Incoming Exchange Students

At McMaster, we celebrate diversity and welcome international perspectives. With more than 7,000 international students and a diverse range of internationally focused study areas, incoming exchange students join a community of globally-minded peers at McMaster. Whether you stay for one semester or the full year, we can’t wait to welcome you to our community.

Study abroad at McMaster

Congratulations on deciding to take your studies abroad! We’re thrilled that you’re considering McMaster as your study abroad destination. Check out this section for guidance and information on whether McMaster is the right fit for your international exchange.

Founded in 1887, McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. With a total student population of more than 33,000 students, McMaster is a top 100 university dedicated to advancing human and societal health and well-being.

McMaster is advancing human and societal health and well-being through innovative teaching and learning, which is why we were awarded the 2018 Global Teaching Excellence Award. Learn more about our approach.

In 2023, McMaster ranked 85 worldwide in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, and 33 in the world in the THE’s University Impact Rankings based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In 2022, we ranked in the top 2 for both faculty research intensity and graduate student research intensity.

McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, at the western end of Lake Ontario. McMaster has two campus locations open for incoming student exchange students: Take a virtual tour of our campus.

Welcome to the heart of Ontario and the economic engine of Canada, with a perfect blend of cosmopolitan and a little bit of rustic charm. Welcome to Hamilton and Southern Ontario, McMaster’s home for over 90 years.

Planning your exchange

Going abroad, even for a semester, requires a lot of planning. Check out this section for guidance and information on how to plan for a successful exchange at McMaster.


To be eligible for an exchange at McMaster, you must get nominated from your home university. Check out our list of exchange partnerships to find out if your university is one of our partners.

Once your home university sends your nomination details to us, we will send information on what’s next and how to apply directly to you and your university coordinator.

Visit the Office of the Registrar for important dates and deadlines.

Semester dates (general)

  • Term 1: Early September to end of December (including exams)
  • Term 2: Early January to end of April (including exams)
  • Term 3: We do not offer exchanges in the summer term.

Semester dates (detailed)

Nomination and Application dates

  • Nomination period: January to March
  • late nominations for the Winter semester are accepted until September 1.
  • Application period: February to April

To apply for an exchange at McMaster as an incoming student, you must first be nominated by your home university. Once we receive your details, we’ll contact you by email with more information on how to apply.

As part of the online application you must upload your Statement of Interest (max. one page), and your professional resume/CV.

To complete your application, your home university coordinator will need to send us these supporting documents before the final application deadline.

  • Official transcript: This document must include an English translation and explanation of the home university grading system.
  • English Language Certification: If required, find the language requirements in this section.

Language requirements

English is the language of instruction at McMaster. Although we offer informal (non-credit) workshops to assist students with the English language, we do not offer English as a Second Language (ESL) for-credit courses for incoming exchange students. To study at McMaster, you must be proficient in English before you arrive.

Study abroad (fee-paying)­ applicants

Study abroad applicants are asked to submit official language test scores according to McMaster’s English Proficiency requirements. We must receive these scores by the appropriate deadline. The McMaster University institution code for ETS/TOEFL is 0936.

Undergraduate (exchange) applicants

For undergraduate applicants, written confirmation is not required, but you are expected to have sufficient proficiency in English to study at the university level to read, write and participate in verbal class discussions.

Graduate (exchange) applicants

Official English language certification or a letter from your home exchange coordinator or instructor confirming your proficiency in English is required.

Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) applicants (exchange)

No certification is required if you have studied for a minimum of three years in a university where the medium of instruction was English. A letter from your home exchange coordinator confirming this is sufficient. For all other applicants, official certification is required.

We accept Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. We do not have individual band score requirements for IELTS or TOEFL.

  • TOEFL requirement: Overall score of 100
  • IELTS requirement: Overall score of 7.0

Please make arrangements with TOEFL or IELTS to have your results sent to us directly.

Undergraduate students

Undergraduate students are invited to search for courses offered during the current calendar year using the MyTimetable tool. The tool is updated with the next academic year’s schedule in May.

Undergraduate courses begin with numbers 1–4. Undergraduate exchange students will be registered in Level 3 at McMaster, and you should expect to take mostly Level 2 and Level 3 courses. Enrolment in Level 4 and many Level 1 courses is generally reserved for McMaster students.

Note: Course outlines are usually listed on the individual department web pages.

Department websites

Graduate students

Graduate students (non-MBA) are invited to review the SGS Graduate Calendar, Graduate students must be flexible in their course selections. The updated Graduate course schedule is released in June each year. 

Note: This is a historical collection of all courses, so the best route would be to contact the graduate administrator for the most updated information and advice.

If you’re a graduate student wishing to study at the graduate level, you must be currently enrolled in an equivalent graduate-level program at your home university and enrolled in the second year of master’s study (fifth year). Students are expected to take graduate courses at the 700 level and will be admitted at the department level.

Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) students

MBA students are invited to Visit the MBA website and select the term you wish to join McMaster for a list of MBA Courses available. Students are expected to take final year 700-level MBA courses only.

Undergraduate students

A full-time course load is 9 to 15 units per term (3 to 5 courses). Engineering students may take up to 18 units. 

  • General Restrictions: Students accepted at the undergraduate level are NOT eligible to take courses at the graduate (master) level. Exchange with the Arts & Science Program is not permitted, with the exception of the ARTSSCI 4MN2 / Movement and Integration course. 
  • Faculty of Humanities: Media Arts and Integrated Arts (iArts) courses are restricted but may be open to students registered in a similar program at their home university (space permitting). Students interested in these courses should contact McMaster early to check availability and, if interested in Integrated Arts, may be asked to submit a portfolio. MELD courses are not open to exchange. Level 4 Humanities courses are generally not open to exchange students.  
  • Faculty of Engineering: The Bachelor of Technology (BTECH) program is not available to exchange students. Some courses in the BTECH program, along with Computer Science and Software Engineering courses, are available but very limited to exchange students. Engineering students are permitted to register in most Level 4 courses. 
  • Faculty of Social Sciences: Students applying for ‘PNB’ (Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour) courses must have completed ‘A’ Level Mathematics and at least ‘O’ level Biology. This would equate to university Calculus and grade 12 Biology (highest biology level in high school). Students applying to the psychology program must provide copies of A and O Levels. 
  • Faculty of Science: Enrolment in Science Inquiry and Senior Projects is restricted (may be waived on case-by-case basis). Students should email McMaster in advance to confirm eligibility. Students within the Faculty of Science may be permitted to take courses within the Faculty of Health Sciences.  This will depend on seat availability and sufficient background knowledge. Students will be considered on a case by case basis, negotiating all requests with their McMaster academic advisor.  
  • DeGroote School of Business: The Economics program is part of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and not part of the School of Business. This may affect some students’ eligibility for Commerce courses depending on the agreement between McMaster and a partner university. Students should have a background in Business in order to apply. Courses in the Integrated Business and Humanities program (IBH) are not available. Exchange students are not permitted to take the following courses: Commerce 1GRO, Commerce 2GRO, Commerce 3GRO, Commerce 4GR3, Commerce 2INO, Commerce 3MD3, Commerce 4AK3, Commerce 4EL3, Commerce 4FP3, Commerce 4FW3, Commerce 4QA3, Commerce 4SY3. Non-commerce courses that are restricted to students within their home faculty or require department consent.  
  • Faculty of Health Sciences: [Restricted] By partnership agreement only. 

Graduate Level 

A full-time course load is 6-9 units (2-3 courses) at the 700 level per term. 

  • General Restrictions: Undergraduate courses/programs: Any undergraduate course offered within the DeGroote School of Business is not open to graduate students of any discipline. 
  • Graduate courses/programs not available:  
    • Faculty of Health Sciences (All Programs). 
    • Masters of Finance  
    • Executive Business Administration (EMBA). 
    • Professional Accountancy (Diploma) 
    • MiNDS Neuroscience. 
    • Global Health 702 – Global Health Foundations (Course) 
    • Masters of Health Management 
    • Interdisciplinary Studies – some courses crossing with the Faculty of Health Sciences may not be available. 
  • Faculty of Engineering: The Faculty of Engineering limits the total number of exchange students in its programs’ graduate courses at any time to twenty, with a limit of five in each academic unit. These limits do not apply to visiting students who do not take courses while at McMaster. Inbound exchange students who submit complete applications and meet all requirements will be reviewed and accepted on a first-come first-serve basis until the maximum number per department, or the Engineering faculty, is reached.

Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) students

A full-time course load is 4-5 courses per term. 

Incoming exchange students are not permitted to take undergraduate courses in the School of Business; not permitted to take courses with the following codes: I600 level, 650 level, HSM C700, T level, D700.

Fee-paying mobility program applicants from the following partner institutions are responsible for paying the international student fees determined by McMaster University for the duration of their time abroad:

  • Beijing University of Chemical Technology
  • University of Science & Technology Beijing  
  • Shanghai International Studies University  
  • Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics  
  • Northwestern Polytechnic University  
  • South China University of Technology  
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong – Shenzen 
  • Jimei University 

Students are responsible for researching the cost of living, and are encouraged to review the following webpages to estimate their tuition fees:  

  • All students can refer to the cost estimator tool available on McMaster’s webpage.  
  • Undergraduate students can navigate to Undergraduate fees and refer to the column “Non-Canadian/International Visa students” under their McMaster faculty of study. 
  • Graduate students can navigate to Graduate fees and refer to the column “International Status” under their McMaster faculty of study. All students must review the supplementary and user fees for their level of study and program.  
  • International fees are subject to change

Preparing to arrive

Have you received your acceptance from McMaster? Congratulations! Here is some additional information to help you plan your stay..

