Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)


Mathematics and Statistics


Miroslav Lovric


David Lozinski



Committee Member

Deirdre Haskell


Mathematics departments at Canadian universities accept yearly many international graduate students, who are aiming for the MSc and PhD degrees offered by those departments. This study seeks to understand the difficulties faced by some of those students at English-speaking Canadian universities. Its main aim is to determine why some international graduate students struggle with mathematics courses at a graduate level, even though their academic achievement in their home countries may have been high. In this study we want to know whether this problem is related to language barriers, to the time gap between the last acquired degree and the current one, to the educational systems to which students have been exposed in their countries of origin, or to other reasons. I interviewed twelve international graduate students fromMcMasterUniversityandUniversityofGuelphas well as three faculty members from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics atMcMasterUniversity. The students who participated come from different countries:Russia,Belarus,Slovakia,Pakistan,India,Bangladesh,Turkey,Iran,China, andSaudi Arabia. While some of those countries seem to have similar cultures and life styles, others are distinctly different. The interviews helped me to draw a deeper perspective about the problem by exploring the reasons that hamper some of those students from succeeding in their courses, and asking the participants to provide their suggestions to other students and faculty members on how to eliminate these obstacles. This study helps to improve the academic graduate programs of the department of mathematics by adjusting to students’ needs and enhancing their learning outcomes. It also suggests to international graduate students to discover and examine their weaknesses and prepare themselves academically to fulfill the requirements of their programs.

McMaster University Library