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How to get into McGill University

How to get into the McGill University

For Undergraduate (UG) and Masters (MS) degrees

McGill University, a public research university in Montreal, Canada, is named after James McGill, a Montreal merchant whose bequest led to the establishment of the university’s precursor, McGill College, in 1813.

Rated as one of Canada’s best universities, McGill attracts students from 150 countries who go on to augment an alumni body that already has 250,000 members. Now, 24 percent of the university’s 40,000 students are from outside Canada.

McGill’s academics is structured into the faculties of Agricultural and Environmental Science, Arts, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Religious Studies, and Science, besides the School of Continuing Studies, Desautels Faculty of Management, and the Schulich School of Music.

They offer degrees, diplomas, and certificates in over 300 fields of study on completion of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.

McGill is a highly selective university with a reputation of prioritizing candidates’ academic record over extracurricular activities, recommendations, projects, legacy information, or socio-economic background.


It ranked 35th and 42nd in QS and THE World University Rankings 2020, respectively, and 43rd in US News and World Best Global Universities in Canada 2019.

Twelve Nobel laureates, nine Oscar winners, and 28 Olympic medalists are among hundreds of famous people who have taken McGill’s name forward.

Program selection

The McGill website helps applicants decide on which program to pursue by providing information under the criteria of not only programs but also faculty/school, level (UG and graduate), and degree (bachelor, certificate, diploma, doctor, graduate certificate, graduate diploma, licentiate, and master).

Undergraduate admissions



A curious mind and creative thinking are what McGill likes to see in applicants. The basic requirement is credentials that are normally needed for admission to university in your country.

You require the Higher Secondary School Certificate, All India Senior School Certificate, or Indian School Certificate, with excellent results in Classes 10 to 12.

With some exceptions, many applicants will require proof of proficiency in English even if they attended a school where the main language of instruction was English (the main language of instruction at McGill is English, but students may write their term papers and exams in French, too). TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, and Pearson score reports are among those accepted.

McGill takes its admission decision on academic record. Extracurricular activities, interviews, and additional documents (such as recommendation letters and portfolios) are not considered for admission review.

You should submit additional documents only if you are applying to a program that requires them (architecture, education, music, nursing, physical and occupational therapy, religious study, and social work); if you are claiming extenuating circumstances; or if you are applying for Major Scholarship or financial aid.

How to apply

Applications can be submitted online. The fee is CAD 114.37 for undergraduate programs (CAD 160.12 for the faculties of Medicine and Dentistry).

You need to be aware of the admission requirements and deadlines, select your login ID and PIN and keep a record of it, provide a valid/dependable email address, keep any required test scores ready, have a credit card to pay the application fee, review the Minerva (McGill’s central information system) confirmation using the login information provided in the application acknowledgement, and verify the completion of your application.

An acknowledgement of the application is usually sent within 48 hours with information about how to track your application through Minerva, such as your Minerva ID number and PIN (date of birth in year-month-day format).

You can view your application, document requirements (and upload any necessary document), apply for scholarship or aid, and view the status of your student housing application.

Admission Decisions

Applicants from outside the US and Canada can expect to receive an admission decision between December of the year of application and May of the first academic year.

For example, for a September 2020 commencement, applications may expect a decision between December 2019 and May 2020. The faculties of Medicine, Dentistry, Law, and Music have different schedules.

A request for reconsideration of rejection can be submitted within a certain timeframe. Reviews will be made after April 1.

Cost of attendance

The tuition fee for international students for undergraduate courses in 2019-2020 was CAD 18,110-CAD 48,747, depending on the program. Along with other fees, the total education cost for a year was CAD 22,271-CAD 48,747.

As for basic living costs, accommodation could cost CAD 8,148-CAD 13,052 per year at McGill residence or CAD 500-CAD 1,300 per month for rented apartment.

Food could cost CAD 5,475 under the eight-month mandatory meal plan at McGill residence or CAD 2,600 for students living off campus. The total basic living costs for a student staying at McGill residence could come up to CAD 13,623-CAD 18,527.

