School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Public Health Sciences

Pickett, W.

Graduate Coordinator
Hunter, D.

Program Directors
M.P.H.: Hunter, D.
M.Sc.: Richardson, H. 
M.Sc. Biostatistics Collaborative:  McIsaac, M.
Ph.D.: Groome, P.

Aronson, K., Groome, P., Janssen, I., Ouellette-Kuntz, H., Peng, P., Pickett, W., Stuart, H.L., Tu, D.

Associate Professor
Castleden, H., Chen, B., Ding, K.,  Hunter, D.J.W.,  Johnson, A., King, W., Richardson, H.

Assistant Professor
Davison, C., McIsaac, M.

Professor Emeritus
Lees, R.E.M., Steele, R.

Adjunct Professor
Arboleda-Florez, J.E., Booth, C., Brundage, M., Donnelly, P., Mackillop, W.J., Moore, K., O'Callaghan, C., Zoutman, D.

Adjunct Associate Professor
Belanger, S., Gemmill, I., Harvey, B.

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Alvarado-Llano, B., Arbuckle, T., Bayoumi, I., Belanger, P., Brogly, S., Carter, M., Huras, P., Majury, A., Rebellato, S., Sahai, V.

Adjunct Lecturer
Day, A., Hopman, W., Zhang-Salomons, J.

Bartels, S., Birtwhistle, R.V., Brison, R., Brooks, S., Carpenter, J., Casson, I., Fergus, S., Flemming, J., French, S., Gill, S., Green, M., Hall, S., Hanna, T., Heyland, D., Lougheed, D., McColl, M.A., Medves, J., Murray, H., Phillips, S., Rosenberg, M., Seitz, D., Towheed, T., Tranmer, J., Turner, K., Velez, M., Viola, R., Weir, E., Yeates, K.

(613) 533-2901 (M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs)
(613) 533-2234 (M.P.H. Program)

Web address

Mission of the Department

The Department of Public Health Sciences was established in 1968 (originally named the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology). The mission of the Department is to advance scientific knowledge relevant to research in public health sciences and to participate in the dissemination and application of scientific knowledge to the solution of health, health care, and health system problems. The Department offers a thesis-based Master of Science degree in epidemiology,a non-thesis based Master of Science degree (Biostatistics Collaborative), a professional Master of Public Health degree and a Ph.D. in epidemiology.  It also contributes to education in the undergraduate medical curriculum as well as the undergraduate Life Sciences curriculum.

Purpose of the M.Sc. Program

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related events in populations and the application of this study to the control of health problems. The purpose of the M.Sc. program is to provide the common methodological foundation from which to conduct research across diverse health-related areas. Toward this end, the Department offers a two-year research-based M.Sc. degree with one cycle of enrollment in September of each year.

The Department offers students the opportunity to specialize in one of three streams of study within the M.Sc. degree although it is not mandatory to do so. These streams correspond to the research strengths of the Department's faculty: Epidemiology and Population Health; Health Services and Policy Research; and Clinical Epidemiology.

Students graduate from the program with an ability to: communicate scientifically; describe trends and patterns of disease incidence and prevalence; critically review scientific literature related to community health and epidemiology; apply epidemiologic and analytic methods in the design of research; collect, analyze and interpret health data; conduct a study; and write and defend a thesis.

Study satisfactorily completed by physicians may fulfill part of the requirements for Fellowship in Public Health and Preventive Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Purpose of the M.Sc. Collaborative Program in Biostatistics

The M.Sc. Collaborative program in Biostatistics was created in response to the growing demand in Canada and the United States for qualified Master’s level biostatisticians in academic and industry sponsored epidemiologic and health services research.

The purpose of the collaborative program in Biostatistics is to produce graduates who will be capable of working as biostatistical consultants within multi-disciplinary health research teams. This objective will be achieved through coursework that will equip students with a sound knowledge in observational and experimental epidemiologic designs, statistical theory, statistical models for health data analysis, and statistical computing. A four month practicum will allow students to apply basic knowledge and develop consulting expertise within a health research group in a university of industry setting.

