Master in Science in Biology in Canada: A Detailed Course-Guide

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    Masters in Biology in Canada (MSc/MS in Biology) is usually a 2-year course that may stretch up to 2.5-3 years depending on the thesis, research work, and specializations. The program has an average cost of study per year ranging from 20,000 CAD to 40,000 CAD.

    • Nine of the Canadian Universities offering MS Biology or related subjects are ranked within the top 250 universities for studying masters in biology by QS Ranking 2020.
    • The average salary for postgraduates in biology in Canada is around 58,000 CAD per year.
    • Masters in Biology is a blend of modern research methodology, disciplinary knowledge, critical thinking, and analytical skills to become effective and engaged contributors in the field of biology.
    • Top companies recruiting students of Masters in Biology in Canada include Halogen Software, StemCell Technologies Inc., Nature Conservancy of Canada, and many more.
      • The average package offered by some of these companies is given the image below:
    Average Salary Package

    Figure: Average salary package for the top recruiters for Biology postgraduates

    Why Study Masters in Biology in Canada?

    • A rise of around 8,700 jobs is expected in the time duration of 2016-2026.
      • New job seekers arising from schools, immigrations, and mobility in the same duration will be around 8600.
    • The annual growth in the sector is expected to rise by 1.2% within British Columbia, this will give rise to around 1300 job openings in British Columbia.
    • Biologists and related scientists make 20.67 CAD/hour to 56 CAD/hour.

    Top Universities Offering Masters in Biology in Canada

    More than 50 universities in Canada are offering masters in biology along with some program specifications in the field. The table below list the top universities in terms of course ranking by QS ranking:

    World Ranking Course Ranking in the World University or College Total Program Fee (CAD)
    MSc/MS Biology
    51 26 University of British Columbia (UBC) 17553
    35 29 McGill University 21588
    140 151 - 200 McMaster University 34,188
    - 201 - 250 Dalhousie University 37754
    173 301-360 University of Waterloo 42252
    281 - University of Ottawa 53724
    364 - University of Victoria 21,840
    462 - Concordia University 34515
    MSc/MS Biological Science
    113 101 - 150 University of Alberta 37754
    233 201 - 250 University of Calgary 25,390

    Masters in biology from Canada is a degree covering a wider aspect of the curriculum. Students who wish to study specializations within biological sciences/biology can also apply for Masters in Biotechnology in Canada, or programs like masters in biomedical engineering in Canada

    Master of Biology in Canada: Curriculum

    Masters in Biology is a program that uses the blend of the theoretical, practical, and research approach to teaching students fundamentals as well the modern aspect of biological sciences. Students have to opt for specializations and submit a research-based thesis report to successfully complete the program. These specializations include animal physiology, ecology, and environmental biology, microbiology, molecular biology, plant biology, biochemistry, amongst others.

    In your first year of study, some universities require you to take graduate communication skill class and graduate modules, class. This is expected to equip the student with a solid foundation for a full program study and rightly integrate them into the research community. Other institutions, however, may require graduate students to take teaching assistance to improve communication skills. The program consists of four basic milestones which are:

    • Establishing a faculty supervising committee
    • Preparing, presenting and defending a thesis research proposal
    • Completing coursework with a cumulative average of 75% or higher
    • Researching, writing, and defending a thesis.

    Some of the electives taught in Master in Biology in Canada are chemical and environmental toxicology, bioinformatics, environmental sustainability, plant, animal, and human biology, molecular biology, forensic sciences, computational biology, and many more. Cell and molecular biology, ecology, behavior and systematics, physiology and biochemistry are some of the main areas of research in this program.

    Masters in Biology in Canada: Eligibility

    To apply for a Masters in Biology in Canada, students should have completed a bachelor’s or a diploma course with a GPA greater than or equal to as mentioned by the particular university.

    Where to Apply: Students need to visit the online application portal of the desired university, pay the fees, and submit the requisite information to complete the application process:

    • Candidates seeking admission must have completed his/her first degree in a related field.
    • Applicants are also expected to have obtained at least a B+ (some institutions accept a B) or it's equivalent in the final year of the bachelor's program and a mid-B overall average in the previous year of study.

