abstract molecule

Molecular Genetics

MSc & PhD

The MSc and PhD graduate programs in the Department of Molecular Genetics draw students from across Canada and around the world. A central feature of our program is our rotation system, which allows newly admitted students to experience three different labs before deciding on a "best fit" thesis lab. We are the first and remain among the few programs in Canada to offer such a matching system. To support our students throughout their degrees, as part of the Faculty of Medicine, we also offer the largest stipend in Canada of all comparable degrees in medical science research.

Recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds, we provide a first-year core curriculum to impart essential foundational knowledge in genetics, genomics, proteomics, and computational biology. Additionally, our dynamic student seminar course engages the entire department and leading invited scientists from around the globe to train our students to become exceptional scientific communicators, by building skills in public speaking and scientific reasoning. Our community is diverse and collegial, offering students the opportunity to interact with leading experts, while developing close relationships with their fellow class members.

Our Programs

Scientist works at a lab bench.

Master of Science (MSc)

In addition to completing a thesis, students take 1.5 FCE*:

  • MMG 1001H (Foundational Genetic Approaches I, 0.5 FCE),
  • MMG 1003H (First Year Colloquium, 0.25 FCE)
  • MMG 1104H (A Practical Course in Programming for Biologists, 0.25 FCE)
  • MMG 1113H (MSc Presentation Skills, 0.25 FCE) and 
  • MMG 1114H (MSc Presentation, 0.25 FCE). 

Students successfully finish this program in 2 years.

researcher looks through a light microscope

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

In addition to completing their theisis and the course requirements for the MSc, students complace 1.0 FCE:

  • MMG 1115H (PhD Presentation, 0.5 FCE) and
  • Elective coureses (0.5 FCE)

Typically, students successfully complete this program in 6 years.

Alumni Profile

Nicole Park

Nicole Park, PhD

My name is Nicole Park and I'm currently an Annotation Specialist at the University Health Network, where I contribute to the analysis and interpretation of cancer genomes. I report on genetic findings that are relevant to patient management. I have been contributing to cancer research my entire career, primarily focused on cancer genetics.

I completed my Ph.D. researching glioblastoma stem cells under the supervision Dr. Peter Dirks at SickKids Hospital. After completing my PhD, I transitioned into the clinical world and began working in genome analysis. As a fellow with the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists, I am now on the path to leading and directing a genome diagnostics lab.

My advice to incoming students is to be very thoughtful in the beginning of the program and find a lab that aligns well with the your research interests and personality. The rotation system is unique to Molecular Genetics – it’s a privilege to sample different labs and also experience first-hand the breadth of research this program.

Potential Career Paths

In 2016, the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) tracked the career outcomes of 10,000 PhD students who graduated from the University of Toronto between 2000 to 2015. The data below is from 304 molecular genetics PhD graduates.


Some examples of the positions our molecular genetics graduates held included:

  • Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Assistant Professor
  • Research Associate
  • Associate Professor
  • Research Scientist


Some examples of employers for whom our molecular genetics graduates worked included:

  • The University of Toronto
  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Stanford University
  • University Health Network
  • The University of California, San Francisco

The chart below shows a breakdown of the various sectors in which our molecular genetics PhD graduates worked at the time the survey occurred.

Main Employment Sectors of Molecular Genetics PhD Graduates

Chart data

Post-Secondary Education Private Sector Public Sector Charitable Sector Individual Sector
167 87 35 15 3

By the Numbers

Number of current MSc & PhD students.
Number of graduate faculty.

Department of Molecular Genetics

Learn more about our programs in molecular genetics.

*Full course equivalent. A typical 0.5 FCE is over one term (13 weeks), meeting 1-2 times per week. A typical 1.0 FCE is over two terms (26 weeks), meeting 1-2 times per week.