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Degree Division
Clinical Public Health Division
Program Contact
Theodore Witek

The Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) at the University of Toronto is pleased to announce the implementation of a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program – the first ever offered by a Canadian university. The program is aligned with the School’s Academic Plan 2019-2024 and will serve to bolster and strengthen public health and health systems capacity in Canada, and potentially, across the globe. It is especially relevant and timely, as we continue to face increasingly complex and challenging health and health system problems.

While our other doctoral programs are research-intensive, the DrPH focuses on accelerating the use of research evidence to inform practice and policy. As such, the DrPH program offers practice-based training and applied research skills. Students will develop and advance important key leadership, management, and public health practice competencies.

DLSPH is exceptionally well suited to deliver a DrPH program, given our outstanding Faculty with expertise in such areas as health system and public health leadership, evidence appraisal and public health, knowledge translation and implementation, public health policy and ethics, Indigenous health, and global health.

“Toronto Public Health and DLSPH have a long history of support and collaboration in the field of public health practice and research. The addition of this new program that will help to shape future leaders of public health, is an opportunity to enhance this collaborative partnership and demonstrate the importance of public health, both within Toronto and more broadly.” – Dr. Eileen De Villa, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health

Degree Overview

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) advances public health education, addressing evaluation and translation of evidence in policy and practice decision-making contexts. The doctoral professional program is based on existing areas of faculty expertise within the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (including Public Health Sciences and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation). The focus of the program is to contribute to emerging needs in public health to address increasingly complex issues. Graduates will develop skills and knowledge in four major competency areas, as defined by the Council on Education for Public Health: (1) Data & Analysis; (2) Leadership, Management, Governance; (3) Policy & Programs; and (4) Education & Workforce Development. The DrPH will allow graduates to take on advanced roles (e.g., leadership, knowledge translation) in public health policy and practice settings.

The program is offered on a full-time basis over 4 years of study.

Admission Requirements

We welcome mid-career professionals with relevant Masters-level training (such as a Master of Public Health, Master of Health Sciences, Master of Health Administration, etc.) plus a minimum of 5 years of work experience to apply. The program is designed for working professionals, with online learning components integrated throughout.

Click here to view minimum application requirements.
Click here for information regarding the application process.

Course Requirements

Course Requirements: 6.5 FCE (5.5 FCE core courses and 1.0 FCE elective courses)

Year 1 3.5 FCE
CHL5005H: Professional Skills for Doctoral Students in Public Health 0.5
CHL4001H: Contemporary Approaches to Population Health and Health Equity 0.5
CHL5624H: Historical, Ethical, and Philosophical Foundations of Public Health 0.5
One research methods course.  See list of examples below. 0.5
CHL4002H: Critical Appraisal and Use of Evidence 0.5
CHL4003H: Leading High-Performing Health Systems 0.5
CHL4004H: Global Health Policy 0.5
Year 2 2.5 FCE
CHL4005H: Governance and Financial Leadership 0.5
CHL5132H: Population Health Intervention Research (PHIR) 0.5
HAD5778H: Comparative Health Systems and Policy 0.5
2 electives 1.0
Year 3 and 4 0.5 FCE
HAD5765H: Case Studies in Health Policy 0.5

Suggested research methods courses:

CHL5115H Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation
CHL5129H Introduction to Mixed Methods Research for Public Health
CHL5130H Advanced Methods in Applied Indigenous Health Research
CHL5133H Evaluating Quantitative Public Health Research
CHL5150H Data Collection Methods for Research & Evaluation Projects*
CHL5203H Survey Design and Social Research Methods in Public Health
CHL5424H Advanced Quantitative Methods in Epidemiology
CHL5429H Advanced Analytic Methods for Bias in Epidemiologic Studies
HAD5752H Introduction to Knowledge Translation & Implementation Science*
HAD5763H Advanced Methods in Health Services Research
HAD6501H Introduction to Methods for Health Professions Education Research

* Permission may be required for enrolment

Applied Research Project

The DrPH Applied Research Project is regarded as a key applied learning experience aimed at supporting skills development and ideally leading to the DrPH Dissertation.

It will involve a 16 week practical experience over the summer between the first and second year of study.  The project should be based in a relevant public health system organization, which will be endorsed by the DrPH Program Director and your supervisor, and will address a complex challenge for which the student will conduct a critical review of the literature, identify gaps and weaknesses in current knowledge, and aim to recommend appropriate solutions or strategies for resolution.

Some students may choose to address an issue in their current work organization. Others may choose from a variety of organizations available to students with the assistance of the faculty and community leaders.

All projects will establish objectives within the SMART evaluation framework which will be reviewed Week 4, Week 10, and at end of project. The student is responsible for scheduling these reviews with supervisor and Program Director.

Comprehensive Exam

Coming soon…


Click here to view the SGS Graduate Supervision: Guidelines for Students.

Beginning prior to admission, and with the assistance of the Program Director, the applicant will explore supervisory possibilities: a faculty member with an appointment in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who has a Full appointment in the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). The faculty supervisor may be confirmed prior to beginning the program, and generally will be in place by the end of the first year.  Students are encouraged to explore broadly and have wide-ranging discussions with potential supervisors. The Program Director must approve the selection of the primary supervisor.

