Incoming Exchange

McMaster has over 70 active exchange agreements with partner institutions around the world. Each academic year, we welcome over 150 exchange students to our campus for study across the Faculties of Humanities, Science, Social Sciences, Engineering and the DeGroote School of Business. We look forward to welcoming you, the incoming exchange student, to our beautiful campus!

Your Home Away from Home

McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at the western end of Lake Ontario. With over 20,000 full-time undergraduate students and 2,500 full-time graduate students, McMaster is one of Canada’s most innovative academic and research-intensive institutions.

Bordered by Cootes Paradise, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the shores of Lake Ontario, the campus is connected to many kilometers of natural trails, biking paths, and Hamilton’s burgeoning waterfront. McMaster has over 250 cultural, academic and social issues clubs on-campus with a wide variety of athletics and recreation opportunities, including the popular Outdoor Club.

McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at the western end of Lake Ontario and is located in the community of Westdale. Westdale Village offers over 80 shops, services, restaurants, and cafes. Steps away from campus, Westdale Village is a popular location for students looking for off-campus housing.

Downtown Hamilton is only a short bus or bike ride from campus. To learn more, visit the Life in Hamilton page.

Coming to Canada, to study at McMaster University, was the unique opportunity to change my life. And what a change it has been. The campus is enormous, beautiful and full of life.

Erinn, Incoming Exchange Student

How to Apply

The steps below will guide you through the process of becoming an exchange student at McMaster University.

Step 1: Eligibility

You must receive nomination from your home university to study abroad at McMaster. We have over 70 different Exchange Partnerships.

Once your home university sends your nomination details to McMaster University, information on how to apply will be sent directly to you and your university coordinator.

Apply now!

Before applying, be sure to follow each of the steps listed. You will also need to confirm whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.

Step 2: Apply Now

Fill out the online application by the appropriate deadline. The deadlines are applicable to both Term 1 and Term 2 exchanges.

Please ensure you upload a current Resume and Statement of Interest to your application!

Application Deadline:

  • March 31 (Preferred)
  • April 30 (Final)

Apply now!

Before applying, be sure to follow each of the steps listed. You will also need to confirm whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.

Step 3: Supporting Documents

To complete your application for exchange, the following documents must be sent by mail from your home university. Please note we do not accept faxed or scanned copies.

  1. Official Transcript (original) with English translation and grading system attached.
  2. Confirmation of English Language Proficiency if you are not currently studying at an English speaking institution. Language test scores are required for MBA and MOU applicants only.
  3. Graduate & MBA Applicants only: 2 Letters of Reference. One reference must be from an academic source.

Supporting Documents must arrive at McMaster by the application deadline. Late documents will result in a delay in your application being processed.

Apply now!

Before applying, be sure to follow each of the steps listed. You will also need to confirm whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.

Step 4: McMaster Acceptance

Once all supporting documents have been received, your application will be forwarded to the respective McMaster Faculty for consideration and approval.

Notification of your official acceptance to McMaster will be released in May or June for undergraduate students, and May or July for MBA and Graduate students.

You will be contacted by email regarding your application status. If your application has been successful, you will receive further guidance as to how to officially register for courses. Acceptance documents and immigration letters will follow by mail to your study abroad office.

Official Acceptance based on Faculty Approval:

  • Undergraduate: May-June
  • Graduate and MBA: May-July

Apply now!

Before applying, be sure to follow each of the steps listed. You will also need to confirm whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.

Step 5: Health Care

The University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) is the mandatory health insurance plan for incoming exchange students at McMaster University. Students are automatically enrolled in UHIP. For more information on rates and policy details, visit our Health Care page.

Apply now!

Before applying, be sure to follow each of the steps listed. You will also need to confirm whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.

Students with Disabilities

If you have any accessibility or accommodation needs, your home counselor must be in touch with Tim Nolan (Director of Student Accessibility Services and University Advisor on Disability Issues) to confirm availability of services.

Student Accessibility Services 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

Students who may require additional services or accommodations (academic, mobility, or other) during their exchange with McMaster must make an appointment with their home disability counsellor to identify possible needs while abroad.

Upon arrival to McMaster, students are expected to register with Student Accessibility Services located in the McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC) Basement, Room B107.

Residence (On-Campus) Special Accommodation Requests Form

If you have a medical, religious, learning, or dietary conditions that may necessitate special accommodation, you must indicate this on your residence (i.e., answer ‘YES’ to the question “Do you require special accommodation”) application form.

