If being at the forefront of discovering scientific information that may translate into improvements in health and healthcare interests you, graduate research and the research opportunities available to you after graduation may be appealing. Graduate degrees can vary in length depending on the field and the degree, but most research-based graduate programs involve conducting independent research, coupled with writing and defending a thesis.
The Bachelor of Health Sciences Program will successfully prepare you for a variety of research and course-based graduate programs. The courses offered will provide students with a taste of various health-related fields to help our students discover where their passions lie. The comprehensive education earned in the BHSc program will appropriately prepare our students for the rigours of graduate studies. The following information will provide an overview of how the program is conducive to preparing students for graduate studies, however students are encouraged to research specific programs they are interested in to ensure they have met admission requirements. In general, it is recommended that students interested in graduate studies complete the four-year honour’s degree, rather than the three-year general degree, as this will open many more doors as an applicant.
Before the Application
Do what you love
If you do, you’ll tend to thrive! Choose a graduate program that interests you since you will usually attain better marks learning something that fascinates you. Be aware that graduate studies requires you to complete a bachelor’s degree prior to embarking on your graduate degree studies. Some programs may require specific prerequisite courses that are not core to the BHSc program, but can be completed as options or electives for the degree.
Research the program
Graduate programs are varied, depending on the institution and the program. Make sure you read up on the specific programs you think you are interested in! Talk to principal investigators in the program you are interested in, as well as to graduate students who are currently in the program. They will likely give a more detailed account of what it is actually like to be a student in the program than any website does! Many research-based programs require students to find a research supervisor who can be listed on the application, so make sure you talk to potential supervisors well before this deadline.
While some graduate programs may have specific perquisites, many do not. There are, however, a number of courses within the BHSc that will help you prepare for success as a new researcher. While all of the BHSc learning tracks have elements of research woven in to them, particularly in the upper year courses, the courses required for the Research Methods in the Health Sciences learning track have a specific focus on hypothesis development, planning of a research proposal, and/or data analysis. Specifically, the following courses emphasize the skills that are required for graduate program:
- Fundamentals of Health Research Methodology (BMED 270)
- Advanced Research Methodologies (BMED 383)
- Integrative Laboratory Studies (BMED 390)
- Principles of 'Omics' (BMED 470)
- Proteomics and Metabolomics (BCHM 482)
Aim High Academically
Be sure to keep the doors open. Different graduate programs will be differentially competitive, and so keeping your grades high will ensure that you have every opportunity to be accepted into the program of your choosing!
Become active in your community and with activities that mean something to you. The ability to balance academics with employment, volunteer work, sports, community, and extra‐curricular interests is a trait that application committees are looking for in prospective graduate students. While not required, volunteering in a laboratory at an institution near you can be a great way to get some hands-on laboratory experience prior to engaging in graduate studies.
Queen’s School of Graduate Studies has some excellent general tips for applying to graduate studies (not only at Queen’s). Be sure to check these out to make sure you are adequately prepared!