M.Sc. & Ph.D. 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 equirements 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 times to compltese the required courses and reearch 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 Graduate Program in Biomedical Toxicology (MSc/PhD)

The department participates with the Collaborative Graduate Program in Biomedical Toxicology. This program provides graduate students with a unique opportunity to gain breadth and depth of knowledge in biomedical 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 biomedical toxicology. Further information is available at: http://www.pharmtox.utoronto.ca/programs/cpbt.htm

e) Collaborative Program in Aboriginal Health (MSc/PhD)

The department participates with the Collaborative Program in Aboriginal Health. Students enrolled in a graduate degree program in the department and participating in this program receive their degree in Nutritional Sciences and a notation on their transcript. The main objective of the program is to provide training in Aboriginal health research and practice for graduate students, while enhancing mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal communities and organizations. This program includes specialized course work and participation in a research seminar series, as well as a practicum or equivalent in an Aboriginal health topic. Research must be in Aboriginal health. Further information is available under the School of Graduate Studies.

f) Collaborative Graduate Program in Women's Health (MSc/PhD)

The department participates with the collaborative Graduate Program in Women's Health. Students enrolled in a graduate degree program in the department and participating in this program receive their degree in Nutritional Sciences and the following notation to their transcript: "Completed the Collaborative Program in Women's Health."  The Collaborative Program in Women's Health provides interdisciplinary training in women's health research. Specific goals include the following: helping students develop shared understandings of the complex interactions of biology and environment, sex and gender; providing students with the necessary skill set to undertake and lead interdisciplinary, collaborative health care research projects; and enhancing mutually beneficial relationships among researchers and practitioners of women's health across the University and its affiliated teaching hospitals. Participation in this program has implications for the student, including participation in a core course and a graduate student research day. Students are also required to develop a plan to build interdisciplinary research skills in women's health. Further information is available under the School of Graduate Studies.

g) Collaborative Graduate Program in Public Health Policy (MSc/PhD)

The department participates with the collaborative Graduate Program in Public Health Policy. Students enrolled in a graduate degree program in the department and participating in this program receive their degree in Nutritional Sciences and the following notation to their transcript “Completed the Collaborative Graduate Program in Public Health Policy.” The Collaborative Program in Public Health Policy will provide students with exemplary training program in public health policy which will foster synergies and cross-disciplinary learning. It will give students the capacity to engage in current events and contribute to the development, refinement, and evaluation of policies to address society’s pressing and emerging public health priorities. The Collaborative Program will be cross-disciplinary, bringing together a broad range of disciplines, substantive foci, and theoretical and methodological underpinnings, to synergistically build and engaged community of practice of students and faculty focused on public health policy. It will contribute to the creation of the next generation of public health policy research leaders and creative agents for change, able to address the health issues and challenges. Through the direction of the stellar team of academics and policy makers associated with the Collaborative Program 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., guideline and informal process) which operate at the international, federal, provincial and municipal levels and in settings that are cross-cutting and in ways that are both cross-jurisdictional and cross-sectoral. Further information is available at under the Collaborative Program in Public Health Policy.

h) Collaborative Doctoral Program in Human Development

The Collaborative Program in Human Development (CPHD) is a transdisciplinary program that explores issues surrounding early human development. The healthy development of our children is at the core of our societal values. Recent evidence shows that early experiences strongly influence the biological pathways surrounding health and the well-being of individuals throughout their lives. This phenomenon involves complex interactions between genes and environments; the CPHD provides students with the skills and resources necessary to start dissecting and untangling those interrelationships in animals and humans. Keeping in mind the fundamental goal of improving the well-being of children, the program also nurtures translational skills in students with the ultimate goal of bridging the gap between basic research and public policy and practices. In summary, the CPHD aims both to facilitate research on the ways that early childhood experiences become embedded in our biology, and to foster translational skills in order to disseminate this research most effectively to educators, policymakers, etc. The successful achievement of both of these aims will be supervised by an eminent group of academics with expertise in all relevant areas. Upon successful completion of the PhD degree requirements of the participating home department and the collaborative program, students receive the notation "Completed Collaborative Program in Human Development" on their transcript and parchment. Further information is available at the Collaborative Program in Human Development.

i) Collaborative Specialization in Food Studies (MSc/PhD)

Food Studies is an interdisciplinary field dedicated to understanding where our food comes from and how it shapes our bodies and identities. The production and consumption of food has gone through tremendous changes in the past few hundred years. Before industrialization, most food was grown in the place where it was eaten. With the rise of global commodity agriculture, it is often hard to find out exactly what our food is and where it comes from. Then, famine was a constant spectre, whereas today, over-eating has become a significant health problem.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. Further information is available at under the https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/culinaria/collaborative-specialization-food-studies.

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.