FAQ

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Studying in Montreal

Do I need to speak French?

French is the official language of Quebec, and it is a good idea to learn French if you choose to live here, in order to experience to the fullest extent all that the city has to offer.

However, Montreal is one of the most bilingual locations on Earth, and many current students arrived at the institute with little or no proficiency in French.

The relative popularity of English and French at the institute fluctuates over time. Currently, many students in the institute originate from non-French-speaking countries such as the US, China, Turkey and Iran, so everyone in the institute speaks English reasonably well, whereas French is a common language to a smaller subset.

Courses at the University of Montreal are taught in French, but it is possible to take some of your required courses in English at McGill or Concordia, which are a short bus ride away from University of Montreal campus. Even at University of Montreal, it is preferred that students who speak French poorly turn in their assignments and exams written in English and can ask the professor for an English version of the questions (which the professor almost always accepts to provide). Undergraduate students must pass a French proficiency exam but Master’s and PhD students need not do so.

Isn’t it cold in Montreal?

It’s true that Montreal is cold in the winter (and, in fact, very hot in the summer), but the city is well-adapted to function in spite of the weather. Montreal’s snow removal is incredibly fast and efficient. You will need to get a good coat, hat, gloves, and boots, but most foreign students don’t find that they mind the cold too much, which is not very different from other cities such as Boston or Toronto.

The climate also provides certain advantages. There is an ice skating lake within walking distance of the institute and good skiing (both downhill and cross country) within reasonable driving distance of Montreal. It’s easy to go sledding in one of Montreal’s many parks — just grab a glossy cardboard box out of a recycling bin on the street and tear off one of its sides.

Studying at Mila

What are the projects at Mila?

Most projects involve deep learning, though recently the institute has broadened its interest to wider machine learning including optimization. Projects range from natural language understanding to computer vision, through work on general-purpose advances in algorithms.

Why should someone with good math / systems CS skills work on deep learning?

Deep learning is an exciting new research area. It is young enough that a student with good mathematical aptitude can quickly learn most of the central ideas and begin contributing to the field. Recently, deep learning has proven to be a resource-intensive field, with large neural networks powered by cutting edge GPU-based or distributed implementations making great leaps forward in fields like object recognition and speech recognition. Deep learning research presents an unparalleled opportunity for students with good mathematical skills and / or good CS implementation skills to really make a big impact.

Which professors are looking for students and what kind of projects do they want to work on?

Please refer to the Supervision Request page for more information on the supervision request process.

What are the advantages to being a student at Mila?

  • Vibrant intellectual research environment: at Mila we are all excited to advance the state of artificial intelligence. At any given day you can easily find students discussing all kinds of ambitious research ideas. The professors are very involved and engaged with the students, making the research process very open and interactive.
  • Quebecois work/life balance: at Mila we do good research, but we don’t work ourselves to death doing it. The culture here is much more laid back than it is at other labs, especially in the US, that publish at the same conferences.
  • Lots of computational resources: University of Montreal has the second largest research budget of any university in Canada, and Mila has a stellar track record of attracting grant money. This means Mila students have access to plenty of fast computers with modern GPUs. The institute’s resources are supplemented with access to shared computer clusters across Quebec and Canada in general.
  • Funding for conferences: So long as we have the funding, which we usually do, Mila sends a large delegation to the top machine learning and deep learning conferences like NIPS, ICML, and ICLR. It’s common for Master’s students, second authors, third authors, and even students who haven’t had a paper accepted to get to go to a conference. Professors here strongly encourage attending conferences as an integral part of the life of a researcher. This compares favorably to many other labs where students are discouraged from taking time away from research or where there is rarely funding to send many students.
  • Research-based funding: Mila students are generally paid scholarships that are competitive with top US graduate programs. This funding is usually contingent on working on research projects related to one of the lab’s many industrial projects. These projects are often publishable. Most students find this arrangement preferable to some of the arrangements at other universities, where grad student funding is often tied to large amounts of non-research-related work, such as TAing.
  •  Internships: Mila students commonly do internships at top industrial research groups. Recent examples include:
    • Sarath Chandar, Montreal Google Brain (2017)
    • Dzmitry Bahdanau, London DeepMind (2017)
    • Tim Cooijmans, London DeepMind (2017)
    • Tong Che, Berkeley, CA (2017)
    • Vincent Dumoulin, London DeepMind (2017)

Will I need to pay extra fees as a foreign student?

