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How graduate studies works

A person with short brown hair is facing a group of students sitting down at desks with laptops.

Grad school is different, in a great way 

If you’re taking your first graduate degree, it’s important to keep in mind that the experience will be different than your undergraduate, but equally rewarding.  

Making the shift 

Here are some key elements of graduate studies to keep in mind when deciding if Dalhousie is right for you.  

Making sense of graduate programs

Master’s programs 

At Dalhousie, there are two main types of master’s programs — thesis-based and course-based. Your choice will depend on how you like to study and what you want to do for a career. 

Thesis-based master's programs

  • Research-intensive programs that require you to write and defend a thesis.
  • You will need a faculty member to supervise your progress.
  • Funding may be available through a stipend from the university. 
  • Takes more than one year to complete.
  • Completion will meet the eligibility requirements to apply for PhD programs.

Course-based master's programs

  • Programs focused on developing a professional skillset. 
  • Comprised of a series of courses but can include a major project.
  • No supervisor is necessary.
  • Most students are self-funded.
  • Usually takes between one and two years.
  • Access to hands-on experiences, like practicums and internships. 
  • Does not usually lead toward a PhD.

PhD programs 

Your PhD program may include various elements from lab-based experiments to extensive literature reviews to field-based work locally and around the world. Whatever method you pursue, your goal will be to advance knowledge in a specific area of study. 

  • Thesis-based master’s degree is normally required, with some program-specific exceptions.
  • The majority of work is dedicated to independent research and advanced skill development. 
  • A Supervisor and supervisory committee are required to help guide your course of study. 
  • Comprehensive examination after initial course work to test your grasp of your chosen field. 
  • Successful thesis defence at the conclusion of your program is required to graduate.