M.Sc. Program

Admission Requirements:

Applicants must hold the following minimum requirements for consideration of direct admission to a program of study leading to the Master’s degree:

A four year bachelor’s degree (or academically equivalent program) from an academic institution recognized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The applicant must have an appropriate background,  in biochemistry, genetics, or a closely related subject area, with a minimum 3.5 GPA (4.5 scale), or equivalent, in the previous 60 credit hours of university study, or equivalent (normally 2 years). In addition, during this period there should be no grade less than C+ in any biochemistry, genetics, or life science course deemed relevant to the proposed course of study.Admission will depend upon the availability of a Faculty Member to supervise the student and resources to support the student's research.

In rare cases, applicants with GPA's lower than 3.5 may be admitted to this department, based upon individual circumstances and the support of their prospective advisors. Students in this situation should consult with their prospective advisor and the Chair of the Graduate Student Admissions Committee.


Student's Advisor: Each Master’s student must have a thesis advisor prior to admission to the department. The supervisor will ensure that the student receives a stipend of no less than the value of a University of Manitoba graduate fellowship for the first year of his/her program, whether from a studentship, research grants, teaching assistantships, or a combination of the above. It is expected that the student, with the assistance of their advisor, will apply to all appropriate granting agencies that they are eligible for and competitive in for continued support.


Advisory Committee: Within one month of beginning the Master’s program, each student, in consultation with his/her advisor, will select an advisory committee and submit their names to the Chair of the Graduate Student Affairs Committee for approval. The advisory committee consists of a minimum of three members, including the advisor. One member must be from outside the major department. The student's advisor is Chair of the advisory committee and the committee has the responsibility to: i) monitor the student's program of study and thesis research; ii) provide advice to the students on research or other matters connected with their programs of study; iii) conduct a formal Annual Review of the student's progress in time to file a report to the Faculty of Graduate Studies by June 15th of each calendar year; iv) conduct a formal Departmental Review of the student's progress in time to file a report to the Chair of the Graduate Student Affairs Committee, by December 1st of each calendar year; v) make recommendations regarding thesis examiners to the Faculty of Graduate Studies; vi) ensure fulfillment of other University requirements regarding the minimum number of courses, time, residence, academic standing, final examination, and thesis.


Advisory committees are encouraged to meet at other times during the year, in addition to the two annual reviews, especially if the student or supervisor is encountering any difficulties. It is customary for the student to have approval of the advisory committee before beginning to write his/her thesis.


Program Requirements: A thesis is required for the Master’s degree in this department. The student must also complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of course work and must enroll in the ‘Research Seminar’ course for Master’s students every year they are registered in the program (until their thesis is submitted). The 12 credit hours must include a minimum of 6 credit hours at the 7000 level from the courses listed in the Biochemistry and Medical Genetics course list. The remaining 6 credit hours may be taken at the 7000, 6000, 4000, and 3000 or (in exceptional circumstances) 2000 level in any appropriate area. There are no required courses (other than the Research Seminar course), but students should consult with their advisor when deciding which courses to take. Students must provide the Chair of the Graduate Student Affairs committee (or designated alternate) with the written approval of their advisory committee to withdraw from a course. Withdrawal from courses will be noted at the student’s annual review meeting.


Students must attend at least 80% of the seminars in the Research Seminar course unless they have the written consent of the course coordinator (consent only given in exceptional cases; for example, student is out of town; student has started a new program or job and is only awaiting completion of their thesis). The course coordinator will monitor attendance and give the student (and their advisor) a single warning if they are missing too many seminars. Students who do not have 80% attendance at the end of that year’s seminar program will receive a ‘fail’ grade in the course and will be asked to withdraw from the program.


This department does not offer a comprehensive examination or practicum route for a Master’s degree.


Program requirements not related to coursework: Students are required to attend and participate in seminars, group meetings, retreats, journal clubs, clinical case rounds, or academic sessions that are relevant to their particular areas of research (as determined by their advisor).


Students may also be invited to present their research findings in local, national, and international scientific meetings.


Graduate students and WHMIS: Graduate Students working in a laboratory are workers as defined in the WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) legislation. All students will be trained in the WHMIS requirements and must follow the practices outlined in these policies.


Annual Review: The Annual Progress Report meeting will involve the student and his/her advisory committee. The student must submit a typewritten, double-spaced progress report of 2-5 pages, plus references and figures if needed, to each committee member at least seven days prior to the anticipated date of the Annual Review Meeting.


It is the advisor’s responsibility to ensure that the annual review is completed prior to the June departmental deadline. Students are expected to schedule the review meeting at a time when all committee members are able to attend.  The ‘Faculty of Graduate Studies Annual Progress Report’ form must be signed by the advisory committee members and  by the Head of the department, or his/her designate, and submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies prior to their June 15th deadline. Failure to complete and submit the annual report by the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ deadline may result in the student being unable to re-register in the fall.


Departmental Fall Review: Students will undergo a departmental review in the fall of each year. The purpose of these reviews is to provide the student an opportunity to be examined in a format similar to that of an oral comprehensive exam in their area of expertise. The review committee will consist of the student’s advisory committee plus the Chair of the Graduate Student Affairs Committee, or his/her designate, acting as Chair. If possible, the same person will act as Chair on all Master’s or Ph. D. departmental reviews in that particular session. The examination session will not be more than one hour in length.


