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Frequently Asked Questions

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Doing Research at Mila
Studying in Montreal
Research Master’s
DESS in Machine Learning
Professional Master’s in Machine Learning
PhD

 

 

Doing Research at Mila

What are Mila’s main areas of research?

Mila is primarily a machine learning research centre focused on deep learning and reinforcement learning. 

At Mila, we continually push the boundaries of cutting-edge research. Mila is best known for its scientific breakthroughs in deep learning, having contributed many of the first papers in the field, such as:

  • introducing word embeddings in neural nets
  • denoising autoencoders
  • deep networks using ReLU instead of tanh or sigmoid functions self-attention and the consequential revolution in machine translation and natural language processing (NLP)
  • generative adversarial networks (GANs)
  • and more. 

Mila also published one of the most successful  textbooks on deep learning (MIT Press 2016) and co-founded the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR). 

Mila has been a hothouse for the development of deep reinforcement learning and the theoretical foundations of deep learning (mechanisms, optimization methods and analysis, generalization, in and out-of-distribution, causality, generative and probabilistic methods), building a critical mass of expertise at the intersection of theoretical neuroscience and deep learning (a.k.a neuro-AI), most recently by focusing on high-level conscious processing to help deep learning move from its current system 1 competence (intuitive knowledge) to a joint competence of system 1 and system 2 levels (verbalizable knowledge, reasoning, systematic generalization). 

Mila has also developed expertise in many application areas of machine learning (with a focus on AI for social good), from traditional areas such as computer vision, NLP and robotics to applications in healthcare (e.g., medical imaging, drug discovery), the environment (co-founding the Climate Change AI organization), AI4Science (to help modeling and discovery in physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) and social sciences (fighting sexual exploitation, contributing to the legal and philosophical aspects of Responsible AI, notably through the Montreal Declaration for the Responsible Development of AI).

Visit the Core Research page to learn more. 

Why would someone with math and computer science skills want to work in the field of deep learning?

Deep learning is a new and exciting field of research. A student with good mathematical skills can easily assimilate most of the central ideas of this field and quickly contribute to the research. Recently, deep learning has proven to be a resource-intensive field, with large neural networks powered by cutting-edge GPUs or distributed implementations making great leaps forward in object recognition and speech recognition. Deep learning research presents an unparalleled opportunity for students with strong mathematical backgrounds and programming skills to make a big impact.

Which professors are currently looking for students?

Please visit the Supervision Requests page for more information about the supervision request process at Mila.

What are the advantages of studying at a university affiliated with Mila?
  • A stimulating research environment: At Mila, we are passionate about the advancement of knowledge in the field of artificial intelligence. On any given day, you’ll find students discussing all kinds of ambitious research ideas. Our faculty is also very involved and engaged with the student community, which contributes to an interactive and open research climate.
  • Work-Life balance: At Mila, we produce quality research while maintaining a balance between work and personal life, a mindset deeply rooted in the Quebec culture
  • Substantial computing resources: Mila students have access to several powerful computers equipped with GPUs. The institute’s resources are supplemented with access to shared computer clusters across Quebec and Canada.
  • Opportunities to participate in conferences: Professors strongly encourage students to submit papers and  participate in conferences, viewing these events as an essential part of their training as researchers.
  • Research funding: This type of funding is usually linked to industrial research projects that often lead to publications. Most students find this arrangement preferable to some of the arrangements at other universities where funded students must concede a significant portion of their work to non-research activities.
  • Internships: Mila students regularly do internships at top industrial research groups around the world.
As an international student, will I have to pay additional fees?

International students do need to pay additional fees, but Mila students can usually have these costs covered by one of the institute’s funding sources, or obtain a waiver if necessary. Your supervisor will inform you of the financial assistance you will be granted. Your home university will also inform you ​​of your tuition waivers. 

Studying in Montreal

Do I need to speak French?

French is the official language of Quebec, however, Montreal is a bilingual city. It is a good idea to learn French if you choose to live in Montreal in order to make the most of all that the city has to offer. 

To facilitate our researchers’ integration into our dynamic city, Mila offers free French and English language courses to its entire community, including students, postdocs, faculty and staff.

Is it cold in Montreal?

It’s true that Montreal is quite cold in the winter (and, in fact, very hot in the summer), but the city is well adapted to winter climate conditions: Montreal’s snow removal is incredibly fast and efficient. You will need to get a good coat, hat, gloves, and boots, but most international students don’t find that they mind the cold too much, which compares to other cities like Boston or Toronto.