Role and Responsibilities

The Supervisor is responsible for providing mentorship to the student through all phases of the PhD program. Thus; to the extent possible, the Supervisor, in parallel with the Program Director, will guide the selection of courses, applied research project, supervisory committee membership, and supervisory committee meetings; will assist with applications for funding; and will provide references for the student on a timely basis. The Supervisor also will comment on the student’s plan for preparation for the comprehensive examination. The Supervisor will guide the development of the student’s applied research project, and the implementation and conduct of all aspects of the research; advise on writing the thesis; correct drafts and approve the final thesis; and attend the defense.

Supervisory Committee

With the assistance of the Supervisor, and with the approval of the Program Director, the student will assemble a Supervisory Committee within the first year of study.

Role and Responsibilities

The Supervisory Committee, chaired by the Supervisor, will contribute advice regarding course selection; preparation for the comprehensive examination; selection of the thesis topic; and implementation of the research plan. The Supervisory Committee also will provide timely and constructive criticism and guidance regarding data analysis, writing the thesis, and preparing for its defense.


The Supervisory Committee generally will comprise the Supervisor and at least two members who hold either Full or Associate appointments in the SGS and may or may not hold a primary appointment in DLSPH. Between these individuals and the Supervisor, there should be expertise in all content and methodological areas relevant to the student’s applied research focus and thesis.


Supervisory Committee meetings will be held at least every twelve (12) months throughout the student’s DrPH program. Under certain circumstances (e.g., during times of very rapid progress), the student and the Supervisory Committee may decide there is a need for more frequent meetings.


At the end of every meeting of the Supervisory Committee, the student and the Committee will complete the Supervisory Committee Meeting Report. All present must sign the report, which will be delivered to the Program Director and filed in the student’s progress file in the Graduate Department of Public Health Sciences.


Coming soon…

School of Graduate Studies Final Oral Exam (FOE)

Arrangements for the Final Oral Defense and for the preparation of the final thesis are given at length in the SGS Calendar. The dissertation and the necessary documents must be submitted at least eight weeks prior to the oral exam. See the Graduate Department of Public Health Science academic policies for forms and information for thesis preparation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the DrPH program considered a remote program?

    No. The University of Toronto does not offer remote doctorate degrees. As a professional degree; however, the program is designed with maximum flexibility for the student cohort to manage several responsibilities concurrently. For example, the core DrPH required courses are offered as on-line or hybrid.As the DrPH program was launched during the global COVID-19 pandemic, several modifications to the courses allowed successful implementation, some that will carry on post-pandemic as they proved to be both efficient and effective. As on-campus activities will assume in January, 2022, so will the in-person sessions of hybrid courses and on campus “Burst Week” sessions (described below).As personal interaction with your fellow students, faculty, and community public health leaders is an important element of the educational process, three on-campus “Burst Weeks” are held in September, April, and January. These weeks will incorporate the in-class portions of the hybrid courses, various skill forums e.g., media training) , cohort thinktanks, and a variety of faculty and community public health leader interactions.Important to consider is most courses at the DLSPH are offered in-person or hybrid. Thus, student’s selection of a required methods course and the free choice elective courses may not be offered remotely and the student will be responsible to organize  course selection based on their needs, i.e., optimal elective courses for a particular student’s need may be only offered in person.
  • Can you provide additional Information on the DrPH Applied Research Project ?

    The initial cohort experience will be utilized to inform the future direction of the applied research project; thus, you are encouraged to keep a frequent dialogue with the Director. Forms with examples of projects and scheduled Q&A Roundtable will be available during the Fall 2021 Term.
  • When will a formal list of classes be posted for FALL 2021 selection?
    Course timetables for Fall/Winter will be posted in mid-July with enrolment opening mid-August.
  • As a professional degree program, what advice can you offer as I discuss commitments with my work supervisor?

    The DrPH program was designed with the understanding that many students will be in or approaching mid-career. It is crucial that time commitments be pre-discussed to insure a smooth balance. It is understood that detailed time requirements are needed for this discussion. Please refer to the course requirements as a basis for this commitment. For some individuals, the work setting may offer placement and dissertation opportunities. As academic commitments will evolve through program, periodic touchpoint with your work supervisor are encouraged.
  • Can you provide a checklist of responsibilities of the student from acceptance to start of classes?

__ Organize a work-school schedule (if applicable)
__ Confirm acceptance and commitment with employer (if applicable)
__ Review course timetable for class enrolment which opens in late summer
__ Search Faculty for parallel interest and potential selection of supervisor
__ Outline potential applied research projects for discussion with Program director/Supervisor
__ Apply for any financial aid per program guidelines (while program is self-funded, limited options for aid may be pursued).

  • Some course required for DrPH in Year 2 and Year 3 or 4 have listed prerequisites. If students are entering DLSPH to earn a DrPH how are these prerequisites satisfied?

It is important to review all prerequisites when planning your course of study. For example,

HAD5778H required in Year 2 has prerequisites of HAD5011H or CHL5300H
HAD5765H required in Year 3 or 4 requires HAD5011H or equivalent

When pre-requisites are listed, they normally indicate DLSPH courses (PHS or IHPME), but equivalent courses taken elsewhere would be considered since most DrPH students would not have completed PHS/IHPME courses during their Master Degree program, if completed elsewhere. Also, prerequisites may also be ratified with work experience.

Example: One DrPH student completed an MPH at University of Waterloo where it is likely that equivalent courses were completed. That, along with work experience, would be enough to satisfy the pre-requisites listed.

Any circumstances not directly satisfied by specific course completion should be reviewed and approved by the instructor, copying the DrPH Program Director.