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Degree Division
Social & Behavioural Health Sciences Division
Program Contact
Lisa Forman

Degree Overview

The PhD course of study includes a set of common requirements with flexibility to enable the student to pursue a unique learning experience tailored to his/her learning needs and research problem focus.  The program permits students to pursue their area of interest from different levels of understanding and theoretical perspectives.

The program enables students to take advantage of what the university/program faculty has to offer, and assists them in tailoring their studies according to their own experiences, scholarly interests, career direction and aspirations.  This program also participates and encourages participation in a variety of interdisciplinary graduate University of Toronto Collaborative Specializations.

Features of the program:

  • Emphasizes the application of concepts, theories, models and methods concerned with the structures and processes that underlie health and health promotion, illness, premature mortality, injury and disability;
  • Emphasizes research methodology (philosophy and design) and research methods (techniques);
  • Seeks to develop substantive knowledge and critical analytic ability at multiple levels of analysis, from the “micro” individual level to the “macro” societal level;
  • Fosters a reflexive and critical perspective on theory and methodology; and
  • Adopts a model of independent student scholarship.

The requirements of the PhD Program in Social & Behavioural Health Sciences (SBHS) include:

  1. Coursework
  2. Qualifying exam
  3. Thesis proposal defense
  4. Thesis defense:
    A) Departmental defense
    B) Final oral examination

Admission Requirements

The application deadline for the September 2024 start was on November 24th at 11:59pm EST.  See Application Process for information about the admission process.  Click here to view minimum application requirements for a PhD Program. Click here for information on our funding package and for information on the university’s funding policies. To identify potential supervisors, please visit our faculty database which is searchable by research interest. While you are not required to have a confirmed match with a supervisor at the time of your application, it is strongly recommended that you list one or more potential supervisors in your letter of intent to help demonstrate fit with our program. Prospective students are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in advance to determine their capacity to take on new doctoral students.

Additional Admission Requirements for the PhD

  • A match between the student’s research area and potential supervisor’s expertise
  • Background (course, experience) in social sciences and/or health sciences
  • Graduate level quantitative or qualitative methods courses/background

Course Requirements

Coursework (reflects minimum requirements)

Course Requirements (3.5 FCE)

Required Courses:

  • CHL5005H: Professional Skills for Doctoral Students in Public Health
  • 2 required theory courses
    • CHL5101H: Social and Behavioural Theory and Health
    • CHL5102H: Social and Political Forces in Health Care
  • 2 required methods courses
    • To be selected according to the student’s interests and educational needs, in consultation with the supervisor.
    • By the end of their degree, students should aim to have working knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative methods, and to achieve proficiency in one of these approaches.
  • 2 electives

Please note that students can satisfy coursework requirements with courses from across the DLSPH and University of Toronto. We encourage students to seek out such courses.

Qualifying Examination

The purpose of the qualifying exam (QE) is to assess the student’s capacity to understand, apply, and compare theoretical perspectives that are taught in the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences (SBHS) core theory courses (CHL5101H and CHL5102H). Specifically, the QE process will assess the student’s ability to theorize a topic using two different theoretical approaches and to propose theoretically sophisticated research questions that would advance the student’s topic area of interest and may be used for the dissertation. The qualifying examination is written during the months of May and June of the student’s first year.


Thesis Proposal Defense

The thesis proposal defense is a requirement for candidacy and for full-time students, should be completed by April of the second year, or earlier if possible.

The purpose of the proposal defense is to:

  • Ensure that the proposed research will result in a successful PhD dissertation.
  • Strengthen the thesis question, theoretical framework, design, and methods through critical feedback.
  • Assess the student’s ability to conduct independent and original research.
  • Assess the student’s knowledge base relevant to their thesis topic.
  • Provide a formal approval to proceed with the dissertation research.

DETAILED proposal defense GUIDELINES


Successful applicants will have research interests congruent with those of one or more members of faculty. Thus, applicants are strongly encouraged to seek out potential supervisors, and discuss with them the possibility of studying under their supervision, prior to applying to the degree program. Applicants should note that identifying a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission. PhD students must be supervised by a faculty member who has an appointment in the Division of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences (SBHS) and Full Membership in the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).  A co-supervisor generally will be a faculty member with Associate Membership in the SGS. Other faculty in Public Health Sciences outside of SBHS  may be eligible to supervise with the approval of the Program Director.  The Program Director must approve the final selection of the primary supervisor and co-supervisor. The faculty supervisor may be confirmed prior to beginning the program, and should be in place by the end of the first term.  Students are encouraged to explore broadly and have wide-ranging discussions with potential supervisors.