By default, foreign students do need to pay extra fees, but Mila students are usually able to get these fees covered by one of the institute’s funding sources, or obtain an exemption. You will be notified whether you will have to pay foreign student fees before you need to formally accept or reject an offer of admission. Keep in mind that one needs to stay in good standing in terms of grades (and publications also help) to continue receiving the tuition fee scholarship provided by the university.

What have alumni of the institute done with their degrees?

  • Pascal Vincent obtained his PhD at Mila and is still a member of MILA. He is now an Assistant Professor.
  • Hugo Larochelle obtained his PhD at Mila and is the head of Google Brain in Montreal.
  • Dumitru Erhan obtained his PhD at Mila and is now a software engineer with Google’s visual search team in Venice, CA near Los Angeles.
  • James Bergstra obtained his PhD at Mila and is now a post-doctoral research scientist at the University of Waterloo.
  • Nicolas Le Roux obtained his PhD at Mila and is now Scientific Program Manager at Criteo.
  • Nicolas Chapados obtained his PhD at Mila and now works at ApSTAT, a company he co-founded with other members of Mila.
  • Olivier Delalleau obtained his PhD at Mila and now works at Ubisoft in Montreal.
  • Philippe Hamel obtained his PhD at Mila and now works at Google in Mountain View, CA.
  • Guillaume Desjardins obtained his PhD at Mila and is now a Senior Researcher at Google Deep Mind in London.
  • Razvan Pascanu recently obtained his PhD at Mila and is now a Senior Researcher at Google Deep Mind in London.
  • Ian Goodfellow recently obtained his PhD at Mila and is now a Research Scientist with Google’s deep learning infrastructure team in Mountain View, CA.
Study at Mila

About Mila

 

Mila is primarily machine learning with focus on deep learning and reinforcement learning

We are always looking forward to push the cutting edge research to new boundaries. Mila is best known for:

  • Fundamentals of deep learning: Mila published one of the first papers on deep learning (NIPS’2006), a book (2009) and a review paper (2013), as well as many fundamental contributions regarding representation learning. Ian Goodfellow (former PhD student at MILA), Yoshua Bengio and Aaron Courville published one of the most comprehensive books on deep learning in 2016.
  • Autoencoders: Mila first became involved in the deep learning revolution by introducing the stacked denoising autoencoder. Mila has also invented contractive autoencoders and generative stochastic networks. There has been also an on going research on Variational Autoencoders which led to invention of  Recurrent Variational Autoencoders and a few other varients at Mila.
  • Supervised neural nets: Mila pioneered the use of rectified linear units for feedforward neural nets. Deep rectifier nets have gained widespread popularity in industrial vision and speech recognition. Mila also developed the Attention Mechanism methods, which have gained popularity in a variety of speech and vision applications.
  • Generative models: Mila is the birthplace of the spike-and-slab RBM, and also Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) as one of the best generative models of natural images. Students at Mila study a wide range of topics related to GANs, including better ways to train both the discriminator and the generator.
  • Recurrent neural networks: Students at Mila have been studying the problem of “capturing temporal structures” with recurrent nets for a long time. Neural language models were invented at Mila. The birthplace of the RNN-RBM, a very successful model of polyphonic music is also Mila.

Who are Mila’s partners?

Mila collaborates with various industrial partners and institutions.

Click here to see the list of industrial partners. 

And click here to see the list of collaborating institutions.

MSc research

Are there admissions at Mila? 

