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Research master’s degree

A master’s degree focusing on scientific or creative research and culminating in a thesis written under the guidance of a research supervisor.

Why do a research master’s degree?

A research master’s degree allows you to focus on a topic of significant interest to you. The in-depth knowledge you acquire during your program will equip you to tackle the challenges of research and actively participate in the development of scientific, technological, or artistic knowledge.

A reseach master’s program allows you to:

  • Acquire the knowledge you need to understand key concepts, theories, and issues in your field of research
  • Master and defend the research method you use
  • Identify your research problem and formulate your research objectives
  • Establish a realistic timeline and manage your project accordingly
  • Uphold the standards and rules of ethics and integrity in research and knowledge dissemination
  • Analyze your results and discuss them in in relation to the literature 
  • Discuss a suitably complex intellectual problem in a clear and coherent manner, orally and in writing
  • Critically review the literature in specific areas of a field of knowledge

Thesis or research paper 

All master’s programs include a final project designed to show that students have mastered the knowledge acquired and are able to clearly and coherently discuss an intellectual problem of some complexity. In a research master’s program, this project takes the form of a thesis based on coursework and research and worth between 24 and 33 credits. (Academic Regulations, article 2.16, in French only)

See the Theses and dissertations section for more information.

Master’s programs

See all the master’s programs offered at Université Laval.

Guide de cheminement aux cycles supérieurs - maîtrise recherche et doctorat

Le Guide de cheminement pour les étudiantes et les étudiants à la maîtrise recherche ou au doctorat vous permettra de tirer profit au maximum de vos études à l’Université Laval, dans l’optique de cheminer efficacement et de mieux réussir vos études supérieures.

Vous y trouverez les étapes essentielles à connaître, en commençant par les premières questions à vous poser avant d’entreprendre vos études supérieures, pour cheminer efficacement jusqu’à la diplomation:

  • Êtes-vous prêt à entreprendre des études supérieures ?
  • Le contexte général des études supérieures à l’Université Laval
  • Le cheminement et l'encadrement de la formation à la recherche
  • Les rôles et responsabilités de l'étudiante ou de l'étudiant​Les rôles et responsabilités de la direction de recherche
  • Les étapes finales d’évaluation: du dépôt initial jusqu’à la diplomation

Guide de cheminement aux cycles supérieurs (PDF)

Le Guide pratique pour une demande de bourses d’études supérieures ou un stage postdoctoral vous offre des conseils utiles pour l’élaboration et la rédaction de votre dossier de candidature.

Les sujets suivants sont abordés dans le guide: 

  • Le déroulement des concours
  • Les critères de sélection
  • Le choix des répondants
  • La rédaction du projet de recherche
  • L’expérience et le potentiel en recherche 

Guide pratique pour une demande de bourse d'études supérieures ou un stage postdoctoral (PDF)

Le Guide pour choisir sa direction de recherche aux cycles supérieurs est élaboré sous forme de pistes de réflexion et de questions utiles et est destiné aux étudiants qui désirent entreprendre des études supérieures.

Les réflexions portent sur les thèmes suivants:

Sur votre projet et l’environnement de recherche

Sur la supervision et les modalités d’encadrement

Sur le financement

Sur l’éthique et la propriété intellectuelle

Guide pour les étudiantes et étudiants pour choisir une directrice et un directeur de recherche aux cycles supérieurs (PDF)

Dans le Guide sur les activités de recherche à distance destiné aux étudiants et stagiaires postdoctoraux vous trouverez des conseils sur l’encadrement, des suggestions d’ajustements pour les projets de recherche ainsi que des astuces communicationnelles pour faciliter les rencontres à distance entre directions de recherche, professeurs, étudiants et stagiaires postdoctoraux.

Activités de recherche à distance (PDF)

Skills to be developed in a research master’s program

Objective of a research master’s

Methodically carry out a research project under expert supervision and participate in the development of scientific, technological, or artistic knowledge

Preferred training method

The program objective is achieved through a combination of coursework and the completion of a research project with a well-defined scope and timeframe under the supervision of a subject matter expert.

Dispositions, capabilities, and skills to leverage in academic and other research settings

Dispositions, whether natural or learned, are tendencies to act in a certain way. They should be systematically leveraged in various contexts to promote academic and professional success.

  • Willingness to go beyond current knowledge and practices
  • Openness to constructive criticism
  • Self-discipline, motivation, and rigour
  • Autonomy in making and justifying decisions in relation to one’s project
  • Management of stress associated with deadlines, results, and interpersonal relationships
  • Recognition of the value of new ideas and the impact of research for the development of society
  • Ability to comment and critique in a respectful manner within the limits of one’s knowledge
  • Adapting language to different audiences
  • Use of different means of communication drawing on a variety of tools
  • Use of digital tools to help develop professional and complementary skills

Professional expertise and specialized knowledge certified by the diploma

This first category includes seven core competencies assessed by the student’s instructors, supervisors, and advisors. These skills are highly sought after in the academic and research community.