Please refer to the Residence Admissions website for more information regarding Special Accommodation Requests.

The following websites will provide you with further information on services available at McMaster.

Already completed your application? Some tips for getting ready.

Understanding McMaster’s Academic System

As an exchange student, you can attend McMaster as an undergraduate or graduate student. Here is some information about the academic system that you may need to know as a incoming exchange student, based on your level of study.

Undergraduate Exchange Students

Undergraduate students at McMaster are those students enrolled in a program of study leading to a bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate programs can be 3, 4 (Honours program) or 5 (Engineering) years in length. Students must complete a bachelor’s degree before applying for a Graduate (Master’s) program.

How Many Courses Should You Take?

As an exchange student you should be registered in full-time studies. Full-time studies at McMaster equates to 9 to 15 units per semester (3, 4 or 5 courses). Be sure to check with your home university to see how many courses you are required to complete.

What level of courses should you consider?

Undergraduate exchange students will be registered as Level 3 students at McMaster and should expect to follow courses in Level 2 and Level 3. Enrollment in Level 4 and many Level 1 courses is generally reserved for McMaster students. Access to Level 1 elective courses may be given, space permitting. For restricted areas of study, please refer to the Course Restrictions section.

Course Codes

At McMaster, the course code provides quick information at a glance to the reader. This includes:

  1. The abbreviation of the subject that the course belongs to
  2. The level of study (i.e. level 1, level 2, etc)
  3. How many units the course is worth
    *At McMaster each course is worth either 3 or 6 units. A 3 unit class lasts for one term (4 months) and a 6 unit course lasts for two terms (8 months).
  4. Full Name of course.

Example 1: HISTORY 3J03: The United States in the 1960s

  • HISTORY 3J03 -> Indicates the subject to which the course belongs to. This is a history course.
  • HISTORY 3J03 -> Indicates the level of study. This is always the first number in any course code. This history course is a level 3 course.
  • HISTORY 3J03 -> Is random lettering assigned by the faculty. Provides no information.
  • HISTORY 3J03 ->Indicates the number of units the course is worth. This course is worth 3 units (one term). This is always the last number in the course code.
  • The United States in the 1960s -> Indicates the course name

Create your Study Plan

To create your tentative study plan, please refer to the most recent Undergraduate Calendar for current course information.

Review your Courses

  1. Look up the brief course descriptions of all current course offerings in Mosaic under Search > Browse Course Catalog, OR search for courses in the Undergraduate Calendar.
  2. Check the course prerequisites. These are included in the course description when you view a course on “browse course catalog” in Mosaic, or in the Undergraduate Calendar. If a prerequisite exists, you should be able to prove prior knowledge of this subject to study at this level. You should be aware of courses which require prerequisites and/or have other restrictions as you will have to take further action to access these courses (which will be later explained in this guide).

There will be a list of all courses offered for each subject of study. Please note the prerequisite(s) and antirequisite(s)!

Image of Mosaic Course Details.
Image of course details.

Helpful Tips

It will be very helpful to have a list of backup courses handy before formal registration takes place through Mosaic.

Courses fill up on a first come, first served basis, so students should be ready with a revised course list in the case that a course is already full.

If a course is showing as full, it is still possible for a seat to come available during the designated course drop/add periods.

Master Course Timetable

The official schedule for courses for each academic year will be available by late May/early June. Using this online tool, you will be able to see the exact day and time when each course at McMaster is offered.

Knowing the day and time a course is scheduled is important as Mosaic will not allow you to enroll in courses that have a time conflict with another course on your list. Please be aware of this and select courses that do not have time conflicts to avoid future complications.

Students are therefore encouraged to use the Master Course Timetable and the My Planner tool in Mosaic to help them create a tentative personal course timetable prior to formal course registration on Mosaic. Selecting courses and determining course conflicts should be avoided on the day of registration as Mosaic only allows for a 45 minute window and courses will fill up quickly.

Image of Course Timetable

 Through this online portal, you will be able to determine:

  • Term course is offered
  • Day or evening class time
  • Possibly different class time options (many classes only have one class- C01, C02, etc.)
  • Location
  • Professor

Course Restrictions

Students accepted at the undergraduate (bachelor) level are not eligible to take courses at the graduate (masters) level. Students are NOT permitted to take courses within the School of Social Work. Exchange with the Faculty of Health Sciences is NOT permitted.

As an exchange student you should be registered in full time studies. Full time studies at McMaster equates to 9 or 15 units per semester (3 or 5 courses). Be sure to check with your home university to see how many courses you are required to complete.

