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Health Sciences | Faculty of Health Sciences Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018

Health Sciences

Master of Science

This master of science (MSc) program prepares graduates for research careers in one of the signature areas that either have been developed or are currently under development within the faculty including: global health; environmental and occupational health, toxicology; maternal and child health; epidemiology and biostatistics; health promotion and disease prevention; infectious diseases; chronic diseases and aging; mental health and substance use; social inequities and health; adolescent and child development; reproductive health; and health policy. The available courses and directed research experiences available will cover health issues from the level of cells, organisms, systems, communities and populations, encompassing and transcending strictly individual or clinical perspectives.

The MSc curriculum is flexible by design. Students, in consultation with faculty advisors, create a curriculum plan that will best help them meet their research and career goals. A disciplinary-specific application of the scientific method shall be common to all MSc curriculum plans.

Formal academic instruction is available in regularly taught courses within the faculty as well as in other Simon Fraser Univerisity faculties and departments, and other universities in Western Canada through the Western Deans' Agreement. In addition, directed studies and directed research courses may be available in specific areas.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the MSc program who are recent graduates should have completed a baccalaureate degree in a discipline relevant to their area(s) of interest in the health sciences. Such disciplines include the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, life sciences and/or the quantitative sciences.

Applicants must satisfy all University admission requirements as outlined in Simon Fraser University's Calendar under graduate general regulations 1.3.3 . A minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 3.3 on grading scales similar to Simon Fraser University's is required. Applicants must submit evidence, usually references from qualified referees, of their ability to undertake advanced research in their area of interest. Applicants should explain in their applications how their educational, research and/or career experiences have prepared them for their selected areas of study and research in the program.

Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must provide test scores from TWE, TOEFL, or IELTS examinations taken within two years prior to applying to the MSc program. Minimum scores are indicated in graduate general regulation 1.3.12.

Factors influencing admission to the MSc program include an assessment of whether the student's educational and career interests are complementary to the research strengths of the faculty, enrolment space, and the student's specific preparation.

Before admission can be finalized, a Faculty of Health Sciences faculty member who will serve as a senior supervisory must be identified. Note that while applicants may apply to the program without identifying a senior supervisor, a final decision to admit depends on the commitment by a faculty member to serve in this capacity.

Admission is competitive. Meeting these minimum standards does not guarantee admission to the program.

To apply and pay the application fee online, consult the graduate studies website at For specific Faculty of Health Sciences information, visit

Applying from the Faculty of Health Sciences Master of Public Health Program to the Master of Science Program

Students in the Faculty of Health Sciences Master of Public Health (MPH) program may apply to the MSc program. MPH students must submit all required supporting documents to be considered for the MSc program by the advertised deadlines. Meeting program application requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. The FHS graduate studies committee in consultation with the student's supervisor will determine credit for course work completed while in the MPH program.

Program Requirements

The program is a research degree that is designed to incorporate a focus on one or more of the thematic areas of research expertise within the Faculty of Health Sciences, and introduces students to interdisciplinary concepts in health sciences research. The minimum requirements for an MSc degree in FHS are

completion of 12 units of graduate course work

writing and defence of an MSc thesis proposal

writing and defence of an MSc thesis

By the end of their second term in the MSc program, and in consultation with their senior supervisor, students must have formed and met with their supervisory committee, whose composition must be approved by the FHS graduate studies committee in accordance with the Simon Fraser University graduate general regulations. The supervisory committee will normally consist of the senior supervisor and a minimum of two additional faculty members whose expertise will complement the student's research and program goals. The role of the supervisory committee is to oversee student curricular planning and progress in the program and to assess student performance on the thesis proposal, the thesis research, and the thesis defence.

Students are required to submit and present annual progress reports to their supervisory committee. In addition to an evaluation of the student's progress by the supervisory committee, these reports should provide a summary of courses taken and grades achieved, planned course work and research-related activities (e.g. conference attendance), financial support and self-evaluation done by the student of his/her progress.

MSc students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 during their time in the program.

NOTE: Students admitted concurrently to a bachelor's degree program and a master's degree program within the Faculty of Health Sciences may apply a maximum of 10 graduate course units, taken while completing the bachelor's degree, towards the requirements of the master's degree. These graduate courses must be passed with a grade of B (3.0) or better in order to be used towards the requirements of the master's degree. For more information go to:

MSc Course Work

The minimum requirements for all students are 30 units of graduate course work which consists of a minimum of

one core seminar (three units)

three core colloquium courses (each one unit, totalling three units)

two elective courses (equalling a minimum of six units)

a thesis proposal (six units)

a master's thesis (12 units)

Core Courses

Students complete all of the following. However, students who are accepted into the Faculty of Health Sciences PhD program are not required to repeat these courses provided these courses were completed with a minimum grade of A- or higher in each.

