Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University: Requirements, Statistics, and How to Get Accepted in 2020

Updated: September 30, 2020

McMaster medical school accepts students from a broad range of academic and personal backgrounds, including mature and non-traditional applicants. Self-directed learning is one of the key components of this three-year program. In this blog, you will learn McMaster’s admissions statistics and requirements, tuition and funding opportunities, available programs, selection factors, and strategies that will help you get accepted.

Here's What I'll Cover:

Mission Statement

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Available Programs

Academic Curriculum

Tuition Costs and Funding Opportunities

Application Timeline

Selection Factors

Interview Selection and Format

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

Contact Information

FAQs

Mission Statement

“At McMaster, our purpose is the discovery, communication, and preservation of knowledge. In our teaching, research, and scholarship, we are committed to creativity, innovation, and excellence. We value integrity, quality, inclusiveness, and teamwork in everything we do. We inspire critical thinking, personal growth, and a passion for lifelong learning. We serve the social, cultural, and economic needs of our community and our society.”

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Acceptance rate (overall): 3.9%

In-province matriculants: 93%

Out-of-province matriculants: 6.5%

90% of interview spots are reserved for Ontario applicants

Average MCAT (CARS): 129

Average GPA: 3.89

Location: Hamilton, ON (main campus), Niagara Falls, ON, and Waterloo, ON.

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Eligibility

McMaster medical school welcomes applicants from all over the world. It is one of the Canadian medical schools that accept US students and international students. However, you must know that McMaster does give preference to in-province candidates by reserving 90% of its med school interview spots for Ontario applicants. Whether or not you qualify to be considered an in-province applicant will be determined from the Autobiographical Sketch, which will be a part of your OMSAS application. You may be asked to provide evidence of your residency status. To qualify as an Ontario applicant, you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada by the application deadline and have resided in Ontario for at least three years since the age of 14 by the possible year of entry to the program. For example, if you attended a university in Ontario for at least three years by June of the year of possible entry to the program, you can qualify as an Ontario resident.

International applicants must also use OMSAS to apply to McMaster. As an international student, you will need to present your transcripts for a credential evaluation. Your foreign grades will be converted to their Ontario educational equivalents. This evaluation is for the MD admissions committee only and a course-by-course evaluation along with an overall GPA is required. Visit OMSAS for more details. Additionally, applicants whose mother tongue is not English will need to satisfy one of the following conditions by the application deadline:

  • Provide evidence to McMaster MD program that they have achieved a score of at least 86 on the iBT TOEFL with a minimum score of 20 in each of the four components or the equivalent on other recognized tests
  • Have attended an educational institution for at least three years where the language of instruction was English
  • Have resided in an English-speaking country for at least four years

As an international student, you should also be aware that the successful graduation of an Ontario medical school does not make you qualified to apply to residency training positions in Canada using CaRMS. Only Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada are eligible to participate in the residency match. To learn more about residency options for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in Canada, read our blog.

Available Programs

MD

The MD program welcomes students from a variety of academic disciplines. The applicants are divided into two major pools: Ontario applicants and out-of-province applicants. McMaster medical school is spread throughout three campuses in Hamilton, Niagara Falls, and Waterloo. Additionally, McMaster offers Community and Rural Education (Mac-CARE) clinical rotations in family and specialty medical programs in regions surrounding Hamilton.

MD-PhD

Only three students are accepted into this prestigious MD-PhD program annually. If you are interested in this combined program, you must submit an additional application by November 1 of the year of application. You must be accepted to both the MD program at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and one of the graduate programs affiliated with the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster: medical sciences, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, health research methodology, neurosciences, biomedical engineering, chemical biology, and health policy. Remember, MD-PhD programs are designed for students who want to make research an inextricable component of their career in the medical field. Your application should demonstrate your dedication to and experience in high quality research. If you would like to get a glimpse of what kind of experiences you need to qualify, make sure to read our blog about the MD PhD essay.

