MERGE Certificate

Breaking Down Academic & Professional Barriers for ESL Students at the Graduate Level

The McMaster English Readiness for Graduate Excellence is an intensive certificate program for current or prospective graduate students from any institution who are looking to improve their English-language skills.

This comprehensive summer program is taught by the highest-qualified ESL/EAP instructors who have experience teaching in a university environment. Our students are prepared for success in both the academic and professional world, and equipped to exceed the expectations of both, while feeling comfortable doing so in English.

Furthermore, the program is tied to the research-intensive Department of Linguistics & Languages and rooted in the Cognitive Science of Language field. This means that in addition to the top ESL instructors, the program has been developed using current, evidence-based research on best practices for teaching advanced ESL/EAP.

Program Highlights

  • Over 200 hours of language training in just 6 weeks, for an intensive but impactful program, necessary for measurable language improvement
  • Advanced training in all four elements of language: reading, writing, speaking, & listening
  • Blended learning format, with 27 in-class hours per week, plus online modules


  • Balanced approach to skill-building, focusing on academic, professional, and social development, to meet both the personal and the career goals of students
  • Highly engaging lesson plans, with opportunities for practical application, instructor feedback, guest lectures, and networking
  • Modeled on evidence-based research on best practices for the teaching of Advanced Academic ESL

Program Details

MERGE is conveniently offered twice during the summer to allow students to select the session that will best allow them to meet the expectations of their graduate program. Due to the nature of the program, MERGE should be treated like a residency. It is highly recommended that students prioritize their MERGE responsibilities for the 6-week period:

  • Session #1: May 13 – June 21, 2019
  • Session #2: July 22 – August 30, 2019

Prospective students will indicate which session they prefer on their application form.

All prospective MERGE students must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent
  • Have a minimum score of IELTS 6.5, TOEFL iBT 90, or equivalent
  • Be currently enrolled or preparing to enrol in a graduate or professional program at any institution


Tuition Fees for the 2019 sessions are $7,500.00 CAD.

There is also a $100 CAD Application Fee.

Beyond the essentials through modular learning

The MERGE program goes beyond essential training in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. It has been designed to support the integration of these skills as applied to real world contexts students will encounter during graduate school and beyond.

Each of the program’s six weeks will be divided into modules that will focus on a different set of skills. These modules will approach the development of these skills from the point of view of both cultural understanding and practical implementation, with an emphasis on teaching and practising the language skills needed to be successful in each domain. The six modules are:

  • Module 1 – General social interactions: conventions and strategies for everyday social encounters students face
  • Module 2 – Academic feedback and critique: the role of critique in academia along with tools for both giving and receiving feedback or peer review
  • Module 3 – Academic reasoning: identifying, understanding, and summarizing arguments and evaluating supporting evidence in both reading and listening
  • Module 4 – Academic interactions: navigating relationships with supervisors, teams, and other faculty in person, through email, at conferences, and in seminars
  • Module 5 – Career preparation: best practices for CVs/resumes, job interviews, elevator pitches, and online brand building
  • Module 6 – Teaching: principles of effective teaching including developing lessons, interacting with students, and grading
MERGE Circle

Student Stories

Steve Headshot

Steve, M.Sc. in Physiotherapy

“I feel much improved after this program, not only for my academic career, but also for my professional development. Now I’m confident about my future…please join this program, and you will see a huge improvement of your English…”

Rachel headshot

Rachel, M.Sc. in Statistics

“I noticed that I improved a lot, especially in my communication skills. I feel more confident and comfortable when I talk with people, and I had noticeable improvement in my writing…all the professors were really knowledgeable…they helped me to develop efficient learning habits.”