Winter also has its advantages. You can go skating on the frozen lake of Mount Royal, go sledding in one of Montreal's many parks or take advantage of the nearby cross-country and downhill ski centres.

Research Master’s 

Is there an admission process at Mila?

No, Mila is not a university and does not grant diplomas. 

Supervision requests at Mila and university admission applications are separate processes that must be completed in parallel.

All research students at Mila are affiliated with one of our partner universities or academic institutions that  manage the formal admission process to the research master’s program. Mila facilitates the matching of students with potential supervisors through the Mila Supervision Request Form available online from October 15 to December 1. Visit the Supervision Requests page to learn more. 

Please note that the Mila supervision request is a required first step to be advised by a Mila-affiliated professor. 

Keep an eye on each university's admission deadlines to make sure you apply on time:

When can I submit my supervision request to Mila?

You must fill out the Mila Supervision Request Form between October 15 and December 1. For more information, visit the Supervision Requests page.

When will I hear back from Mila about my supervision request?

In February or March, though the delay can sometimes extend into April.

For which semesters can I be admitted?

Fall and Winter

What is the duration of the master’s degree?

2 years

Will I be eligible for a scholarship during my studies?

Typically, students receive an award (usually from their supervisor's research funds). Please contact your potential supervisor to inquire about the amount.

Am I allowed to apply for additional scholarships?

Yes. We strongly encourage students to do so.

Is it possible to get a teaching assistant position?

Yes, if you meet the required qualifications.

Do I need to pass a French exam to be eligible to study at Université de Montréal?

The Quebec government requires all international students to speak French in some capacity if they are to attend a French university, which is why they ask for TEF or TOEFL results when you apply for a CAQ or study permit. However, the CS DIRO department of Université de Montréal is an exception. No French exam is required. 

Please note that if you wish to stay in Quebec and enter the job market, learning French would be an asset for you.

Is the program offered to international students?

Yes, we encourage international students to apply.

DESS in Machine Learning

How can I apply to the program?

Detailed application guidelines are available on this page on the DIRO website. Please read them carefully.

Upon receipt of your admission notice from UdeM, you must begin the process of obtaining your CAQ and study permit as soon as possible. (unless you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident).

What are the admission dates?

You must fill out the Mila Supervision Request Form between October 15 and December 1. For more information, visit the Supervision Requests page.

Is Mila selecting the DESS students?

Yes, Mila is involved in the management of the Université de Montréal's professional programs in machine learning, including the student selection process and the search for and coordination of student internships. The official admission process is managed by the Université de Montréal.

When is the recruitment period?

The recruitment period for new Mila students runs from October 15 to December 1, 2022. For more information, visit the Supervision Requests page.

When will Mila inform us of their decision?

About 2 months after finalizing your Mila application.

What is the duration of the DESS program?

1 year plus 4 months of internship.

However, it is possible to complete the program and the internship within one year.

Is it possible to do this program part-time?

Yes

For which semester can I be admitted to the DESS at UdeM?

Fall only

What are the tuition fees at UdeM?

Please refer to the information on the Université de Montréal website

Do DESS students get a scholarship from Mila?

No

How can I get some financial support?

Please refer to the information on the Université de Montréal website

Do I need to pass a French exam to be eligible to study at Université de Montréal?

The Quebec government requires all international students to speak French in some capacity if they are to attend a French university, which is why they ask for TEF or TOEFL results when you apply for a CAQ or study permit. However, the CS DIRO department of Université de Montréal is an exception. No French exam is required. 

Please note that if you wish to stay in Quebec and enter the job market, learning French would be an asset for you.

What are the prerequisites for admission?

A 3.0 GPA or higher
Knowledge in computer science, programming, mathematics, deep learning and machine learning is an asset.

Can I take courses offered at other universities affiliated with Mila?

Yes, however, this is not specific to Mila. Students from a Quebec university can enroll in courses at other Quebec universities through a program called Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI). To complete your 2 open electives, you can use this option to register for courses at McGill, HEC Montréal, Concordia and Polytechnique Montréal, depending on the approval of your home university. 

Is the program offered to international students?

Yes, and we encourage international students to apply.

Professional Master’s in Machine Learning

How can I apply to the program?

Detailed application guidelines are available on this page on the DIRO website. Please read them carefully.

If you are accepted, you should start the student permit / visa process as soon as possible (unless you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident).

What are the admission dates?

You must complete the Mila Supervision Request Form by December 1. If you are selected by Mila, you must officially register for the UdeM programme by February 1 (once you have been notified).

