GRADUATE STUDIES AT MCMASTER – GENERAL INFORMATION
All students have to register for the forthcoming academic year on-line using the SOLAR. The registration information is available on http://graduate.mcmaster.ca/images/files/Admin_Schol_Materials/Registration_SGS.pdf. Initially you will need both your student number and your bar code (shown on your admission letter or student card) to set a PIN number, then you will be able to access the university’s on-line registration system. For Fall 2011, the system will be available to all students, both new and returning, between July 14 – August 5, 2011. Any student who fails to register by that date will be charged a $50 late fee. Late registration will be available from August 6 – September 12, 2011.
January 2012 Registration
On-time Registration: Thursday, December 1 – Thursday, December 22, 2011
*Late Registration: Friday, December 23, 2011 – Monday, January 9, 2012
In addition to completing academic registration, students are also required to complete a payment agreement using SOLAR. Graduate Students with full support for the entire academic year will be able to select Payroll deduction as their payment method. Other students should refer to the Graduate Studies website http://www.mcmaster.ca/bms/student/SAC_students_pa.htm for instructions on payment of fees. Please note that due dates for payments are clearly outlined on the on-line payment agreement. Otherwise interest charges will apply.
Any changes to your personal information cannot be made on SOLAR, such as name change, social insurance number and immigration status. You will need to provide the proper paper documentation and take it directly to the Graduate Studies office (GH-212).
New VISA Students - Registration
Visa Students must register on-line, but will receive the message “Study Permit Required”. Registration will not be complete until a copy of the study permit has been presented to the Graduate Studies office.
The School of Graduate Studies and the Department will use electronic mail to communicate directly with graduate students at various times during the year. The University Technology Services (UTS) provides each student with an e-mail address. You are required to “self-register” for your e-mail address via the MUGSI system McMaster University Student Information System http://www.mcmaster.ca/uts/mugsi_reg.htm During the self-registration process you will be given a password, it is important to keep a note of this original password, as it will be required again for library and JHE computer access. If you have any major problems you can call the UTS help line on 24357.
All students are required to register for services on MUGSI on an annual basis. Student accounts not renewed by October 15 are disabled and are subject to deletion. Students are expected to read their e-mail on a regular basis. Not reading email messages will not be treated as a valid reason for not adhering to regulations, procedures or deadlines.
Students are responsible for keeping their personal contacts, such as addresses and phone numbers up to date, you can update these details on MUGSI at https://adweb.cis.mcmaster.ca/cis/ud4000.
All full time Graduate Students are eligible for a Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) bus pass. After registering for the current academic year and obtaining your valid registration sticker for the academic year you will be able to obtain your bus pass from the Graduate Students Association (GSA) (http://www.mcmaster.ca/gsa/) office located in Wentworth House
In order to help students get started in their search for housing, the University operates an Off-Campus Housing Office. The office is located in University Centre, Room UB112.
Parking and Transit Services
There are a limited number of parking facilities on campus. Travel to and from the University on foot, by bicycle, by public transportation and by car pools, is encouraged.
If you do require parking for an extended period, please contact the Parking Office in the E.T. Clarke Centre, Room 102, where you will have to present a current University Identification Card, vehicle registration and payment of the parking fee. Special arrangements can be made for disabled parking privileges.
As a newcomer to Canada, you are probably undergoing a double culture shock, not only are you stepping into the “culture” of the School, but you are also experiencing the larger disorientation that comes from being a newcomer to Canada.
Be aware that if you are living on a Departmental Scholarship and teaching assistantship this will not allow you to afford a lifestyle of the rich and famous. The cost of food and accommodation and other living expenses will account for most of this income, so be prepared to live modestly. Make allowances for this by bringing as much money as you can to cover setting yourself up in accommodations, buying books and school items and to provide you with a little more of a social lifestyle.
Getting the Help You Need
Feel free to approach people in the Department with questions or concerns. Get into the spirit of the Department and participate in as many activities as you can. People are quite friendly. However, the transitional phase of senior students turning over and new students arriving means that there are a lot of new faces for everyone. Take advantage of this situation by getting to know as many people as possible.
