• Degree offered: Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD)
  • Registration status option: Full-time
  • Language of instruction:
    • French
    • English
    • Bilingual (French-English)

Note: The core courses are offered in a bilingual format which requires students' passive understanding of both official languages. Students may express themselves orally in either official language. Several of the suggested elective courses are offered in both English and French.

Program Description

The population health doctoral program is offered through a collaboration of five faculties: the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Telfer School of Management, and the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section). 

The program is administratively hosted by the Faculty of Health Sciences. This program is modeled on a framework that encompasses population health issues; determinants and causes of health illness inequities; and population health interventions, including programs, policies and resource distribution systems.

Unique in Canada, this program draws on a wide range of disciplines, both basic and applied. It brings together the insights of social, biological, clinical, organizational, and political sciences, among others. It also draws on and combines the strengths of quantitative and qualitative methods. The transdisciplinary approach of the program recognizes the inherent complexity of many population health problems and the need to tackle these issues through both health and other sectors.

The program is designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of candidates, such as health professionals and health administrators; demographers, epidemiologists and biostatisticians; social, behavioural and legal scholars; environmental scientists; and biologists with an interest in human population health.

Students are encouraged to apply the science of their individual background disciplines to issues of population health. They acquire a broad knowledge of population health through courses and the comprehensive examination, and pursue in-depth study in an area of specialization within the population health framework. Students undertake their research in a range of settings (from local to global).

Main Areas of Research

This doctoral program brings together expertise from faculties, research centres and institutes across the University.

Other Programs Offered Within the Same Discipline or in a Related Area

  • Master of Science Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (MSc)

Fees and Funding

  • Program fees:

The estimated amount for university fees associated with this program are available under the section Finance your studies.

International students enrolled in a French-language program of study may be eligible for a differential tuition fee exemption.


  • Programs are governed by the general regulations in effect for graduate studies.
  • In accordance with the University of Ottawa regulation, students have the right to complete their assignments, examinations, research papers, and theses in French or in English.

Program Contact Information

Academic Office, Faculty of Health Sciences
125 University Private, Room 232
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1N 6N5

Tel.: 613-562-5853
Toll free: 1-877-868-8292, ext. 5853

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For the most accurate and up to date information on application deadlines, language tests and other admission requirements, please visit the specific requirements webpage.

To be eligible, candidates must:

  • Have a master's degree, with a minimum average of 80% (A-) or equivalent, in a field related to population health (for example, epidemiology, human kinetics, interdisciplinary health sciences, audiology, physiotherapy, nursing, medicine, social work, law, environmental studies, sociology, psychology, criminology, and biology).

Notes: International candidates must check the admission equivalencies for the diploma they received in their country of origin.

  • An applicant whose master's degree did not include a thesis must demonstrate the ability to undertake an independent research project.
  • Be knowledgeable in several of the following key areas:
  • health sciences;
  • social and behavioural sciences;
  • advanced research methods;
  • graduate-level statistics; and
  • epidemiology.

Those who lack knowledge in three or more of these key areas must successfully complete prerequisite courses prior to admission. Applicants lacking knowledge in two or fewer of these knowledge areas may be offered admission on condition that they take a course or courses as co-requisites. These courses would be additional to the 18 units required of all students in the program.

  • Pay the $100 ($CDN non-refundable) application fee.
  • Identify at least one professor who is willing to supervise your research and thesis. We recommend that you contact potential thesis supervisors as soon as possible.

Language Requirements

Applicants must have an active knowledge of either English or French, and a passive knowledge of the other language. Passive knowledge is defined as both oral and reading comprehension ability. As part of the application process, students are required to complete a second language test. For international students, the graduate studies English language requirements also apply.

Applicants whose first language is neither French nor English must provide proof of proficiency in the language of instruction.

Language tests recognized by the University of Ottawa:

  • TOEFL: 550 (paper-based) – 79-80 (internet-based); or
  • IELTS: 6.5 Overall – 5.0 Individual (paper-based or internet-based); or
  • An equivalent language test.

Note: Candidates are responsible for any fees associated with the language tests.


  • The admission requirements listed above are minimum requirements and do not guarantee admission to the program.
  • Admissions are governed by the general regulations in effect for graduate studies.

Documents Required for Admission

In addition to the documents required for graduate and postdoctoral studies, candidates must submit the following documents:

Letter outlining your professional goals and proposed research area.