Upon admission to the PhD Program, students and supervisors should review and complete the Graduate Department of Public Health Sciences PhD Student-Supervisor Conversation Checklist.

Students have the right to appropriate assistance and guidance from their supervisors. Supervisors and students are required to meet on a regular basis throughout the program to discuss academic, financial and personal matters related to the student’s progress. Students should assume responsibility for contacting the supervisor, arranging meetings, and setting agenda for committee meetings.

In rare circumstances, it may be necessary for students to change their area of research and/or their supervisor. In these cases, the first step would be for students to discuss the potential change with their supervisor and/or PhD Program Director.

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 will guide the selection of courses, dissertation topic, supervisory committee membership, and supervisory committee meetings; will assist with applications for funding; will provide funding to the student directly when it is possible for them to do so; and will provide references for the student on a timely basis. The supervisor also will provide feedback on the student’s selection of theories and reading lists for the qualifying examination. The supervisor will guide the development of the student’s research proposal, and the implementation and conduct of all aspects of the research; advise on writing the dissertation; correct drafts and approve the final dissertation; and attend the defense.

For more information about student and supervisor roles and responsibilities, please see the School of Graduate Studies Graduate Supervision Guidelines.

Supervisory Committee

With the assistance of the supervisor, and with the approval of the Program Director, the student will assemble a Supervisory Committee no later than the end of their second term in the program (i.e., by May of their first year).

Composition of the Supervisory Committee

The Supervisory Committee generally will comprise the supervisor and at least two members who hold either Full or Associate Membership in the SGS and may or may not hold a primary appointment in SBHS. Between these individuals and the supervisor, there should be expertise in all substantive, theoretical and methodological areas relevant to the Student’s research focus and dissertation proposal.


Supervisory Committee meetings will be held at least every six (6) months throughout the student’s PhD program. More regular meetings should be held with the supervisor. 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; in case the meeting is held virtually, the supervisor and committee members can e-sign the report. A scanned or paper copy of the report should be e-mailed/delivered to the SBHS Admin Assistant at

The Graduate Department of Public Health Sciences will keep a copy of the report in the student’s progress file.

Progress Through the PhD

The phases of the PhD program are identified by a set of accomplishments which the student generally will attain in order, and within a satisfactory time. These phases, which will be monitored by the Program Director of the PhD program, are the identification of the Supervisor and the Supervisory Committee, completion of required and elective course work, completion of the qualifying examination, defense of the research proposal, and defense of the dissertation (both Departmental and SGS). Full-time students are expected to complete the PhD within four to five years. Flex-time students may take longer, but not more than eight years; they must submit a revised list of milestones, for approval by the Supervisor and the Program Director.

 view the SBHS PhD Timeline


The PhD dissertation must demonstrate an original contribution to scholarship. The nature of the dissertation is agreed upon by the supervisor and the student, in consultation with a Thesis Committee.  The Student should aim to defend the dissertation within four years of entry into the PhD program. The defense of the dissertation will take place in two stages: first, a Departmental defense, second, a formal defense (the Final Oral Examination) before a University committee according to procedures established by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). The two defenses generally are separated by at least eight weeks.

a) Departmental Defense:

The Departmental defense will be held after the completed dissertation has been approved by all members of the student’s Supervisory Committee, and the completion of the final Supervisory Committee meeting report. The purpose of this defense is to rehearse the oral presentation for the SGS defense and to determine whether the student is ready for the SGS defense.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILED departmental defense procedureS

b) School of Graduate Studies Final Oral Examination (FOE)

Arrangements for the PhD 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, including guidelines on multiple paper dissertations, and arranging the defense.

  • Click here for Guidelines on Multiple Paper Dissertations
  • Click here for Producing Your Thesis guidelines on SGS website
  • Click here for Final Oral Exam Guidelines on SGS website

Student Profiles & Contact

Name Supervisor Research Interests/Dissertation

Nadine Samir Abdel-Ghafar (she/her)


Lori Ross Islamophobia; mental health; health service utilization

Zafiro Andrade-Romo

Lori Ross

2SLGBTQ+ mental health and wellbeing, Latin American Feminisms, critical qualitative research, mixed-methods, globalization, gender

“Project DaRE – Deciding, Resisting and Existing: Autonomy and mental wellbeing of adult LGBTQ+ women in Mexico.”

