Department of Public Health Sciences

Department of

Public Health Sciences


Public Health Sciences

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Questions from applicants - and answers from us!


We get lots of questions from applicants. Here is a summary of some of the popular ones - with our answers.

Program structure and requirements

Practicum placement

International practicum placements

Funding and scholarship opportunities

Work opportunities during the program




Program structure and requirements


Q - When are the start and end dates for the 16 month program?

A – The 16 month program begins in the first week of September, and ends 16 months later, at the end of December.


Q - Is there a capstone paper that needs to be completed?

A – No, there is no capstone paper or thesis that needs to be completed.  The Queen’s MPH is a professional, course-based degree.


Q - Is the schedule going to be the same as the previous year?

A – For the most part, the schedule is the same from year to year. However, our electives do sometimes shift a bit from year to year, as do Instructors. Keep checking the website for details.


Q - Is the workload heavier than the typical undergraduate workload?

A – I suppose that depends on what undergraduate experience you are comparing it to! Graduate student workload tends to be quite heavy, and time management is very important. Count on working at least as many hours as you would for a demanding full time job, and often more.


Q - If students are familiar with statistics but not necessarily with biostats/epidemiology, do you recommend a review of biostatistics and epidemiology before the first term?

A – Yes, a review certainly can’t hurt! All MPH students take an introductory biostatistics course in the first semester. This course tends to be very demanding in terms of workload and can be a challenge for many students. For review, we recommend the Statistics and Probability modules from the Khan Academy (


Q - What are the methods of evaluation in our courses? Assignments/exams?

A – It’s a mix, depending on the course. Some have midterms and finals, others short or longer assignments, group projects, presentations and so on.


Q - When will we build our eportfolio?

A – It’s a gradual process. You are introduced to the purpose and shape of the eportfolio in the first month. As the term fall and winter terms unfold, you will be adding artifacts and reflections. A working draft ePortfolio is due at the end of winter term. A more complete draft will be done by the time you finish program requirements at the end of December in Year 2.


Q - Is there a possibility of taking electives at another academic institution?

A – In theory, yes. However, all electives must be approved by the MPH Program Director, and must be an appropriate fit and academic level.


Q - If we were accepted into the 16 month program are we able to switch to the 12 month program?

A – No.


Q - For 12-month students who may do their placements outside of Ontario, is there a requirement to formally come back to Queen's/Ontario at the end?

A – There is currently no requirement to return to Queen’s at the end of the placement for 12-month students. However, you will formally debrief your placement with our Professional Development Officer (which can be done by Skype), and you will be invited to share your practicum experience with other students.


Practicum Placement


Q - What is the process of securing placement?

A – There are three ways to get a placement. First, you can apply for a Kingston-based placement that is offered to Queen’s MPH students only. Second, you can apply for publicly advertised placements (for example, Public Health Ontario, Public Health Agency of Canada, etc.). Third, you can create your own placement opportunity. Our Professional Development Officer guides you through the process and approves all placements.


Q - How can we coordinate a practicum outside of Ontario with the MPH program?

A – We have had many students complete their practicum outside of Ontario – though most do stay within the province. You would work with our Professional Development officer to identify and connect with organizations of interest.


Q - Have students received jobs at the organization where they completed their practicum?

A – Yes, that sometimes happens.


Q - Are we guaranteed a practicum placement?

A – We’ve never failed yet to place all our students in a practicum placement with a host organization!


Q - What is the ratio of paid to unpaid practicums?

A - It varies from year to year. The ratio of paid placements is less than a third.


Q - Does the program offer seminars or workshops to help you prepare for the practicum placement interview?

A – Definitely. The EPID 886 Public Health Professional Development course has sessions on resumes and cover letters, networking and interviews. Putting together your MPH Competency ePortfolio also helps you clarify and articulate your professional identity in preparation for your placement and ongoing employment. Queen’s Career Services also has regular training workshops on job seeking skills. 


Q - Are the practicums straight through from May-August? Or is there a break between our last final exam and the practicum's starting date?

A – The practicum placement is a minimum of 400 hours, so that’s approximately 10-12 weeks of full time work. Students start and end at different times, depending on the student’s arrangements with the host organization. Some are more flexible than others. The majority of practicum placements begin around May 1, so there is usually a break between end of term and the start of the placement.


