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Degree Division
Social & Behavioural Health Sciences Division
Program Contact
Angela Mashford-Pringle

Program Description

In this field, Indigenous health issues will be examined from multiple perspective and world-views. Indigenous knowledges, pedagogies, and approaches to research will be utilized in tandem with Western approaches. Opportunities for land-based learning, traditional medicine teachings, interaction with Elders, and community engagement will permeate the program. Students will gain a broad public health knowledge base with specific expertise in Indigenous health issues.

Please note that students in the MPH Indigenous Health program are not eligible for participation in the Collaborative Specialization in Indigenous Health (CSIH).

Admission Requirements

MPH students are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and should hold an appropriate bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a recognized university with at least a mid-B average in final year of the degree, or in the last 5.0 full course equivalents completed at a senior level. Proof of English Language Proficiency is required (See below).

Minimum Admission Requirements for MPH Indigenous Health

  • at least one undergraduate statistics course.  There is a requirement for a minimum grade (mid-B or higher) and content of the qualifying course(s). Please review the MPH statistics requirements information.

International applicants

No applicant will be admitted without evidence of English Language Proficiency (ELP).  As per the policy of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), the following applicants do not have to provide direct supporting evidence of ELP in the application.

  • A Canadian citizen who studied at a Canadian university where instruction is in English or French;
  • Any applicant who has obtained a qualifying undergraduate degree from an institution that is recognized by the University of Toronto, and where the language of instruction and examination is uniformly English.

If either criterion above is satisfied, the application can be submitted without test scores or other proof of ELP.  The ELP requirement will be waived, in the online system, when the application is reviewed.

Otherwise, an approved test of English Language Proficiency must be submitted at the time of application.  Scores must meet the minimum requirements set by SGS and must be valid (taken within 2 years of submission of the application). See SGS website for details.

The MPH Indigenous Health program does not make other exemptions. If an applicant is required to submit proof of ELP and does not include this with the application, by the application deadline, the application will be considered incomplete and inadmissible.

Applicants who studied outside Canada must consult the School of Graduate Studies website to determine whether evidence of ELP can be waived. The SGS website lists those countries where university instruction in English will be recognized without further documentation. Click here for more information.

The SGS website also has an international degree equivalency tool that may be consulted to determine minimum admission requirements for graduates from recognized institutions outside Canada.  Admission eligibility cannot be determined until a complete application is submitted. We are not able to review or assess your academic record without an official application to a graduate degree program, including payment of the appropriate application fee.

Program Requirements

Students are required to complete 10.0 Full Course Equivalents (FCEs) within the maximum time limit of 3 years as a full-time student and 6 years as a part-time student. Please note, most full-time students complete their degree within 2 years. The table below outlines the usual distribution of required and elective courses, together with practica, which are taken throughout the program.

TERM Course/practicum FCEs
Term 1 – Fall  2.0
CHL5004H Introduction to Public Health Sciences1 0.5
CHL5220H Introduction to Quantitative Research 0.5
CHL5520H Indigenous Health 0.5
CHL5801H or
Health Promotion 1 or
Social Determinants of Health
Term 2 – Winter
CHL5521H Indigenous Practicum Preparation 0.5
CHL5522H Indigenous Food Systems, Environment & Health 0.5
CHL5524H Indigenous Health Theory and Methods 0.5
CHL5811H Introduction to Qualitative Research 0.5
1 approved elective 0.5
Term 3 – Summer 2.0
CHL6010Y +
Required MPH Practicum (1.0 FCE) +
Long Extension to Required Practicum (1.0 FCE)
Term 4 – Fall
CHL5300H Public Health Policy 0.5
CHL5523H Indigenous Health and Social Policy 0.5
2 approved electives 1.0
Term 5 – Winter
CHL6020Y +
Optional MPH Practicum (1.0 FCE) +
Optional Practicum Extension (0.5 FCE)
1 approved elective 0.5
Or any combination of practicum and electives equaling 1.5-2.0 FCE
Totals 10

CHL5004H begins earlier in September than regularly scheduled graduate.