Purpose of the Master of Public Health Program

The Master of Public Health is a professional, course-based degree that educates, equips and inspires students to take Evidence-Informed Action for Public Health.

The degree is 16 consecutive months in duration, attracting applicants from a range of disciplines.

A 12-month accelerated program is available for candidates with at least two years of cumulative paid work experience in health care, public health or a related field.

By the completion of the program, graduates are able to:

  • Define public health issues using a population health approach
  • Search for evidence to address public health issues
  • Appraise and interpret public health evidence
  • Synthesize evidence to develop recommendations for public health action
  • Adapt public health communication and evidence-based interventions to specific contexts and populations
  • Plan to implement public health programs, services and policies
  • Evaluate the process and outcomes of public health actions
  • Demonstrate development of core attitudes and values of a public health professional.

Each of these eight program outcomes is critical to enable evidence-informed action for public health.

Study satisfactorily completed by physicians may fulfill part of the requirements for a Fellowship in Public Health and Preventive Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Purpose of the PhD Program

The primary objective of the PhD program is to train epidemiologists as independent investigators in academic or equivalent research positions, or in a position of professional leadership in a health or health-related agency where research is an important function. Our program accommodates epidemiologic research in the areas of population and public health, health services and policy, and clinical medicine.

Three elements comprise the program: coursework, comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Through coursework and a comprehensive examination, students will demonstrate a mastery of theories, methodological concepts, and substantive knowledge integral to epidemiology and their area of specialization. Through the dissertation process, students will demonstrate the ability to undertake epidemiologic studies, including the ability to: 1) critically appraise and synthesize biomedical literature surrounding epidemiologic topics and concepts; 2) develop novel hypotheses that can be examined via epidemiological study; 3) develop practical epidemiological study designs aimed at testing these hypotheses and write scientific protocols that summarize research plans; 4) collect, and/or process, analyze, and interpret data; and, 5) understand the implications of findings within appropriate population health, health services/policy, or clinical contexts.

Areas of Research

Faculty members conduct research in a wide variety of areas related to epidemiology, clinical trials, biostatistics, health services research, health policy, and health economics. Within these broad disciplines, specific content strengths include: cancer epidemiology, injury epidemiology, environmental health, developmental disabilities, psychiatric epidemiology, mental health, home care, health reimbursement mechanisms, health care utilization, and community care. Opportunities in many of these areas are strengthened by formal affiliations with research groups such as: The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CTTG) and the Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, both located in the Queen's Cancer Research Institute, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, Queen's - ICES Health Services Research, Social Program Evaluation Group, the Centre for Studies in Primary Care, the Centre for Obesity and Research Education(CORE), the Nursing (PRN) Group, Mental Health Research Group, KFL&A Public Health, and the Clinical Research Unit at Kingston General Hospital.

Financial Assistance

PhD candidates who are accepted into the program will be guaranteed four year funding of $18,000 per year minimum. This amount may be higher based upon available external and internal awards.

Funding is provided for all first and second year full-time MSc students although there is no guaranteed minimum. Qualified candidates will be automatically nominated for internal Queen's Fellowship and Graduate Awards. Students who are eligible are required to apply for Ontario Graduate Scholarships, and encouraged to apply for other major awards available through national, provincial, or private funding bodies.

There is no guaranteed funding for students in the professional MPH program, although some of the practicums offered for the summer term will provide funding.

Each year there are a limited number of teaching assistantships. Positions are posted in July of each year and are awarded according to the instructor's assessment of skills for the position.

Students may also be employed by individual faculty members as research assistants. Research assistantships vary according to the availability of positions.

