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

Bhavya Rawal Bhavya Rawal
Study Abroad Expert

Masters in Biology (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. 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.

  • 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.
  • According to the PayScale report, the average salary for postgraduates in biology is around 58,000 CAD per year.
  • Top companies in Canada recruiting students of Master in Biology 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 of Biology in Canada?

  • A rise of around 8700 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 RankingCourse Ranking in the WorldUniversity or CollegeTotal Program Fee (CAD)
MSc/MS Biology
5126University of British Columbia17553
3529McGill University21588
140151 - 200McMaster University34,188
-201 - 250Dalhousie University37754
173301-360University of Waterloo42252
281-University of Ottawa53724
364-University of Victoria21,840
462-Concordia University34515
MSc/MS Biological Science
113101 - 150University of Alberta37754
233201 - 250University of Calgary25,390

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 (MS) of 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 university-specific admission requirements are as follows:

University/CollegeSpecific Eligibility CriteriaIELTS ScoreTOEFL Score
University of British ColumbiaA minimum of three academic references who can provide reports on candidates’ academic ability and qualification106 (with no section lower than 24)7.0 
McGill UniversityAcceptance by a research director, 3.0 CGPA6.586
McMaster UniversityB.Sc. Honors* with a minimum B+ average86 (With no section less than 20)6.5 (at least 6.0 in each band)
Dalhousie UniversityGrade of A-, GRE score preferred7.0100
University of Waterloo75%, GRE Scores, Honors Bachelor's degree7.090
University of Ottawa70% in Bachelors, UG with specialization or major in Biology6.580
University of AlbertaGRE is preferred but not required, 67.50% in UG 100 (With no section less than 22)7 (with at least 6 in each band)
University of CalgaryGPA of 3.0 (B average) 7.5105

Masters (MS) of Biology in Canada: Documents Required

Interested international applicants for Masters of Science (MSc) 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 Columbiatakes 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 (MS) of 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.

Pre-arrival cost: The table below shows the pre-arrival cost for international students.

Type of ExpensesAmount (CAD)
Program Application Fee80-150 
Canadian Visa Application Fee305
IELTS fee240 - 247
TOEFL fee208 – 325
Airfare584 - 1,820
GRE Fee266 - 299

Master (MS) of 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:

Annual Tuition V/S University

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 in tuition. 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 TypeApproximate Cost in CAD (per year)
Educational Supplies1,960 - 2,631
Food and Beverages3,267 - 4,574
Utilities, Internet and Mobile Phone6,534 - 9,800
Clothing and Recreation1,045 - 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 pursuing an MS biology in Canada.

ScholarshipAmount Offered (CAD)University
Linda Michaluk Scholarship2,500 University of British Columbia
Department Support15,900 per year + tuitionMcGill University
Provost Entrance Scholarship7,500 McMaster University
Brian M.Joseph Graduate Scholarship9000University of Waterloo
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship50,000 per year for three years University of Alberta
Provost Admission Scholarship7,500 University of Ottawa
Department Stipend12,000-13,000/monthDalhousie University
Graeme Bell and Norma Kay Sullivan-Bell Graduate Scholarship in Biology13,500University 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 of 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 is depicted below:

Regions of Canada V/s Wage/hour

Some of the opportunities available for a graduate of biology are listed below with the median salary offered.

Job ProspectAnnual Median Salary (CAD)
Biophysicist243,000
Professor- Biology236,000
Ecology225,000
Microbiologist217,000
Biochemist214,000
Molecular and Cellular Biologist205,000
Clinical Biochemist202,000
Allergist311,000
Epidemiologist264,000

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.

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