Ph.D. Program

The PhD program is offered in: 1) biomechanics; 2) nutrition, exercise and metabolism; and 3) nutritional and nutraceutical sciences. The focus is on physical activity and diet as powerful lifestyle determinants of human health. The interaction between genetics and environmental factors determines human health and lifestyle is a major component of our environment.

Our graduate programs offer advanced experiential learning experiences in the broad areas of nutritional and nutraceutical sciences, general and exercise physiology and biomechanics within the focus of lifestyle, genetics and human health. Within these broad fields, the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences addresses the issues at the level of the individual, not community or populations. The research efforts are focused on understanding the basic underlying biological aspects of health, which are further applied to understanding aging, neurological/sensory disorders and osteoarthritis, and chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type II diabetes. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a recognized master's degree in a related field obtained with a minimum academic standing of 80% in their postgraduate studies, and the endorsement of a potential thesis advisor. Applicants should have completed a course in statistics. Under exceptional circumstances, transfer from MSc to PhD program without completing the MSc thesis requirements, or admission directly to a PhD program with an appropriate honours degree alone, is also possible.

Admission may be granted in September, January or May. Completed applications should be uploaded at least one full semester (four months) before the expected date of admission. Applications from international students should be uploaded at least eight months prior to the expected date of admission.

Each applicant must obtain the support of a faculty member willing to serve as his/her advisor.

All components of the application, including transcript(s), graduate certificate(s), grading scale(s), language test results, assessment forms, a statement of interest and the name of the faculty advisor must be uploaded no later than two months after an application is submitted through the OUAC portal. Applications that are incomplete after this time period will be closed.

For full details on how to apply please see Graduate Opportunities.

Degree Requirements

The major part of a student's time will be devoted to research in fulfilment of the dissertation requirement. Course work would be established through discussion with the student's Advisory Committee.

PhD students will become candidates for the PhD degree upon completion of a qualifying examination, which must be conducted not later than the fifth semester of the PhD program. The exam will be primarily research focused.

Qualifying Examination

The PhD Qualifying Examination is an opportunity for the department to evaluate:

  • The student's level of scholarly knowledge and ability to think independently and creatively in the chosen area of research, and also
  • The presence of a solid knowledge of the basic sciences supporting this research area.

Acknowledging this range of purposes, the examination will be problem-based in areas around the student's central research expertise and knowledge-based in other related areas. The examination also serves to hone the student's communication skills and build self-confidence in a collegial environment.

During or before the student's 5th semester (as per the Graduate Calendar), the advisory committee will meet to discuss the student's research ability and promise. If they feel satisfied in this matter, they will document this satisfaction and suggest the composition of the examination committee to the Chair of the Department. The Chair of the Department will name the examination committee, will inform the members, and will direct the student to meet with each examination committee member individually to learn details of the parameters of the examination. Prior to those meetings, the examination committee will determine those parameters, taking into consideration the general guidelines offered here. The examination committee will also determine the format of the examination. The examination must include an oral component, but may also include a prior written component. If a written component is included, performance on the oral and written components will be evaluated together by the full examination committee. The examination committee members are urged to supply the student with a bibliographic listing which will form the basis for questioning. This information should be conveyed to the student at least six weeks prior to the examination.

Thesis Requirements

Submission and defence of an acceptable dissertation complete the requirements for a PhD. An acceptable dissertation comprises a report of the candidate's research on a particular and well-defined research problem or hypothesis. It should represent a significant contribution to knowledge in that field. Emphasis is placed on the quality of work judged by the expression of mature scholarship and critical judgment in the dissertation. Dissertation approval implies that it could be published in reputable, refereed journals in its field.