Program Description

The MSc program may be completed in two years and the PhD program in 4-6 years for students studying full time but both programs have a part-time option available. Certain courses are offered in a blended learning format.

For more information about courses at McGill, please refer to the 2023-2024 McGill Graduate Course Calendar

MSc in Family Medicine

The MSc in Family Medicine is a 45 credit, two-year program. The first year is devoted to course work, and the second year is devoted to completing a Master's thesis. Students upon graduation will possess extensive knowledge within the realm of family medicine research. There will be a focus on ensuring the graduates will be able to perform their own research independently once the program is completed. In order to become the next generation of family medicine researchers, the candidates must be taught the following:


1) Quantitative methods

2) Qualitative methods

3) Mixed methods

4) Participatory Research approach


45 credits: 13 required course credits + 8 elective course credits + 24 thesis credits 


Required courses:

Course # and Title Credits Term when course offered
FMED 505 - Epid&Data Analy in Prim Care 1 3 Fall 
FMED 603 - Found of Participatory Reserch 1 Fall 
FMED 616 - Applied Literature Reviews 1 Fall 
FMED 625 - Qualitative Health Research 3 Fall
FMED 509 - Epid&Data Analy in Prim Care 2 3 Winter 

FMED 614 - Founds of Mixed Methods Resrch

2 Winter
FMED 697 - Master's Thesis Research 1 12 Fall-2nd Year
FMED 698 - Master's Thesis Research 2 12

Winter-2nd Year



Elective Course Credits (8 credits)

Courses must be 500 level or higher of which 3 credits may be chosen from outside the department.

MSc: Medical Education Concentration

The Family Medicine; Medical Education focuses on educating future scholars in family medicine education research. The program includes teaching and learning in research methodologies while emphasizing training in educational theories and topics, with a particular attention to health professions education. The thesis must concern an educational issue related to family medicine.

For more information about the MSc: Medical Education Concentration, please click here.


45 credits: 12 required course credits +  9 elective course credits + 24 thesis credits

Required courses (12 credits):

EDPE 637 Issues in Health Professions Education (3 credits)

FMED 505 Epidemiology and Data Analysis in Primary Care 1 (3 credits)

FMED 610 Foundations of Family Medicine (1 cr.)

FMED 614 Foundations of Mixed Methods Research (2 cr.)

FMED 625 Qualitative Health Research (3 cr.)


Elective courses (9 credits)

3 credits from the following:

FMED 509 Epidemiology and Data Analysis in Primary Care 2 (3 credits)

FMED 603 Foundations of Participatory Research (1 credit)

FMED 606 Operational Issues in Survey Methods in Primary Care (1 credit)

FMED 615 Applied Knowledge Translation and Exchange in Health (1 credit)

FMED 616 Applied Literature Reviews (1 credit)

6 credits from the following:

EDEC 612 Digital Media and Learning (3 credits)

EDEM 644 Curriculum Development and Implementation (3 credits)

EDEM 673 Leadership Theory in Education (3 credits)

EDPE 635 Theories of Learning and Instruction (3 credits)

EDPE 664 Expertise, Reasoning and Problem Solving (3 credits)

EDPE 670 Educational Assessment and Evaluation (3 credits)

MSc: Global Health Concentration


The M.Sc. in Family Medicine; Global Health emphasizes the foundational values of global primary health care including health equity, cultural safety, social participation in health, and integrated, whole-person care over the life-span. The program provides comprehensive training in quantitative and qualitative methods, the participatory research approach, and integrated knowledge translation and exchange. Topics include primary health care policy and practice, decolonizing approaches, program management, social determinants of health and heath equity, and healthcare delivery innovations. The thesis must focus on an international or Canadian global health issue. 


45 credits: 24 thesis credits +  9 required course credits + 7 or 9 complementary course credits + 3 or 5 elective course credits +  

Thesis Courses (24 credits)

Required Courses (9 credits)

Complementary Courses (7 or 9 credits)

7 or 9 credits from the following:

Elective Courses (3 or 5 credits)

3 or 5 credits at the 500 level or higher chosen in consultation with the student’s thesis supervisor and the Director of the concentration, based on the student's area of interest.