Does Mila select the Professional MSc students?

Yes, Mila is involved in the management of the Université de Montréal's machine learning program, including the student selection process and the coordination of student internships. The official admission process is managed by the Université de Montréal.

When can I submit an application?

Every year, from October 15 to December 1. For more information, visit the Supervision Requests page.

When can I expect to hear back from Mila?

About 2 months after finalizing your Mila application.

What is the duration of the program?

2 years plus a 6 months internship

However, it is possible to complete the program and the internship within 2 years

Is it possible to take this program part-time?

Yes

What is the admission term for the Professional MSc at UdeM?

Fall only

What are the tuition fees at UdeM?

Please refer to the information on the Université de Montréal website

Do Professional MSc students get a scholarship from Mila?

No

How can I get some financial support?

Please refer to the information on the Université de Montréal website

Do I need to pass a French exam to be eligible to study at Université de Montréal?

The Quebec government requires all international students to speak French in some capacity if they are to attend a French university, which is why they ask for TEF or TOEFL results when you apply for a CAQ or study permit. However, the CS DIRO department of Université de Montréal is an exception. No French exam is required. 

Please note that if you wish to stay in Quebec and enter the job market, learning French would be an asset for you.

What are the prerequisites for admission?

GPA 3 and more.
Knowledge in computer science, programming, mathematics, deep learning and machine learning is an asset.

I was selected by Mila for the Professional Master’s program. Now, I have applied for admission to the program at UdeM as recommended by Mila’s team. Will I definitely be admitted or is it still uncertain?

Admission to the Mila program does not guarantee admission to UdeM. You must ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements of the Université de Montréal in addition to those of Mila.

Is it possible to take all Professional MSc courses in English?

Graduate courses are taught in French, English or in both languages. To find out the language of instruction for a particular course, please refer to the list of courses on the DIRO website

Do I have the opportunity to take courses offered at other universities affiliated with Mila?

Yes, however, this is not specific to Mila. Students from a Quebec university can enroll in courses at other Quebec universities through a program called Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI). To complete your 2 open electives, you can use this option to register for courses at McGill, HEC Montréal, Concordia and Polytechnique Montréal, depending on the approval of your home university. 

Is the program offered to international students?

Yes, and we encourage international students to apply.

PhD

Are there admissions at Mila?

No, Mila is not a university and does not grant diplomas. 

Supervision requests at Mila and university admission applications are separate processes that must be completed in parallel.

All research students at Mila are affiliated with one of our partner universities or academic institutions that  manage the formal admission process to the research master’s program. Mila facilitates the matching of students with potential supervisors through the Mila Supervision Request Form available online from October 15 to December 1. Visit the Supervision Requests page to learn more. 

Please note that the Mila supervision request is a required first step to be advised by a Mila-affiliated professor.  

Keep an eye on each university's admission deadlines to make sure you apply on time:

When can I submit my Mila supervision request?

Every year, from October 15 to December 1. For more information, visit the Supervision Requests page.

When will I get an answer from Mila about my supervision request?

In February or March, though the delay can sometimes extend into April.

For which semesters can I be admitted?

Fall, Winter and Summer

What is the duration of the PhD?

From 4 to 5 years on average.

I am a currently finishing my bachelor's degree. Can I apply for the Ph.D. program similar to that of American universities (i.e., straight to a Ph.D.) or I should apply for the M.Sc. program?

This is possible in exceptional cases, for students who have demonstrated previous research experience.

Normally, if you have a Bachelor's degree from the United States, you must apply for a Master of Science degree in Quebec. If you are eligible for accelerated entry into the PhD program, you may enter the PhD program after one year of MSc. Recently, it has been possible, in exceptional cases, to enroll directly in the Ph.D. program without a Master's degree (with the number of courses required for the Ph.D. program in this case).

Typically, a Ph.D. in the U.S. takes about the same amount of time as a M.Sc. + a Ph.D. at Mila’s affiliated universities.

Here is a summary of the different paths to the Ph.D. program:

  • Master’s degree then Ph.D.
  • Master’s degree with fast-track into Ph.D. 
  • Direct admission to Ph.D. from Bachelor’s degree
Will I be eligible for a scholarship during my studies?

Typically, students receive an award (usually from their supervisor's research funds). Please contact your potential supervisor to inquire about the amount.

Am I allowed to apply for more scholarships?

Yes, we encourage all students to do so.

Do I have the possibility to get a teaching assistant position?

Yes, if you meet the required qualifications.

Is the program offered to international students?

Yes, we encourage international students to apply.