Undergraduate exchange students will be registered as Level 3 students at McMaster and should expect to follow courses in Level 2 and Level 3. Enrolment in Level 4 and many Level 1 courses is generally reserved for McMaster students. Access to Level 1 elective courses may be given, space permitting.

Faculty of Humanities

Multimedia and Studio Art courses are restricted, but may be open to students registered in a similar program at their home university (space permitting). Students interested in these courses should contact McMaster early to check availability and, if interested in Studio Art, submit a portfolio.

Learn more on the Faculty of Humanities website.

Faculty of Engineering

The Bachelor of Technology program is not available to exchange students. This includes any course with TECH in the course code (GENTECH, BIOTECH, CIVILTECH, AUTOTECH, etc.).

Learn more on the Faculty of Engineering website.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Students applying for PNB (Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour) courses should have completed ‘A’ level mathematics and at least ‘O’ level biology. This would equate to university calculus and grade 12 biology (highest biology level in high school). Please note that Psychology courses are science based.

Learn more on the Faculty of Social Sciences website.

Faculty of Science

Enrolment in Science Inquiry and Senior Projects is restricted (may be waived on a case by case basis).

Students within the Faculty of Science may be permitted to take courses within the Faculty of Health Sciences. This will depend on seat availability and sufficient background knowledge. Students will be considered on a case by case basis, negotiating all requests with their McMaster academic advisor.

Learn more on the Faculty of Science website.

DeGroote School of Business

The economics program is part of the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster, NOT the School of Business. This may affect some students’ eligibility for Commerce courses depending on the agreement between McMaster and the partner university. Engineering students must be registered within an Engineering Management program at their home institution to be eligible to take courses within the Faculty of Business. Level 1 business is not open to exchange students.

Learn more on the DeGroote School of Business website.

Grading System

To see McMaster University’s grading system, please visit the Student Success Centre’s Academic Support page.

Graduate Exchange Students

Graduate students (Master’s level) will have completed a bachelor’s degree and be currently enrolled in a Master’s program at their home university.

Programs Offered

The School of Graduate Studies at McMaster offers a great list of programs.

Course Levels & Types

Courses available for graduate credit are numbered either at the 700 or 600 level (i.e. 771 or 6D06). These courses are restricted in enrolment to graduate students. MBA register in 700 level courses only.

700 – Graduate Level Only

600 – Combined Graduate (Introductory) /Undergraduate

400 – Undergraduate level

700 Level

There are three types of 700 Level courses.

  1. Full-year (i.e. two terms) courses do not have a prefix.
  2. One-term courses are indicated by an asterisk (*) sign preceding the course number.
  3. Half-term (quarter courses or modules) are indicated by a pound (#) sign preceding the course number.

In all cases, the expectation is that the course will meet at least three hours per week (on average). Generally, 3-unit and 4-unit courses are one-term courses; 6-unit courses are full-year courses.

600 Level

600 Level courses are cross-listed graduate and undergraduate courses. This means both senior undergraduate students and graduate students will be present in the same class. Graduate students enrolling in these cross-listed courses at the 600 level are required to do additional course work beyond that required of the undergraduates in the corresponding 400 level course. This extra required component will consist of seminar presentations, laboratory projects, oral critiques, and grant proposals, the particular nature varying amongst the various courses. Each department offers only a selection of its courses in any given year.

Once you have found a 600 Graduate course that you would like to take, you may cross-reference it’s availability through the undergraduate calendar. The course code for corresponding undergraduate and graduate courses are the same except for the 4 or 6 at the beginning of the code.

For example:

Chem Eng 6B03 and 4B03 are the same course. 6B03 grants access to the course for a graduate student, 4B03 grants access to the course for an undergraduate student.

For 600 level courses:

  • the first character represents the level of the course (combined graduate-undergraduate)
  • the second character is a letter identifying the specific course within a department
  • the third character is a letter identifying the area of study within a program or simply a zero
  • the fourth character indicates the number of units of course credit.

400 Level

400 Level courses are undergraduate courses.


Students wishing to study at the graduate level must be currently enrolled in an equivalent graduate level program at their home university. Students may follow courses or conduct research.

GPA Requirement:

Engineering – 7.0/12.0 or 2.70/4.00
All other Faculties – 9.0/12.0 or 3.30/4.00

*These are minimums. Individual departments may require higher admission averages.