    Other admission requirements for pursuing masters in biology in at top Canadian Universities are as follows:

    University/College Specific Eligibility Criteria IELTS Score TOEFL Score
    University of British Columbia A minimum of three academic references who can provide reports on candidates’ academic ability and qualification 7.0 106 (with no section lower than 24)
    McGill University Acceptance by a research director, 3.0 CGPA 6.5 86
    McMaster University B.Sc. Honors* with a minimum B+ average 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each band) 86 (With no section less than 20)
    Dalhousie University Grade of A-, GRE score preferred 7.0 100
    University of Waterloo 75%, GRE Scores, Honors Bachelor's degree 7.0 90
    University of Ottawa 70% in Bachelors, UG with specialization or major in Biology 6.5 80
    University of Alberta GRE is preferred but not required, 67.50% in UG  7 (with at least 6 in each band) 100 (With no section less than 22)
    University of Calgary GPA of 3.0 (B average)  7.5 105

    Masters in Biology in Canada: Documents Required

    Interested international applicants for Masters in biology in Canada are required to provide the following documents along with their application.

    • Transcript: Your previous study records including certificates, mark sheets, and scorecards are required at the time making applications for studying abroad.
      • Undergraduate Certificate: UG degree certificate including other professional degrees that prove the applicant’s commitment towards academic and scholastic endeavors are required.
    • Letter of Recommendation: LORs play an important role in admission decisions. 2-3 LORs are required for admissions in MS Biology in Canada. Ensure that academic and professional recommendations are provided.
    • Resume /CV: Curriculum Vitae or Resume showing grades, extra-curricular activities, areas of interest, the position of responsibility, work experience, etc must be included in the application package.
    • Other documents: SOP/SOI/letter of motivation may be asked by the universities.
      • Applicants must include their reasons for opting for the program in that university along with their thesis proposal in their SOPs or other supporting letters.
    • Proof of Language Proficiency: International students whose first language is not English are required to submit test scores from approved test agencies like TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or any other English language test accepted by the school.

    Admission Decisions

    Once submitted the complete application package is reviewed on a holistic basis. For different universities, it takes different time duration for admission decisions to arrive.

    Applicants' evaluation for consideration of admission in University of British Columbia takes several weeks. To check the admission decisions and to provide any new information or updated documentation, applicants should log in to the "My Application" section of the admission portal.

    University of Alberta and McGill University have similar admission decision format. After submission of documents, the application for admission into McGill University is reviewed within the academic unit while the university of Alberta admissions eligibility is reviewed by the department. If successful, applicants will be contacted within a few weeks.

    Note: Applicants are expected to log in to the application portal regularly to check for any pending/recent information.

    Masters in Biology in Canada: Cost of study

    International applicants who intend to study in Canada must have sufficient funds. The whole expenditure on studies can be grouped into 3 parts: pre-arrival costs, tuition fees, and cost of living. Aspirants familiar with the overall cost involved in pursuing masters in biology in Canada can plan their funding and apply for the scholarships available to study in Canada, if required. 

    Pre-arrival cost:

    The table below shows the pre-arrival cost for international students. These majorly comprise of application fees, fees of exams, visa application fees, airfare, etc. 

    Type of Expenses Amount (CAD)
    Program Application Fee 80-150 
    Canadian Visa Application Fee 305
    IELTS fee 240 - 247
    TOEFL fee 208 – 325
    Airfare 584 - 1,820
    GRE Fee 266 - 299

    Masters in Biology in Canada: Tuition Fees

    It forms the major part of the expense, you may spend approximately 21,840 USD to 54,458 CAD for the entire course in Canada. The annual tuition fees for popular universities are compared below:

    Tuition fees for masters in biology in Canada

    The overall cost for an Indian student pursuing Masters in Biology in Canada as per the current rate (June 2020) of exchange ranges between 5 lakhs to 15 Lakhs INR per year. 

    Note: All fees for the year are subject to adjustment, including tuition and student fees. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students.

    New students may see higher increases intuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date.

