Where can I get information about the program?


Details on the focus of the program, curriculum, faculty members, admissions requirements, financial support, and more are available through our website. Essential information is published in the current McMaster Graduate Calendar. In addition, the HP PhD 2022-23 Student Handbook provides an overview of supplemental policies and procedures followed by the Health Policy PhD Program.

We recommend that you identify yourself as a prospective applicant by sending an email to sburns@mcmaster.ca so that we can send you additional information if necessary. After you have familiarized yourself with the basic features of the program as described on the website, you may address administrative questions to the Program Administrator and more specific questions about your background, interests, and course of study to your prospective faculty supervisor.

Who are the Student Ambassadors for the Health Policy PhD program?



The Faculty of Health Sciences offers a Graduate Student Ambassador Program. Ambassadors are current graduate students who serve as official student representatives of their programs. The 2021-2022 Student Ambassadors for Health Policy are Le-Tien Bhaskar (duongl4@mcmaster.ca) and Puspita Hossain (hossap1@mcmaster.ca) Please feel free to e-mail the Ambassador if you have questions about the program or would like to hear more information from the student perspective. We suggest putting “Question to Ambassador” in the subject line of your email so it doesn’t get lost. 


Do I have the right type of Master's degree for this program?


This program is designed to accommodate students from diverse, multidisciplinary educational backgrounds. Your previous graduate training should have some relevance to the field of health policy and your planned area of study. You can explain this relevance in your research statement of interest.

Can someone in the Health Policy Program pre-review my qualifications for admission?


We can answer general questions about admissions criteria, but we regret that we are not able to provide you with a detailed assessment of your own particular case. If you apply to the program, the staff and faculty time required to make a careful assessment is part of what is covered by your application fee.

I am a qualitative researcher — may I have the statistics course requirement for admission waived?


The Health Policy PhD curriculum requires breadth as well as depth training in methods and theory of the field. This prepares our graduates to understand diverse types of information and to collaborate productively on interdisciplinary research. As part of the curriculum, qualitative researchers must take some quantitative methods coursework, and vice versa. A graduate level statistics course is prerequisite for many doctoral level quantitative methods courses. Completion of at least one graduate level statistics course is a requirement in advance of this PhD program.

Which Master's degree should I pursue if my ultimate goal is a PhD in Health Policy?


The Health Policy PhD program is designed to accommodate Master's-trained individuals with diverse backgrounds. Potentially relevant Master's programs in Canada are too numerous to list. Students should compare the curriculum of their chosen Master's program with the curriculum and admission requirements of the Health Policy PhD program.

At McMaster University, several potentially relevant Master's programs include, but are not limited to: Economic Policy, Health Research Methodology, Global Health, Globalization Studies, Geography, Engineering and Public Policy, and many disciplinary Master's degrees (Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Philosophy, etc.).

May I enrol in the Health Policy PhD program on a part-time basis?


No, part-time enrolment is not an option for the Health Policy PhD program. Full time students may work up to 10 hours per week in paid employment, but are expected to spend the balance of their time on their doctoral studies.

Must I identify a faculty supervisor before applying to the program?


It is highly recommended that you identify at least one prospective supervisor before you apply to the program. It is also helpful to identify alternative supervisors in case your first choice is not available. If you are admitted, your prospective supervisor will be involved in developing your offer of admission, including arrangements for funding, teaching, research and course waivers. Please note, you do not have to secure a supervisor prior to submitting your application. If your application is highly ranked, our admissions committee will work with you to confirm a suitable supervisor.

How should I approach a potential faculty supervisor?


First, review the faculty members' profiles and read some of their publications to determine whose work is compatible with your interests. Second, send your chosen faculty member(s) an email or letter introducing yourself, stating your interests (a paragraph or two), and highlighting the potential fit between your interests and the faculty members' research area. It is helpful to attach your CV. Please copy the program administrator (sburns@mcmaster.ca) on your email to prospective supervisors. This will allow us to track which supervisors are being identified.

