should be a priority. 

You are required to have an account at a Canadian banking institution.

Canada has five major banks. Each has student rates that you can ask about.

To open a bank account, you will need

  • passport
  • study permit
  • address verification (lease, bill, mail, etc.)

Your payments for scholarship and employment will be deposited directly into your bank account. This method of payment is mandatory. Depending on the type of payment(s) you receive you may have to update the information in 2 places –

  1. Student Center - Scholarship Funds (Graduate Scholarship, Entrance Scholarship, Department Scholarship, External Scholarship, Tuition Bursaries) and
  2. Human Resources - Research Scholarship, TA, and/or RA in lieu of TA.

Before enrolling in Direct Deposit: The most important thing you need in order to begin is your correct banking information.

NOTE: DO NOT enter the number on your bank card. Your correct banking information can be found at the bottom of any cheque belonging to the account you want your payment deposited. Example below (from the bottom of the cheque).


An example of the bottom of a cheque

  1. The first three numbers are the cheque number (not required for this enrolment).
  2. The next five numbers are the transit number (branch number) - REQUIRED.
  3. The next three numbers are the financial institution number (bank code) - REQUIRED.
  4. The remaining numbers are your bank account number - REQUIRED.

If you don't have cheques, this information is available by contacting your bank directly. Many banks provide this information online, under the secured account information section.

Once you have your correct banking information you can enroll in Direct Deposit. 

If you are paid the following monies - Scholarship Funds (Graduate Scholarship, Entrance Scholarship, External Scholarship, Tuition Bursaries), you must set up banking information in MOSAIC. If you don’t provide banking information, a cheque will be mailed to the mailing address that is listed in the Personal Information section on MOSAIC. 

  1. Navigate to the Mosaic Portal.
  2. Type your Mac ID into the Mac ID field.
  3. Type your password into the Password field.
  4. Click the Sign In button.

The Mosaic Portal Sign In page

1. Click the Student Center Tab. In the Finances section, click Other Finances.

Click the Student Centre tab. In the Finances section, click Other Finances

2. Select Enroll in Direct Deposit list item.

Select the Enroll in Direct Deposit list item.

3. Click the Go button (blue double arrows).

Click the Go button (blue double arrows).

4. In the Direct Deposit tab, click Enroll in Direct Deposit button.

In the Direct Deposit tab, click the Enroll in Direct Deposit button

5. Enter needed Bank Details and click Next to finish setting up the direct deposit.

Enter bank details and click Next to finish setting up direct deposit.

6. You should receive a green check-mark once the banking information is added.

The Enrollment Process for setting up your banking information IS NOT COMPLETE – THERE ARE 5 MORE STEPS. Follow the prompts to complete this process.

7. You will need to agree to the Terms and Conditions.

8. Lastly, you must click the Submit button so that your information will be successfully added.

If you are paid the following monies – Research Scholarship, TA, and/or RA in lieu of TA, you must complete the Employee Deposit form which is available at Working At McMaster.

The completed form must be delivered to the Human Resources (HR) Service Centre, located in the Campus Services Building (CSB), Room 202. CSB is Building 31 on the McMaster Campus Map.

If you don’t provide banking information, you will have to pick up your cheque(s) from the following offices:

  • TA/RA in lieu employment payment: HR Service Centre office in Campus Services Building (CSB), Room 202

Living in Canada

Moving to a new country – even for a short time – can be stressful on students and their families. Services important to your daily life – banking, phone and internet, even grocery shopping – may be very different and a bit of a challenge until you get accustomed to your new home. 

The following information is intended to help you as you start out in your graduate life at McMaster. These lists are not exhaustive of what's available, so we encourage you to do your research.

Cell phone rates in Canada are among the most expensive in the world. You may want to do some homework to find the best available rates. To get a cell phone in Canada requires a credit card.

Canada is a mosaic of cultural diversity and that is reflected in foods available in grocery stores and restaurants.

Several different grocery stores are available in the area surrounding McMaster's campus and across the City of Hamilton.

For tips and strategies to help you shop on a budget – including student discount days – watch our Orientation webinar or download the accompanying slide presentation. This webinar is focused on students admitted for the May 2018 term, but is includes valid information for all students.


Winter weather can be harsh, while summers can be very hot and humid.

For statistics about average temperatures, humidity, rain and snowfall in Hamilton, Ontario, visit The Weather Network.

