MSc & PhD Degree Program – Program Requirements

The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies has published a Guide for Potential Graduate Students that addresses many of the questions you may be asking yourself.

As required by the School of Graduate Studies and the Department:

a) Master of Science (MSc)

Students will attend and participate in NFS1204Y, Master's Seminars in Nutritional Sciences, throughout their period of full-time registration and will complete a minimum of two half courses. For students with undergraduate training in nutritional sciences, at least one of these courses must be taken in the department. Students with undergraduate training in disciplines other than nutritional sciences must take at least two half courses from the department. In addition, a course in statistical methods or research design and analysis is required if not completed previously. Submission of a thesis on an approved research area and its defense at an oral examination are required.

Exceptional students may be allowed to reclassify into the PhD program after one year, without completing the MSc, on the recommendation of an advisory committee and successful completion of a reclassification examination.

b) Part Time Master of Science (MSc)

In selected situations, it is possible for registered health care professionals in the Province of Ontario (e.g. RD, MD, RN, employed full time) working in settings that are amenable to joint research/employment activity, to be admitted to a part-time MSc program. Application materials and academic requirements for this program are identical with those of the regular MSc program, with the following exceptions:

  • Program length is 4 vs. 2 years;
  • A funding package is not provided;
  • The application package includes a statement from the proposed supervisor that the applicant will have a reasonable amount of protected time to complete the required courses and research project

c) Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Students will attend and participate in NFS1304Y, Doctoral Seminars in Nutritional Sciences. Those entering with a bachelor's degree will also complete a minimum of six half courses; those entering with an MSc degree, a minimum of four half courses. The courses will be chosen by each student to provide an appropriate background for his/her area of investigation. It is expected that all candidates will have an adequate knowledge of research design and statistics through course work in their past or the current graduate program. The choice of courses will be made in consultation with the supervisor and the student's advisory committee and is subject to the approval of the department. The student will also complete a comprehensive examination in nutritional sciences. To qualify for the PhD degree, a thesis must be submitted and the student must pass the departmental examination before proceeding to the final oral examination conducted by the School of Graduate Studies.

d) Collaborative Specialization in Toxicology

The Collaborative Specialization in Toxicology (CST) provides graduate students with a unique opportunity to gain breadth and depth of knowledge in toxicology beyond their thesis research. This program aims to prepare participants for careers related to toxicology and emphasizes the development of critical thinking and communication skills in addition to acquiring greater knowledge of basic principles and specific aspects of toxicology. The CST is administered by the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology. 

Further information is available at:

e) Collaborative Specialization in Indigenous Health

The department participates with the Collaborative Program in Indigenous Health. The main objective of the specialization is to provide training in Indigenous health research and practice for graduate students at U of T, while enhancing mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous peoples, communities and organizations. 

Upon successful completion of the degree requirements in the participating home department and the requirements of the CSIH, graduate students will receive the notation “Completed Collaborative Specialization in Indigenous Health” on their transcript and parchment. Graduating students will have received knowledge of Indigenous health issues, ways of knowing, and understand cultural safety. 

NOTE: The CSIH is now closed and is not accepting new applications. Current students in the CSIH will still be enrolled until the completion of their degree. Please contact for more updates. 

Further information is available at:

f) Collaborative Specialization in Women's Health

The purpose of the Collaborative Specialization in Women’s Health is to provide graduate students across the University of Toronto the opportunity to interact with and be mentored by senior academics engaged in women’s health research. Students also gain critical experience employing multidisciplinary approaches necessary to comprehensively examine women’s health and the various biological and social determinants that shape women’s lives and well-being. Regardless of the department or faculty to which they belong, all students will be given scholarly opportunities to interrogate their projects in the context of women’s health. 

The Specialization promotes shared learning experiences that include student-led seminars which meet once a month and the completion of a required core course [CHL5109 H: Gender and Health] that covers a range of topics, theoretically and methodologically, including, for example, the history of women’s health, gender and sex, violence against women, masculinities). Students also have the opportunity to participate in additional learning opportunities offered through Women’s College Research Institute at Women’s College Hospital and the Women’s Xchange, and through McMaster University’s Gender and Health Education Initiative.

Further information is available at:

g) Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy

The Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy is a cross-disciplinary program providing graduate students with exemplary training program in public health policy. It will give students the capacity to contribute to the development, refinement, and evaluation of policies to address society’s pressing and emerging public health priorities. Through the direction of academics and policymakers associated with the Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy, students will be provided with real world skills to address the complex and demanding task of public health policy making (including insight into a wide array of legislative and regulatory interventions, administrative practices, financing and funding decisions, and various forms of soft law e.g., guidelines and informal processes) which operate at the international, federal, provincial and municipal levels and in settings that are cross-cutting (e.g., worksites) and in ways that are both cross-jurisdictional and cross-sectoral. 

Upon successful completion of the Master’s or PhD requirements of the host department and the program, students receive the notation “Completed Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy” on their transcript and a collaborative program parchment countersigned by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Program Director.

Further information is available at:

h) Collaborative Specialization in Food Sciences

The Graduate Collaborative Specialization in Food Studies introduces students to the multidisciplinary study of food in its social, cultural, and political contexts. Through the teaching of leading researchers in the field, this specialization emphasizes a broad-based approach to the study of food, from agriculture and food industries to production, cuisines, and consumption, highlighting key questions in the study of food; particular attention will be given to the material nature of food, the way it tastes and smells, and the changes it undergoes through natural decomposition and through the human intervention of preservation and cooking.  

This Specialization is designed to convey the importance of food in religion, society, the family, gender roles, the environment, agriculture, urbanization, immigration, colonialism, and race and ethnicity: It will leverage the University’s urban location and its proximity to Canada’s agricultural heartland to broaden students’ experience. The study of food provides both theoretical understanding and practical knowledge for professional careers in health care, business, government service, non-governmental organizations, and educational and community programs. This specialization draws on a variety of disciplinary approaches emphasizing different knowledge and skills.  

Upon successful completion of the Master’s or PhD requirements of the home department and the program, students receive the notation “Completed Collaborative Specialization in Food Studies” on their transcript and parchment. 

Further information is available at: 

Required Period of Residence and Maximum Allowed Time to Completion

The minimum residence requirement for full-time MSc students is one year (12 months).

For PhD, the full-time residence requirement for candidates admitted with a bachelor's degree is three years; those admitted with a master's degree, two years. Although it is expected that students from either background can complete their PhD in a period of four years of full-time study, research, and thesis preparation, some students may require a longer period of time. In recent years, the average time to completion of programs has been two years for the MSc and five years (after the MSc) for the PhD. The department is attempting to shorten time to completion, but prospective students should assume that the longer times may persist. The School of Graduate Studies sets maximum allowed times to completion of the degree (five years for the MSc and six years for the PhD). Students admitted to the part-time MSc program can expect to spend longer to finish than students in the full-time program, but the same maximum time applies.

To familiarize students with the responsibilities required of them as a graduate student at the University of Toronto, we have prepared a Graduate Student Handbook to assist new and continuing graduate students in the Department of Nutritional Sciences in regards of departmental policies and regulations in the successful completion of their programs.