HSCI 902 - Interdisciplinary Seminar in Health Sciences I (3)

Foundational elements to introduce MSc/PhD students to basic knowledge and skills needed for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of health sciences, drawing from a wide range of methods and approaches used in laboratory sciences, clinical research, health services, policy, social sciences, humanities and public health research. Prerequisite: Admission to the MSc program, or the MPH (thesis) program, or the PhD program in the Faculty of Health Sciences, or consent of the instructor.

HSCI 903 - Interdisciplinary Seminar in Health Sciences II (3)

Philosophical, disciplinary, and social groundings for inquiry, evaluation, and interdisciplinarity in health sciences research. Issues in research design, professionalism, engagement, and higher education. Prerequisite: HSCI 902 or consent of the instructor.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Timothy Takaro
Th 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
BLU 11401, Burnaby

Elective Courses

Elective course work will be determined by the student in consultation with his/her senior supervisor and the supervisory committee. Elective courses may be from any of the graduate course offerings at Simon Fraser University with the approval of the offering units.

A student may be advised to complete additional course work by his/her senior supervisor in consultation with the supervisory committee commensurate with the research interests of the student and within the scope of the student's curricular focus. Additional courses may be completed at Simon Fraser University or, in select cases, at other universities that participate in the Western Dean's Agreement.

All graduate students are expected to regularly attend the FHS research seminar series (HSCI 900) each fall and spring term.

Transferring to the Faculty of Health Sciences PhD Program

Students in the MSc program may apply to transfer to the PhD program. To do so, they must demonstrate their ability to carry out innovative, independent and original PhD level research in that field, have obtained high academic standing in previous university work, and have the support of their senior supervisor. All university regulations governing transfers must be met (graduate general regulation 1.3.4). Transfers will normally only be considered in the second through fifth terms after enrolment in the MSc program. Transfer applications must be approved by the student's supervisory committee, the FHS graduate studies committee, and the dean of graduate studies. Students transferring from the MSc program will be eligible to earn only the PhD degree. Students will not be eligible to transfer to the PhD program beyond six terms of full-time equivalent course work in the MSc program.


A major part of the MSc program will be devoted to original research as relevant within the context of the health science discipline the student is pursuing. The results of this research work are to be presented in the form of a thesis. The thesis shall be submitted and defended in accordance with graduate general regulations.

Anticipated Completion Time

The anticipated completion time of all program requirements for students enroled in the FHS MSc program is two to three years (six to nine terms) from initial enrolment, depending on the research discipline and progress in the program. In accordance with the graduate general regulations 1.12.2, the maximum allowable time for completion of MSc requirements is four years (12 terms) of full-time equivalent enrolment. In addition, all requirements of the MSc degree must be completed within six calendar years of initial enrolment.

MSc Thesis Requirement

The MSc is a research degree in which the main component is a thesis that addresses a research problem relevant to health sciences. Upon initiating their thesis research, MSc students enrol in HSCI 887 and are continuously enrolled in this course until the thesis is completed and successfully defended in accordance with graduate general regulations 1.9 and 1.10.

Before commencing research leading to the MSc thesis, all students must prepare and successfully defend a thesis proposal. Students must also obtain, as necessary, relevant ethics, biosafety, and animal care and use approvals.

Thesis Proposal

The student will prepare a written research proposal prior to commencing research leading to the MSc thesis. Upon initiating preparation of the proposal, MSc students enrol in HSCI 886. The proposal shall be organized and evaluated in accordance to policies and procedures established by the FHS graduate studies committee. In general, the proposal will integrate a review of the relevant research literature and describe research methodology appropriate to the principal research question(s), expected results and their significance.

MSc students will normally submit their thesis proposal by the end of their first calendar year in the program to their supervisory committee. The student will then orally present and defend the proposal before their committee. The proposal and oral defence will be graded on a pass/fail basis. Failure of the written proposal or oral defense will be considered unsatisfactory progress, and will trigger review by the FHS graduate studies committee as outlined in graduate general regulation 1.8.2.

Thesis Defence

A written thesis is based on the candidate's original contribution to research in the field of his/her expertise, and is the final requirement for completion of the MSc program. The thesis will typically include a background/introduction section, research materials and/or methods, results and analyses, and discussion. Students must note in the thesis that the appropriate ethics, biosafety, and animal care and use approvals were obtained prior to conducting their research work.

All MSc candidates must pass the formal thesis defence which is conducted in accordance with graduate general regulations 1.9.2 and 1.10.1. The candidate will be recommended for the award of an MSc degree in health sciences upon successful defence of the thesis.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.