Feb 28, 2024  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Health Research Methodology, Ph.D

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Areas of Study

Ph.D. Degree


While the field of focus is Health Research Methodology, the faculty is a diverse interactive group of researchers specializing in the evaluative and decision sciences in biostatistics/clinical trials; epidemiology/population health/health services; health economics/health policy analysis; and health measurement. Common to these diverse disciplinary interests is a central focus on the development and testing of theory and methods related to health problems. Thus, the program seeks candidates who show high scholarly promise from both clinical and non-clinical backgrounds: clinicians, in virtually all health-related disciplines, and non-clinicians, usually from backgrounds in the social and behavioural sciences. A candidate for the Ph.D. degree must comply with the School of Graduate Studies Regulations for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy, including completion of the equivalent of 1.5 full 700-level courses, as the minimum course requirement.

The admission requirement into the Program is a Master’s degree with an academic standing equivalent to at least a McMaster B+ in previous academic work. All applicants are expected to have advanced preparation in the form of a Master’s degree or equivalent, or the combination of a course-based Master’s degree and strong supporting evidence of their potential as independent investigators. Examples of strong supporting evidence include, but are not limited to:

• Published or unpublished examples of scholarly work
• Substantive involvement in research
• Reference letters that speak explicitly to this issue

For some students, this would likely be the existing Master’s program (formerly in HRM) or a Master’s in Public Health professional degree. This prerequisite is to ensure that applicants have the appropriate level of mastery in research methods and biostatistics as preparation for advanced training.

For other students, (e.g. biostatistics, health economics), a disciplinary base such as statistics, or economics at the Master’s level would be appropriate and advantageous, since the emphasis of the Ph.D. program is on advancing existing disciplinary knowledge to solve methodological problems in health care research.


Course Requirements

Students who have not taken courses that represent the fundamentals to health research and evaluation (HTH RS M 721  [or its equivalent]) and introduction to quantitative research methods (HTH RS M 730  or HTH RS M 751  [or their equivalents]) and basic biostatistics (HTH RS M 702  [or equivalent]), may be required to take these courses in addition to the regular course load. Students should consult Program Administration for the specific requirements for the fields of specialization along with the procedure for requesting alternative background course requirements.

The specific recommended courses would depend on the student’s field of specialization, and their interest in exploring focused areas in depth. These courses could be taken from the following list:

Additional Information

Field of Specialization Common Courses Field Specific Courses Electives
HRM Classic n/a n/a 3
Clinical Epidemiology *742 2
Biostatistics *739 2
Health Technology Assessment *740 2 (usually *706, *743)

All electives will be approved at the program level. All Health Research Methodology courses are approved as electives and fulfill the degree requirements. Other courses offerings in the Faculties of Health Sciences, Business, Science, and Social Sciences may be considered but will require program approval.

Candidates must also:

  1. Obtain a grade of at least B- in all courses.
  2. Pass a Comprehensive Examination between twelve and twenty-four months following the start of doctoral studies at McMaster. The examination will test the student’s ability to acquire, evaluate critically, handle and conceptualize major issues in the discipline of health research methodology. They must demonstrate at least two of the aforementioned abilities in a project that is not directly related to their thesis.  They will also demonstrate a command of general knowledge in the field of health research methodology.
  3. Complete a dissertation or thesis on an approved topic based on research carried out within the program, and defend the thesis at a final oral examination. The thesis will demonstrate the student’s ability to develop new methodology, or to advance one or several competing existing methodologies in a challenging new area of health care/health services research.

Students may be asked to meet additional requirements of the program, including participation in special seminars or colloquia.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Areas of Study