The student is not expected to make a formal presentation as this review will simply follow an oral questions and answers format. Students should be prepared to start the session with an ~five minute description of their research project. No computers or overhead projectors will be allowed, although a blackboard or erasable whiteboard will be made available. The questions will relate to what the student is learning with respect to his/her research project and course work. The student will be expected to answer questions related to the rationale, background literature, experimental approaches, technical hurdles, and significance of their research project. Areas of general background related to the project and notable recent advancements in their field are also examinable. Each examiner will complete an evaluation form, assessing the student’s knowledge, verbal skills, ability to use and organize facts, ‘think on their feet,’ and answer questions directly. Areas of perceived strengths and weaknesses, as well as recommendations for improvement will also be noted. These reports will be given to the student and the Chair of the Graduate Student Affairs Committee.


The Fall Departmental Reviews will be scheduled during an ~two week interval during the month of November and must be completed prior to December 1st of each year a student is enrolled in the program. Master’s students who have submitted their thesis for distribution and examination by November 1 will not need to be evaluated that year. Ph.D. students who have completed their candidacy exams are no longer required to do an annual fall review, though they may still do so if they, or their advisory committee, feels it would be worthwhile.


Thesis Proposal: The purpose of the thesis proposal is to examine the student's understanding of their research area and to demonstrate competence in formulating and communicating a proposal for the research that is planned for their thesis. The proposal will be examined during the student's second annual Fall Departmental Review (or first Fall Review for students starting in January or May). The written proposal may be prepared in consultation with the advisor and will provide a statement of the problem, the background and rationale for the study, and the experimental approach. There must be enough detail (2-3 pgs plus references) so that the committee can provide the student and the advisor with an assessment of the approach, feasibility, and significance of the proposal. The proposal should be distributed to the committee members one week prior to the meeting. It will be discussed during the meeting, with the student expected to answer questions related to the written document. If the committee unanimously agrees that the thesis proposal is acceptable as written, they will indicate their approval (with or without reservations) by signing the ‘Master’s Thesis/Practicum Proposal’ form. If the committee members do not approve the proposal they will provide the student with feedback regarding improvements. The student will revise the proposal and arrange a second meeting with the committee to discuss and defend the document, to be held within two months of the first meeting. If the proposal does not receive unanimous approval at this second meeting, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.


Thesis Examination Procedures: In most circumstances, the examining committee will consist of the members of the student’s advisory committee. Students should provide a copy of their thesis to their advisor and allow him/her up to four weeks to suggest modifications before it is submitted to the examination committee.


Oral Examination: Students must pass an oral examination on the subject of the thesis and related matters. The Chair of the Graduate Student Affairs Committee, or designate, will schedule a public oral defense of the thesis after receiving the thesis examination committee's report that the written thesis falls into one of the two ‘acceptable’ categories. The oral examination committee will consist of the members of the thesis examination committee and the Chair of the Graduate Student Affairs committee, or designate, who will serve as the Chair.


The first part of the examination will consist of an oral presentation by the candidate, which should include a 30-minute summary of the salient points of the research findings. This presentation will be followed by the examination of the candidate by the oral examination committee. This part of the examination should not normally exceed an additional 60 minutes. The Chair will be responsible for maintaining the relevance of questioning and ensuring that the time limits are not exceeded. The oral examination is open to all members of the University community and guests invited by the student.


In the event that the student fails the oral examination, a second examination will be scheduled within six months of the first examination. Should the second examination also not be approved, the student will be required to withdraw from the Master’s program.


In addition to the copies of the thesis required by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics requires a bound or electronic copy of the final version of all Master’s theses (submitted to the departmental office).


Statement regarding Authorship and Publication of Results: During the period that a student is in the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics Graduate Program, it is expected that his/her research will result in one or more publications (e.g., papers/meeting abstracts). It is recognized that these publications are an essential part of a student's career development (with regard to applying for scholarships or future positions). These publications are also important to the advisor as they demonstrate the progress that has been made on research financially supported by external agencies or by the University. To avoid any disputes between the student and the student's advisor regarding authorship of these publications, the Biochemistry and Medical Genetics Graduate Program has established the following guidelines.


1. Since the advisor is usually responsible for conception and overall design of the research plan and normally provides the student with the finances to do the research, guides the research and contributes to the writing of any publications, the advisor has the right to authorship on all of the students publications that have benefited from these finances and/or guidance.


2. In accordance with the University of Manitoba ROASS Document (March 6, 1985) section IV A 7.10, the advisor must "explicitly acknowledge in written or oral presentations any indebtedness to student research or assistance."


3. The student should only expect to be an author on a publication if he/she has contributed in some scholarly way to the work. Guidelines for authorship on articles in medical journals are described in the document “uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals” and can be obtained at: www.cma.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/8451/la_id/1.htm


4. Coauthors are encouraged to decide the order of authorship jointly. Students are referred to “uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals”, as mentioned in “3” above.


5. The student or advisor shall not unreasonably delay preparation of a student's research for publication.


6. All authors share the responsibility for the publication and should have the opportunity to review all procedures and results used in preparing the manuscript. Each author should know that a paper is being prepared, should have access to the manuscript before it is submitted for publication, and should agree to being listed as a co-author.


7. In the event that a dispute regarding authorship or publication of results arises between a student and his/her advisor, the student or the advisor should inform the Head of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics who will meet with them to assess the situation and determine an appropriate course of action.


8. In the event that a student is named as an “inventor” for intellectual property (IP) that is being processed for a patent application by his/her advisor, the student will be governed by the University of Manitoba bylaws governing the Faculty member.  


Revised 2009