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Graduate Studies Calendar 2018-2019 Program Descriptions Medicine Programs Medicine, Medical Science MDSC
Medicine, Medical Science MDSC
Contact Information

Location: Health Sciences Centre, Room G347A
Program number: 403.220.6852
Fax: 403.210.8109
Email address:
Web page URL:

1. Degrees and Specializations Offered

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Master of Science (MSc), thesis-based

Students in the MSc and PhD degree programs are normally considered full-time.


  • Cancer Biology
  • Critical Care Medicine
  • Mountain Medicine and High Altitude Physiology
  • Joint Injury and Arthritis
  • Biomechanics
  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Molecular & Medical Genetics
  • Pathologists' Assistant
  • Physiology
  • Surgery (In co-operation with the Department of Surgery)
  • Medical Imaging (Interdisciplinary)*

* See the Calendar section on Interdisciplinary Specializations for further information.

2. Admission Requirements

In addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Cumming School of Medicine requirements, the Medical Science Graduate Program requires:

a) Qualifications

Master of Science:

  • A four-year BSc degree or equivalent.
  • A minimum admission grade point average of 3.30 (on the University of Calgary four-point system; equivalent to a "B+") based on the last two years of the undergraduate degree consisting of a minimum of 60 units (10 full-course equivalents).

Doctor of Philosophy:

  • A MSc degree, or relevant Master’s degree, recognized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, or transfer from MSc program, or, in exceptional cases, four year BSc degree or equivalent.
  • A minimum admission grade point average of 3.30 (on the University of Calgary four-point system; equivalent to a "B+") based on the last two years of the undergraduate degree consisting of a minimum of 60 units (10 full-course equivalents) and any master’s course work if applicable.
  • A minimum 3.30 grade point average is also required in courses relevant to the proposed field of study.

Additionally, both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy programs require:

b) English Language Proficiency

See Medicine Programs.

c) Immunizations

See Medicine Programs.

d) Additional Requirements

  • Applicants are required to arrange for the submission of two reference. References must follow the guidelines posted on the program’s website for prospective students.
  • For admission to the Master of Science program with a specialization in surgery, prior admission to the surgery residency program is required. Students will normally apply to the Master of Science program in the third year of the surgery residency program. For admission to the Surgeon Scientist Program, prior admission to the Medical Science Graduate Program is required.
  • Students must have confirmed a faculty member willing to supervise their studies.
  • Endorsement by the Graduate Program Director that the applicant is acceptable and that adequate supervision in the proposed program is available.

Meeting the minimum admission criteria above does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Applications will be ranked according to academic excellence, prior research experience and commitment to the study of medical science.

3. Application Deadline

Application deadlines are available on the Future Students webpages:

Master of Science: 

Doctor of Philosophy:

4. Advanced Credit

Applicants must make advanced credit requests as part of the admission process. Credit will not be given for course work taken as part of another completed degree/diploma or for courses taken to bring the grade point average to a required level for admission.

Any credit to be given for courses completed will be included in the letter of offer for admission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

5. Program/Course Requirements

In addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Cumming School of Medicine requirements, the Department requires:

Master of Science

The minimum academic course requirement is normally 6 units (1.0 full-course equivalent) at the graduate level in an area that is pertinent to the student's thesis project and approved by the supervisor and supervisory committee.

Doctor of Philosophy

The minimum academic course requirement is normally 9 units(1.5 full-course equivalents) at the graduate level in an area that is pertinent to the student's thesis project and approved by the supervisor and supervisory committee.

Only one MDSC 755 course can be taken for credit.

Exceptions require the approval of the Graduate Program Director.

6. Additional Requirements

Each student is required to participate regularly in a journal club and work-in-progress seminar programs and the student will present at least one journal club seminar and one work-in-progress presentation per year. Specific training programs may have additional requirements.

Research Integrity Day

See Medicine Programs.

7. Credit for Undergraduate Courses

Under exceptional circumstances, credit may be given for courses taken below the 600 level. At least one half of a graduate student’s course work must be at the 600 level or higher. Students may receive credit for completing a course numbered 500-599 providing that the course is recommended by the supervisory committee and approval is received by the Graduate Program Director.

8. Time Limit

Completion times follow the Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations (see Time Limits): 

  • Maximum completion time for a thesis-based master’s program is four years. Expected completion time is two years.
  • Maximum completion time for a doctoral program is six years. Expected completion time is four years.
9. Supervisory Assignments

The selection of a graduate supervisor must be by mutual agreement between the student and the faculty member concerned at the time of application to the program and approved by the Graduate Program Director.

Supervisory committees, required for both master’s and doctoral students, are established based upon the needs of the student and the expertise of the committee members, following discussions between the student and the supervisor and approved by the Graduate Program Director. A supervisory committee, consisting of the supervisor and co-supervisor (if applicable), plus two additional members (MSc) or three additional members(PhD), must be in place no later than 3 months after the student’s first registration in the program. Specializations may have additional requirements.

10. Required Examinations

Doctoral Candidacy

In addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations, the program requires the following:

Candidacy must be completed within 28 months (for MSc to PhD transfers) or 24 months (direct entry PhD) from the program start date. Admission to candidacy is an acknowledgement that a student is fully prepared to devote their full attention to the thesis research.

To enter into candidacy, students must: (1) successfully complete all required courses, (2) attend Research Integrity Day (3) have their thesis proposal approved at a proposal evaluation meeting, and (4) successfully complete a Field of Study oral examination.

Students who do not pass their candidacy requirements by the twenty-eighth month of their program may be required to withdraw from the program. Specific details of the examination format and other candidacy requirements can be found at:

Thesis Examination

All students in thesis-based programs (MSc and PhD) must successfully pass the Final Thesis Oral Examination (see Thesis Examinations). The examination will consist of a public seminar followed by an open oral examination.

Scheduling of the Examination
All members of the Supervisory Committee must have reviewed the student’s research, including a relevant written sample of the materials related to the thesis, before an examination can be scheduled.

Composition of the Committee
The Internal Examiner may be internal to the home program.

11. Research Proposal Requirements

All MSc and PhD students must defend a written research proposal to their supervisory committee. For MSc students, this document must be submitted within 12 months after initial registration in the program. For additional information about the PhD research proposal, refer to:

12. Financial Assistance

All students who are accepted into the program and are full-time will receive a minimum stipend ($21,000 per annum for MSc students and $23,000 per annum for PhD students) generally funded by their supervisor’s operating grants, internal awards, and/or external awards. Self-funding is not an option except for MD holders also enrolled in a clinical training program. 

Students are expected to apply to external agencies for financial support from scholarships or studentship awards and for University of Calgary Scholarships (see Awards and Financial Assistance section of this Calendar). Possible sources of financial support are listed on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website:

Some awards provide stipends in excess of the program minimum. Information and deadlines for Medical Science Faculty of Graduate Studies' award competitions will be provided throughout the year.