    Cost of Living in Canada

    International student’s cost of living is calculated to be approximately 14,000 CAD to 19,601 CAD per year, depending upon the province. It can be broken down as follows:

    Expense Type Approximate Cost in CAD (per year)
    Educational Supplies 1,960 - 2,631
    Food and Beverages 3,267 - 4,574
    Utilities, Internet and Mobile Phone 6,534 - 9,800
    Clothing and Recreation 1,045 - 1,306

    Masters in Biology in Canada with Scholarships

    International students are usually awarded scholarships to study a graduate course in Canada. These scholarships may be program-based or institution-based. The table below shows some scholarships for international students in Canada pursuing an MS biology.

    Scholarship Amount Offered (CAD) University
    Linda Michaluk Scholarship 2,500  University of British Columbia
    Department Support 15,900 per year + tuition McGill University
    Provost Entrance Scholarship 7,500  McMaster University
    Brian M.Joseph Graduate Scholarship 9000 University of Waterloo
    Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship 50,000 for three years  University of Alberta
    Provost Admission Scholarship 7,500  University of Ottawa
    Department Stipend 12,000-13,000/month Dalhousie University
    Graeme Bell and Norma Kay Sullivan-Bell Graduate Scholarship in Biology 13,500 University of Calgary

    International graduate applicants can also apply for international scholarships, continental scholarships or scholarships peculiar to their home countries as far as the scholarship covers the universities in Canada offering the course.

    Masters in Biology in Canada: Job Prospects

    In 2017, the Canadian Institute of Health Information stated that the Canadian Government was spending approximately 11.5% of the GDP on healthcare. This is a whopping 242 billion dollars and is bound to increase which means that it will create far more jobs for biologists and researchers throughout the country. The wage distribution in various regions in Canada for a graduate in masters in biology is depicted below:

    Hourly Wages in Biology sector in Canadian Regions

    Some of the opportunities available for students of masters in biology in Canada are listed below with the median salary offered.

    Job Prospect Annual Median Salary (CAD)
    Biophysicist 243,000
    Professor- Biology 236,000
    Ecology 225,000
    Microbiologist 217,000
    Biochemist 214,000
    Molecular and Cellular Biologist 205,000
    Clinical Biochemist 202,000
    Allergist 311,000
    Epidemiologist 264,000

    Masters in Biology is a lucrative program with a demand for graduates, researchers, specialists, and practitioners. This two-year program will open not only open gates to various job profiles but also allows its graduates to pursue Ph.D. as per the specialization they wish to choose.


    Ques. Is it worth pursuing Masters in biology in Canada?

    Ans. Where the cost of studying masters in biology in Canada is extremely high as compared to its cost in India, a student can choose to pursue the degree from Canada for reasons like getting to study abroad, world-class exporsure, getting to work in Canada and other countries. It is highly suggestive, that if a student is on a budget, they should rather study in India/home country and further move away for their PhD or to look for jobs in other countries.

    Ques. How much does a masters in biology in Canada cost?

    Ans. The annual tuition fees for masters in biology in Canada ranges between 9500 CAD to 28,000 CAD. This for an Indian student estimates between 5-15 Lakhs/year. Additionally, an international students is required to have around 16,000 CAD to live in Canada. 

    Ques. Where can you pursue masters in biology in Canada? 

    Ans. Some of the top universities for pursuing masters in biology degree from Canada are UBC, McGill University, McMaster University, UAlberta, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo, etc.

    Ques. Are their scholarships available for pursuing masters in biology in Canada?

    Ans. Yes, a variety of scholarships are available to international students in Canada. Some universities offer awards of an amount as high as 50,000 CAD to fund its student's education. 

    Ques. What is the eligibility for Masters in biology in Canada?

    Ans. International aspirants for masters in biology in Canada is required to have a percentile score of minimum 75% in a relevant bachelor's degree. Some universities may ask for GRE scores. IELTS/TOEFL scores are required for admission to any of the universities. The minimum IELTS score required is 6.5 and TOELF is 86

    Ques. How much do a masters in biology student earn in Canada?

    Ans. Students can earn as much as 300,000 CAD/year depending on the level of experience, job role, and company they work with after completing masters in biology in Canada. The overall average salaries for entry-level, however, are around 58,000 CAD.