Departmental Facilities

Shared desk space with power and wireless hookup, as well as separate general meeting space, is available on the third floor of Carruthers Hall to MPH students during their program and to first year MSc students.  Students are required to have their own computers.  Upper year research students who are working on their theses typically arrange appropriate work space through their thesis supervisors. Photocopy, fax, and office supplies are provided on a cost-recovery basis. A  computer with statistical software installed is available for general use in the student common room. SAS student licences are provided through the department. SAS and SPSS student licences are also available for free download through Queen’s Information Technology Services (ITServices).

Degree Program

The graduate program is administered under the rules and regulations of the School of Graduate Studies and applicants are accepted under these general regulations.

Master of Science Degree Requirements

The Department offers a two-year program of full-time study that requires students to successfully complete four mandatory core courses and two elective courses. As well, students must complete an online course on research ethics  and prepare and satisfactorily defend a thesis. Required core courses focus on basic epidemiologic and biostatistical methods. Required elective courses generally focus on more specialized methods that may be necessary to conduct a particular thesis project.

Opportunities to develop or deepen content knowledge in a health or disease area are available through an independent study course, or through courses offered in other departments.

Under the direction of supervisors, students will identify a relevant research topic, prepare and present an outline, then a more detailed research proposal. Normally, the proposal would include a statement of the study purpose, the rationale for conducting the research, a statement of the student's unique and significant intellectual contribution to the research, the study design and data collection methods to be used, a description of the data management and analysis strategies, ethical implications of the study, and the theoretical or practical benefits of the project. Once the proposal is presented to the Department, approved, and receives ethical review and approval from Queen's University, the student will conduct the study, then write and orally defend the results. The outline is to be submitted by the end of February of the first year of study; the proposal written and approved by the end of July of the first year of study; and the thesis submitted for defence by the end of August in the second year of study.

Master of Science Degree (Biostatistics Collaborative Program) Requirements

The Department, in conjunction with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, offers a twelve month, non-thesis based program of full-time study that requires students to complete 8 term courses (six mandatory courses and two electives) and a practicum. The practicum will involve a four month placement working on a project pertaining to some aspect of biostatistics applications or methodological research affiliated with the work of the supervisor. Students must write a report on their practicum and make a presentation to an examining committee by late August of their year.

Master of Public Health Degree Requirements

In a professional course-based degree, MPH students develop their capacity to lead Evidence-Informed Action for Public Health by building a solid foundation in public health theory, methods, skills and competencies.

The 16-month MPH is comprised of:

  • 9 courses - 6 mandatory core and 3 elective
  • 400 hour practicum placement in a supervised setting
  • 36 hours of public health skills workshops
  • Short online tutorial in Human Research Ethics

The 12-month Accelerated MPH is available for applicants with at least two years of cumulative paid work experience in health care, public health, or a related field. Work experience may include two years of accredited residency through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The 12-month Accelerated MPH is an intensive program that requires carrying a load of four courses in each semester. The 12-month Accelerated MPH is comprised of:

  • 8 courses – 6 mandatory core and 2 elective
  • 400 hour practicum placement in a supervised setting
  • Short online tutorial in Human Research Ethics

PhD Degree Requirements

The Department offers a four year program of full-time study that requires students to take and pass one half course in advanced biostatistics EPID-823*( Winter term of first year) and one full course in advanced research methods EPID-901 (Fall and Winter terms of first year). Ph.D. students who have already taken one half course in advanced biostatistics as part of the M.Sc. program in Epidemiology at Queen's University, may be exempt from the advanced biostatistics courses requirement.

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 may be required to meet appropriate pre-requisite requirements prior to enrolling in PhD coursework, as determined by the Ph.D. Program Committee. In addition to required courses, students may be encouraged to take additional elective courses, as deemed appropriate by their Supervisor. Students should normally expect to complete formal course work within eight to twelve months of admission into the program. In addition, informal sessions can be arranged to help students prepare for comprehensive examinations.

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 area of specialization.

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 can 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.

All Doctoral students must complete a research project that culminates in a dissertation that is based on original research of publishable quality.