Elective Courses

Students have an opportunity to take at least 1.5 FCE in elective courses.  Through electives, students can tailor their academic work to suit their professional needs and career interests.

Students can take courses within the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, or (with permission) from other Graduate Departments at the University of Toronto. Students also have the opportunity to take courses outside of the University of Toronto and must consult with their Program Director and the Graduate Office.


Students typically undertake a 16-week full time practicum in the Summer session of year 1 of the program (Term 3). Some students complete an optional 12-week full time practicum in the Winter session of year 2 (Term 5). The purpose of practica is to enable students to develop ‘hands on’ experience in an Indigenous organization and to apply theories and analytical skills acquired in the academic portion of the degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we assess applications to the MPH Program in Indigenous Health?

We employ five criteria in assessing applications to our Indigenous Health program:

  1. Academic grades
  2. Social science and/or social justice background
  3. A statement of intent that outlines the student’s lived and/or work experience with Indigenous peoples or communities and the intention of the degree in future plans of working with Indigenous peoples. Finally explaining why they wish to enter this academic program about Indigenous health (max. 2 pages)
  4. Experience in paid or volunteer capacities, addressing determinants of health (e.g., social justice, Indigenous health, and health inequities)
  5. Two letters of reference – one reference letter should illustrate the applicants’ academic performance and a second letter can be academic or paid/volunteer work performance.

In general, admission is sufficiently competitive that we can insist on a high level of excellence in all five domains. We are looking for candidates who jump off the page because of their passion and demonstrated commitment to Indigenous peoples and communities.

We are not interested in candidates who see Indigenous health primarily in terms of a ‘stepping stone’, or wish to ‘fix’ Indigenous health issues, but applicants who understand the broad determinants of health including Indigenous determinants like colonialism, racism, and the need for culture and language in health.

We anticipate that our applicants will come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but they should have some courses and/or experiences in social sciences which includes sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, interdisciplinary programs like health studies, international development, women’s studies, and Indigenous studies. We are looking for exposure to social science concepts and ideas that will help students understand the world and how it operates; social science courses also tend to enhance students’ writing ability.

Regarding letter of intent: Applicants’ letters of intent and experience take precedence over grades and social science courses. We are looking for applicants with a passion for equity, social justice, and a clear understanding of issues that Indigenous people face, and those who understand that Indigenous health is more than just lifestyles, programs/interventions, or policy development and have a sense of where they are going while demonstrating their writing skills.

Applicants’ Experience: We value paid and volunteer experience in public health and in Indigenous settings that address issues of equity and social justice and social determinants of health. We place less weight on health care/clinical experience even with Indigenous populations. Field experience is less important for applicants who clearly identify an interest in continuing their academic studies (e.g., doctoral level studies); in this case, research experience will take precedence (e.g., honours thesis, RA experience, presentations/manuscripts).

Letters of Reference: Letters of reference are often the weakest element in an application. Reference letters (one from an academic source and the other from academic or work/volunteer experience) should illustrate the applicant’s knowledge of Indigenous peoples, communities and/or issues and provide strong positive support for the applicant. The letters should illustrate how the applicant will benefit from being in this academic professional program.

Can I make an appointment with the Program Directors to discuss the program prior to applying?

Due to the high volume of applicants, we cannot meet prospective students. We encourage you to attend our Open House, held during the month of October, to meet the Program Director, faculty, and current and past students. Please check our website in early Fall to register for the Open House. If you still have questions about the program after reviewing our website, please email

Is there a distance learning option?

We do not offer distance education (correspondence/online) courses at this time. The degree is intended to be completed in person, on campus.

What are the core competencies that students will learn in this degree?

The DLSPH MPH-Indigenous Health program is guided by the following set of core competencies, derived from a synthesis of the literature on competencies in Indigenous health from around the world. The most important core competency for students and practitioners in Indigenous health: Allow Indigenous peoples, leaders, groups, organizations, and nations to take the lead in health policy and programming for Indigenous health and well-being using a trauma-informed lens.

