Current students: winter 2021 term information

Academic FAQs for current students

Will I be expected to be on-campus during the fall 2020/winter 2021 terms?

No. Except for a limited number of health care professional programs like Nursing all programs and classes will be held online for the fall 2020/winter 2021 terms. You are not expected to physically be on campus for the semester.

How will tuition fees be impacted by the change to online for the 2020-21 terms?

Tuition fees for Canadian citizens will remain frozen for this year in keeping with government policy. Tuition for international students will vary by program and faculty.

What supports will be available for online learning?

McMaster is committed to providing students with a rich and robust online learning experience. You will be contacted in the coming months about the supports available to help ensure that you can get the most out of your semester.

Aid & Awards FAQs for current students

Should I indicate online learning as the method of instruction on my 2020-2021 OSAP application?

If your courses will be delivered online for the fall 2020/winter 2021 terms, please indicate online learning as the method of instruction.

Can I indicate that I am ‘living away from home’ on my OSAP application if I have signed a lease on a residence in Hamilton for fall 2020/winter 2021?

You should indicate living away from home if you will be moving to Hamilton and/or living outside of your family home. Where your family home is within 30km, you are expected to live at home.

If you have already signed a lease for the fall/winter terms and have financial need, you should take advantage of all resources available such as the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, OSAP, McMaster General Bursary and other aid and awards.

What would be the implications of not applying for OSAP while studying from home?

Some of the implications may be:

  • You accumulate less debt.
  • You do not demonstrate financial need to be considered for bursaries, work programs, academic grants etc.
  • You would need to complete a Continuation of Interest Free Status application if studying full-time, so that your loans do not accumulate interest or go into repayment.
  • You would miss out on grants available through the federal and provincial government.

How will OSAP assess my current financial situation when I am providing 2019 income tax information for my parents/spouse?

A ‘Lower Estimated Income Appeal for Spouse/Parent’ is available on the OSAP website. This appeal is used to ask the government to consider 2020 estimated income instead of the 2019 income reported to Revenue Canada in cases of extenuating, one-time circumstances such as job loss or illness.

How does living at home impact my OSAP entitlement?

The maximum amounts of aid for OSAP for Full-Time Students has been increased from $400 to $545 per week for single dependent students and $680 to $830 per week for married and sole-support students. Canada Student Grants have also been increased.

More information is available at We are awaiting further information from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities regarding the living allowances and the impact on the OSAP assessment.

Would I be eligible for OSAP as a part-time student?

Students studying at less than a 60% course load or 40% for students with disabilities are encouraged to apply for OSAP for Part-Time Students. The application for 20-21 will be available on the OSAP website soon.

Fees FAQs for current students

Will tuition fees be impacted by the move to online classes?

Your education is a significant investment. Our investment in and commitment to delivering the very best teaching and learning to our students is unchanged; in fact, at McMaster we are investing significantly in the online learning experience by bolstering our resources to better serve our students and faculty.

More information on fall 2020/winter 2021 tuition fees.

Isn’t it cheaper to teach online?

No. Designing virtual classrooms and online opportunities for students needs instructors, technology and experts to deliver the high-quality experience our students expect and deserve. Plus there is still all of the marking, academic advising, office hours and support that we want to provide.

More information on fall 2020/winter 2021 tuition fees.

How can online learning cost the same or more?

The same number of instructors who have been engaged in the teaching mission of the university will be working this fall and winter, alongside sessionals, teaching assistants and others — all of whom help us provide excellent teaching at McMaster.


In addition, the university is investing considerably to bring in more people specifically skilled in digital learning to help instructors develop courses, learn the best technology and help students understand and take full advantage of our learning systems. That extra resourcing includes redeploying staff so that each Faculty is assigned educational developers to provide training and consultation on pedagogy, course design and educational technologies, and hiring more educational developers to bolster these teams. We have also recruited graduate students as educational development fellows who will support course design efforts and teaching development.

More information on fall 2020/winter 2021 tuition fees.

Other than my courses what does tuition pay for?

Almost all of the services students normally receive continue to be available. Here are just a few:

  • The library has invested in a new service that makes more than 800,000 books from the collection available online along with ongoing subscriptions to journals and other resources for students
  • For this fall’s entering class the new Archway Program is putting every student into a small group of 30 students along with a staff mentor to help guide them and keep them involved throughout the year
  • A number of Faculties are developing special programs to help students get ready for online learning including the new Ember program in Engineering, the DeGroote StartUp Experience and the Student Transition Education Programming in Social Sciences (STEPSS)
  • Supervision for research projects, upper-year thesis projects and graduate work continue
  • For health professional students, requisite experiences in clinical education, such as simulation, must be arranged and clinical placements must be organized and supervised
  • Health and mental health services continue to be available to all students
  • Career services will continue to run online programming to help students prepare for their careers, as well as co-op and career counsellors within faculties
  • Academic advising offices within Faculties will continue to offer personalized guidance to all students for their academic success
  • The Equity and Accessibility Office is ready to help with online programs and confidential services and support
  • Emergency financial support, along with scholarships and bursaries, are all part of the financial services available to students
  • Free student access to computer programs like Microsoft Office and Teams and access to professional research related software

More information on fall 2020/winter 2021 tuition fees.

What about supplementary fees?

While most university-delivered services are continuing to provide services online (for example, the Student Wellness Centre), supplementary fees will be adjusted appropriately for any service where access has been reduced due to the Covid-19 situation.

Fee amounts charged by student union/associations are the responsibility of those organizations and are not controlled by the university.

More information on fall 2020/winter 2021 tuition fees.

Can I enrol in fall/winter courses if I have an outstanding balance on my student account?

The university has reviewed its policy on financial blocks.

Financial blocks prevent you from enrolling until your fees are paid in full. If you have an outstanding spring term balance under $1,000, you will still be able to enrol for 2020/2021 fall and winter terms. If you have an outstanding balance from fall/winter, you will need to pay in full to enrol. The debt will be carried forward and added to the 20/21 academic year’s fees. Note: interest and late fees resume in August 2020.

What if I don’t think I will be able to afford the 2020-2021 academic year at McMaster?

We have created a payment plan to help stagger the financial commitment of tuition and fees throughout the academic year. Learn more about financial support options.

Important Dates & Deadlines