You are strongly encouraged to contact your referee(s) prior to submitting your application in order to confirm their email address and their availability to complete your letter of recommendation.

  • Transcripts from all universities attended:
    • You must submit official transcripts from all the universities you have attended.
      This applies to all courses and programs at any university you attended, including regular programs (completed or not), exchanges, letters of permission, online or correspondence courses, courses taken as a special student or visiting student, etc.
    • If the transcript and degree certificate are not in English or French, a certified translation (signed and stamped/sealed) must be submitted.

Note: Documents that are not required for admission will not be consulted, conserved or returned to the student. These documents will be destroyed according to our administrative procedures.

Information about how to apply to this program is available under the Apply Now section.

Students should complete and submit their online application with supporting documentation (if applicable) by the deadline indicated above.


Students must meet the following requirements:

Compulsory Courses:
POP 8910Scientific Paradigms in Population Health3 Units
POP 8920Investigative Methods in Population Health3 Units
POP 8930Population Health Interventions3 Units
9 elective course units at the graduate level from the list of electives approved by the Graduate Program Committee 19 Units
Comprehensive Examination:
POP 9998Comprehensive Examination
Thesis Proposal:
POP 9997Thesis Proposal
THD 9999Doctoral Thesis 2


Minimum Requirements

The passing grade in all courses is C+.

Students who incur two failures in courses, the comprehensive exam or the thesis proposal, or whose research progress is deemed unsatisfactory are withdrawn from the program.

Research Fields & Facilities

Located in the heart of Canada’s capital, a few steps away from Parliament Hill, the University of Ottawa is among Canada’s top 10 research universities.

uOttawa focuses research strengths and efforts in four Strategic Areas of Development in Research (SADRs):

  • Canada and the World
  • Health
  • e-Society
  • Molecular and Environmental Sciences

With cutting-edge research, our graduate students, researchers and educators strongly influence national and international priorities.

Research at the Faculty of Health Sciences

Research at the Faculty involves many important aspects of health, including women's health, health in the elderly, health needs of francophones in a minority context, Aboriginal health, physical activity and health, multiple interventions in population health, palliative care, rehabilitation and functional autonomy, health and technology, and evidence based practice.

Facilities, Research Centres and Institutes at the Faculty of Health Sciences

  • The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
  • The Bruyère Research Institute
  • The Community Health Research Unit
  • The Institute for Rehabilitation Research and Development
  • The University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research
  • L’Institut de recherche de l’Hôpital Montfort
  • The Institute of Population Health
  • University of Ottawa Heart Institute

For more information, refer to the list of faculty members and their research fields on Uniweb

IMPORTANT: Candidates and students looking for professors to supervise their thesis or research project can also consult the website of the faculty or department of their program of choice. Uniweb does not list all professors authorized to supervise research projects at the University of Ottawa.

POP 8900 Études dirigées en santé des populations / Directed Studies in Population Health (3 crédits / 3 units)

Cours traitant des domaines de connaissance stipulés comme concomitant pour le programme de doctorat en santé des populations. Le choix du sujet nécessite l'approbation du comité du programme. / Course content to cover one of the defined corequisite knowledge areas for the Population Health PhD Program. Program approval required for topic selection.

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research

Permission of the Department is required.

POP 8910 Paradigmes scientifiques en santé des populations / Scientific Paradigms in Population Health (3 crédits / 3 units)

Aspects épistémologiques de la science de la santé des populations. Examen du processus d'élaboration des théories et de leur application selon différentes disciplines. Étude des concepts, des théories, de la philosophie des sciences et des modes de raisonnement dans le domaine de la santé des individus et des populations. L'accent est mis sur les inégalités sociales en tant que déterminants de la santé. / Epistemological aspects of the science of population health. Review of the process whereby theories are developed and applied in different disciplines. Study of concepts, theories, philosophy of science and methods of reasoning in relation to the health of individuals and populations. The focus is on social inequalities as determinants of health. Concomitant : POP 8920. / Corequisite: POP 8920.

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

POP 8920 est concomitant à POP 8910. / POP 8920 is corequisite to POP 8910.