January start date
  • Bring warm clothing.
  • If you are travelling from a warmer climate, be prepared to shop for winter-appropriate clothing once you arrive.
  • This includes heavy outerwear – cold-weather coat, accessories – hat, scarf, gloves/mittens, winter boots.
  • Prices vary. Connect with other grad students to find the best places to shop that will fit within your budget.
May start date
  • Spring weather is unpredictable in Hamilton. In an average year, temperatures will be moderate. You may see a large fluctuation in temperature from the beginning to the end of the month.
  • Clothing suitable for cool weather and rain, including a coat. 
September start dates
  • Summers are hot and humid, but by early September you are likely to experience more moderate summer temperatures.
  • Note: Upon arrival, you will not need to purchase a winter coat. Please review our seasonal shopping guide so you understand how clothing is sold here.
  • Can be expensive but also bulky for travel. 
Household items
  • Kitchen and other household items are readily available for purchase new or used.


Canada's seasonal shopping cycle 

Shopping for clothing in Canada is seasonal. You may be able to find some outer clothing available year round, but the traditional shopping cycle is:


  • Winter clothing is still available, but more limited in sizes and styles. You can often find clothing on sale after the December holiday season.
  • The first of Spring clothing will be available.


  • Spring and summer clothing available, including seasonal outerwear for warmer weather.


  • Summer and Fall clothing available.
  • Please Note: Most coats available during these months are not intended for cold winter use; they are late summer, autumn coats.


  • Warm clothing for late fall and winter use.
  • Winter coats and boots are available. If buying new, check that outer clothing is rated for winter temperatures and use.

Working in Canada

All individuals who work in Canada MUST HAVE a Social Insurance Number.

You need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada, no matter what the job. This means if you are a teaching assistant (TA), you must have a SIN.

To get your SIN, you will need to bring your

  • passport
  • Study Permit

NOTE: There is no fee to apply for your SIN.

You can apply for your SIN at:

  • Toronto Pearson International Airport
  • Hamilton City Hall (Friday only – check online for hours)
  • Look for Service Canada locations online (Note that not all Service Canada locations issue Social Insurance Numbers. Check for details online.)

Cost of Living: Your Budget

Once enrolled, you will be able to check funds owing on your tuition and fees.
  1. Log in to Mosaic
  2. Click on Student Center tab
  3. Go to Finances.
  4. Under "My Account" open Account Inquiry. This will show balances by term.
  5. In dropdown menu, "Other Financial..." select "Charges Due"
Important to Know
  • You will not receive a bill or invoice
  • You can print invoices directly from your Student Center
If you are working as a Teaching Assistant (TA), it is important to check your payment schedule.

For all payment information download the PAYMENT INFORMATION PACKAGE FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS JANUARY 2019 ADMISSIONS, including Pay Schedule, where to direct questions, understanding your funding and steps to getting paid.

Managing Your Money: A guide for graduate students

This online resource was created by McMaster's School of Graduate Studies. It provides a starting point for building your own budget.

Mac's Money Centre

Provides online resources and in-person workshops, coaching and more to help students get on track with their finances.

Expatistan is a website that compares the cost-of-living between different cities.

A Bill-by-Bill Guide to Saving Money on Your Monthly Expenses (on the website, LifeHacker) includes some helpful tips on managing your expenses.
Budget Worksheets

Student Budget Worksheet, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Several of the large Canadian banks provide online budgeting tools geared at students. 

On-Campus Services

Not sure where to find the School of Graduate Studies? First step: McMaster University Campus Map

Key on-campus service locations for the graduate student community

In addition to your graduate department, you will need to connect with other offices and services at McMaster

School of Graduate Studies

Located in Gilmour Hall (Building 20 on Campus Map), second floor, Room 212.

When you arrive at McMaster, you will need to present your Study Permit (applies to international students studying in Canada for longer than six months). You can bring your Study Permit to the School of Graduate Studies, along with another proof of identity, such as a valid passport.

The School of Graduate Studies plays an important role in the graduate student experience. We are here to answer questions; offer academic, research and professional supports; connect you to the broader McMaster graduate community; and help you succeed at McMaster University.

Graduate Students Association

Located in Refectory Rathskeller Building (Building 4 on Campus Map), East Tower, 2nd floor.

The Graduate Students Association (GSA) represents graduate student interests at McMaster University. Visit their website to learn more about services and support they provide, as well as the various ways you can get involved in student government.

An important service provided by the GSA is the GSA Benefits Plan. This plan provides extended health and dental coverage for eligible full- and part-time graduate students. Visit the GSA site to learn more.

McMaster Student Wellness Centre

Counselling, medical and wellness services. Located in McMaster University Student Centre (Building 51 on Campus Map), in basement, Room B101/118

CUPE 3906

Located in KTH B111

McMaster International Student Services

Information about UHIP (University Health Insurance Program) and help with registering for the program.

Other campus groups

International Grad Student Association

African Caribbean Grad Students Association


Orientation Slide Presentation September 2019

Orientation Slide Presentation for students joining McMaster University in September 2019.

You can download