MSc Degree Requirements

Thesis-based MSc

  1. For full-time students, two years (maximum) to complete the degree requirements
    For part-time students, five years (maximum) to complete all degree requirements
  2. Successful completion of at least five half courses at the graduate level of which:
  3. One course must be HRM 721
  4. One course must be HRM 702
  5. The remaining required courses may be selected from among the courses offered by the HRM Program
  • Field-specific courses (if applicable)
  1. Completion of a research internship
  2. Submission and successfully defend a thesis

Course-based MSc

  1. For full-time students, two years (maximum) to complete the degree requirements
    For part-time students, five years (maximum) to complete all degree requirements
  2. Seven half courses at the graduate level are required in total, of which the following are mandatory:
    1. HRM 721
    2. HRM 702
  3. Field-specific courses (if applicable)
  4. Completion of a research internship
  5. A scholarly paper on a methodological issue, written at the completion of course work (may be completed in final term if only one half course is taken

Required Course and Training for All Graduate Students

All HRM MSc students (course and thesis) must successfully complete SGS 101 and SGS 201. Refer to the SGS Graduate Calendar for additional information:


The HRM program can provide students the opportunity to specialize in one of three ‘fields of specialization’:

  • Clinical epidemiology
  • Biostatistics (offered at the PhD level)
  • Health Technology Assessment.

The original HRM program, wherein students opt not to declare a field of specialization will continue to be available as “HRM Classic”. Students in HRM Classic pursue a general methods degree, and may explore other areas such as medical education research, public and population health, health systems and services, health informatics or health ethics, to name but a few.


HRM Classic

Students who don't wish to declare a field of specialization should enroll in HRM Classic. The advantage centres on the high level of flexibility HRM Classic offers, enabling students to tailor their educational plan to their own unique needs and interests. Students pursue a general methods degree, or explore other exciting emerging fields. For example, applicants interested in medical and health sciences education research can work with faculty in the Program for Educational Research and Development on research related to the evaluation of clinical competence. Alternatively, students in HRM Classic might work on medical informatics and knowledge translation research topics, investigating the use of evidence by different professional groups such as health care providers, health systems administrators and government policy-makers, and contributing to an improved understanding of the behavioural and contextual factors that determine effective knowledge uptake. Many otherareas, including health ethics, can be selected as the focus of study. 

Clinical Epidemiology

Clinical epidemiology employs sound research principles, tempered with practicality, to find the best answers to “real world” questions about clinical practice and health care. Individuals training in this field (who usually have a clinical background) acquire the skills required to undertake research that addresses fundamental questions about the effectiveness of clinical therapies, usefulness of screening and diagnostic tools, prognosis and disease causation. Issues related to research synthesis and knowledge translation may also be a focus. Individuals training in clinical epidemiology work alongside world leading clinical epidemiologists who are conducting their research in multiple sites around the world and changing the way medicine is practiced globally. The field of clinical epidemiology in the Health Research Methodology Program offers a unique opportunity to learn and work with the best clinical epidemiologists in the world, thus enabling graduates to make profound contributions to the practice of clinical medicine through research.
Current HRM students who are not designated health care providers but want to appeal the Clinical Epidemiology field of specialization should consult with their supervisor to first discuss if appropriate and may consult the HRM Program for details re: the required summary of research to provide to the Clinical Epidemiology Stream Committee for review and consideration.

Students can enter the clinical epidemiology stream if they fulfill the following criteria:

1. They have a designation of a health care provider based upon a degree or diploma (e.g., doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionists).

2. Their HRM degree research primarily focuses on studies directly relevant to patients (e.g., randomized controlled trials, observational studies, or systematic reviews of health related questions).

If a student is not a designated health care provider and wants to appeal these criteria then towards the end of their HRM training they can submit a summary of the research (e.g., course papers, studies and research) they have undertaken to the Clinical Epidemiology Stream Committee. The committee will review the student's request to determine if it merits the designation of the clinical epidemiology stream.

Health Technology Assessment

Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is defined as the evaluation of the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and broader impact of drugs, medical technologies, and health systems, both on patient health and the health care system. HTA has gained increasing importance in health care decision making locally and around the world and over the last decade there have been numerous important methodological advances in the techniques of HTA. As a result, there is a growing gap between the need for HTA and the availability of skilled researchers to conduct HTAs. The goal of the HTA field of specialization is to train individuals who, upon graduation, will have the necessary skills to be actively involved in independent and collaborative research in the field of HTA. Graduates will possess the following skills: a strong foundation in the basic principles of HTA; advanced decision analysis; ability to apply research methods derived from health economics; understand and use basic and advanced biostatistics; and utilize health services research and health policy analysis concepts and methods.

HRM faculty members in the HTA Field of Specialization:

  • Gord Blackhouse
  • James Bowen
  • Jean-Eric Tarride
  • Xie, Feng

Please note that you may consider other HRM faculty members to be your advisor/supervisor to specialize in this field. The faculty listed are HRM faculty members who have identified Health Technology Assessment as their primary field of specialization.

Special Note for interested applicants: you must also check whether the HRM faculty member has approved graduate status at the appropriate level (i.e., MSc supervision or PhD supervision).

If you have any questions about the Health Technology Assessment Field of Specialization, please contact


The HRM Biostatistics PhD field is specially designed for applicants with an MSc in Mathematics and/or Statistics who wish to pursue doctoral work in Biostatistics. The program aims to provide trainees with the skills they need to conduct independent research into biostatistical topics, provide leadership as biostatistical collaborators in clinical, health systems and population health investigations, and effectively teach biostatistics from introductory through to advanced levels. Graduates will possess the following skills: ability to apply biostatistical concepts, techniques and data-analytic strategies across the full spectrum of research questions and study designs; ability to contribute to grant proposals in the areas of research design, data analysis and interpretation; ability to teach biostatistical concepts to research colleagues who are not biostatisticians; and ability to adapt existing statistical techniques or to develop new techniques to solve research design and analytical programs. Graduates may pursue career opportunities in academia, government or private industry.

Students wishing to transfer to the PhD program prior to completion of the MSc degree by the thesis option (see section 2.1.2 of the School of Graduate Studies Calendar and the statement entitled "Policy and Procedure for Transfer from the MSc to PhD - Health Research Methodology Program") must have a minimum of an A- average in the MSc curriculum (the five half courses required for the degree) with no grade less than B, and must submit a critical Transfer Report, embodying a statement of progress and achievement in their research work to date and a proposal for PhD research.

The Transfer Report must be submitted within 18 months from entry at the MSc level as a full-time student and 36 months from entry as a part-time student. The student must have successfully completed those courses required for the HRM MSc Degree by thesis option as well as the formal Research Internship requirement before the Transfer Meeting. Part-time MSc students would normally be expected to become full-time students when successfully transferring to the PhD. Approval to transfer will be determined at a meeting of the Transfer Committee at which the student will present, in writing and orally, his/her work and ideas for PhD study.

Time Allowed for Completion of Degree Requirements

Full-time HRM Master's students will be required to spend a minimum of one calendar year at McMaster.

For students in a regular full-time program, the expected time for completion of the M.Sc. degree is two years from initial registration of the program. After two year’s students are not eligible for scholarship funding and are permitted only one more year before the School of Graduate Studies will advise you to withdraw due to time limits.

For those students admitted to a part-time Master's program, and who complete all degree requirements, while registered part-time, the permissible time is limited to five years from their initial registration.

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