Academic Curriculum

McMaster is one of the two medical schools in Canada that have a three-year MD program. Like most medical schools in Ontario and other Canadian provinces, the MD curriculum is divided into two phases: Pre-Clinical and Clinical. The pre-Clinical phase lasts 15 months and uses problem-based, self-directed approaches, and incorporates early patient exposure. You will be learning basic medical science concepts and core professional competencies. Most learning occurs in tutorial groups of 6-8 students, where you will contribute to each others' education under the guidance of a tutor. Students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning.

The Clinical phase consists of 63 weeks of clinical rotations in medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, family medicine, anesthesia, psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and emergency medicine. There is elective time, one half of which must be spent in clinical activity. Clerkships take place in hospitals in Waterloo, Niagara, and Hamilton. Other clinical placements are available in rural Ontario communities.

Tuition Costs and Funding Opportunities

For Canadian matriculants, the tuition and supplemental fees total CAD$26,126.64 annually. For international students, medical school tuition fees total CAD$95,996.68 each year. The supplementary fees include athletics and recreation fee, learning resource fee, student health service, health, and dental insurance plan, and other student and campus fees.

Financial Aid

McMaster medical school advises students to look into federal and provincial government loans, grants, bursaries, scholarships, fellowships, and assistance programs to help them finance their medical school education. You can reach out to the McMaster Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships to get more information about these funding opportunities. Additionally, McMaster’s Financial Aid Office and the MD program offer bursary assistance to students. These are non-repayable grants for students in need – you will need to apply for and receive government loan funding to be eligible for bursary assistance. Please visit this page for more details about McMaster’s funding opportunities and lists of scholarships available to students.

Application Timeline

July 9: OMSAS application opens.

September 15: Deadline to create an OMSAS account. You are strongly advised to confirm your referees by this deadline.

October 1st: OMSAS application deadline. You must also submit the initial transcripts and academic documents, the three Confidential Assessment Forms (CAFs), and application fees. Please access Secure Applicant Messaging (SAM) to uploaded supplementary documentation (forwarded by OMSAS upon submission of application).

November 3: you must release your MCAT scores to OMSAS.

November: Verify your application information by accessing the online verification report generated by OMSAS after they have compiled various data. Missing information will be highlighted here.

Late December/Early January: Interview invitations are sent to selected candidates.

February to April: Interviews are held.

The second week of May: First round of admissions offers are sent out. Applicants accept/reject offers via SAM.

June 30th: Deadline for OMSAS to have received final transcripts.

Selection Factors

Let’s go over McMaster’s admissions requirements to give you a clear idea of what you need to achieve to measure up.

Recommended Courses

McMaster does not require its applicants to carry a full course load and complete a full undergraduate degree. By May of the year of entry, you must complete a minimum of 15 full courses or 30 half courses (or a combination) of undergraduate university course work. The following will satisfy the requirement:

  • Your Canadian university academic credentials must be from an institution with academic standards and performance that is consistent with the member institutions of the Council of Ontario Universities.
  • You must be able to consistently demonstrate a high level of academic achievement throughout your undergraduate career.
  • If you completed a diploma at a CEGEP, you must complete at least 2 additional years (10 full courses or 20 half courses) of undergraduate university course work by May of the year of entry.

If you have completed the requirements for an undergraduate degree undertaken at a university in less than 3 years by the application deadline, you are also eligible.

McMaster welcomes applicants from different disciplines and encourages students to pursue degrees they are passionate about. Additionally, there are no course prerequisites, however, you should still familiarize yourself with medical school prerequisites to help you prepare for the MCAT and the study of medicine in general.

GPA and MCAT

McMaster medical school has specific medical school GPA requirements. You must have at least a 3.0 GPA on the OMSAS 4.0 scale to be eligible to apply. You should keep in mind that last year’s matriculants had a 3.87 GPA. Your average will be calculated using the grades from all undergraduate degree level courses ever taken, except credits taken on an exchange outside of Canada and the US. McMaster treats coursework in different years equally. You will calculate this average on the OMSAS Academic Record Form and it will be verified on the OMSAS Verification Report, which will be sent to you. McMaster University may also review and revise this average. Your marks from supplementary and summer courses will be included in the GPA calculation. Courses for which a "Pass" or "Credit" grade is assigned are counted for credit but will not be included in the GPA calculation. If you’re attending a program where "pass" or "credit" courses exist, remember that for the GPA to be evaluated, independent grades from a minimum of 5 half-year or 5 full-year courses in total, are required, without which the application will not be considered.