  • No, Mila is not a university and does not grant diplomas. All research students at Mila are affiliated with one of the partner institutions, which handle the formal admission procedure to the MSc program. 

owever, Mila facilitates the matching between students and potential supervisors through the MILA supervision request platform which is open from October 15th to December 1st. More information can be found here

Note also that the Mila supervision request is a required first step to be advised by a Mila professor affiliated with the operation research and computer science department (DIRO) of Montreal University. 

Keep an eye on the admission dates for each institution at the following addresses to ensure you complete your application in a timely manner:

Important: Request for supervision at Mila and university admission are separate processes which must be completed in parallel.

When are the Mila supervision requests open?

  • From October 15h to December 1st.

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

  • From February to March, sometimes early April.

What’s the admission term?

  • Fall and Winter.

What’s the duration of MSc?

  • 2 years.

Do I get a scholarship during my studies?

  • Yes, you will receive a scholarship (usually coming from one of your supervisor’s research funds). Please discuss with your potential supervisor to know the amount.

Am I allowed to get another or more scholarships?

  • Yes, and we encourage that.

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

  • Yes.

Do we need a GRE certification?

  • Not necessary in order to get admitted to the program.

Do I need to speak French to follow the program?

  • No, although learning French would be an asset for you if you chose the Quebec job market and to find an internship.

Is the program offered to international students?

Professional DESS

How can I apply to the program?

The first step of the application process is to complete the online Mila application form. We will send a message acknowledging that we have received the application and a professor will examine your application. If you are accepted at Mila, you will then need to complete an application to University of Montreal’s DESS in Machine Learning (internship option – program 217-512). Note that there will be very little time between the date you are informed of acceptance to the Mila program and the University of Montreal deadline, you are encouraged to prepare your application for Montreal University at the same time as you prepare the one for Mila. 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 need to fill the Mila application form before December 1st. If you are selected by Mila, after receiving your notification from Mila, you should officially apply to the program at UdeM before February 1st.

Is Milaselecting the Professional DESS students ?

  • Yes, the selection for the professional programs are handled by MILA, the official admission process is then handled by DIRO and UdeM.

When is the application recruitment period?

  • From October 15th to December 1st through the MILA application form.

When do we get to know that  we are selected by Mila?

  • Around 2 months after finalizing your Mila application.

Duration of the Professional DESS program?

  • 1 year plus 4 months of internship, but it could also be 1 year including the internship.

Is it possible to follow this program on a part time basis?

  • Yes

What’s the admission term?

  • Only in Fall.

What’s the tuition fees for UdeM?

Do Professional DESS student get a scholarship from Mila?

  • No

Where can I get some Financial support?

Do we need a GRE certification?

  • Not necessary in order to get admitted to the program.

Do I need to speak French to follow the program?

  • No, although learning French would be an asset for you if you chose the Quebec job market and to find an internship.

What are the prerequisites for the admission?

  • GPA 3 and more, Computer science, programming, mathematics, background and DL, ML is a bonus.

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 BCI. To complete your 2 open electives, you can use this option to register for courses at McGill, Concordia, Poly, HEC; https://www.bci-qc.ca

Is the program offered to international students?

  • Yes, We encourage international students to apply.

Professional MSc

How can I apply to the program?

The first step of the application process is to complete the online Mila application form. We will send a message acknowledging that we have received the application and a professor will examine your application. If you are accepted at Mila, you will then need to complete an application to University of Montreal’s Masters in Computer Science (internship option – program 217-510 segment 77). Note that there will be very little time between the date you are informed of acceptance to the Mila program and the University of Montreal deadline. You should prepare your application for University of Montreal at the same time as you prepare the one for Mila. If you were 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 need to fill the Mila application form before December 1st. If you are selected by Mila, after receiving your notification from Mila, you should officially apply to the program at UdeM before February 1st.

Is Mila selecting the Professional MSc students ?

  • Yes, the selection for the professional programs are handled by MILA, the official admission process is then handled by DIRO and UdeM.

