Structure & Progression

PhD in Health Information Science

The PhD program is a research-intensive program designed for students who want to do independent original research in Health Information Science. The program consists of 2 required courses, the option to conduct Guided Reading courses in the area of study, the passing of a comprehensive examination and completion and defence of a thesis. 

PhD Requirements

  1. completion of one half credit required course in Advanced Theory and Methods;
  2. completion of one of FHS’ PhD-level Advanced Research Methods courses (see Course Descriptions, below);
  3. completion of two elective courses (see Course Descriptions, below);
  4. completion of a comprehensive examination, usually within five terms of registration (see Guidelines, below);
  5. approval of a thesis proposal, usually within six terms of registration;
  6. completion of a thesis of original research, carried out under the supervision of a core doctoral faculty member.
  7. defence of the thesis

PhD – Normal Progression

As in the master’s program, all PhD courses are generally 14 weeks in duration, but the format of delivery may vary.  For example, some courses may be offered in a modular format, with short-duration modules dedicated to specific topics.  Similarly, Guided Reading courses will be structured by agreement between the student and faculty member. Students will also be encouraged to take graduate courses from other programs of the University, if appropriate to their emerging area of research interest. This option is subject to the approval of the Program Coordinator and the Associate Dean (or designate) of the faculty administering the program, as well as permission from the program in which the course is offered. Additional non-credit course work (e.g., language preparation in a language other than English), if recommended by the student’s Thesis Advisory Committee, may be obligatory. All PhD students are required to attend all HIS research colloquia during the first two years of their programs.

Students will be given clear expectations at the outset of the milestones that they must meet within the program in order to be considered to be making good progress. For doctoral students, the milestones are as follows:

  • Successful completion of the two required and two elective courses in the first year; and any other optional elective courses no later than the end of the second year.
  • Completion of a comprehensive examination (see below), usually within five terms of registration. This consists of a take-home, written comprehensive followed by an oral examination of that written document. Additional details are outlined below.
  • The setting up by the Program Coordinator (with input from the Associate Dean or designate) of the student’s three-person Thesis Advisory Committee no later than the fifth term in the program. This Committee will consist of a Chief Thesis Supervisor, who must be approved for doctoral supervisory status by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and two Readers.
  • Approval by the Thesis Advisory Committee of the student’s Thesis Proposal, normally within six terms of registration. This proposal must include the following elements: a statement of the research questions and their significance; a preliminary review of the relevant research literature; a statement of the specific research methods to be used, together with any research instruments, and protocols such as questionnaires.
  • Submission of the final draft of the thesis and its successful defence by the end of the fourth year of registration (e.g., by the end of the period of funding eligibility).