What does a career in research consist of?
A career in academic research implies pursuing higher learning.
Admission to a Master’s program is usually conditional upon obtaining the minimum GPA score at the undergraduate level. Following registration in a university, students must find a research centre where they can do a two-year training related to the research subject that interests them. Although most of the lecture courses take place in the first year of their Master’s studies, the second year is generally dedicated to a research project.
This level of study consists of three main objectives: 1. to introduce students to scientific life; 2. to develop their analytical abilities; and 3. to master laboratory techniques. Depending on how successful they are in achieving these three objectives, students are then able to determine their ability to continue pursuing their academic career at the doctorate level.
There are two options available to students who wish to pursue doctoral studies. Upon approval from their research director, students can proceed with a direct entry without producing a thesis. The second option requires that students obtain a Master’s degree, which consists of submitting a thesis; having it evaluated by a committee of experts; ensuring that the thesis contains a literature review that is related to the project; and having to deliver a presentation on their research findings, which is then critically analyzed and put into perspective.
Doctoral Studies usually last 3 to 5 years, during which doctorands must become a true expert on their topic and publish their findings in scientific journals. The key objective of a doctorate program is to prepare students to become independent research investigators who are capable of completing their original research program.
Doctorate students no longer attend lecture-type courses; they must however attend seminars and conferences. They are encouraged to present their research findings at national and international symposiums. After six months of sessions, about half way through, students take a predoctoral exam , which is used to evaluate their general scientific knowledge as well as how their research project is progressing. Every year, students meet with their respective thesis committees, which are composed of their research director and two other investigators, who supervise the students’ progress and provide them with necessary advice. When their research projects are completed, they must write and defend a thesis that describes their findings.
Once a doctorate program has been completed, students may take on one or several postdoctoral internships in other research establishments which may then lead to an opportunity of joining a research centre as an independent research investigator. While conducting investigative work, these students also contribute to the training of research students by being affiliated to the university.
For more information, please visit the Faculty of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies of the University of Montreal.