Each of the competency statements is followed by actions that reflect the level of skill development. These actions are subject to evaluation and must be mastered by the end of the program.

Identifying, managing, and analyzing information and documentary resources relevant to your research project

  • Use digital information-gathering and acquisition systems to conduct a literature search
  • Identify, access, and use appropriate bibliographic resources
  • Assess the reliability and relevance of other sources of information
  • Gather and file information efficiently (primary and secondary sources)
  • Write a review of the literature or the research landscape

Identifying a research problem and formulating your research objectives

  • Acquire the knowledge needed to understand the key concepts, theories, and issues in your field of research
  • Master and make skilled use of the language and relevant methods in your field of research, including technical or conceptual vocabularies
  • Be aware of recent developments related to your research subject and take them into account in your project
  • Be aware of the production and dissemination cycle for new knowledge
  • Take the various currents of thought and theoretical findings on your subject into account when formulating your research problem and hypothesis

Mastering and defending the chosen research method

  • Justify the chosen research method
  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the chosen method or theoretical framework by applying research principles and techniques to the research problem formulated in your project
  • Demonstrate how the chosen method makes it possible to formulate an appropriate solution to the problem, or be able to explain why it doesn’t

Establishing a realistic timeline and managing your project accordingly

  • Establish a collaboration plan with your supervisor in order to actively contribute to the management of your research project (identify steps, deadlines, and expected deliverables)
  • Have a strategic plan for each research activity
  • Use your resources to complete your research project
  • Manage your time effectively in order to complete your research project
  • Submit the required deliverables on time

Upholding the standards and rules of ethics and integrity in research and knowledge dissemination

  • Act in accordance with the concept of corporate and organizational social responsibility
  • Identify how your research impacts society and the environment and apply the principles of sustainable development
  • Demonstrate work practices that safeguard health and safety
  • Apply codes of conduct and guidelines regarding conflicts of interest
  • Act responsibly and with integrity in applying legal rules and ethical and professional standards of conduct.
  • Respect the rights of other researchers and anyone else who may be affected by your research
  • Respect the rules of probity, privacy, anonymity, and intellectual property, including patents and copyrights

Analyzing your results and discussing them in relation to the literature

  • Synthesize and integrate your research
  • Provide a critical analysis of your results and the results of others
  • Formulate original ideas using the acquired data
  • Develop your own point of view and justify your decisions
  • Situate your work within your field of research
  • Defend your conclusions and the impact of your results

Sharing your knowledge

  • Submit a thesis or paper demonstrating your ability to address a problem of suitable complexity for a master’s program, presented in the appropriate format and in keeping with the publication standards in your field and at the University
  • Build a coherent argument by stating your ideas rigorously and structuring your arguments clearly and concisely
  • Apply academic standards for communication
  • Assume your responsibility to act as an expert in your field of researchComplementary skills

These four important skills will be developed during your program, but are not evaluated as such (nor certified by the diploma). They are crucial to academic and professional success. They can be reinforced and developed using related services and activities available with your program (library services, placement services, etc.; lunch-and-learn events, seminars, etc.). Each of the competency statements is followed by actions used to develop the competency.

Recognizing the value and limitations of one’s skills and experiences

  • Seek advice from knowledgeable people in the field to get other points of view
  • Draw on the advice of peers, a supervisor, or a more advanced researcher
  • Review your research performance and learning experiences to identify areas for improvement

Engaging in continuous learning and improvement to develop expertise and maintain employability

  • Identify the transferable aspects of your training, skills, and experience in order to showcase them to potential employers or your superiors
  • Know how to seek out and identify career opportunities within and outside of academia
  • Set career goals, identify training needs, and take steps to keep your knowledge up to date or improve your skills
  • Develop and maintain a regularly updated record of achievements and experience

Building a professional network

  • Adapt to the interpersonal relationship dynamics in research and work settings
  • Contribute to research meetings (seminars, workshops, presentations, team meetings, etc.)
  • Show initiative within the team and maintain its dynamics
  • Develop and maintain productive professional relationships with your supervisor, mentors, colleagues, and peers
  • Use personal networks and social networks for exchanging information related to your professional activities
  • Join communities of practice and cooperation networks
  • Contribute to team success
  • Establish a dialogue with peers in your scientific community and users of your research results
  • Cultivate international contacts and seize opportunities to collaborate when they arise

Working as a researcher in a variety of settings

  • Develop an understanding of the social, political, economic, and cultural issues related to your field of research
  • Identify grant programs and other funding sources and familiarize yourself with their guidelines and priorities
  • Write your own grant application under the guidance of your supervisor
  • Promote the potential benefits of your research
  • Learn more about the strategic, social, and commercial use of data or research results
  • Seize opportunities to prepare and give high quality oral presentations
  • Present aspects of your research at public events
  • Help supervise research projects
  • Make a contribution to teaching
  • Contribute to the development of innovative ideas
  • Appreciate how interdisciplinarity contributes to innovation
  • Share your research training and expertise with communities with needs you can help meet