Descriptions of the Fields of Study


We are approved by OCGS to offer MSc and PhD degrees in the fields of Population Epidemiology, Health Services and Policy Research and Biostatistics. As well, we are approved to offer MSc Clinical Epidemiology training to practicing clinicians.


Population Epidemiology is the study of the "distribution" and "determinants" of disease in the population. In recent years, health services research and health policy research have increasingly been seen to be as integral to health as the historic focus on biological and social determinants of health. Epidemiological research can lead to new foci in health promotion and illness prevention. Applicants to this field of the program come from a wide variety of backgrounds including (but not restricted to) biology, sociology, psychology, statistics, economics, political science or a health care discipline. A good aptitude for quantitative statistical methods is integral to success in this field.


Health Services and Policy Research includes two areas of research: Health Services Research is concerned with the relationships among the need, access, demand, supply, use and outcomes of health services and often involves evaluation of the structure, process, output and outcomes of these services. The second area: Health Policy Reseach focuses on the process of initiation, formulation and implementation of health policies and explores underlying values, historical evolution and interplay among the social, economic and political forces that shape health, health care and health policy. Health Policy Research also analyzes the relationships between governments, health, and health care stakeholders and crosses disciplinary boundaries in search of knowledge and innovative solutions to critical health problems and policy issues.Graduates learn how to assess advantages and disadvantages of various policy alternatives and to distinguish major factors that influence technical and political feasability of various policy solutions. Graduates are prepared for positions in private, governmental, and academic settings. Research in these areas can lead to improvement in the way health care services are organized, regulated, managed, financed, paid for, used and delivered, and can therefore impact on population health. Applicants to this field have a wide variety of backgrounds including social sciences, biological sciences, statistics and the health care professions.


Clinical Epidemiology is an area in which epidemiological methods and some biostatistical methods are applied to research in health care practices. This research may be focused on evaluating the diagnostic value of new medical tests or on evaluating the treatment value of therapeutic procedures. Clinical Epidemiological research can influence health care practice and illness treatment. Applicants to this field of the program should hold a degree in a health care profession (e.g. M.D., P.T., etc. ).


Biostatistics is an area of research in which new mathematical techniques for analyzing data are either developed or evaluated. The techniques developed or evaluated are useful for epidemiologic or medical applications, which is what differentiates biostatistics from the broader discipline of statistics (which is concerned with the development of methods with a potentially wider range of applications). Biostatistical research often leads to new ways of analyzing biological data. Applicants to this field should have a mathematical statistics background and hold a degree from a department of statistics, mathematics or applied mathematics.


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