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Degree Division
Social & Behavioural Health Sciences Division
Program Contact
Sharon Tan

Program Description

In this field, Indigenous health issues will be examined from multiple perspectives and worldviews. The focus of this degree is to prioritize First Nations, Inuit, and Métis knowledges, pedagogies, theories, and frameworks for teaching, learning, and research. Beginning with land-based learning, traditional teachings, interaction with Elders and Knowledge Keepers, and transitioning into community engagement and allyship permeate the program. Students will gain a broad public health knowledge base with specific expertise in Indigenous health issues pertaining to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in Canada. This is a professional (non-thesis/non-research) graduate program that prepares students to enter a wide range of careers in community, government, policy, research, industry, and academia. The program was created for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who wish to work in the area of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis health and public health.

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

*NEW* Beginning in 2022, students will begin the program with in-person land-based activities from May – August. This consists of a two-week residency at Hart House Farm in Caledon, followed by blocks of programming in Toronto and Mississauga. Offers will be released in January.

Questions about the program can be directed to mphih.dlsph@utoronto.ca

Admission Criteria

MPH students are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS): Applicants must 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).

The application cycle opens in October/November and closes in December. Students must have a conferred degree by the program’s start date in May.

Minimum Admission Requirements for MPH Indigenous Health

  • At least one undergraduate statistics course with a minimum grade of mid-B or higher is required. Please review the MPH statistics requirements information.
  • Some lived, work, or volunteer experience working with Indigenous peoples, organizations, or traditional peoples.

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.

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.

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 that 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. This is a useful guideline to follow as some courses are only offered in a single session.

  • Summary of Program Requirements:
    • 3.0 FCE in courses specific to the MPH in Indigenous Health (e.g., CHL55XX series). Term 1 – Summer involves a two-week in-person residency in May, followed by classes taking place across Toronto and the GTA. These courses follow an intensive format (e.g., 5 days of full-day classes) and are only offered during the summer session.
    • 1.0 FCE in research methods (e.g., CHL5220H Introduction to Quantitative Research, and CHL5107H Introduction to Qualitative Research or approved equivalents)
    • 0.5 FCE in CHL5004H Introduction to Public Health Sciences
    • 0.5 FCE in CHL5801H Health Promotion I
    • Minimum of 1.0 FCE and maximum of 3.5 FCE in practicum placement credits
  • For more information about MPH program requirements, please see the School of Graduate Studies.
TERM Course/practicum FCEs
Term 1 – Summer (Land-based) 2.5
CHL5520H Indigenous Health 0.5
CHL5521H Indigenous Practicum Preparation 0.5
CHL5522H Indigenous Food Systems, Environment and Health 0.5
CHL5523H Indigenous Health and Social Policy 0.5
CHL5525H Indigenous Social Determinants of Health 0.5
Term 2 – Fall
2.0-2.5
CHL5004H Introduction to Public Health Sciences 0.5
CHL5103H Health Promotion 1 0.5
CHL5220H Introduction to Quantitative Research 0.5
CHL5524H Indigenous Health Theory and Methods 0.5
1 approved elective 0.5
Term 3 – Winter 2.0-2.5
CHL6010Y +
CHL6012Y
Required MPH Practicum (1.0 FCE) +
Long Extension to Required Practicum (1.0 FCE)
2.0
CHL5107H Introduction to Qualitative Research 0.5
OR any combination of practicum and/or electives equaling 1.5-2.0 FCE
Term 4 – Summer 1.5-2.0
CHL6020Y +
CHL6021H
Optional MPH Practicum (1.0 FCE) +
Optional Practicum Extension (0.5 FCE)
1.5
OR any combination of practicum and/or electives equaling 1.5-2.0 FCE 1.5-2.0
Term 5 – Fall
1.5-2.0
CHL6020Y +
CHL6021H
Optional MPH Practicum (1.0 FCE) +
Optional Practicum Extension (0.5 FCE)
1.5
OR any combination of practicum and/or electives equaling 1.5-2.0 FCE 1.5-2.0
Totals 10

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.

Practicum

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.

Students will only receive a maximum of 3.5 FCE for practicum courses during their program.