The total cost of attendance could therefore be CAD 35,894-CAD 67,274 (or about US$ 27,500-US$ 51,550, as per the exchange rate on January 17, 2020) for a student living at McGill residence, depending on the program.

Scholarship, aid

McGill provides a merit-based Entrance Scholarship Program and a need-based Entrance Bursary Program for all new students joining for the first year of their first degree program.

Entrance Scholarships consist of one-year, non-renewable scholarships for CAD 3,000 and Major Scholarships worth between CAD 3,000 and CAD 12,000, renewable annually up to three or four years under conditions.

In addition, some faculties, including Medicine, Dentistry, Law, and Music, have instituted their own scholarships. If scholarship is insufficient, students may apply for supplemental assistance such as government aid, McGill Work-Study Program, and McGill loans and bursaries.

Other assistance include scholarships provided by foundations, corporations, and other organizations.

Graduate admissions

McGill offers graduate admission to more than 400 programs in 80 departments which range from agriculture economics to computer science, environment to management, and human genetics to urban planning.

Although it is well known as a research-intensive university, McGill offers professional programs that are not research-based.


Each program/department has its own requirements, which are clearly spelled out in the relevant McGill website (link). Each program page gives information about the department, graduate/post-doctoral degrees, admission requirements, application procedures, dates, and deadlines, and financial aid.

International applicants must have a recognised degree that would suffice for graduate admission to a research-intensive university in the applicant’s country and prove proficiency in English, the primary language of instruction.

The minimum CGPA is 3.0 out of a possible 4.0, or a GPA of 3.2 out of 4.0 in the last two years of full-time study (this depends on the department). Tests scores (GMAT / GRE), references, resume, personal statement, and interview may or may not be required, depending on the program.

Applicants should be aware of the application deadlines for international applicants and avoid submitting applications late.

How to apply

Exploring the programs to choose the most suitable one for you is the first step. Before applying, you are expected to contact the department offering your program of choice to find a supervisor based on shared research interests. You should then learn about the admission requirements and application deadlines and find a supervisor.

The next step is to organize your supporting documents and submit your online application along with these documents (McGill uses “uApply,” an online system for graduate admissions).

Supporting documents may include transcripts, letters of recommendation (usually two from your instructors), and test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT scores that are less than two years old and directly submitted by the testing agency) depending on the program.

Some programs may also require a personal statement and a writing sample or portfolio.

Depending on the program requirements, you may need to have an audition or interview in person or via Skype, and upload documents/material such as personal statement, CV, portfolio, recording, research proposal, writing sample, or written work.

The application fee is CAD 117.35, for which you can apply for two programs.

Admission Decisions

Admission decision dates vary from department to department and from year to year. If you are accepted, you can accept the admission offer through the uApply account and arrange for official copies of your documents to be sent to McGill directly by your institution. If any outstanding conditions are mentioned in the offer letter, you should address them.

McGill grants request for deferral for a maximum of one year in exceptional circumstances for students who have not registered.

Cost of attendance

A representative sample of tuition and other fees, as they vary between departments: For fall admissions master’s full-time non-thesis programs, the fee for 2019-2020 was about CAD 11,140 and for winter admissions CAD 9,723.

For master’s full-time thesis programs, the fee was about CAD 10,794 (fall) and CAD 9,378 (winter). Tables giving the fees for various programs can be found on the McGill website (link).

As for the cost of living, the living expenses mentioned under undergraduate admissions may be used as guidelines. McGill pages help students prepare a budget, with likely expenses in percentages, such as rent 35 percent, food 12 percent, entertainment 15 percent, interest on credit, credit card 10 percent, etc., and also offers a Frugal Scholar Toolkit.

Scholarship / Financial aid

Graduate funding is managed by McGill’s academic departments. Students enrolled for research-based programs can benefit from fellowships, assistantships, and external funding.

Under financial aid programs, modest loans and bursaries are offered to students in need of supplemental financial assistance. Other facilities include tuition payment deferrals, on-campus work-study programs, and emergency loans.

Targeted special funding is available for specific categories of applicants, such as persons with disabilities and athletes.

The PBEEE-Quebec Merit Scholarship is open to international students who have not applied for permanent residency.
Also read:
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