DeGroote School of Business


We’ve put together a list of questions students often ask – along with the answers – on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions


The PhD Program in Business Administration offers eight fields of study. Admission targets for each field are set at the beginning of each cycle. Students can only apply to one field of study and must indicate their chosen specialization on their application.

It is highly recommended that applicants take advantage of the free preliminary application service before submitting a formal application. Both applications have a specified deadline so please submit your application before the required dates. 

To apply, first read the application requirements and check if your preferred field of study is accepting applications. Then, follow the instructions on the application procedures page. If you have any questions during the process, please contact us! 

We require all applicants to provide a valid GMAT or GRE test score at the time of application. The PhD program attracts candidates from a wide variety of academic and employment backgrounds and this is the only common thread that we have to evaluate one candidate against another.

A GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) score of at least 600 is required.

A comparable GRE (Graduate Records Exam) score is also acceptable with a minimum 80% below required in the quantitative score. Please see our preliminary application form for more information.

GMAT and GRE test scores are valid for five years.

Our PhD students must be highly proficient in the English language. To prove your proficiency, you must submit one of the following proofs: 

  • A valid IELTS Academic test. Please click here to review the required scores. 
  • A valid TOEFL test. Please click here to review the required scores.
  • If the university is outside North America, a letter from the institution confirming that the language of instruction is English. 

Applicants who attended a university in North America may be asked to provide proof of English Language Proficiency if we are unable to confirm the university’s language of instruction or if we find that the university has more than one language of instruction.  

Two references are required at the formal application stage. Ideally, they will be two academic references that can speak to your research capabilities. However, having one professional reference and one academic reference is also acceptable.

You will add your referees’ information directly to the application portal and an automated email will be sent directly from the portal (SLATE) to your referees. Our preference is that the email provided comes from an institution-based address (e.g. “”) rather than a personal address (e.g. “;”, etc.). They will be prompted to complete a confidential reference report online through the eReference tool provided in SLATE. Applicants are able to send email reminders to their referees directly through SLATE.

No, there is no specific format required. However, we ask that you include: 

  • A very specific topic within your chosen specialization that you wish to research. 
  • Any past research experience (including publication history). 
  • Future career goals. 
  • Your reasons for choosing the DeGroote School of Business (and list up to three supervisor names who would be a good match for your work). 

For the Strategic Management field, applicants are asked to include details on why they specifically want to work with their selected supervisor. In addition, applicants are asked to include details about their teaching experiences, what type of teaching they wish to pursue, and how they will practically apply their knowledge to society. 

Please visit our Fees and Funding page for complete details of the financial support we offer our PhD students. 

There is a $110 (CAN) fee for submitting a formal application. The formal application fee is mandatory for all applicants. This enables our program office to process the applications that come in. No waiver can be applied.

McMaster is pleased to announce an exciting development for the McMaster community. Commencing from September 2023, the 10 Bay Graduate Residence will be available, providing an excellent year-round housing option for upper-year students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. If you need to apply for residence, please email

If you have an accommodation need, including alternative formats or communication supports, please e-mail to make the appropriate arrangements.

For those seeking off-campus housing alternatives, McMaster offers valuable assistance through our Off-Campus Resource Centre. This dedicated center is designed to aid you in locating suitable living arrangements off-campus.

Should you have any inquiries related to housing, please connect with the team at the McMaster University Student Centre, Lower Level B112. Feel free to reach out to them either by phone at 905-525-9140 ext. 24086 or via email at

If you are an international student on a Visa, please visit the Government of Canada website for more information about studying in Canada.

We encourage you to get started on it as soon as possible because we’ve found there can be some lengthy wait times. (You can find more information about the processing times here: Check Processing Times.)

McMaster’s International Student Services (ISS) office has useful resources to help you get settled. You can also find some frequently asked questions on the ISS FAQ page.

New Students

Your McMaster email address should be available for activation after registration. Please consult the University Technology Services (UTS) website for more information. You will be expected to use your McMaster email address for all correspondence with the PhD Program Office as well as DeGroote faculty and staff once activated.