NOTE: Beginning in 2022, students will complete a 16-week full-time practicum during the winter (January 2023) instead of the summer. Students may take an optional 12-week full time practicum in following semesters if program requirements have been completed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to the Program

I am interested in applying to the MPH-Indigenous Health. How do I apply?

Please visit the DLSPH Application Process webpage for the most updated deadlines and application processes.

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

We employ five criteria in assessing applications to the MPH-Indigenous Health program:

  1. Academic grades
  2. Social science and/or social justice background
  3. A statement of interest/letter of intent that outlines the applicant’s lived and/or work experience with Indigenous peoples or communities, and their motivation of pursuing this degree (max. 2 pages, single-spaced)
  4. Experience in paid or volunteer capacities, particularly using an Indigenous social determinants of health lens
  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 addition to candidates with a demonstrated commitment to Indigenous peoples and communities, we are interested in candidates who feel prepared to learn from Indigenous worldviews, pedagogies, theories, frameworks, and ways of knowing.

We are interested in applicants who understand the broad determinants of health including Indigenous determinants like colonialism, racism, and the need for culture and language in health. Applicants should understand that their motivation should not be to “fix” Indigenous issues, but to work in collaboration with Indigenous communities to achieve health and social change.

Grades and Social Science Backgrounds: Depending on the applicant pool, meeting the minimum grade requirements (mid-B average) may not guarantee consideration for admission. Our applicants come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but they should have academic and experiences in social sciences which includes sociology; psychology; anthropology; economics; political science; as well as 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.

Statement of Interest/Letter of Intent: Applicants’ letters of intent and experience often take precedence over grades and social science background. We are looking for applicants with a passion for equity, social justice, and a clear understanding of issues that Indigenous peoples face, and those who understand that working in Indigenous health is more than just lifestyles, programs/interventions, or policy development. Letters should showcase a sense of where the applicant is going with the knowledge and experience gained from this degree while also 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, research assistant experience, presentations/manuscripts).

Letters of Reference: Letters of reference are often the weakest element in an application. Reference letters 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. We recommend at least one letter from an academic source. The second letter may be from an academic, work, or volunteer experience.

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 mphih.dlsph@utoronto.ca 

Can you waive the statistics requirement?

We cannot waive the statistics requirement. If you have a specific issue, please contact mphih.dlsph@utoronto.ca. If you have not completed an undergraduate statistics course, please consider completing a course satisfying MPH Statistics Requirements.

About the Program and Beyond

Can I complete this program part-time?

Yes, the MPH degree program can be completed on a part-time basis. However, we recommend students complete the program on a full-time basis to optimize the learning experience. For more information please see: https://www.dlsph.utoronto.ca/students/future-students/application-process/application-frequently-asked-questions/

How do tuition payments work?

Students pay for tuition in the May of each year. Information regarding program costs for studies at the University can be found at: https://www.dlsph.utoronto.ca/students/current-students/information-for-incoming-students/

Funding and award opportunities can be found here: https://www.dlsph.utoronto.ca/students/current-students/student-awards-funding-opportunities/

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. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health restrictions have changed the delivery of the program. Learning options will follow the most up-to-date public health guidelines.

What is the practicum requirement?

Students are required to complete at least one 16-week practicum to enhance their core competencies. Students and potential preceptors can visit our MPH Indigenous Health Practicum Placement page to learn more.

I’m interested in pursuing research and potentially a PhD. Is this possible?

Students who wish to proceed to a PhD program at the University of Toronto, or elsewhere, should give careful consideration to the expectations and requirements of the PhD programs to which they might be applying. Although this is a professional, non-thesis degree, some of our graduates have chosen to pursue a doctorate related to an area of Indigenous health. The Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health does not currently have a PhD program. Applicants may visit the DLSPH’s Doctoral Degrees page for more information.

What kind of funding opportunities are available?

Please visit PHS Student Awards & Funding Opportunities and the School of Graduate Studies’s pages on Awards & Funding and Financial Support.

What are the MPH-Indigenous Health core competencies?

The MPH-Indigenous Health field 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. One of the most important core competencies for students and practitioners in Indigenous health is to demonstrate Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty by fostering space for 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 peoples, communities, groups, organizations, or leaders.

Theories & Methods

  • Analyse key comparative health indicators for Indigenous peoples 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 communities 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 communities, 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, and Inuit individuals or communities 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.