Life Sciences

Life Sciences OverviewWhy Life Sciences at McMasterLife Sciences Admission DetailsLife Sciences First Year CoursesLife Sciences Options Beyond First YearLife Sciences Typical TimetableLife Sciences Internships and Co-OpsCareers Beyond the Life Sciences ProgramProfiles and Alumni of Life SciencesLife Sciences FacilitiesLife Sciences Web Links

  • Overview

    An understanding of the tapestry of life comes not from a single discipline, but is woven from all of the Life Sciences: biochemistry, cell biology, genomics, developmental biology, neurobiology, psychology, ecology, and earth sciences. The avalanche of information available from these fields allows scientists to look at biological systems in unprecedented detail. The key is to integrate knowledge across disciplines in order to understand organisms and their place in the ecosystem.

    The Life Sciences I program is one of four science gateway programs at McMaster University. The Life Sciences I program offers problem-based and inquiry learning experiences that will challenge you to think independently and to apply the knowledge you gain. After completing your first year of Undergraduate studies in Life Sciences I, you will apply to and enter one of McMaster’s Honours programs – popular programs for Life Sciences I students are listed below

    Why Life Sciences at McMaster?

    Life Sciences at McMaster prepares students for a variety of careers in science and elsewhere by giving them a firm foundation in traditional scientific disciplines, while exposing them to multidisciplinary approaches to solving pressing problems.

     Many courses provide opportunities to apply scientific knowledge to the analysis of real-world situations in the various scientific fields. Experiential Placement courses provide students with the opportunity to explore career options and integrate academics with a community or professional experience. Senior Independent Study courses provide the opportunity to conduct independent research (in an area of your choosing) under a faculty member’s supervision.

    Students also participate in hands on learning in state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities.

  • Admission Details

    OUAC Application Code: MLS

    Annual Enrollment TARGET: 1000 students

    Admission Average & Requirements


    Web Links

    Science Career & Co-operative education office

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  • First Year Courses

    Please refer to the Undergraduate Calendar for the most up-to-date information about recommended first year courses for Life Sciences I.

    Before selecting Level I courses, it is very important that students carefully review the admission requirements for each of the Level II programs they are considering. At the end of first year, students apply to a maximum of four Level II Honours programs, and are offered admission to the highest ranked program for which they qualify.

    Co-op / Internship

    Cooperative education extends the undergraduate program to five years, and is a great way to gain practical experience and develop a professional network. In addition, during the four, 4-month work terms, students will further enhance technical and non-technical workplace skills, such as teamwork, effective communication and time management. Students apply to co-op programs in Level II and, if admitted, enter the co-op program in Level III. Admission is based on academic achievement and an interview. Students in co-op programs typically work in government, academic, hospital and industry settings.

     For further information about Cooperative Education see HERE or visit by the Science Career and Cooperative Education office in BSB 127.

      Experiential Education (EE) provides opportunities for students to gain academically relevant experience in a community, research or professional setting. This combination of academic and real world learning helps students to further develop the necessary qualities and skills that will be transferrable to future career paths. EE courses could be either an Applied Placement Course (SCIENCE 3EP3) or a Research Practicum Course (SCIENCE 3RP3).

    For more information about Experiential Education – please visit the Science Career & Cooperative Education office FAQ page.

    Careers or Options Beyond This Program

    For information about the types of careers graduates from McMaster Science can pursue, assistance with cover letter and resume writing, mock interviews and much more, please visit the Science Career and Cooperative Education Office website.
  • Beyond First Year

    • Students from any Level I Science program can (through careful Level I course selection) pursue any Level II program in:

       Students who complete Life Sciences I often pursue the following programs:

      Honours Bachelor of Science (Hons. B. Sc.) Programs

      • Honours Biochemistry
      • Honours Biochemistry – Biomedical Research Specialization*
      • Honours Biology
      • Honours Biology – Discovery Sub-Plan
      • Honours Biology – Physiology
      • Honours Biology and Environmental Sciences
      • Honours Biology and Mathematics
      • Honours Biology and Pharmacology Co-op*
      • Honours Biology and Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour
      • Honours Life Sciences*
      • Honours Molecular Biology and Genetics*
      • Honours Neuroscience**
      • Honours Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour
      • Honours Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour – Mental Health Specialization
      • Honours Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour – Music Cognition Specialization

       *Co-op programs are available, beginning in Level III

      Honours Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons.B.A.Sc.) Programs

      • Honours Human Behaviour
      • Honours Human Behaviour – Autism & Behavioural Science Specialization
      • Honours Human Behaviour – Early Childhood Education Specialization

      Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) Programs

      • Life Sciences


      • Minor in Biochemistry
      • Minor in Biology
      • Minor in Psychology

       For additional information about these programs please visit the Undergraduate Calendar.