POP 8920 Méthodes de recherche en santé des populations / Investigative Methods in Population Health (3 crédits / 3 units)

Méthodes de recherche utilisées selon les disciplines : points communs et différences. Critique de l'information actuelle sur la santé des populations; intégration de méthodes quantitatives et qualitatives pour analyser les questions complexes de santé des populations; stratégies pour incorporer les données à la planification et à la prise de décisions centrées sur les résultats. / Investigation of research methods used by contributing disciplines, their commonalities and distinctions. Critique of existing population health information; integration of qualitative and quantitative methods for analyzing complex population health issues; strategies for incorporating results into evidence-based planning and decision-making. Concomitant : POP 8910. / Corequisite: POP 8910.

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

Investigation of research methods used by contributing disciplines, their commonalities and distinctions. Critique of existing population health information; integration of qualitative and quantitative methods

POP 8930 Interventions en santé des populations / Population Health Interventions (3 crédits / 3 units)

Analyse des modes d'intervention qui peuvent avoir un effet sur la santé des populations. Influences du contexte sur les méthodes de promotion de la santé, prévention des maladies et gestion des risques pour les individus et les populations ainsi que leurs interactions. Établissement d'équipes interdisciplinaires et de partenariats intersectoriels. Changements durables dans les systèmes, y compris la réforme des soins de santé et le développement de politiques. / Examination of approaches to influence population health. Contextual influences on, and interactions between individual and population health approaches for health promotion, disease prevention, and risk management. Process for establishing transdisciplinary teams and intersectoral partnerships. Sustainable systems change including health care reform and policy development.

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

Préalables: POP 8910 and POP 8920 / Prerequisites: POP 8910 and POP 8920

POP 8940 Stage en politique de santé des populations / Population Health Policy Practicum (3 crédits / 3 units)

Stage de trois mois permettant aux étudiants d'être en contact et d'avoir des discussions en classe avec des décideurs au niveau des politiques nationales; stage se déroulant habituellement sous la responsabilité de deux mentors, un chercheur associé à l'université et un décideur. Examen des préalables et des procédés de formulation pour la mise en place et l'évaluation des politiques de santé des populations. Analyse et dépouillement des résultats de la recherche et communication aux décideurs clés des conclusions pertinentes. Préparation et critique de notes de synthèse, présentation d'un séminaire et rédaction d'un rapport évalué par le chercheur associé à l'Université. / Three-month practicum providing opportunities for interactions and class discussions with policy makers in a national policy setting, usually with co-mentors, one being a university-based researcher, the other a policy maker. Examination of prerequisites and processes for formulating, implementing and evaluating population health policies. Analysis and distillation of research findings and communication of relevant conclusions to key policy makers. Preparation and critique of briefing notes, presentation of a seminar and submission of a report to be evaluated by the university-based researcher.

Volet / Course Component: Stage / Work Term

Préalables : POP 8910, POP 8920, POP 8930. / Prerequisite: POP 8910, POP 8920 and POP 8930.

POP 8950 Thèmes choisis en santé des populations / Special Topics in Population Health (3 crédits / 3 units)

Thèmes variables selon les intérêts des étudiants et des professeurs. / Topics vary depending on student and professorial interests.

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

Permission of the Department is required.

POP 9997 Projet de thèse / Thesis Proposal

Les étudiants, encadrés par leur directeur et leur co-directeur (s'il y a lieu) et un comité approuvé par la direction du programme, rédigent leur projet de thèse, le présentent et défendent oralement. Après la réussite de la défense orale, ils doivent obtenir l'approbation du comité d'éthique (si nécessaire) avant d'entamer la collecte de données. Règle générale, le projet de thèse est défendu vers le milieu de la deuxième année et au plus tard à la fin de la sixième session d'inscription au programme. Un étudiant qui échoue à la première tentative peut se voir accorder la permission de la répéter une seule fois. L'échec de la deuxième tentative mène à une note NS (non satisfaisant) et au retrait de l'étudiant du programme. / Students write their thesis proposal under the guidance of their thesis supervisor and cosupervisor if applicable and then present and defend it orally. After passing the oral defence, students must obtain ethics approval (if required) before proceeding to data collection. The proposal will normally have been defended towards the middle of the second year and, at the latest, by the end of the sixth session of registration in the program. A student who is unsuccessful on the first attempt may be allowed to repeat it once. Failure on the second attempt leads to a grade of NS (Not satisfactory) and withdrawal from the program.

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research

Préalable: POP 9998. / Prerequisite: POP 9998.

POP 9998 Examen de synthèse / Comprehensive Examination

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research

Préalables : POP 8910, POP 8920, POP 8930. / Prerequisites: POP 8910, POP 8920 and POP 8930.