Preparing for Graduate Studies
You are considering graduate studies, what do you do next?
Why not visit Queen’s! Enrol in a campus tour or coordinate a visit with members of the Program of interest.
Tips for Undergraduates – it’s never too early to start planning
Graduate school may seem like part of a distant future, but it’s never too early to start planning. As you look forward to earning your undergraduate degree, think about your next step; a step that could include a master’s or doctoral degree.
You are on the brink of an exciting future. Queen’s School of Graduate Studies can help you get there.
Get to Know your Professors
Do you know your professors? Do they know you? If not, get to know them. When it comes time to write a reference for you, it will help if they can write about you personally, instead of just listing your marks.
Volunteer to help with research projects or complete an independent project, directed reading or thesis course. It’s a great way to delve into a topic you might want to study at the graduate level and could lead you in directions you may never have dreamed possible.
Go to the Fairs
Graduate recruitment fairs, information sessions and open houses at universities are a great way to learn about your program of interest, what it can offer, the funding opportunities, the research going on and whether or not you have the necessary courses to apply.
Contact the universities you are interested in and learn all you can about the campus, the city, the faculty and the staff. Talk to current graduate students and ask about their experiences. Find out if there are any special requirements before you start the applications process.
Don't wait until the last minute to get your final application in. Some scholarships and bursaries depend on you applying early. And make sure you keep on top of the deadlines. They have a way of sneaking up on you.
Understand Your Funding Options
When you can concentrate on your studies without having to worry about where the next tuition payment is coming from, you will be able to appreciate and enjoy the experience that much more. This takes planning.
We recommend you get an early start. In the summer between your 3rd & 4th undergrad year, search the web and learn about scholarship opportunities including federal graduate awards (NSERC, SSHRC & CIHR) and provincial award (Ontario Graduate Scholarship). Often the application deadlines for these awards are early in the fall, even before the deadline for applying to graduate studies.
The School of Graduate Studies also has scholarships available. Follow this link to find out more about funding.
Considerations Before Applying
Step 1: Apply early for any government awards
If you meet the eligibility requirements, apply for funding from Canada's three major research granting agencies in the fall before you plan to attend graduate school. Each agency offers several awards and if you enter a Queen's graduate program having successfully won one of these awards, you will automatically receive a $5,000 (Master's) or $7,500 (PhD) top-up award.
Step 2: Explore the degrees available at Queen's
Find a degree program that matches with your interests - there are over 100 programs to choose from.
Step 3: Check the minimums
Make sure you have the minimum academic requirements listed by the graduate program that interests you. Most candidates for admission to a doctoral program possess a Master's Degree. Direct entry to some programs is possible for those with exceptional academic standing.
For a master's program, candidates for admission hold second-class standing in one of the following degrees awarded by a recognized university
- an Honours Bachelor Degree in Arts or Science
- a Bachelor Degree in Applied Science or Law
- a Degree of Doctor of Medicine
- or equivalent
To check the minimums either go to the individual program pages or the 2016/17 Application Requirements Table (PDF*, 40 KB)
Please note that if you are considering the Master's programs in Education, refer to the program website for the admission qualifications.
Step 4: Find out if you need a supervisor
Research (thesis-based) graduate programs require that you have a supervisor and some programs ask that you contact potential supervisors before applying to identify individuals with whom you share common research interests. Some graduate programs, primarily professional Master's programs do not require students to have a supervisor. Consult the program's website or Graduate Assistant to find out what is required.
If you need to identify a supervisor on your application, visit the program website to learn about faculty members' research. When you find a faculty member with similar research interests to yours, contact him/her and tell them about your interest in graduate work, area of research interest and related experience. The email correspondence is also an opportunity for you to find out if the faculty member is accepting new graduate students to supervise.
Step 5: Find out about tuition, student activity fees and basic living expenses
The Office of the University Registrar handles Tuition & Fees. There is some important information for graduate students about fees, payment of fees, and how changes in your academic status may affect your fees.
To plan your budget, it is helpful to know the approximate cost of living. The Office of the Registrar has provided a breakdown of expenses that you might incur over a 12 month period. Please keep in mind that these are estimates.
UHIP medical insurance is mandatory for all international students, you will be required to purchase a UHIP plan in order to register for your program of study. The Queen's University International Centre's Health Insurance and Care will assist you in attaining this.
If you are bringing your family, health coverage must also be purchased for each accompanying dependant.
Step 6: Check the program website for average financial packages available to graduate students
Link to our new Graduate Program Descriptions
Step 7: You are now ready to apply!
Begin the "Application Process" when you are ready to apply. International applicants please note that attaining a visa can take time, so it is important that you begin the process as early as possible.
English Language Requirements
English Language Comprehension
At Queen's, English is the language of instruction and communication, except for the language departments. Proficiency in English is a prerequisite for admission. Those applicants whose native languages do not include English will be required to obtain satisfactory standing in an English Language Proficiency Test as part of the application process, and before final acceptance is granted.
Any applicant who has, within the 12 month period prior to the month of application, studied for at least one complete year at a university where English is the official language of instruction may be exempt from the English Language Proficiency Test. An applicant requesting a waiver of the test for this reason should do so in writing and submit it with the application. The Director, Admissions and Student Services of the School of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the department, will make determinations in these cases.
The following English Language Proficiency tests are accepted by the School of Graduate Studies:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
- Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
The School of Graduate Studies at Queen's University requires the following minimum scores:
TOEFL Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT):
For an overall minimum score of 88 (out of 120).
Applicants must have the minimum score in each test, as well as the minimum overall score.
(Please note that some graduate departments/programs have higher minimum TOEFL iBT requirements. Consult the website of the department/program for details prior to submitting your application.)
TOEFL Paper based and Computer Based Tests:
Applicants must meet the minimum score requirements of the department to which they wish to apply. These minimum scores are listed on the 2016-17 Application Requirements Table (PDF*, 40 KB).
IELTS: 7 (academic module)
PTE Academic: 65 (minimum score overall)
Queen's University's English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Program
If a final grade of A- (A minus) or more in ESLA 140 or ESLA 150 from Queen's University's English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Program is achieved at the time of application, an English language test score may not be required. See Queen's University School of English for details
Other tests – eg GRE, GMAT - check with the program to find out if you need to take any of these tests.
Due to an amendment to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the Queen's University International Centre (QUIC) is currently unable to provide advice to international students relating to Canadian immigration applications, such as visa or study and work permits.
QUIC staff can and will be able to refer you to websites and other immigration resources and service and do their best to assist you in finding the information you are looking for. We apologize for any inconvenience this change to the law may cause and are exploring alternative methods to assist you.
QUIC will continue to provide advice, services and programs relating to your transition to Queen's, health insurance and housing, as well as supports to students going on exchange from Queen's.
Accommodating Students with Disabilities
The School of Graduate Studies is committed to accommodating graduate students with disabilities. For more information, see the Accommodations policy and the Graduate Handbook on Accommodating Students with Disabilities.