In addition to spacious, well equipped, general laboratories the departments have:

  • An Electron Microscope Facility that contains a Transmission Electron Microscope, an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM), Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis and a Cryogenic Specimen Preparation System for ESEM
  • Animal Quarters
  • Biophotonics Imaging Facility
  • Centralized Facilities for DNA Synthesis, Automated DNA Sequencing, Electron Microscopy, NMR Spectroscopy
  • Facilities for Fish Holding Recombinant DNA Research
  • Fluorescence Microscopes
  • Greenhouses and Plant Growth Chambers
  • High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
  • High-Throughput Screening Laboratory
  • Infrared Spectroscope
  • Insect Rooms
  • Instrumentation For Protein Analysis, Purification And Biophysical Characterization
  • LIVE (Large Interactive Virtual Environment)  Auditory Laboratory – unique research-based performance theatre and testing centre
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Oligonucleotide Synthesizer
  • Protein Crystallography Facility
  • Radioactivity Counters
  • Sequencing Facility
  • Spectrophotometers
  • Ultracentrifuges
  • UV-Visible Spectroscopy

Typical Timetable

Typical Timetable

Profiles & Alumni

Visit for additional research profiles and videos from the Faculty of Science.

Examples of Faculty Research

  • Jonathan Dushoff is a theoretical biologist who investigates the evolution, spread and attempts to control infectious diseases of humans. His lab uses cutting-edge computing techniques, and genomic and health data from a wide variety of sources, to investigate diseases ranging fromHIV to rabies to malaria to influenza.
  • Marie Elliot uses big science to study small creatures. She studies bacteria that make a huge range of pharmaceutical compounds (including most antibiotics), and uses genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic techniques to understand both how they grow and how to manipulate them to produce new medicines.
  • Ben Evans travels to biodiversity “hotspots” in tropical portions of Africa and Southeast Asia, with an aim of identifying which parts of the Earth are most diverse and why. He studies terrestrial vertebrates such as frogs and monkeys using a combination of fieldwork, genetic techniques, and computational approaches.
  • Bhagwati Gupta uses nematodes as model organisms to investigate biological processes that are linked to cancers and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. His research involves a combination of multidisciplinary approaches in genetics, molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, and engineering.
  • Graham Scott studies how animals survive and perform in extreme environments. He uses integrative physiological and genomic approaches to understand how different species of fish, birds, and mammals cope with environmental stress, and strives to explain how animals will be affected by global change in the future.
  • Dr. Paul Andrews directs the Evolutionary Ecology of Health Research Lab (Evo-Health Lab). His research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of mental and physical health, as well as the accurate distinguishing between healthy and disordered states.
  • Dr. Suzanna Becker directs the Neurotechnology & Neuroplasticity Lab. Research involves areas such as spatial cognition, hippocampal coding and neurogenesis, episodic memory, controlled memory use; language, semantic memory, semantic priming, numerosity; auditory processing, music, Tinnitus, and hearing aids.
  • Dr. Louis Schmidt’s Child Emotion Lab’s research interests are in temperament, affect processing and regulation; developmental and individual differences; brain and affective development in clinical and non-clinical populations; and developmental psychophysiology and psychopathology.
  • Dr. Sigal Balshine is director of the Aquatic Behavioural Ecology Lab (ABEL). Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach and investigates the evolution of complex breeding systems, social behaviour, reproductive tactics, and decision-making in animal societies.
  • Dr. Joe Kim directs the Applied Cognition in Education Lab, which focuses on teaching, learning and technology. Research from the lab works to apply an understanding of cognitive mechanisms to the practical problem of instructional design and the scholarship of teaching and learning.