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.

In 2020, we were named Canada’s most research-intensive university for the fourth year in a row. In 2021, McMaster was ranked number 69 by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, and number 14 in the world in THE’s University Impact Rankings based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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: our central campus in Hamilton and our campus in Burlington, Ontario, for Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) students.

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.

Eligibility

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)

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.

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.

Use the Search for Classes Tool to find courses offered during the current calendar year. The class search is updated with the next academic year’s schedule in mid-May (undergraduate students) and mid-June (graduate students).

Undergraduate students

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.

Undergraduate students

Graduate students

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.

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.

Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) students

Visit the MBA website for the list of MBA courses. Students are expected to take final year 700-level MBA courses only.

Undergraduate

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’s) level. Exchange with the Arts and Science Program is not permitted, except for ARTSSCI 4MN2/Movement and Integration.
  • Faculty of Humanities: Multimedia and Studio Art courses are restricted, but they may be open to students registered in a similar program at their home university (space permitting). If you’re interested in these courses, contact McMaster early to check availability and, if you’re interested in Studio Art, submit a portfolio. McMaster English Language Development (MELD) courses are not available for exchange students.
  • Faculty of Engineering: The Bachelor of Technology (BTECH) program is not available to exchange students. Computer Science and Software Engineering courses are also very limited. Engineering students are permitted to register in most Level 4 courses. If you’re an Engineering student hoping to take a business course, you must be enrolled in an Engineering Management program at your home university.
  • Faculty of Social Sciences: Students applying for Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour (PNB) courses must have completed A-Level Mathematics and at least O-level Biology. This is equal to university Calculus and grade 12 Biology (the 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 (entrance may be granted on a case-by-case basis). Email McMaster in advance to confirm your eligibility.
  • 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 your eligibility for Commerce courses depending on the agreement between McMaster and the partner university. To apply, you should have a background in Business. Courses in the IBH program are not available.
  • Faculty of Health Sciences: Restricted; available by partnership agreement only.

Graduate

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

  • 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.)

Master’s of Business Administration (MBA)

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.

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
  • 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 located close to many affordable housing options. Off-campus housing allows you to live close to campus and experience shared living with other Canadian 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, your home counsellor should contact Allison Drew-Hassling (adrewh@mcmaster.ca).

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.

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 macincoming@mcmaster.ca 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.

Athletics

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.