Cultural Safety

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of Indigenous health in a historical context and analyse the impact of colonial process on Indigenous health and well-being outcomes;
  • Integrate culturally safe practices into all Indigenous public health policies and/or programs;
  • Demonstrate a reflexive public health practice in Indigenous health contexts;
  • Engage in trauma-informed communication, policy, and practice when working with Indigenous people, communities, groups, organizations, or leaders.

Theories & Methods

  • Analyse key comparative health indicators for Indigenous people through a specific First Nations, Métis or Inuit lens;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of range of theories involved in Indigenous health, public health practice and health promotion with an emphasis on Indigenous-led/created theories;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the social, cultural, political, environmental, spiritual and economic conditions and structures that are interconnected and influence the lives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Canada and Indigenous people globally;
  • Apply Indigenous values and principles in the context of roles and responsibilities of working with Indigenous peoples and organizations.

Needs Assessment

  • Identify behavioural, social, environmental, organizational, cultural, spiritual, emotional and political factors that promote or compromise Indigenous peoples’ health and well-being;
  • Use community-based or community-led participatory methods with Indigenous peoples as part of the assessment process;
  • Integrate cultural safe practices and ethically appropriate assessment approaches;
  • Critically collect, review and appraise data, information and literature with an Indigenous lens to inform action (i.e., policy, program, services);
  • Work collaboratively with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, groups and/or organizations to identify strengths, assets, needs, and existing resources and assist with action-based research or activities.

Program Planning and Implementation

  • Describe a range of Indigenous interventions and strategies available to address public health issues;
  • Use current literature, models, theories, and systematic approaches for planning health promotion or well-being action at individual, community, nation, and societal levels;
  • In collaboration with Indigenous peoples, communities or organizations, develop, pilot and use appropriate resources and materials;
  • Monitor the cultural sensitivity and viability of the implementation process in relation to Indigenous goals and objectives

Research and Evaluation

  • Build relationships with First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit partners, communities, or organizations for participatory action approaches to evaluation and research;
  • Identify and analyse key indicators related to Health Canada’s social determinants of health as well as the Indigenous social determinants of health;
  • Use Indigenous statistics, health surveys and epidemiological data in evaluation and research, where possible;
  • Conduct both process and outcome evaluations of interventions with Indigenous people using appropriate indicators within available resources.

Health Education & Communication

  • Communicate, through a variety of mediums, the health status, demographic, statistical, programmatic and scientific information agreed upon with Indigenous peoples or stakeholders;
  • In collaboration and partnership with Indigenous peoples, prepare and present information, resources and materials that are appropriate, sensitive and tailored to community characteristics and are strengths-based (when possible).

Community Development

  • Use culturally safe interpersonal communication and group-work skills to facilitate individuals, groups, communities and organizations in efforts to act on health issues;
  • Nurture relationships with Indigenous people, leaders, organizations, nations, and groups to ensure that actions are Indigenous-led and created;
  • Engage in dialogue with Indigenous people, leaders, organizations, nations and groups based on trust, honesty, humility, and respect.

Partnerships and Collaboration

  • Establish and nurture linkages with Indigenous people, leaders, organizations, nations and groups;
  • Understand Indigenous leadership, team building, negotiation and conflict resolution skills required to build community and stimulate collaboration on health and well-being issues;
  • Engage First Nations, Métis, Inuit or other Indigenous peoples in decision-making in all levels related to Indigenous health and well-being.

Policy Development and Advocacy

  • Describe the health, economic, administrative, legal, social, and political implications of policy options in a Canadian and international context;
  • Write clear and concise policy statements with an Indigenous lens/frame;
  • Understand the requirements for advocacy of Indigenous policy change at local, community, organizational, national and international levels;
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct socio-political analysis of health and social issues using an Indigenous lens and being aware of Indigenous worldviews of interconnectedness and wholism.