When is the application period?

  • From October 15th to December 1st through the MILA application form.

When do we get to know that  we are selected by MILA ?

  • Around 2 months after finalizing your Mila application.

Duration of Prof MSc?

  • 2 years + 6 months internship, but it could also be 2 years including internship.

Is it possible to follow this program on a part time basis?

  • Yes,

What’s the admission term?

  • Only in Fall.

What’s the tuition fees for UdeM?

Do the professional MSc student get a scholarship?

  • No.

Where can I get some Financial support?

Do we need a GRE certification?

  • Not necessary in order to get admitted to the program.

Do I need to speak French to follow the program?

  • No, although learning French would be an asset for you if you chose the Quebec job market and to find an internship.

What are the prerequisites for the admission?

  • GPA 3 and more, background in Computer science, programming and mathematics, knowledge in Deep Learning and Machine Learning is a plus.

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

  • Admission to the Mila program is not a guarantee of admission to UdeM. Mila is not a university and has its own selection criteria, while the UdeM admissions committee must ensure that basic computer science requirements have been met.

How is Mila involved in the Professional Master’s program?

  • Most of the classes are taught by Mila’s professors and several are held at Mila’s facilities. Mila also coordinates the internship once you have completed your required courses.

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

  • Yes, it is possible to attend your courses in English. The UdeM has a policy whereby you can request all evaluations (exams, assignments, etc.) in either language (eng/fr). This is true for all higher level courses. The language of instruction depends on the teacher. It is somehow guaranteed that the compulsory courses mentioned on the website of this program will be in English. This is not true for additional courses (e.g. algorithms) that the department may ask you to register for.

Do you 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 BCI. To complete your 2 open electives, you can use this option to register for courses at McGill, Concordia, Poly, HEC; https://www.bci-qc.ca

Is the program offered to international students?

  • Yes

PhD research

Are there admissions at Mila? 

  • No, Mila is not a university and does not grant diplomas. All research students at Mila are affiliated with one of the partner institutions, which handle the formal admission procedure to the PhD program. 

However, Mila facilitates the matching between students and potential supervisors through the Mila supervision request platform which is open from October 15th to December 1st. More information can be found here

Note that the Mila supervision request is a required first step to be advised by a Mila professor affiliated with the operation research and computer science department (DIRO) of Montreal University. 

Keep an eye on the admission dates for each institution at the following addresses to ensure you complete your application in a timely manner:

Important: Request for supervision at Mila and university admission are separate processes which must be completed in parallel.

When are the Milasupervision requests open?

  • From October 15h to December 1st

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

  • From February to March, sometimes early April.

What are the admission terms?

  • Fall, Winter, Summer.

What’s the duration of PhD?

  • On average 4 to 5 years.

I am a senior bachelor student, can I apply for the PhD. program similar to US universities (PhD. direct) or I should apply for the M.Sc. Program?

  • It is possible  for exceptional students with demonstrated prior research experience.
  • Normally, if you hold a bachelor’s degree from the US, you must apply for the M.Sc., in Quebec. With the possibility of a fast track to the PhD. program, if you qualify for it, you can switch to the PhD. program after 1 year of the MSc program. But recently it has become possible to apply directly to the PhD program without a MSc for exceptional students (with an increased number of courses required for the PhD program in this case).
  • Typically, a PhD in the US takes about the same amount of time as a MSc + a PhD at the affiliated universities of Mila.

Do I get a scholarship during my studies?

  • Yes, you will receive a scholarship (usually coming from one of your supervisor’s research funds). Please discuss with your potential supervisor to know the amount. 

Am I allowed to get another or more scholarships?

  • Yes, and we encourage that.

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

  • Yes.

Do we need to provide  GRE scores?

  • No, it is not required.

Do I need to speak French to follow the program?

  • No, although learning French would be an asset for you to better enjoy the richness of Quebec culture and if you want to stay in Quebec after your studies.

Is the program offered to international students?

  • Yes.
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