You should make full use of the International Students’ Office (Gilmour Hall 104) http://oisa.mcmaster.ca. They are very helpful, especially in matters concerning health care, tax problems, and visas. In early September the office organizes a week of activities to help you get to know Hamilton and features of the McMaster Campus. Take them up on this; it is really fun and useful.
If you can, arrive about a month before classes start. This gives you a chance to set up a place to live and get to know Hamilton before your hectic life as a student begins.
Tips on Learning English
This section aims at providing international students whose mother tongues are not English with advice and tips, which may help overcome the language barrier that you may face upon arriving in the Department. A key to getting the most out of your graduate study period is to deal with language barriers at the outset. However, getting past these barriers is not an easy matter. Bear in mind that you may need to put a great deal of effort into improving your language skills. Below are some tips, which might be helpful in improving your language skills:
- Right from the beginning, try to make friends and interact with a variety of Canadians. Using English in both social and academic settings will improve your language skills substantially. If you do not get a chance to mix with people other than those from your own culture, you will likely limit your opportunities to practice speaking English.
- Don’t be afraid to speak out because you may be unsure of how to express yourself. Although at first your spoken English might be fairly broken and hard to understand, people in the Department are pretty friendly and are willing to help you improve your communication problems.
- To learn more about speaking English, try to watch news and talk shows (don’t take them too seriously) on TV whenever you get the chance. As it is not easy to understand conversations on TV at first, you could consider buying a TV with a caption decoder, which has the ability to show written English words on the screen..
Remember that other students in the Department have gone through the same experience as you now face, so don’t hesitate to use them as resources or for peer support.
Student Visa, Employment Authorization
Visa students are required to provide photocopies of their study permit and/or employment authorization to the School of Graduate Studies at Graduate Registration and each time such authorizations are renewed. Failure to do so will result in the withholding of their pay. Please leave a copy of your forms with Melissa.
The Department of Immigration
Their office is located at 55 Bay Street North, Hamilton, telephone 1 888 242 2100 http://www.cic.gc.ca/. When renewing your visa, please call this number as they are now handling these renewals by telephone.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
It is essential that the School of Graduate Studies have your Social Insurance Number on file. If you do not have a SIN number, please apply at Human Resources and Development Canada at 1550 Upper James Street, Hamilton (see below).
International students need a Canadian Social Insurance Number to work in Canada if you hold a TA you will need to take the following documents with you when you apply:
- A job offer (a letter or contract). Please contact the department to obtain this letter.
- Your passport and study permit.
- A Social Insurance Number Application Form. Forms are available in the Office (GH 104). You could also download forms from the Human Resources and Development Canada (HRDC) web page at:
It will take 3 or 4 weeks to receive your card in the mail. Your new SIN card will have the same expiry date as your study permit. Please inform the department your number once you have received this document. Also remember to renew both documents at the same time and give copies to the department.
OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan)
Permanent residents who require health coverage under OHIP may obtain application kits from Student Health Services in McMaster Student Centre, Room B101 (on campus). You may also download the application form from the web at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/ohip/ohip_mn.html. Completed applications should be delivered as soon as possible to the Ministry of Health Office at 119 King Street West (the 10th floor of the Convention Centre) in Hamilton. The telephone number is (905) 521-7100. You will be required to produce two pieces of identification (e.g. birth certificate, driver's licence).
UHIP (University Health Insurance Plan)
Your UHIP coverage will begin September 1, 2011 for the 2011/12 session and this year, enrollment is done automatically once you are FULLY REGISTERED. All students with dependents living in Ontario must submit an application form to enroll their dependents and pay the appropriate additional fees at Student Account & Cashiers. To complete an application form, please go to the International Student Services (ISS) in GH-104. Cards will be ready for pick-up at the beginning of September. You will be charged $756.00 single coverage (one person, 12 months of coverage) & this will be reflected on your Payment Agreement.