Feb 21, 2024  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Global Health, Ph.D.

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Ph.D. Degree

The program builds upon the ideas, concepts, and topics that are evolving in the field of Global Health. The program encourages independent and original thought, and the application of rigorous methods to the creation of new scholarly research. This program is building on the award-winning Masters’ program in Global Health (2016 CBIE Panorama Award for Outstanding International Education Program). Students have the option to complete a cotutelle in which students can elect to complete a Ph.D. jointly awarded by both McMaster University and another approved university, the most natural fit being Maastricht University, one of the program’s partner institutions based in The Netherlands..


This program seeks candidates who show high scholarly promise, and who have a strong graduate background in global health or a related field. Applicants to the proposed program are required to have a thesis-based Masters’ degree. Applicants with course-based Masters’ will be reviewed by the admissions committee on a case-by-case basis, where course-based Masters’ graduates with additional research experience may be considered. Successful applicants must also meet all School of Graduate Studies admissions requirements. For further details of admissions requirements for Ph.D. degree and for a cotutelle Ph.D. degree, please refer to Section 2.1.2 and Section 2.1.5 of the Graduate Calendar. Current admission procedures, forms, and deadlines are available on the Global Health program website.

Degree Requirements

The Doctoral Program is a multi-faculty, trans-disciplinary program with the faculty of Health Sciences as the lead faculty. Students are expected to conduct original and innovative research as part of a thesis that expands upon existing knowledge and meets the rigorous criteria for peer reviewed scholarship.

Course Requirements

Students are required to complete four courses for a total of 12.0 Units. The following research methods courses, or equivalent advanced research methods course(s) if those bellow have already been completed, are required:

1. GLOB HTH 713  Research Methods: A Global Health Perspective (3.0 Units), or equivalent level advanced research methods course in the event the course was previously completed.

2. BUSINESS C755  Analytics and Decision Making in Healthcare (3.0 Units)

For students who have taken these courses as part of the MSc in Global Health, acceptable alternative courses in advanced research methods are determined by the supervisory committee in consultation with the program.

Students are also expected to design and complete two independent study courses on separate topics based on consultation with their supervisory committee:

3.GLOB HTH 715  Independent Study Course I (3.0 Units)

4.GLOB HTH 716  Independent Study Course II (3.0 Units)

Students may elect, or may be required, to take additional courses beyond the four required based on consultation with their supervisory committee. A list of pre-approved electives is available in the Global Health Program PhD Handbook. In addition to coursework, all students will be required to participate in a research and professional development seminar.

Comprehensive Evaluation

The comprehensive evaluation consists of an oral defense of a comprehensive examination portfolio. The elements of the portfolio include: 1) a literature review comprised of an independent study reviewing a body of published literature and critically summarizing the findings, 2) a review of completed courses describing their contribution to developing the student’s interdisciplinary skills and knowledge related to current issues in global health and the thesis research, 3) a description of the student’s relevant publications authored by the study during the course and their contribution to the thesis research, and 4) the dissertation proposal. The comprehensive evaluation will require students to integrate the major theoretical writings and pertinent substantive research with their selected research focus. Students will demonstrate an in-depth and broad understanding of the current scholarly literature and methodological approaches in their relevant field of study in global health. The evaluation will be assessed by the supervisory committee on a pass/fail basis.

Doctoral Dissertation

All students will produce an original piece of empirical research, situated in relevant scholarly literature, which will become the reference point for conceptualizing and justifying a central research question and interpreting the significance of the principal findings. The thesis must be defended in a PhD Final Oral Examination as outlined in the School of Graduate Studies regulations for the Doctoral Degree.


Prior to the program start date, students should have an idea for a research topic which aligns with existing faculty for supervision. This information should be submitted in the application package as part of the Letter of Intent. The principal supervisor will be a full-time faculty member that has approved privileges for supervising doctoral students in this trans-disciplinary program. The composition of the supervisory committee will be made during the course of the first year of studies.

For further details regarding supervision and supervisory committee, please refer to Section 2.7 and Section 4.4 of the Graduate Calendar.

Additional Regulations

Please refer to the Global Health Program PhD Handbook for additional policies and regulations on Course Selection and Delivery, Course and Program Evaluations, Absences, Academic Integrity and Performance Reviews.

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