PhD in Health Sciences Education

Applications are closed for Fall 2024. Stay tuned for more updates.

The PhD in Health Sciences Education is a unique, interdisciplinary and interprofessional program offered by McGill University’s Institute of Health Sciences Education (IHSE), within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

This program uses a theoretical approach to guide aspiring researchers in health professions and health sciences education (HSE) to develop the skills to make conceptually informed design and methodological choices in their research projects.

After completing the program, students will join a new, innovative and fast-growing field in the health sciences, where researchers from a broad range of disciplines contribute practice-informed evidence that advances:

  • societal health and well-being
  • the quality and safety of patient care
  • the education of the next generation of health care professionals.

As PhD students are based at the IHSE, a unit specially devoted to the field in Canada, they will also gain opportunities for networking, collaboration and mentorship, as well as access to research and clinical sites.

The PhD program is offered on a full-time and part-time basis at the IHSE, located on the McGill University campus in downtown Montreal.

Who should apply?

This program is designed for qualified candidates from various disciplines (e.g. health professions, biomedical and natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, and education) who possess a strong background in teaching, mentoring, coaching and educational scholarship.

As this program focuses on theoretical perspectives and research design, it is expected that candidates aspire to produce original and theoretically informed research and contribute to new evidence within HSE.

Accepted candidates will be eager to develop expertise in research, educational scholarship, knowledge translation (including written and oral communication), leadership, research mentoring, capacity building, career development and grant writing.

Structure and Delivery

This four-year PhD program covers a broad spectrum of topics within health professions education and health sciences education.

Completing the PhD program involves:

  • completing mandatory courses (see below) that focus on theoretical perspectives of relevant topics and research design during the first two years
  • completing an advanced methodology course of the student’s choosing
  • passing a comprehensive written and oral examination, which will cover the content of the mandatory courses and the student’s own research project
  • producing, submitting and defending a PhD thesis, as an original and theoretically informed contribution to health sciences education.

During the third year, students are expected to continue to work on their thesis and are expected to submit their thesis by the end of the fourth year. Students will also deliver an oral defense of their research project.

Course Information and Assessment

The following courses in the PhD program are mandatory in the first two years of the program:

  • HSED 702D1 Advanced Topics in HSE 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

    (Offered during the Fall semester)
  • HSED 702D2 Advanced Topics in HSE 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

    (Offered during the Winter semester)
  • HSED 703 Research Design for HSE 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • The mandatory comprehensive written and oral exam is:
    HSED 701 PhD Comprehensive Examination
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

Program Details

Instructors and Supervisors

  • Tamara Carver, PhD, Director of the Office of Ed-TECH, Associate Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education and Associate Member, Department of Surgery

  • Carlos Gomez-Garibello, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Jason M. Harley, MA, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery and Associate Member, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Elizabeth Anne Kinsella, MAdEd, PhD, Director and Full Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education and Associate Member, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy

  • Sylvie Lambert, RN, PhD, Associate Professor, Ingram School of Nursing and Principal Scientist, St. Mary’s Research Centre

  • Monica Molinaro, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Peter Nugus, MA (Hons), MEd, PhD, Associate Professor and Associate Director (Graduate Programs), Institute of Health Sciences Education and Associate Member, Department of Family Medicine and Department of Oncology

  • David Ragsdale, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Associate Member, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Charo Rodríguez, MD, MSc, PhD, Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Associate Member, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Linda Snell, MD, MHPE, Professor and Associate Director (Outreach), Institute of Health Sciences Education and Professor, Department of Medicine

  • Yvonne Steinert, PhD, CM, Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Faculty Member, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Aliki Thomas, PhD, OT, Associate Professor, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and Associate Member, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Maryam Wagner, BSc, BEd, MEd, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education

  • Meredith Young, BSc, PhD, Associate Director (Research) and Associate Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education

Admission Requirements

Applicants must apply through McGill University's Slate application system. To be considered for this program, candidates must provide:

