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 Enrol.
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.
International grad students travelling to McMaster
International students travelling to McMaster University
Please note: The COVID-19 readiness plan is MANDATORY for all new or returning students.
Important information regarding holiday closures and timelines
- Check the reservation updates and available arrival dates on the International Student Quarantine Stays page before determining your arrival date.
McMaster University’s COVID-19 readiness plan is approved by the Ontario government and is mandatory for all new and returning international graduate students with valid or approved study permits.
If you are currently outside of Canada and plan to travel, please review the information below.
This information is relevant to all international students, including new, current, and returning students.
Before making travel plans, all international students must:
- Be in possession of a valid study permit or a “Letter of Introduction” that shows you were approved for a study permit.
Please note that students cannot travel with “approval-in-principle” at this time.
- Commit to using McMaster’s approved COVID-19 readiness plan.
McMaster’s approved COVID-19 readiness plan includes
- accommodation and food delivery for 14 days at McMaster’s designated residence in Hamilton (mandatory). This is at no cost to students arriving for the first time since March 2020.
- Before making your travel plans, please review available arrival dates on the International Student Quarantine Stays website. If you cannot schedule a flight within the dates indicated, please contact Yufei Zheng, international graduate students coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your anticipated arrival date.
- Quarantine space for families is available.
- private transportation from the airport to McMaster’s designated residence with our approved transportation service provider (mandatory). This will be at the student’s expense.
Once you book your accommodation and airport transportation, we will provide a supporting letter to confirm your quarantine plan. You may show this letter to the border agents during check-in and/or when you arrive at the port of entry.
Note: If you have family members approved for travel and accompanying you, they will be able to quarantine in place with you.
Upon arrival at McMaster’s designated residence, you will receive further details and directions about required COVID-19 testing and reactivating your UHIP.
Failure to fully comply with McMaster’s COVID-19 readiness plan will result in the following:
- McMaster will not support your travel. This means you will not receive a letter to present at port of entry.
- You will be responsible for all risks and repercussions associated with failing to comply, including potential loss of TA/RA employment or scholarship funding.
- McMaster University is obligated to report any individual who fails to comply with the full COVID-19 readiness plan to government authorities.
- Failure to comply puts at risk any future travel for international students hoping to come to Canada.
If you meet all the requirements outlined above and plan to travel, please contact Yufei Zheng at email@example.com with the following information for further directions.
- Your full name
- Your student number
- Your program of study
- Your flight information (flight number and arrival date)
- Country from which you will be traveling
Welcome 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.
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.
Hamilton Cab services
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:
- AirBnB Hamilton*
- Trivago Hamilton Search*
- Members of McMaster’s International Graduate Students Association Facebook group* may be able to offer some tips
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)
- 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
Setting up your bank account
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.
If you would like more information on banking in Canada, visit Educanada.
If you have a scholarship payment (refund) owing to you:
- For students residing in Canada, we will coordinate the refund for you and you will receive an e-transfer to your McMaster email address within a week after we process the payment.
- For students who have not yet arrived in Canada, your refund will be held in your McMaster account until you arrive in Canada.
Please note: Not all students will have a refund owing to them.
If you are paid Research Scholarship, TA, and/or RA in lieu of TA, these monies will be deposited directly into your bank account. This method of payment is mandatory.
Enrol in Direct Deposit
To receive your monies, YOU must download and complete the Employee Contact and Deposit Form from the Human Resources website and email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: You must have a Canadian bank account to enrol in Direct Deposit.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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 can apply online. You cannot apply for your Social Insurance Number if you have not arrived in Canada.
NOTE: There is no fee to apply for your SIN.
Paying Your Tuition and Fees
- Visit this Tuition and Mandatory Supplemental Fees Chart for information about graduate student fees.
- If you have arrived in Canada: How to pay your tuition
- Bank transfer is the recommended method to pay tuition, as it is the most convenient and secure.
- To learn more about Dates and Deadlines for fees and associated financials, visit Student Accounts and Cashiers.
Once enrolled, you will be able to check funds owing on your tuition and fees.
- Log in to Mosaic
- Click on Student Center tab
- Go to Finances.
- Under “My Account” open Account Inquiry. This will show balances by term.
- 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.
Managing your budget
Check out these tools and resources to help you create – and manage – your money!
Please note that most McMaster University campus services and offices are virtual at this time. Please contact them through email or online chat via their website, where available.
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
Located in Gilmour Hall (Building 20 on Campus Map), second floor, Room 212.
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.
International grad student programming
Yufei Zheng, our international graduate student coordinator, works out of the School of Graduate Studies. Yufei is part of the Graduate Student Resources team and works on programming, activities, and events aimed at helping international grad students navigate their journey at McMaster.
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.
McMaster’s International Student Services (ISS) provides support and resources for international students before they arrive and once they join the McMaster graduate community.
Adjusting to a new country can be challenging, especially when dealing with the immigration process. Through our immigration advising services, we can offer advice and connect you with resources to complete the immigration process and help you settle into your new environment.