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Health Sciences | Faculty of Health Sciences Simon Fraser University Calendar | Summer 2022

Health Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy

This doctor of philosophy (PhD) in health sciences program trains students in advanced research in health sciences, and provides them with the skills, content area expertise, and analytical and critical thinking capabilities required to pursue original research relevant to health. Consistent with the mandate and objectives of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) mission, the program will introduce students to interdisciplinary approaches to research that will encourage them to develop cross-disciplinary research skills. 

Areas of disciplinary emphasis in the faculty include: social science, epidemiology, biostatistics, policy analysis, ethics, and laboratory-based biomedical science. Research areas in the faculty are interdisciplinary and include: global health; environmental health and toxicology; maternal and child health, epidemiology and disease prevention; chronic and infectious diseases; population and public health; mental health and addiction; social inequities and health outcomes; adolescent and child development; reproductive health; and health policy.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 and the requirements on the Faculty of Health Sciences website. 

See Graduate General Regulation 1.3.7b transfer from master's to PhD, which is possible for exceptional students in the first 6 semesters of their master's.


An FHS faculty member who has agreed to serve as the applicant's supervisor must be identified prior to submitting an application for admission. Applicants who do not have a confirmed supervisor at the application deadline will not be considered.

Program Requirements

This program consists of course work, a comprehensive exam and thesis proposal, research, and a thesis for a minimum of 24 units.

Students must complete all of

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.

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.

and a comprehensive exam and thesis proposal

HSCI 983 - Comprehensive Exam and Thesis Proposal (6)

Comprehensive examination and thesis proposal preparation. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 TBD
G200 TBD

and thesis

HSCI 990 - PhD Thesis (12)

Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G300 TBD
G400 TBD

Course Work

A student may be advised to complete additional course work by his/her 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.

Students who enter the PhD program from FHS MSc, and who receive an A- or higher in 902 or 903 do not need to repeat the courses.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination may be retaken only once. If a student fails the comprehensive examination, progress in the program is considered unsatisfactory and will trigger a review by the faculty's graduate studies committee as outlined in Graduate General Regulation 1.8.2.

Doctoral Thesis Proposal

PhD candidates will normally submit the thesis proposal in their second year. The proposal and oral defence will be graded on the same basis, with the same possible outcomes as the comprehensive exam.

Program Length

Faculty of Health Sciences PhD candidates are expected to complete in 3-5 years.

Optional Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization (IOGS)

Application to IOGS is through the IOGS steering committee. Students must fulfill all FHS requirements for the PhD and must have approval from the Supervisor.

To receive the IOGS, students must complete both ONC courses. These can be used as graduate electives courses for the program.

Students must complete

ONC 502 - Concepts in Oncology (3)

This course covers the biology and epidemiology of cancer and theories behind prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different types of cancer. A major goal of the course is to integrate knowledge and research on the biology of cancer with all disciplines in oncology. This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD. Prerequisite: Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.

ONC 510 - Seminars in Oncology (3)

This course features cancer-related research by trainees and faculty at the BC Cancer Research Centre. Topics include recent developments in the molecular basis of oncogenesis, cancer bioinformatics, cancer epidemiology, cancer treatment and other clinical studies, and ethical issues. Students are required to present seminars on their research. Students undertaking the Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization must enroll in this course throughout their entire time as a graduate student. This course can be taken twice, if a student does the Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization (IOGS) as an MSc student, and also does it as a PhD student. Students who transfer from MSc to PhD would only take it once. Prerequisite: Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 TBD


participate in a yearly interdisciplinary oncology retreat. For more information on IOGS, please see Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization.

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.