Students in the PhD program—both those entering with a Masters or direct–entry—are expected to complete: (1) Comprehensive Exam and (2) Dissertation as noted below. They have the option of completing an MRP and attaining a Masters Degree. PhD students interested in switching to the Masters program must indicate their interest in switching no later than their 17th term, and must complete and defend their MRP within 18 terms. All PhD students must abide by the Faculty of Graduate Studies requirements for completing their chosen program of study within 18 terms.

After successful completion of the comprehensive examination, PhD students will focus on the dissertation process. The dissertation makes an original contribution to scholarship in the student's specified field.

The dissertation process has four stages:

  1. The establishment of a Supervisory Committee, if different from the comprehensive examination committee. The committee consists of three faculty members, at least two of whom will be members of the Graduate Program in Health. The third member may be appointed to a Graduate Program other than Health;
  2. The preparation of a dissertation proposal, which must be approved by the Program Director, the Supervisory Committee, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. PhD students are also expected to present their dissertation proposal in the Program's bi-weely Seminar series offered in the Fall and Winter terms, for which they will receive a non-credit course on a pass/fail basis for attending for one year and presenting their dissertation proposal. This is an important forum for idea exchange and for exposing students to academic research.
  3. The writing of a dissertation acceptable to the Supervisory Committee and formally approved as examinable by the members of that committee;
  4. The successful completion of an oral examination, centered on the dissertation and matters related to it, and presided over by an Examining Committee recommended by the program director for approval and appointment by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.