Department of Public Health Sciences

Department of

Public Health Sciences


Public Health Sciences

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Program Overview

The PhD in Epidemiology is a 48 month program. The program consists of 3 main components, which are detailed below. Please contact the PhD Graduate Assistant for more information.

Completing Your Degree

Students are accepted for a September start date and, if enrolled in full-time studies, are expected to meet the milestones listed below. Each doctoral level course will have prerequisites from among the Queen's Master's level courses (or equivalents from other Universities). Therefore, students entering Doctoral studies in epidemiology who do not have Master's degrees in epidemiology or a closely related discipline may be required to meet appropriate pre-requisite requirements prior to enrolling in PhD coursework, as determined by the Graduate Education Committee. 

Fall, year 1

  • Advance Epidemiology (EPID 901A) 
  • Advanced Methods in Biostatistics (EPID 823) 

Winter, year 1 

  • Advance Epidemiology (EPID 901B) 

Spring/Summer, year 1

  • Comprehensive Examination 

Fall, year 2

  • Submit thesis outline (EPID 999) 

Winter, year 2

  • Complete thesis research in preparation for proposal

Spring/Summer, year 2

  • Submit and present thesis proposal (EPID 899) 

Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer, year 3

  • Thesis Research 

Fall/Winter, year 4 

  • Thesis Research 

Spring/Summer, year 4

  • Submit and defend thesis (EPID 999) 

In addition to required courses, students are encouraged to take additional elective courses, as deemed appropriate by their Supervisor(s).

PhD Courses offered by the Department 

EPID 823: Advanced Methods in Biostatistics 

An advanced course in the theoretical issues and analytical practices in epidemiology, and biostatistics. Major topics include the life-table method, demography and confounding and its solutions. Detailed design and analysis of cohort, case-referent and experimental studies shall be performed. Multifactor techniques including log-linear logistic and Cox's proportional hazards models will be discussed in detail. 
Three term-hours. fall; every year. Instructors: K. Ding, P. Groome, W. King, D. Tu. PREREQUISITE: EPID 822 or equivalent. 

EPID 901: Advanced Epidemiology 

This course provides in-depth integration of advanced concepts in epidemiology, with theory and examples, including causation and casual inference, study design and conduct, alternate designs, confounding, effect modification, internal and external validity, misclassification, source populations, statistical power and sample size, epidemiologic data analysis and interpretations, meta-analysis and selected specific research areas. This is an advanced course intended primarily for PhD students. Sessions consist of lectures, seminars, student presentations and discussions. 
Three term-hours, fall and winter; every year. Instructors: fall term; W. Pickett, winter term: K.Aronson, H.Oulette-Kuntz . PREREQUISITE: EPID 801, EPID 804, EPID 821 and EPID 822 or equivalent from other institutions. 

Comprehensive Exam

All Doctoral students must pass a Comprehensive Exam. Students will be evaluated for their in-depth knowledge in theoretical and applied epidemiologic and biostatistical methods; and, theoretical and applied knowledge in their stream and specific topic area.

To assist in preparing for the examination, students will be provided with a recommended reading list of key texts. They will be expected to prepare for the comprehensive examination mainly through self-directed study, although informal sessions to aid preparation will be arranged and faculty consultation will be encouraged.

The exam will usually take place after all coursework has been completed in June of the first year of study.  It will contain a written and an oral component. Specific content and format will be determined by a Comprehensive Examination Committee.

PhD Thesis Research Project (EPID 899) 
Students must prepare and successfully defend PhD Thesis Research Project (EPID 999). Through the dissertation process, students will demonstrate the ability to undertake epidemiological studies including the ability to:
  • critically appraise and synthesize biomedical literature surrounding epidemiologic topics and concepts;
  • develop novel hypotheses or important, researchable questions that can be examined via epidemiological study;
  • design practical epidemiological studies aimed at testing these hypotheses;
  • write scientific protocols that summarize research plans and demonstrate an understanding of key methodological issues in epidemiology;
  • collect primary or process secondary data, where the latter are not 'research ready' at the outset;
  • analyze and interpret data; and 
  • understand the implications of findings within appropriate population health, health services/health policy, or clinical contexts.

Students also have opportunities to present their research in seminars and scholarly academic meetings. Students gain an ability to communicate scientifically, both in terms of publishing research findings in reputable biomedical journals, and by presenting research findings to their respective research communities.