Jorge Angel-Mira


Anne-Emanuelle Birn


Andrea Cortinois

Rural migration and health, multi-level governance, health systems, and political economy of health

“Adapting to Diversity: An Exploratory Case Study of Health and Social Service Responses to Immigrant Needs in Rural North Okanagan and Shuswap Regions, British Columbia”

Rebecca Balasa

Amaya Perez-Brumer

Human trafficking; Child sexual exploitation; Health systems research; Mixed methods; Intersectionality; Human rights

“Improving child sex trafficking identification, intervention, and referral practices in Ontario pediatric Emergency Departments: An intersectional mixed methods study”

Ethel Barnes Daniel Grace Black Women’s Mental Health and Service Access

Momtaz Begum (she/her)


Erica Di Ruggiero

Immigrant and Racialized workers; Work and Health; Precarious Employment; Work Injury and Illnesses; Workers’ Compensation; Health Equality; Systemic Discrimination; Social Justice; Labour and Welfare Policies; Linguistic Minorities.

“An intersectional political economy study examining how social and economic policies influence employment and health inequalities among marginalized workers in Canada”

Siti Hazirah Binte Mohamad (she/her) Jennifer Gibson

End of life/palliative care, healthcare financing and policy, health inequity, resource allocation ethics and institutional ethnography

“Die, die must live?: An Institutional Ethnography of Palliative Care in Singapore”

Sireesha J. Bobbili

Robert Schwartz

Gender-based violence, public health policy, global health, intersectionality, mental illness and substance use, stigma and discrimination

“Gender-based violence policy implementation in the Co-operative Republic of Guyana”

Andrea Bowra (she/her) Jillian Kohler

Drug policy; global health systems; pharmaceutical violence; sociomaterial methods

“Accountability in the Aftermath of Purdue: A Network Analysis of Global Health Systems”

Tenzin Butsang


Angela Mashford-Pringle


Flora Matheson

Settler colonialism, surveillance, carcerality, parenthood, health equity, critical qualitative research

Jessica Bytautas

Pia Kontos

End-of-life care; volunteerism; ethnography

“Things Living and Left Behind: An Ethnographic Study of Legacy Activities in End-of-Life Care”

Kimberlee Collins(she/her)

Lori Ross


Sarah Elton

Critical posthumanism, critical disability studies, death, grief & mourning, arts-based method/ologies

“Feeling Climate Change: Experiences of Ecological Emotions on Urban Farms”

Jean-François Crépault

Photo of Jean-François Crépault

Jürgen Rehm

Drug policy / the regulation of psychoactive substances (e.g. alcohol, cannabis, opioids)

“What Is a Public Health Approach to Substance Use? An Investigation in Three Parts”

Kimberly Devotta (she/her)

Aisha Lofters


Patricia O’Campo

Addressing cervical cancer screening inequities in Ontario, with a particular focus on South Asian women.

“Using concept mapping to understand how the lives and experiences of South Asian women living in Ontario shape their decisions around getting screened for cervical cancer.”

Antonia Di Castri (she/her)


Clara Juandó-Prats Communicable disease and climate change prevention, adaptation, and preparation; trust in science/public health; health equity; community-engaged participatory research; feminist socio-critical theory; environmental and social determinants of health; art and nature as research practice.

Joshun Dulai(he/him and they/them)

Daniel Grace


Amaya Perez-Brumer

2SLGBTQIA+ health; BIPOC health; South Asian health; sexual health; mental health; Critical Race Theory; Intersectionality; Minority Stress; Community-Based Participatory Research; Mixed-Methods Research

“How do systems of oppression impact access to sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection prevention services for queer South Asian men? An intersectional mixed-methods study.”

Daniel Eisenkraft Klein (he/him)

Robert Schwartz

Commercial Determinants of Health; Interpretive Policy Analysis; Political Sociology; Discourse and Framing Analysis; Tobacco/Nicotine; Pharmaceuticals; Prescription Opioids

“Discourse Coalitions and Problem Definitions of the Canadian Prescription Opioid Policies”

Tiyondah Fante-Coleman (she/her) Josephine Pui-Hing Wong

My academic and research interests include access to healthcare systems, sexual health and reproductive justice, and mental health and wellbeing. I am particularly interested in exploring the effects of public health policy on health outcomes, with a focus on Black and minority populations. I focus on collaborative community-focused research that is participatory in nature as well as work that is action-oriented and focused on systems change.

“Exploring Restraint Use in Psychiatric Hospital Settings from the Perspective of Black Mental Healthcare Workers”

Monica Gagnon

Photo of Monica Gagnon

Lisa Forman “The Discursive Construction of Deservingness and the Right to Health in Canada.”