We require a non-refundable deposit of $500 CAN. If you accepted our offer of admission, you are required to pay the deposit in the month of June (prior to registration in July). When you pay this deposit, you secure your position in our program and the value of the deposit will be deducted from your tuition once you begin in September.

Instructions for making payments can be found here.

The course selection form will be emailed to you by the PhD Program Administrator. You will be requested to consult with your Supervisor(s) and Area Chair to complete this form and return it to the PhD Office. Once your course selection form has been approved, you will be able to enroll in courses for the upcoming academic year. 

You must have one course in each term. If you don’t have any courses in a term you must enrol in a placeholder course (SGS 700).  Please see the instructions here.

The PhD Program Administrator will notify you when they are ready to be picked up from the PhD Office. 

Student Accessibility Services (SAS) provides academic accommodation assistance and related supports to students with disabilities at McMaster.

SAS is available to assist students transitioning from other post-secondary institutions, undergraduate, continuing, and graduate students.

Note to all students seeking academic accommodations: Please be advised that the process for activating academic accommodations must be completed at the start of every term.

For any questions related to this process, please contact SAS.

Please refer to your offer and application status to review the list of conditions you have to clear. 

Conditions must be cleared before the start of the program, and by no later than December 1st. Please contact your institution(s) and request your documents to be sent directly to us via email (preferably) at or to the following mailing address: 

Business Administration PhD Program Office

DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University
1280 Main Street West, DSB 104
Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4  

 Please click here to review the Graduate Studies’ condition clearing page for more details and to see if you need to request specific documents based on the country where your education was completed. 

Current Students

Students that are not able to meet the requirements of “Full-time Status” have the following options available:

  • Apply for a leave of absence through a Petition for Special Consideration.
  • Apply to SGS for Part-time status. PT students are not guaranteed TA ships, RA ships, SGS scholarships and are not eligible for external scholarships. To be considered for part-time status students must have:
    • passed comprehensive examination
    • successfully defended their thesis proposal
    • collected all thesis-related data and be in the final stages of the writing the thesis
    • the approval of their supervisor
  • All students have the option of deferring/declining the TA portion of their funding for one term. Students wishing to do so should notify their Area Chair and the PhD Program Office by email at

You can find many of the forms and policies you need on the Graduate Studies website.

A number of letters are available for students to request directly from their Student Centre in Mosaic. Check the Office of the Registrar’s website for a comprehensive list.

If the letter you require is not included in the list, we may be able to write one for you. Please contact us with your request at

Please include your full name, student number and details in your email. In most cases, this letter will be provided to you within three business days.

Student Accessibility Services (SAS) provides academic accommodation assistance and related supports to students with disabilities at McMaster.

SAS is available to assist students transitioning from other post-secondary institutions, undergraduate, continuing, and graduate students.

Note to all students seeking academic accommodations: Please be advised that the process for activating academic accommodations must be completed at the start of every term.

For any questions related to this process, please contact SAS.

After hours only, contact Security by dialing (88) from the phone in the entrance to the lobby area of DeGroote. Security will permit access to the building only after verifying your identification, and association with the DeGroote School of Business.

Contact the PhD Office at the following day to report the problem. We will investigate whether it is a system issue or a card issue and respond accordingly.

First, ask a more senior student to show you how to position the key card on the sensor to ensure that you are using it correctly. If the key card is malfunctioning, contact the DSB Facilities & Administrative Assistant, Luanne Labreche, at or ext. 24648 to report the problem.

A maximum of $4,000 will be available for support for each PhD student during their PhD Program. There is no annual maximum and the funds may be spent any time during the student’s time in the program. To apply for funding email a completed electronic copy of the Conference Travel Application to the PhD Program Administrator ( and CC the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies), DeGroote School of Business, in advance of the conference (email:  

Applicants who plan to attend more than one conference must submit a separate application for each conference. 

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