Graduate students will be considered at the department level for exchange. Students must indicate on their McMaster exchange application to which department they are applying, for course or research purposes. Upon acceptance, graduate courses for the upcoming year will be suggested based on the student’s specialization. Students may refer to the Graduate calendar for general information. Nonetheless, it is important to note that as courses are offered on a biennial basis, courses listed on the current calendar may not be offered in the next academic year.

Note: With the permission of their home university, graduate students may request to take some courses at the undergraduate level, with the exception of courses from the School of Business. Students and academic advisors should alert to the difference in course weighting between graduate and undergraduate courses.


Students are expected to take final year MBA courses only. MBA students are not permitted to take undergraduate courses. Please note that students applying for the MBA program must have completed a Bachelor’s Degree and provide copies indicating completion.

Study Plan

To create your tentative study plan, please refer to the most recent academic calendars for the most up to date course information.

MBA Program

MBA Students should refer to the MBA course calendar when selecting courses. The full-time course load for MBA is 5 courses per term.

MBA students are NOT permitted to take undergraduate courses in the School of Business.

Organize your course timetable before you arrive using the MBA Course schedule.

All Other Graduate Programs

If you intend to take courses as part of your Study Plan at McMaster, please note that courses are offered independently at the departmental level. Graduate students (with the exception of MBA exchange) will be required to email the departmentoffering the course to inquire upon its availability. Ensure that you have applied to the department that offers the courses that you wish to take. The number of courses varies by graduate program. On average students take 1-3 courses per term. Some course-based engineering programs will have students take up to 5. Graduate students are NOT permitted to take undergraduate courses in the School of Business.

Below are some steps to help facilitate this process.

  1. Review the Graduate Calendar. This document is published annually and will provide a list of all courses offered by each department. Please note that some courses will not be offered in the same term or year as your exchange. Make a selection of courses that interest you in your area of study.
  2. Graduate Administrator from the department to which you have applied. These individuals will have the most current information relevant to course offerings. The email address is the shortened version of their name (supplied) with “” added to the end. Graduate Administrator contact information.

Grading System

For the MBA Program, please refer to the ‘Evaluation’ section of the MBA Academic Calendar (PDF).

For all other Graduate Programs, visit the programs page.

Getting Ready

Once you have accepted your offer of admission to McMaster University, you will need to start preparing for your move to Canada. Here are some of the things you need to know:

Health Care

The University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) is mandatory for incoming exchange students. Visit our Health Care page for more information.


There are a select number of bed spaces for incoming exchange students on-campus. Check our On- and Off-Campus Living page to see your options.

Cost of Living

There are many costs you will need to account for in your budget for living in Canada. We've put together some costs to help.

Campus Support Services

From academic skills workshops to athletic facilities, we've got lots of services to support our students. Check out our Campus Support Services page.

Canadian Culture

Coming to a new country for the first time is exciting and nerve-wracking. Visit our Canadian Culture page to learn more about Canada.

Life in Hamilton

McMaster is located in Hamilton, Ontario. To learn about the different things you can explore, visit our Life in Hamilton page.

Trying to figure out what to do when you arrive? We’ve got some ideas to help.

Exchange Welcome Day

All exchange students are invited to attend our Welcome Day Orientation. This is a chance for new incoming students to meet other exchange participants. Participate to get information for your first day of classes.

Term one arrival takes place early September; term two arrival takes place early January.

Exchange Buddy Program

You may wish to participate in the Exchange Buddy Program. This program matches incoming exchange students with a Buddy (a current McMaster student) who can assist you with adjusting to life in Canada.

This program is a great opportunity to get advice from a local student before you arrive. Email to get matched with a McMaster Buddy.

McMaster Exchange Club

McMaster International Exchange (M.I.X.) Club is a non-profit, student run organization made up of McMaster students, members of the larger McMaster community, and of course, our international and exchange students.

Learn more about M.I.X. by visiting their Facebook page.


MOOSE-Xchange is an outdoor orientation program for exchange students. Get to know students in your Exchange cohort through a variety of outdoor activities.

The MOOSE-Xchange program is a great way to help you experience a successful start to your university life in Canada. Email for more information.

Request Your Transcript

If you are leaving McMaster and would like to request your transcripts, visit the Registrar Office’s Transcript Requests page.

Contact Us


Jenna Levi, Education Abroad Coordinator
Student Success Centre
Gilmour Hall, Room 110
McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8


Phone: 1-905-525-9140 extension 26105

Get Involved

There are lots of programs, supports, and clubs on-campus to help make friends and learn more about Canadian culture. To learn more about what is available, visit our Campus Support Services page. We also recommend checking out our Events and Programs page.