Am I limited to the faculty supervisors listed in my chosen specialty field (health economics, political studies, or social organization)?


No. Your primary supervisor should be a faculty member in the Health Policy PhD program, but many of our faculty members are appropriate supervisors for more than one specialty field. Please contact the supervisor of your choice to discuss the fit between your specialty field, your interests, and your potential supervisor's area of expertise.

Will I be able to study my specific topic area of interest?


The Health Policy PhD curriculum focuses on general theory and methods that can be applied to a wide range of problems in the health policy field. Students work with their supervisors to apply these tools to the topics of their choice in dissertation research and coursework. Topics for example might include but are not limited to: public participation, professions, knowledge transfer, global health, environment, resource allocation, health system reform, clinical policy, population health, public health, health research policy, technology assessment, health policy ethics, provider institutions, etc. The student's dissertation topic must be approved by his or her faculty supervisor and supervisory committee. Prospective students should review the research programs of participating faculty members and find possible supervisors whose interests are compatible with their own.

Does the Health Policy PhD program accept international students?


We welcome applications from international students. However, due to funding constraints at this time, we are able to accept only a very limited number each year. Most of our sources of student financial support are limited to Canadian students, so we encourage international applicants to arrange their own funding for tuition, fees, and living expenses if possible.

I am an international student, and cannot tell whether my graduate marks meet the A- grade average requirement. Can you help?


Translating foreign transcripts into Canadian grade equivalents can be complicated. McMaster's School of Graduate Studies has expert staff and systems for doing so, but these are available only for processing paid applications. If you would like to assess your own transcripts, we recommend you contact the registrar of your former university (or a university in the relevant country) for their guidance on translating their marks into Canadian equivalents.

Must I write the GRE or other exam to apply?


No. However, if English is your second language, your TOEFL score will be required as part of your application.

What can I do to enhance my chances of acceptance to the program?


Admission to the Health Policy PhD program is competitive, and qualified applicants may be turned away due to limited space in the program. Provided that you meet the academic qualifications for admission, you may improve your chances of acceptance if you also do the following:

  • Approach prospective supervisors prior to applying, establish that you share common research interests, and determine whether there is a faculty member interested in supervising and supporting you as a doctoral student.
  • When you approach faculty members, demonstrate high competence in all your informal interactions. To make a positive impression, your emails and other correspondence should demonstrate that you are able to gather and understand relevant information from available sources (such as the program and university websites), are able to follow instructions, and can communicate well and write excellent English. These are all essential qualities in a prospective graduate student.
  • Spend plenty of time writing your 1000-word research statement of interest. In particular, articulate a vision for the kind of work you hope to do with your PhD in Health Policy. You are encouraged to demonstrate your innovative and resourceful attributes. Please note, the research statement is limited to 1000 words and only the first 1000 words will be read by the admissions committee.

How does the online application work?


Once you have completed your online application, uploaded all your supporting documents (transcripts, CV, research statement of interest), and submitted your application fee, you will receive a confirmation email from the School of Graduate Studies.The email will contain important information about how to access the Application Status Portal to review your checklist items and to monitor the status of your application.

What are program alumni doing now?


Our graduates have taken up positions in academia, government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector in Canada and around the world. Examples of the types of positions and organizations they have moved into following graduation include faculty and postdoctoral fellowship positions in academic institutions, senior policy advisor in professional associations and governments, research associate and consultant positions in Canadian and international organizations such as the Canadian Institute of Health Information, the World Health Organization and World Bank, and health care consulting companies. Specific career paths are shaped by students’ interests, field of specialization and methods expertise as well as their dissertation research. 

Graduates are qualified for relevant academic appointments in fields such as: Health Policy, Health Administration, Health Studies, Public Health, Management, Business Administration, Public Administration, Clinical Epidemiology, Public Policy, Health Services Research, Faculties of Health Sciences, Schools of Medicine, and others.

Our alumni page includes more information about where our grads are currently working.


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