PhD Requirements

The PhD degree in the Graduate Program in Health can be pursued on either a full-time or part-time basis, yet the maximum time for program completion is within 6 years.

Academic requirements for our graduate program can be found at

To access past requirements, please visit

The minimum  time limit is outlined in the table below.

Full-time12 terms
Part-time12 terms
(Note: 3 terms = 1 academic year running from September to August.)
The specialized field in Health Policy & Equity does not only integrate courses from other disciplines (law, political science, philosophy, bioethics, sociology, economics, and psychology) but it also takes a critical perspective on the intersection of the multiple societal factors that affect the individual and societal aspects of health equity.  Examples of various issues that are incorporated include: the relationship of precarious employment and health status; women’s health issues; critical disability theory; issues of ethics as they apply to biomedicine; theories of the body; legal consciousness and human rights and health law.

Additionally, the field incorporates ongoing work in geographic information technology that can yield sophisticated mapping of areas of illness and social determinants of health and correlate them with the multiple factors that lead to health problems. The intersections between health, ethics and law are examined from both a consumer and practitioner’s point of view.  Analysis of other issues involve the perspectives of political economy, public policy and public administration.

PhD students will:

  1. Explore and research health policy and equity issues from a variety of perspectives including, but not limited to, cultural, political, economic, demographic, legal, gendered and sociological and use the knowledge gained to situate health issues within the framework of social justice;
  2. Understand the different approaches to health policy & equity and apply such approaches in their analysis of the determinants of health and the configuration of health care systems;
  3. Understand how to use qualitative and quantitative social science research methods to address health policy & equity issues;
  4. Effectively carry out research into health policy & equity including ability to:
    • Synthesize and critically evaluate information;
    • Frame researchable questions regarding health equity;
    • Recognize the importance of contextual issues (e.g. cultural diversity, gender, geography, socio-economic circumstances and local conditions) in the formulation, development and execution of health equity research;
    • Select and develop reliable, valid measures and indicators of health equity;
    • Select from and apply a variety of analytic approaches that match research question(s) and context;
    • Recognize the ethical issues relating to all aspects of the research enterprise;
    • Effectively engage with policy makers in developing methodologies to enhance health policy & equity.

Type of Course PhD
(students entering with a Master's degree)
(students admitted with MA in Health from York University)
Core Courses

  • HLTH 5405 3.0

  • HLTH 5485 3.0

  • See note 1 and 2 below

  • HLTH 5485 3.0 (if not previously taken)

Field Specific Courses

  • Two 3.0 credit courses (6 credits total)

  • Discuss with Graduate Program Director

Elective Courses

  • Three 3.0 credit courses (9 credits total)

  • See note 3 below

  • Up to two 3.0 credit courses (6 credits total) in another York graduate program


  • Seven 3.0 credit courses (total of 21 credits)

  • Four 3.0 credit courses (12 credits total) with at least two from Health program

Additional Non-credit Degree Requirements **

  • Comprehensive Papers and Exam

  • Dissertation

  • Comprehensive Papers and Exam

  • Dissertation

** Additional non-credit degree requirements for PhD students can be found below.


  1. If prior to admission, PhD students entering with a Masters have not taken a graduate level methodology course, HLTH 5405 3.0 is a requirement.
  2. Under special circumstances, PhD students may take one 3.0 credit course from other graduate programs at York University to fulfill their elective requirement of 3.0 credits, contingent on the Graduate Program Director’s approval.
  3. PhD students — entering with a Masters — are required to complete at least two 3.0 credit electives within the Health Program.  One 3.0 credit elective can be selected from other graduate programs at York University, with the Program Director's approval.
  4. PhD students — who hold an MA in Health from York University — are required to complete four 3.0 credit graduate courses.  With the Graduate Program Director's approval, students may take up to two 3.0 courses from other graduate programs at York University to fulfill their elective requirements.

PhD Program Non-Credit Degree Requirements

Students in the PhD program complete: (1) Comprehensive Exam and (2)Dissertation as noted below.  All PhD students must abide by FGS requirements for completing their chosen program of study within 18 terms.

  • Comprehensive Examination: Refer to the updated guidelines.
  • Dissertation

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 several 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.
  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.