Program Details

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A Brief Overview

A PhD program at SPPH is intended for students who wish to obtain advanced research training that will enable them to conduct independent investigative research. The program usually takes at least three years of full-time study to complete and requires a minimum of 16.5 credits of core courses with a B+ (76%) average, as well as the successful completion of a comprehensive exam, and successful defence of a thesis. As part of your program at SPPH, you will be introduced to interdisciplinary research and learning, and you will participate in peer-led discussions and Grand Rounds. SPPH has an active student association, The Association of Population and Public Health Students (TAPPHS), who offer opportunities to broaden your connection with fellow scholars through events such as the annual SPPH Exchange.


A PhD program at SPPH takes an average of four years of full-time study to complete and must be finished within six years. If you have questions about extensions or leaves, please click here (Extensions) or here (Leaves of Absence). Students are generally admitted to candidacy within two years of enrolling in the degree, and must be admitted within three years. If you are a student who has transferred from a Masters program, then this means within three years of enrolling in the Masters.

Prior to Admission

After Admission

  • Year 1, Term 1 – coursework, meet with supervisor to discuss PhD timeline, submit applications for scholarship funding
  • Year 1, Term 2 – coursework, begin to define research question, seek committee membership in consultation with supervisor, apply for research funding
  • Year 1, Summer – develop thesis proposal, write ethics application, submit data requests, and do other preliminary work to prepare for thesis
  • Year 2, Term 1 – complete required courses, continue preliminary work to prepare for thesis
  • Year 2, Term 2 – prepare for comprehensive exam, complete elective courses, begin to prepare proposal for Thesis Screening Panel
  • Year 2, Summer - complete comprehensive exam, present thesis proposal to Thesis Screening Panel
  • Admission to candidacy – after successful completion of core courses, Thesis Screening Panel, and comprehensive exam students may apply to advance to candidacy
  • Subsequent to Admission to Candidacy – complete thesis research, write dissertation, complete oral doctoral examination, submit dissertation to Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
  • Courses

    Find out about core courses available for the PhD, and other course requirements.
  • mph format


    Read about what a supervisor does, and how to choose and approach faculty in your research areas of interest.
  • Funding and Opportunities

    Learn more about how doctoral funding at SPPH works and specific PhD opportunities.