As one of the main medical school requirements, your MCAT score will be used in the interview selection phase of the application process, as well as in the selection of applicants for offers of admission. You must score at least 123 in the CARS section of the MCAT section to be an eligible candidate for the MD program. The scores in other sections of the MCAT are not considered in the selection process. Be sure to focus on your CARS practice – do a lot of challenging reading and practice with MCAT CARS passages. And even though McMaster only considers the CARS section in the selection process, you must study and do well in all MCAT sections. Firstly, most likely McMaster medical school is not the only school to which you are applying. The majority of medical schools will review all of your MCAT sections during application review, so don’t dismiss them. Secondly, if you do well in CARS but do terribly in the other sections, you will not look like a strong candidate. This is why reviewing MCAT biology questions, MCAT chemistry questions, MCAT physics equations, and MCAT psychology questions is important in your preparation for the exam. Your MCAT study schedule must include more than just MCAT CARS practice passages. Don’t forget to take several MCAT diagnostic tests to see if you are improving. If you’re struggling with MCAT prep, consider hiring an MCAT tutor.

Check out a sample MCAT CARS practice passage, questions, and expert answers:

 

CASPer

Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine is one of the medical schools that require CASPer. You can check McMaster’s website for further details, including their CASPer test dates. Remember, you only need to take the test once per application cycle. This situational judgment test is important in assessing your pre-professional quality and maturity. Tip: when you are faced with a CASPer scenario, keep in mind that you do not need to answer all three questions to get a high score. The quality of your answer will determine how well you do on a question. It is possible to leave 1 or even 2 of the three questions blank and still receive a good score! Your score is solely based on how appropriate, mature, and professional your answer is whether you answered just one of the follow-up questions or all three. This means that simply filling out all three questions with mediocre answers will not get you a high score, so make sure to prioritize quality over quantity! Make sure to know how to prepare for CASPer before you begin getting ready. Additionally, go over our CASPer questions and expert answers to learn how to approach each question type.

Autobiographical Sketch (ABS)

Your OMSAS ABS is reminiscent of the AMCAS Work and Activities section. In this part of the application, you must provide a list of extracurriculars for medical school and other experiences that will give McMaster admissions committees insight into your experiences and accomplishments. You will need to include activities you’ve been involved in since the age of 16 in the following categories:

  • Employment
  • Volunteer Activities
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Awards and Accomplishments
  • Research
  • Other

Though this is a uniform section for all medical schools participating in the OMSAS, make sure you know what activities and experiences would be beneficial for your chances of acceptance into each individual school, including the McMaster medical school. All Ontario medical schools encourage their applicants to include structured and non‑structured experiences that demonstrate your suitability for the study of medicine. Each activity must be accompanied by the name of a verifier and their contact information. OMSAS will arrange the Autobiographical Sketch in the order required by the medical schools.

Reference Letters

Three recommenders are required to submit Confidential Assessment Forms (CAFs) for your application. One of your three referees must be an academic reference, one must be personal, and one referee can be anyone of your choosing. McMaster admissions committee is looking for specific qualities and skills in each of its applicants, so instead of writing individual medical school recommendation letters, your referees will be asked to fill out a CAF. It is your responsibility to inform your referees that they must fill out the CAF and that individual letters of reference are not accepted. On the CAF, your references will be asked to respond to the following:

1. Would this applicant make a good physician?

2. Rate the applicant on each of the following attributes:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Professionalism (e.g., commitment to ethical practice, standards of behavior, and accountability to others)
  • Empathy (e.g., demonstrating consideration of others’ perspectives)

3. Identify and comment on 1 area of improvement for the applicant.

4. Share any other information you feel may be relevant to a medical school’s admission committee.

References are due on October 1st of the application cycle along with the remainder of your application. However, McMaster will accept late references without penalty to the applicant up to December 1st, if the referees are unable to meet the deadline. Even though McMaster will accept late letters, you should aim to request your references by early September to allow enough time for your writers to complete their online reference.