PhD in Family Medicine and Primary Care (12 credits) 

Required courses (9 credits) 

FMED 601 - Adv Topics in Family Medicine

FMED 604 - Adv Partic Research in Health

FMED 702 - Adv Doctoral PC Research Semrs (this course is required to be completed three times)


Elective courses (3 credits) 

In addition, each PhD student is required to complete 3 credits in advanced research methods at the 600 level or higher, may be chosen from outside the Department, in consultation with the student’s academic advisor or supervisor.    


FMED 701 - PhD Comprehensive Examination  


What is the comprehensive exam composed of?

The comprehensive exam will be in the form of a protocol defense. To allow sufficient time for review and obligatory revisions, this process will take sixteen (16) weeks.  To follow the academic deadlines for grade submission, the student register for FMED701 in the same term that the oral defense date is set which means oral exams can only occur during academic terms (see McGill Calendar for relevant dates).  The details of the process are as follows:

1.    An examination date will be set by the PhD candidate, the Supervisor(s) and the GPD, and the examination committee will be selected. The supervisor must organize for the examiners to be available on the exam date.

2.    A written PhD protocol will be submitted to the GPD to be disseminated to the examination committee 16 weeks before the examination date.

2.     The internal and external examiner will have 4 weeks to review the written protocol and prepare a series of questions for the PhD candidate.

3.    The questions will be returned to the GPD and in review with the PhD Supervisor, 3-6 questions along with obligatory revisions will be forwarded to the candidate within 1 week. The candidate will then have 3 weeks to provide a written response to the GPD.

4.   The written response to the questions and the obligatory changes will be reviewed by the supervisor and the GPD within 1 week with the responses then circulated to the examination committee 6 weeks before the oral exam.

5. The examiners will have 2 weeks to review the response to the questions and changes to ensure they are satisfactory and notify the GPD. If they are not satisfactory, this will be considered a fail for this section with a grade of HH (indicating in-progress) and the oral exam procedure will re-commence in the following term. If the responses are satisfactory, the candidate will proceed to final stage with an oral exam 4 weeks later.

6. The candidate will provide an oral defense of the protocol on the examination date.

The student will present a 30-minute oral summary of the written protocol on the day of the exam.  This will be followed by question period of about 60 minutes. The examiners will ask questions related to the protocol topic and to test proficiency in the areas of the required course material for the MSc thesis program (basic epidemiology, quantitative statistics, qualitative methods, mixed methods, knowledge synthesis and translation, and participatory research approaches). Candidates will be expected to answer questions broadly related to:

1.    how the protocol contributes to the field of family medicine and/or primary health care
2.    the methodology of the protocol (e.g .qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, participatory research) and why this is appropriate, rather than other possible methodologies 
3.    the limitations of the proposed work 
4.    what is original about the proposed work
5.    how the proposed work advances knowledge and/or clinical/public health/primary care practice 

What is expected of the student?

The protocol will be expected to be of a standard appropriate to submit to a funding agency for a grant application (brief literature review, rationale for the work, statement of objectives, in-depth description of methods, description of expected outcomes and limitations - approximately 20-25 pages). The response to the examiners questions is expected to be roughly half a page to a page for each question. The candidate is expected to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of their protocol topic as well as proficiency in the topics that are mandatory for the MSc thesis program.  This includes a critical appreciation of the relevant literature, an understanding of the gaps in current knowledge, an ability to formulate an appropriate research question, a thorough knowledge of the methods that will be used and the analysis that will be undertaken, a sensible approach to the likely challenges and ideas about how they can be overcome, a clear understanding of the limitations of the proposed work, and a realistic assessment of the potential impact of their work.

PhD Thesis 

A thesis for the doctoral degree must constitute original scholarship and must be a distinct contribution to knowledge. It must show familiarity with previous work in the field and must demonstrate ability to plan and carry out research, organize results, and defend the approach and conclusions in a scholarly manner. The research presented must meet current standards of the discipline; as well, the thesis must clearly demonstrate how the research advances knowledge in the field. Finally, the thesis must be written in compliance with norms for academic and scholarly expression and for publication in the public domain. 


Back to top