  • An indicative research proposal (two pages, including references). Although this is not expected to be a complete or final proposal, it should show that the candidate has given thought to the appropriate design and conduct of a research proposal that is situated in the field of health sciences education. It is suggested that the candidate use headings, such as Introduction/Background, Methodology and Expected Contributions.
  • Complete academic transcripts, including all undergraduate and graduate study taken to date. Any transcripts provided in a language other than French or English will need to have been officially translated into English.
    • The transcripts of the applicant should show a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of at least 3.4 out of a possible maximum CGPA of 4.0, or a GPA of 3.6 out of 4.0 for the last two years of full-time studies.
  • A personal statement (1-2 pages)
  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) identifying the candidate’s formal qualifications, scholarly outputs, background or experience as an educator, work experience, any relevant prizes received, any financial awards/grants received for scholarly work, and any community or professional service that would demonstrate potential contribution to and engagement with the IHSE community.
  • A writing sample (no more than 10 pages) that should showcase the candidate’s writing ability. It could be a published article, book chapter or assignment submitted in a previous course.
  • Two written references, which should convey the candidate’s ability, attitude, commitment, productivity and work ethic, that would enable them to successfully complete a PhD in Health Sciences Education.

The Slate application system has separate sections for uploading transcripts and details of referees. Other documents need to be uploaded under “Supporting Documents”. Candidates are also expected to attend an online or in-person interview with the prospective supervisor and the Associate Director (Graduate Programs) prior to or during the application process.

We expect candidates to ensure they meet the full criteria for admission before applying.

Research Domains

Students can choose from a range of topics within HSE research for their research project. At the IHSE, members are engaged in a wide variety of educational topics related to health care, including:

  • Professionalism and Professional Identity Formation
  • Faculty Development and Continuing Professional Development
  • Innovations in Teaching and Learning
  • Assessment and Program Evaluation
  • Decision-Making and Clinical Reasoning
  • Education and Health Care Systems

Cutting across these domains are the following principles and strategies, which reflect the IHSE’s commitment to patient- and learner-centred research:

  • Advancement of Theory and Research Methodology
  • Development of Policy and Practice
  • Knowledge Translation
  • Social Accountability

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for this program can be found on the Student Accounts website. On this site, you will find tuition fees and charges for each semester. These may fluctuate based on annual adjustments to the fees and charges.

For the duration of their PhD, students are required to apply for scholarships each year to fund their studies.

Benefits and Professional Opportunities

Upon completion of the PhD in Health Sciences Education, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Design, conduct and disseminate a conceptually coherent and ethical research project, which makes an original contribution to the field of HSE research

  • Demonstrate a core area of content expertise, based on detailed understanding of different approaches and perspectives related to HSE research

  • Demonstrate a core area of methodological expertise relevant to HSE research
  • Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between topics in HSE research, and the conceptual, professional, policy, translational and social accountability implications of various HSE research topics and perspectives

  • Facilitate knowledge production and knowledge exchange from a range of conceptual and methodological perspectives, to address a range of research and applied challenges in HSE

  • Engage and develop new ways of learning that result in interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration, with strong understanding of and ability to navigate complex applied health services and contextual issues

  • Develop HSE research networks both within academia as well as the broader health sciences, educational, institutional, and policy-oriented communities to facilitate knowledge translation and exchange

Furthermore, the student may find employment in:

  • A medicine and health sciences faculty within a university as a professor, researching and teaching health sciences education

  • The health system, as a clinician-educator or clinical education manager (e.g. medical or surgical residency director, or nursing preceptor)

  • The health system or in a university, undertaking research and practice in the management and facilitation of accreditation, curriculum development, learning, or assessment and evaluation

  • Policy-making in education or health care

  • Industry, as a strategic learning development lead in, for example, the biotech, pharmaceutical or medical equipment industry

Contact Us

For more information, please contact:

Institute of Health Sciences Education
Lady Meredith House, Room 205
1110 Pine Avenue West
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A3
E-mail: [at]

Please note: McGill University reserves the right to make changes to the program, content, and services as it deems necessary.

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