Community Health Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

Students in Community Health Sciences pursue solutions to complex problems in a wide range of big-picture health issues. This is one of the most diverse medicine programs offered by the University of Calgary, representing individual, family and population health in variety of healthcare, education and community settings. Students gain a strong foundation in core competencies in research and professional practice, with applied learning gained through interactions in clinical settings. Specializations touch on wide-ranging issues in community and population health and disease, health services, disabilities and more, preparing students for careers that require a deep understanding of - and the skills to act on - the many factors and relationships that affect community health.

Completing this program

  • Courses: Courses are determined according to the specialization and background of the student.
  • Research Ethics: Students are required to attend Research Integrity Day sessions in the first year of their program.
  • Candidacy: Students will complete both oral and written candidacy exams.
  • Seminars: Students attend Community Health Sciences and O'Brien Institute for Public Health seminars during the academic year.
  • Research proposal: Students must submit a research proposal for approval by their supervisory committee.
  • Thesis: Students will be required to submit and defend an original research thesis.


  • Biostatistics
  • Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Economics
  • Health Services Research
  • Medical Education
  • Population/Public Health


Analyst; researcher; academic; rehabilitation/case/respite worker; consultant; recreation therapist; family outreach/advocacy; resource teacher; clinical trials biostatistician; epidemiologist; statistician; psychometrician; knowledge translation/prevention/development/health promotion specialist.

A PhD in community health sciences is usually considered a final degree; graduates may go on to pursue post-doctoral research.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


Two or more, depending on specialization and background

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four to five years full-time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required, and must agree to oversee the student's research before admission will be granted

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.


Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Placeholder Profile Image

    Tam Truong Donnelly

    Accepting Inquiries
  2. Rachel Ellaway

    Rachel Ellaway

    Accepting Inquiries
    Medical education
  3. Carolyn Emery

    Carolyn Emery

    Accepting Inquiries
    Injury Epidemiology, Injury Prevention, Concussion, Pediatric Rehabilitation
  4. Placeholder Profile Image

    Tanis Fenton

  5. Gordon Fick

    Gordon Fick

    Accepting Inquiries
  6. Kirsten Fiest

    Kirsten Fiest

    Seeking Students
  7. Stephen Freedman

    Stephen Freedman

    Accepting Inquiries
    Clinical research
  8. Gerald Giesbrecht

    Gerald Giesbrecht

    Seeking Students
    Developmental Psychobiology
  9. profile_hazlewood

    Glen Hazlewood

    Seeking Students
    Patient preferences, Comparative effectiveness research, Rheumatoid arthritis
  10. Kent Hecker

    Kent Hecker

    Seeking Students
    Psychometrics and Neuro-education in Health Professional Education

Admission Requirements


A minimum of 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

An MSc or equivalent from a recognized institution.

Work samples



  • A letter from a faculty member indicating interest in supervising the student
  • A statement outlining the applicant's interests and reasons for choosing the program

Reference letters


Note:  When choosing your references, it is preferred that you choose individuals who are external to your supervisor.

Test scores


Work/Research Experience

Work and/or research experience related to your specialization of choice is highly recommended.

English language proficiency

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:


For admission on September 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: Dec. 1 application deadline
  • International students: Dec. 1 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Department of Community Health Sciences

Health Science Centre, Room HSC 349A
3330 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4N1

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website


Cumming School of Medicine

Health Sciences Centre
Foothills Campus, University of Calgary
Calgary, ABT2N 4N1

Visit their website

Highlights of the Community Health Sciences Program

These stories from those involved in the program show what it's like to be involved yourself.

cute puppy

Pets, people and urban places

Melanie Rock's research recognizes intricate connections between the health of humans, animals and ecosystems

Lindsay McLaren

Understanding the public health impact of fluoridation

Lindsay McLaren has found that removing fluoride from drinking water has worsened tooth decay among Calgary children

Dr. Tanya Beran

MEDi robot comforting young patients

Dr. Tanya Beran, founder of Rxrobots, is studying children's interactions with robots in hospital settings