Q - Is there a capstone paper or project that must be completed prior to completion of the practicum component?

A – The practicum placement has a number of different assessment elements including a workplan, performance appraisal, project summary etc. The practicum assessment is geared to help you transition into professional practice.  There is no large capstone paper or project.


Q - Should you cater your elective courses to the practicum placement that you would like to do? 

A – Your choice of electives depends on a number of factors, including your plans for a practicum placement, your content areas of interest, and also the broader picture of how you would like your professional public health career to unfold.


International practicum placements


Q - Are we able to apply to international placements organizations beyond those listed?

A – Yes. One way to secure a placement is to create your own opportunity. However, all placements much be approved by our Professional Development Officer, and all placements require what is called an Affiliation Agreement between Queen’s and the host organization.


Q - For international placements, if unpaid, are there monetary stipends given to cover living costs?

A – Unfortunately we cannot give you a clear answer on that right now as we are reexamining our policy. We expect that if support is available, it will be very limited.


Q - Is there a benefit to doing an international practicum placement (ex. WHO). I understand that it is competitive and there is a small chance of getting the placement, but if you do get the placement, would it be harder to find a job in Canada upon graduation?

A – Typically, a small handful of our Queen’s MPH students do international placements each year. Whether you should pursue an international placement is really up to you – but some things to consider would be how the placement would fit with your overall career direction and how important it is for you to build your professional network in a particular place. Our Professional Development Officer will help you think through opportunities and give you some helpful parameters for decision making.


Q - For those interested in an international placement, when should we begin searching for positions and what should we look for in an agency to ensure that it will be approved?

A – We encourage our students to stay focused on their coursework in their academically demanding first term, rather than focusing too much on the practicum. That said, because international placements may have additional requirements, students will sometimes do the groundwork earlier than domestic placements – often by November or so.  This will vary by placement.


Q - Does the public health building have study spaces or a grad lounge for us to connect, socialize, and work? Do people tend to hang around the building? Is it a good social environment?

A – Yes, Carruthers Hall is our “home” building for the Department of Public Health Sciences. There are shared study carols, and a student lounge. Students use the lounge regularly, and there is almost always someone around, including students in the Master of Science in Epidemiology program.


Funding and scholarship opportunities


Q - What are the options for financial assistance, scholarships and bursaries?

A – The Queen’s MPH is a professional Masters program. Students are not eligible for funding packages from the Department of Public Health Sciences. It is the responsibility of MPH students to ensure they will be able to support themselves financially over the course of the program. Information about awards, scholarships and bursaries for graduate students is here:


Q - Does the program qualify for OGS funding?

A – Students are eligible for OGS funding, but only when they apply to the program. Unfortunately they are not eligible during the second year.


Q - What is the tuition for the 16 month program?

A – Tuition for the MPH program is approximately $16,000. You can get specifics from the Registrar’s office here:  Remember that the 16-month MPH is four terms, and you do pay tuition during the summer term when you are doing your practicum placement. The School of Graduate Studies contacts students in August to select a payment plan.


Work opportunities during the program


Q - Do most MPH students work part-time during their time at Queen's?

A – Some (but not most) graduate students do work part-time. Graduate Studies recommends work of no more than 10 hours per week. Many MPH students find that just managing their course demands is plenty.


Q - Are there TA (Teaching Assistant) or RA (Research Assistant) opportunities?

A – Yes, there are both RA and TA opportunities, but they are very limited. Our own department’s TA opportunities for MPH students are only available in year two (September – December).


Q - Is it possible to work as a TA in the first year of the program if you find a position on your own?

A – Yes.


Q - Are there any opportunities for MPH students to get involved with extracurricular research, or is that more of a case-by case basis?

A – The MPH program does not offer any formal extracurricular research opportunities. However, you are certainly free to reach out to professors throughout the department and the university.




Q - What are the best options for housing off-campus?

A – There are lots of options for off-campus housing in Kingston. Check Kijiji for the broadest set of listings. You can also check Queen’s Community Housing for listings and housing helps.


Q - Can master's students live on campus residence?

A – Yes. There are two small graduate student residences. However, it is not at all common for MPH students. Most students live in the community nearby.