The University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) is a mandatory, comprehensive health insurance plan that provides health coverage for international and incoming exchange students. UHIP covers medically necessary doctor and hospital visits within Ontario for international students, incoming exchange students and dependants (spouse and children).

Note: UHIP provides coverage in the province of Ontario only. If you travel outside of Ontario or Canada, you will need to purchase additional health insurance. For more details, visit our UHIP web page for international students or the official UHIP website.

The following services are not covered under UHIP:

  • Prescription medication
  • Dental care
  • Vision care

Note: The MSU Health and Dental plan is not available to incoming exchange students.

On-campus housing

The McMaster Future Residents page is where you will find out everything you need to know about our residence buildings and room types, how the application process works, what you need to know to get ready for move-in day and anything else you might need to know.

Important notes:

  • Meal plans are mandatory.
  • Residence accommodation is only available to undergraduate.
  • On-campus housing is not guaranteed, though all are encouraged to apply.
  • Residences typically host first-year students.
  • McMaster facilities close over the December holiday break, but some residences remain open for students who apply to stay over the holidays. More information on December Stay can be found on the housing website and can be requested as part of the residence application.
  • An admin charge of $300 CAD is applied to semester students staying for September to December only.

Off-campus housing

McMaster is surrounded by many diverse neighborhoods with different housing options. Off-campus housing allows you to live close to campus and experience shared living with other students. Through McMaster’s Off-Campus Resource Centre, you can browse through rental listings for shared housing in the nearby community of Westdale and the surrounding area.

If you have any accessibility or accommodation needs, you or your home counsellor should contact and

Student Accessibility Services (SAS)

At McMaster, SAS offers various supports for students with disabilities. SAS works with full-time and part-time students, as well as prospective students. SAS provides or assists students with academic and disability-related needs, including:

  • Learning strategies
  • Assistive technologies
  • Test and exam administration
  • Note-taking programs
  • Classroom accommodations
  • Groups and events

To access SAS services, you must register with SAS when you arrive at McMaster.

Build your McMaster community

Going on exchange is about more than just academics — it’s an opportunity to gain unique experiences and develop new relationships. Building a community of peers who share similar goals and interests will help you make the most of every aspect of your exchange and get involved in meaningful ways during your stay. Participate in programs to support your transition to McMaster.

Summer Webinar Series

The International Student Summer Webinar Series is an amazing series available to incoming exchange students, put on by McMaster’s International and Exchange Student Experience Team. The Webinars provide essential information on topics such as immigration, health, academics and adjusting to life in Canada. These webinars aim to help you transition smoothly into the McMaster community and enhance your overall university experience. Visit the Student Success Centre website, linked above, to register for sessions or access the recordings. 

Exchange Orientation Day (all exchange students) 

This session is for new exchange students to McMaster. Come meet other new exchange students, learn about studying at McMaster, and get your questions answered before classes begin. 

  • Fall term: Friday before classes begin. 
  • Winter term: Friday before classes begin. 

Graduate Student Welcome Events (all graduate) 

Visit the Graduate Students Association (GSA) for a list of upcoming events for new grads. 

MBA Welcome Orientation (MBA only) 

MBA students study at the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington. A special welcome will be provided in addition to MBA academic events in August each year.  

McMaster Outdoor Orientation Experience (MOOSE) 

Available at the start of both academic terms, exchange welcome events and MOOSE outdoor orientation trips bring together new exchange students before the academic year begins. Socialize with other exchange students and participate in team-building exercises in some of Ontario’s most beautiful natural parks.

McMaster University recognizes and acknowledges that it is located on the traditional territories of the Mississauga and Haudenosaunee nations, and within the lands protected by the Dish With One Spoon wampum agreement. More than 1.4 million people in Canada identify themselves as Indigenous, coming from First Nations, Inuit or Métis backgrounds.

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is an important and on-going conversation in Canada. Learn more about reconciliation efforts through further reading or selecting courses from our Indigenous Studies Program.

When you’re accepted to study at McMaster, you’ll have the option to join our inbound exchange Buddy Program. This program will connect you with a McMaster peer who can act as your Canadian/McMaster guide before and after you arrive. Send an email to to get involved in the program and get matched with a McMaster buddy.

Student clubs

The McMaster Students Union (MSU) recognizes over 350 clubs in five categories: academic, cultural, recreational, religious and social issues.


As an exchange student (with the exception of MBA students), you also have free access to athletics and recreation facilities at McMaster. Fitness classes and intramural sports are a great way to get to know others with similar interests.


For more information on Emerging Leaders of the Americas Program (ELAP), Study in Canada Scholarships or Canada-ASEAN Scholarship and Educational Exchange for Development (SEED), visit Internal and External Bursaries and Awards, led by our Office of International Affairs.