Interview Selection and Format

The following is the interview selection formula of the McMaster medical school:

32% Undergraduate GPA + 32% MCAT CARS + 32% CASPer Score + 4% Graduate Degree Bonus (1% Master’s/4% PhD)

As the creators of the Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI), it will not come as a surprise that the McMaster School of Medicine conducts its interviews in this format. McMaster medical school invites around 550 applicants to Hamilton, ON for an interview each year. Invitations are sent to candidates based on their GPA, MCAT CARS score, as well as on their CASPer score. You must attend the interview to remain an eligible candidate. You are also responsible for your travel and interview expenses. Please read our blog to find out how much medical school costs, including the expenses associated with medical school interviews.

To get ready for the MMI, you must know how to prepare for your MMI and go over MMI sample questions in our blog. Additionally, use common medical school interview questions to build confidence and stamina. Many med school interviews include open-ended questions like “why do you want to be a doctor?”, “tell me about yourself”, or "what is your greatest weakness", so make sure to prepare for those.

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

The following is the offer of admission selection formula:

70% MMI Score + 15% Undergraduate GPA +15% MCAT CARS

The offers are sent by email on the second Tuesday in May. You will need to satisfy all the necessary requirements to be eligible for admission and these conditions will be outlined in your offer. If you accept your offer, you must pay a non-refundable $1,000 deposit that will be applied to your first year of tuition.

McMaster does have a short, ranked waitlist for additional offers. If you find yourself on a waitlist, make sure to read our blog to learn how to get off a medical school waitlist.

Contact Information

Admissions Website 

Admissions Email: [email protected]

FAQs

1. Should I pursue any specific premed courses to increase my chances of acceptance?

No, there are no specific courses you can take to increase your chances. You are encouraged to pursue an undergraduate program of study you enjoy.

2. Do I need an undergraduate degree to be eligible for the MD program?

No. You must complete a minimum of 15 full courses or 30 half courses (or a combination) of undergraduate university coursework to be eligible to apply.

3. Will I get credit for the level of difficulty of my courses?

No. McMaster uses the marking scheme published in the OMSAS instructions.

4. Which courses will be considered in my GPA calculation?

The GPA is calculated on all undergraduate university course work you have ever done. The academic assessment is based upon the information on your transcript.

5. My GPA is 2.99, am I still eligible to apply?

No, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA to be eligible. Your GPA will not be rounded off.

6. How important is the MCAT in the selection process?

Only your CARS section score will be considered by McMaster. It accounts for 32% of your interview score and 15% of your admissions score.

7. I have written the MCAT several times. Which score will McMaster use in application review?

Only the most recent CARS score will be considered.

8. Can I submit more than 3 reference forms?

No, you must submit only 3 CAFs. Ontario medical schools will not accept individual medical school reference letters.

9. Are there specific extracurriculars that can increase my chances of admission?

McMaster medical school does not specify any activities that give applicants a competitive edge. You must focus on the quality of your experiences and how they relate to each ABS section. Remember to review the description of the MD program, its mission, and vision, as well as its goals, to find some indication of what the program is looking for in its applicants.

10. Are there advantages to three-year MD programs?

While this does make for an intense medical school experience, it also has some advantages. Firstly, this program is highly attractive for students who wish to take an accelerated path to a career in medicine. Secondly, this program also helps students who are interested in taking an extra enrichment year without falling behind their colleagues in other 4-year medical schools. 

11. Does McMaster medical school have a policy to admit Indigenous students?

Yes. Students who wish to apply through McMaster’s Facilitated Indigenous Admissions Program (FIAP) need to complete a supplementary self-identification application in addition to the OMSAS application. Indigenous applicants are required to complete the OMSAS application and must meet the same minimum academic criteria for admissions as set out for the general pool of candidates (three or more years of undergraduate degree-level courses by May of the year of entry with an overall GPA of at least 3.00 as calculated on the OMSAS 4.00 scale and a minimum score of 6 on the Verbal Reasoning component of the MCAT or 123 on the Critical Analysis and Reasoning section of the MCAT 2015, and CASPer). The FIAP self-identification application is submitted to McMaster’s Indigenous Health Task Force (IHTF) through the Indigenous Students Health Sciences Office.

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