PhD Public Health Sciences

Creating a healthier future at the University of Waterloo

As part of the School of Public Health Sciences, you will be immersed in leading research, and gain the skills to tackle some of the biggest health concerns of today.

Besides our leading researchers, you will learn how to integrate perspectives from multiple disciplines as well as discover how to use research to design, implement, and evaluate health programs, policies and services.

Professor and student examine health informatics research on a computer monitor.

Program overview 

  • Transdisciplinary approach to addressing public and population health challenges in Canada and around the world
  • You'll learn how to use research to improve the management and accountability of health promotion programs, and health or healthcare systems.
  • PhD students in the School of Public Health Sciences can pursue a designated field to exemplify an area of expertise within their broader program. Fields include epidemiology and biostatistics, health evaluation, health informatics, health and environment, global health, aging and health and work and health
  • The University of Waterloo's unique Intellectual Property (IP) Rights Policy #73 grants ownership to the inventor.
  • The Faculty of Health is committed to providing guaranteed funding over four years to support new domestic doctoral students as part of its PhD funding initiative. Students may also be eligible for additional scholarship and funding opportunities.
  • Our alumni lead careers in research (industry, government and academia), health promotion, health planning, policy and health information analysis, research management, healthcare coordination, epidemiology, program evaluation, and other professions.


Faculty research and expertise

Our research investigates and aims to solve significant local, provincial/state, national and international challenges in various areas of public health and health systems.

Learn more about our experts and their research areas →

Finding a supervisor

  • A supervisor must be secured before an applicant is eligible to receive an offer of admission. Students are strongly advised to secure a confirmed supervisor before applying. Please review the profiles of faculty members in your areas of interest.
  • Indicate your confirmed supervisor in the "requested supervisor" section of your application.
  • If you do not have a confirmed supervisor, then use the "requested supervisor" section to name a supervisor with whom you would like to work.
  • Before approaching a potential supervisor, check their profile and see if they are accepting new students to supervise. Review other key topics for discussion with potential supervisors.
  • Please avoid sending generic inquiries to supervisors. Students are more likely to successfully match with supervisors who share similar research interests and experiences.

Water specialization

Full- or part-time | On campus | Thesis based

Global water issues are becoming increasingly complex and often require a collaborative approach across the breadth of disciplines. The MSc Public Health and Health Systems offers a water specialization.

Facilitated by the University of Waterloo's Water Institute, this collaborative approach provides access to more than 140 faculty members involved in water research across Waterloo's campus. The program allows you to develop specialist expertise in public health and health systems, while matching the knowledge and skills required to communicate across disciplines and within interdisciplinary teams in the water sector. 

Find out more about graduate studies in the Collaborative Water Program →

Degree requirements →

Application deadline: Feb 1

For admission in September 

Apply today.

Our research graduate programs are highly competitive and receive far more applicants than we can accommodate. As such, we are not able to consider late or incomplete applications. For an application to be considered complete, all required documents, including academic references, must be submitted on or before the date above. You must also indicate an interested supervisor in the "requested supervisor" section of your application. We strongly recommend submitting your application no later than January 1 to allow time for document uploads and for references to be submitted by the January 15 deadline.

Considerations for international students before submitting an application:

  • While the Faculty of Health at the University of Waterloo values international students in our graduate programs, we can only accept a small proportion of these students. 
  • Guaranteed funding packages may not be able to cover all tuition and living expenses incurred during a graduate program and students are encouraged to understand more about the cost of completing their graduate program before applying.
  • Your requested supervisor may also be required to fund your studies for your application to be successful.

Graduate student resources

Student stories

As part of her doctoral research, Lesley Johnston is investigating ways in which community well-being in Mongolia and Zambia are affected by Canadian-sponsored mining operations.

Learn more about Lesley and other students in the School of Public Health Sciences on our graduate student profile page

Lesley Johnson rides camel in the desert.