Jen Goldberg (they/she)

Lori Ross

2SLGBQTAI+ reproductive and sexual health equity at the intersection of midwifery and perinatal services; critical qualitative methodologies.

“A critical narrative inquiry into the experiences of queer, trans and nonbinary midwifery service-users in Ontario”


Madison Giles (she/her)

Dionne Gesink

Sexuality, youth, disability, qualitative research, Intersectionality, arts-based methodologies

“The sexual subjectivity of youth with physical disabilities: An arts-based study in Ontario, Canada”

Kelly Gregory


Pia Kontos

Women’s experiences of healthcare; diagnostic delay; critical qualitative health research; gender equity; 2SLGBTQ+ equity; patient oriented care; structural determinants of health

“Examining the Structural Determinants of Diagnostic Delays Through the Experiences of Ontario Women: A critical phenomenology and intersectional study”

David Hill (he/him)


Anne-Emanuelle Birn

Global Health, work and health, critical qualitative research, Latin American Social Medicine theory

“Solidarity Economies amid COVID-19: Learning from Collective Decision-Making in Costa Rican Cooperatives”

Aaliyah-Mae Hinds (she/her)


Hayley Hamilton

Black Populations, Critical Race Theory, Critical Disability Studies, Community-Based Research

“Exploring the systemic, cultural, and social barriers to disability support service seeking for Black disabled Canadians: A constructivist grounded theory study”

Damilola Iduye (she/her)

Erica Di Ruggiero

Race, ethnocultural identity, Black and immigrant populations, structural racism, public health policies, intersectionality, diabetes, mixed methods, nurse migration and professional recertification, and global health

“How do socio-structural determinants of health shape the experiences of Black Canadians with type 2 diabetes?”

Mathieu Isabel (he/him)

Andrew Pinto


Erica Di Ruggiero

Homelessness, peer-support, primary care, medicalization, ethnography, implementation science

“The integration of peer-support workers in a community based primary care clinic offering services to people experiencing homelessness in Montreal”

Carly Jackson

Lisa Forman

Migration and health, health inequity, human rights, temporary labour migration, health ethics, social justice, qualitative health research

“Is the right to health for all? Health inequity among temporary migrant farmworkers in Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program”.

Roshaneh-Fatema Jaffer

Suzanne Sicchia


Janice Du Mont

Women’s health, reproductive health, gender-based analysis, intersectionality, health equity, gendered pathologies, medicalization

“Diving into the Archives of the Cysterhood: A Qualitative Study to Examine the Gendered Medicalization of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome”

Geneviève Jessiman-Perreault

Monique Gignac


Peter Smith

Workplace health promotion, mental health, sex and gender

David T. Kryszajtys

Photo of David T. Kryszajtys

Carol Strike


Jackie Bender

Mental health system consumer and survivor research, self-management, harm reduction, law and health, illicit drug use, online health communities, qualitative research, grounded theory

“What it means to use psychedelics to self-treat depression and anxiety, how people do it successfully, and why more people are doing it: A grounded theory study”

Sara Lacarte (she/her)


Michael Atkinson

Critical post-humanism (e.g., Deleuze-Guattari), critical autism studies, the neurodiversity movement, post-qualitative inquiry

“Unmasking Neurodiversity in Neoliberal Canada: Autistic Narratives at Work”

Melanie Lalani

Pia Kontos

Dementia care; aging; childhood; arts-based research methods

“Exploring relationships between people living with dementia in long-term care homes and children: a narrative ethnographic study”


Nina Lamberti (she/her)

Flora Matheson


Kelly Hanna-Moffat

Reproductive Justice, abolition, prison health, criminalization and health intersection, racial equity, BIPOC women’s health, contraception and abortion provision

Geng-Hui Lin (he/him)

Paul Shuper


Lori Ross

LGBTQ+ health, LGBTQ+ aging, HIV prevention, PrEP care continuum, social network, behaviour change theory

Si Yinn Lu (she/her)


Pia Kontos Experiences of aging and precarity; critical gerontology; cultural gerontology; critical qualitative research; loneliness and social isolation; health and social inequity

Andrea Martel

Janet Smylie

Indigenous methodologies, community-based participatory research, qualitative research, Indigenous knowledge mobilization

“nikan oti wapahtamowin: Advancing the Future of Public Health for Indigenous Peoples of Canada”

Tola Mbulaheni

Daniel Grace

Health research, HIV prevention, Black populations, race & racism, gender, scientific racism, Black studies, critical race theory, critical narrative analysis.

