Let’s talk about McMaster iBioMed

The “first program in Canada to offer a 5-year biomedical program that integrates engineering and health sciences”

What makes it unique?

Integration of Engineering, Health Science, and Business

As mentioned above, the program blends together the concepts of engineering and health sciences. If you choose the Health, Engineering Science and Entrepreneurship (HESE) track (more on that below), then you’ll learn business, entrepreneurship and commercialization as well.

Image by author

Co-Ops in iBioMed

This is something that isn’t talked about very often from my experience but is rather rare for health science programs (though iBioMed isn’t strictly focused on health science). The opportunity to get hands-on experience through your university is one that is indispensable and can help you a) build your resume and b) find where your passion lies specifically.


Here the distinction is pretty clear in first year: “regular” courses that aren’t specific to the iBioMed program have conventional tests and quizzes as you’d expect. But when it comes to the design projects course mentioned above as well as an innovative cell biology course, things get interesting.

Engineering or Health, Engineering Science and Entrepreneurship Focus in Upper Years? You Choose

We’ve now reached what many consider to be the most unique aspect of the program: the ability to choose between a more biomedical engineering-focused approach and a more health science-focused one in your second year. All students are required to complete a common first year, after which they apply to either the Biomedical Engineering (BME) or the Health, Engineering Science and Entrepreneurship (HESE) streams.

A schematic of the two streams and “sub streams.” Image by author.

Things to Consider

All the students I talked with were very happy with the program but there are a few things they mentioned that are worth noting.

Very Young Program

One mentioned that due to the young age of the program, the program was still in an experimental stage. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing as it can mean you have a bigger say as to what the future of the program will look like.

First Year Heavily Focused on Engineering

Something else a few students interested in the HESE stream mentioned was the heavy focus on engineering during the first year. After all, 5 out of the 8 compulsory courses for first year are math or physics courses. Though going into the iBioMed requires a love for these subjects, some students would like to see a bit more balance and the addition of some more health science courses into the first year before the specialization comes along.

From Current Students: Who Do You Think Would Love This Program?

One question I asked from students to give some insight to you, our readers, is: “If you had to describe the person who’d absolutely love this program, what would they be like in terms of their likes, dislikes, and personality?”

How to apply

With all that knowledge now locked into your brain, it’s time to see how you can apply!

General Requirements

The general requirements for the program are as follows…

  • You must have completed or complete ENG 4U — English, MCV 4U — Calculus, SCH 4U — Chemistry, SPH 4U — Physics, SBI 4U — Biology
  • Note: if you haven’t completed all three sciences, you need to email the Admissions Office at macdocs@mcmaster.ca when you apply and they’ll students on a case-by-case basis
  • You’re expected to have completed Advanced Functions — MHF4U as well
  • You must have a minimum cumulative average of 90% (though the entrance averages over the past few years have consistently been around 95%)

Supplementary Application

This part gets pretty wacky compared to many other programs so get ready!

  • What does being resourceful mean to you, and why is it important?
  • Tell us about a time management strategy you used. Why does it work?
  • How do you create a balance for yourself when working in a stressful environment­?
  • Give us an example of a time you acted with integrity.
  • Before you start the application, have a few extracurriculars, strengths, and weaknesses that you want to highlight and if it fits with a question that comes up, pepper it in
  • Multiple students mentioned that the practice questions aren’t very similar to the real questions. For instance, one of the practice questions was about your favourite flavour of ice cream whereas the real questions were more so about topics like teamwork
  • As well, they ask quite a lot about your general involvement in your community and how you’ve made a positive impact alongside leadership skills
  • So be sure to have a story to tell; take everything you’ve done over high school and craft into a compelling story

Resources for You!

These are resources I came across and found super helpful for any students considering this program so be sure to check them out!


  • McMaster iBioMed offers a rather a unique experience through its integration of health sciences and engineering (as well as business), its specialization in second year, its co-ops, and the ability to learn hands-on
  • There are a few drawbacks depending on your goals such as the young age of the program and the strong focus on engineering in first year
  • The program is best suited to someone creative who loves hands-on experiences, expressing their ideas, and math and physics
  • To apply, you need a 90% cumulative average on your top 6 courses, must have completed ENG 4U — English, MCV 4U — Calculus, SCH 4U — Chemistry, SPH 4U — Physics, SBI 4U — Biology, and must do well on the supplementary application

About the author

Parmin Sedigh is a 15-year-old stem cell and science communications enthusiast as well as a student researcher, based in Kingston, ON. She’s also the Director of Writing at Superposition and is working with the University of Guelph on a research project. You can usually find her on her computer following her curiosity. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at parminsedigh@gmail.com.


https://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/ibiomed/programs/ibehs-1 https://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/ibiomed/programs/ibehs-1#FAQ-s https://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/ibiomed https://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/ibiomed/programs/ibehs-1#Common-First-Year
https://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/ibiomed/programs/course-listing https://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/sites/default/files/ibiomed-year-end-report-2019-20-web.pdf



Ontario Youth Medical Society is a student-led, non-profit organization focused on educating youth and making a difference in medicine.

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Ontario Youth Medical Society

Ontario Youth Medical Society is a student-led, non-profit organization focused on educating youth and making a difference in medicine.