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Housing & Conference Services

Living At McMaster

How to Apply – International & Exchange Students

Moving to a new country is a big transition and we’re here to support you. Please scroll through this page to find out the conditions of your guaranteed residence as an international student and learn about important steps you need to take for a successful move.

The residence application for the 2024-2025 academic year will open April 23, 2024. Scroll down to learn about your eligibility for residence.

International Students

First-year international students applying to McMaster directly from high school are eligible to apply for a guaranteed or conditionally guaranteed space in residence until the application deadline on June 3 2024, 4:00p.m. ET. 

Note: Students must be registered in at least 9 units per term to be considered full-time. If students accept an offer to residence, they are required to follow Residence Expectations.

  • International and Out-of-Province Students are guaranteed residence. An application must be completed by each student to receive their guaranteed spot. Instructions can be found in Step 2, below; applications submitted after the June 3, 2024 deadline will be placed on the wait list.
  • First-Year undergraduate students who are out-of-province and international based on their admission status determined by the Admission’s Office.
  • Students are notified of their residence status on their offer of admission from McMaster University through the university’s applicant portal.
  • Students are required to submit an application and make a $600 CAD deposit before 4:00p.m. ET on June 3, 2024 to received their guaranteed spots in residence. Applications submitted after this date will be placed on the wait list.
  • After you submit your application, check your email for confirmation
  • Students will receive a 50% refund of their residence deposit if they cancel by 4:00p.m. ET on July 24, 2024.
  • Students who miss this deadline will forfeit their residence guarantee and may apply to the wait-list.
  • Residence rooms are determined by the Room Self-Selection process.Visit our Room Self-Selection page for more information.
  • All students who submit an application and make a $600 CAD deposit before 4:00p.m. ET on June 3, 2024 will be placed in a time slot lottery. Your time slot will be emailed to you a week before room self-selection begins.
  • Meal Plan selection will follow the room self-selection process. Visit Hospitality Services for more information.
  • Students will move in based on their assigned building.

Exchange Students

McMaster Housing & Conference Services reserves 40 residence bed spaces for exchange students. Exchange students are defined as incoming students who are admitted from another University and enrolled through the McMaster Exchange Program.

Residence spaces will be offered to exchange students based on lottery and priority will be given to exchange students enrolled in the full academic year (Fall and Winter term).

Note: If students accept an offer to residence, they are required to follow Residence Expectations.

Exchange Students – Residence Application Process

  1. Students are notified of their residence status on their offer of admission from McMaster through McMaster University’s applicant portal,
  2. Exchange students interested in residence may apply through the Housing Portal by 4:00p.m. ET on June 14.
  3. All exchange students who applied by the deadline will be included in a lottery to secure a residence space.
  4. Students will receive an email after the deadline with their status for residence.
  5. Students who receive an offer of residence will need to secure their space in residence with a $600 CAD residence deposit made payable through the Housing Portal by the deadline mentioned in their offer email.
  6. Students who secure their offer with a deposit will receive another email after the deposit deadline with their time slot for room self-selection. Learn more on our Room Self-Selection page.
  7. Reserved spaces for exchange students are typically private spaces such as apartment style, suite style, or single rooms. Click here to view our room types.
  8. Meal Plan selection will follow the Room Self-Selection process. Learn more about residence meal plans from Hospitality Services.
  9. Students will move-in based on their assigned building.
  10. Students who miss the deadline to make their deposit will forfeit their guaranteed space and they may reapply to the bottom of the waiting list.
  11. Students who do not receive an offer of residence will be placed on a waiting list in order of their lottery number.
  12. If space becomes available through cancellations, we will send wait list offers on a rolling basis.

Sign up for the iCent App Before Arriving

International undergraduate students are encouraged to sign up for the iCent app. The app will support you during your transition to Canada and McMaster University by providing important information in navigating all aspects of university life, immigration, life in Hamilton, academics, supports and services available to you throughout your time at McMaster University and much more.

  1. Download the iCent app (available at the Apple Store and Google Play Store). If you’re unable to download the app, visit the iCent web version.
  2. Select “Canada” as your institution country.
  3. Select “McMaster Undergrad Programs” as your institution name.
  4. Follow the “email and PIN” button.
  5. Enter your McMaster ( email ID. You will receive an email with a secured PIN to log in.
  6. Enter the secured PIN and go to “continue.”

Learn more from the International and Exchange Student Experience Team.

Pre-Arrival FAQs

If you have any questions about your transition to McMaster/Canada, we encourage you to email International and Exchange Student Services at

Guidelines for travelers from the Government of Canada can be found here.

We recommend you find private transportation using a service such as Airways Transit. Additional details about travelling from the airport to McMaster can be found on the iCent app.

McMaster University is working with Airways Transit, a local Hamilton transportation service, to provide incoming first-year International Undergraduate, Graduate, McMaster English Language Development (MELD) and Exchange students a free, safe and reliable shared ride from the Toronto Pearson Airport to McMaster campus.

More information and reservation instructions will be shared on iCent and via email through the IESE Team.

If you know your residence mailing address (must include your room number and building name) you can order bed linens, towels, laundry bags and other room supplies online through stores, such as Ikea, Amazon, Canadian Tire and more. Try to schedule any deliveries to be made to residence on the day of your arrival.

There is a Shoppers Drug Mart on Main Street W. just outside of campus where you can get toiletries and snacks.

Find out what you will need in residence here.

If your parent wants to visit you on-campus, McMaster University currently offers three luxurious options on-campus within our Signature Suites accommodations. The availability of these rooms are limited, so book early by emailing

Hospitality Services on-campus is here for all of your dining needs. When you live in residence you are required to purchase a meal plan for on-campus dining, which you will select in your residence application. You can also indicate any dietary restrictions or allergies you have in your residence application on the Accommodations Request page.

You can learn more about meal plan fees and food on campus by visiting the Hospitality Services website or by emailing

Post-Arrival FAQs

To support your transition, you will have a Community Advisor and Residence Life Area Coordinator who are there to answer your questions, and will help you build a memorable residence community through planned activities and events.

Your health and well-being are very important to us. The Student Wellness Centre on campus provides confidential medical care as well as supports to help students who are experiencing stress, homesickness, anxiety or other wellness concerns.

The Residence Case Manager is also available to listen to concerns or questions students have. They will directly connect students with the resources and services at McMaster that give them the tools they need to succeed.

Residence Life provides many opportunities to meet students through residence community events, such as hiking, bonfires, socials and more! Some events can be found on the International Student Centre page or OSCARplus.

UHIP is a mandatory health insurance plan that provides health coverage for international, incoming exchange and visiting students. UHIP covers medically necessary doctors and hospital visits within Ontario.

Students will receive an email from Cowan (UHIP provider) to their McMaster email in early to mid-September with instructions on creating an account on UHIP’s portal and printing their UHIP card. Your McMaster email must be activated. Be sure to check your junk and spam folders for your emails.

Learn more about UHIP and how to receive your card.

You can learn about available bursaries and scholarships for international undergraduate students in all faculties on the Registrar Office’s website.

If the student is required to cancel their residence reservation due to exceptional circumstances beyond their control (such as proof of delayed study permits), they may submit an appeal to with supporting documentation to be considered for a $600 CAD refund of their deposit.