“Examining Black women’s experiences of accessing HIV services: a critical narrative explorations of race and racism”


Aparna Raghu Menon

Pia Kontos


Tanya Titchkosky

Autism studies, Autistic Communication, Posthumanism, Critical Disability Studies


Melissa Perri (she/her)

Carol Strike

Housing, Homelessness, Gender, Harm Reduction, Substance Use, Critical Qualitative Research, Community-Based Research

“Safe Supply, housing, and social services as Gendered Phenomenon: Implications on the ontological security of women who use drugs”


Bojana Petrovic

Photo of Bojana Petrovic

Eva Grunfeld


Jackie Bender

Cancer, coordination of care, digital health, implementation science, community-based research, program evaluation

Angela Pickard

Photo of Angela Pickard

Monique Gignac

Health and wellness, mental health, conflict resolution, family mediation, qualitative research

“Experiences and Expectations of Parents and Mediators in Family Mediation Services.”

Jianna Quickstad (she/her)

Erica Di Ruggiero

Program evaluation & design, qualitative research, knowledge translation, health promotion, youth engagement, communication networks, reflexivity, substance use & regulation

“A Utilisation Focused Implementation Process Evaluation of An Influential Generation – A Conversation about Vaping School-Based Peer Education Intervention in Central Alberta Elementary and Secondary Schools”

Leo Ruhl (he/him)


Michael Atkinson Public health policy; illness narrative; ethnography; pandemic response.

Carlos E. Sanchez-Pimienta (he/him)

Blake Poland

Ecological public health, decolonial health promotion, Indigenous research, political ontology, narrative research, ethnography, intersectoral action, homelessness prevention

“How do we foster pluriversal forms of ecological public health education? From the limits of modernity to the contributions of people in El Salto and Juacatlán, Mexico”

Rose Schmidt (she/her)

Carol Strike

Substance use, gender, harm reduction, mixed methods

“Pregnancy, Parenting and Opioids in Ontario: A mixed methods life course study”

John Segui (he/him)

Alex Abramovich


Lori Ross

Sexual minority young men; Asian-Canadian; mental health; stigma; online dating apps; intersectionality; minority stress theory; qualitative methods.

“Examining the Experiences of Intracommunity Stigma Among Asian-Canadian Sexual Minority Young Men Using Mobile Dating Apps”

Kristie Serota

Daniel Buchman


Michael Atkinson

Social theory, qualitative methods, critical health psychology, bioethics, stigma, grief and bereavement, medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

“Life after MAiD: A narrative analysis of passive loved ones’ bereavement”

Jad Sinno (they/them)

Daniel Grace

Queer health; sexual and gender minority health; mental health; online dating apps; virtual socio-sexual spaces; human-technology interactions.

“A Reparative Analysis of Dating App Use and Wellbeing Among Queer Adults in Canada: A Mixed Methods Study”

Lauren Squires (she/her)

Jackie Bender


Lori Ross

2SLGBTQ+ health; psychosocial oncology; online health communities; intersectionality; mixed methods research; health equity

“Exploring online support group (OSG) use among sexual and gender diverse (SGD) people diagnosed with breast/chest cancer in Canada: A mixed-methods study”

Sterling Stutz

Angela Mashford-Pringle

Jewish Health, Indigenous Cultural Safety, Community Wellbeing, Health Equity

“The Health of the Kehillah (Community): Jewish Community Wellbeing & Relationships with Indigenous Nations in Southern Ontario”

Zeyuan Wang

Erica Di Ruggiero

Traditional and Indigenous food systems and nutrition; diffusion of innovation; culinary studies; food perceptions and spiritual meaning; mixed methods; art-based food education; maternal and child nutrition; food media

“Using Mixed Methods to Understand how Infant Formula Marketing, Communication Channels, and Traditional Health Beliefs Affect Exclusive Breastfeeding among Women in Palawan, Philippines”

Gemma Woticky

Photo of Gemma Woticky

Monique Gignac

Chronic episodic disability; disclosure of private information in the workplace, the co-workers’ role in workplace communication and support processes, impression management, communication privacy management.

“Understanding the role of co-workers in the support, communication and disability disclosure process of people working with chronic episodic disabilities”

Wren Ariel Gould (they/them)

Daniel Grace


Amaya Perez-Brumer

2SLGBTQ+ mental health, critical psychiatry, critical theory, queer theory, trans studies, biopolitics, critical political economy, cultural studies, new materialism(s)

Minhui Yang (she/they)

Josephine Pui-Hing Wong

Migration, wellbeing improvement, health practices, mutual care, community-based approaches, critical ethnography

“Keeping well: an ethnographic community-based exploration of Chinese seniors’ wellbeing-related practices in Toronto, Canada”