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Plan your career in public health

Building Canada's public health workforce is a key area of focus for the Public Health Agency of Canada. If you're considering a career in public health, Canada's colleges and universities offer a number of excellent learning and training opportunities.

PHAC also provides internship opportunitiesExternal Link to students who want to explore a career in public health.

Training in a health profession

While not specifically designed to prepare for a career in public health, undergraduate programs such as nursing and medicine include some public health content. In fact, nurses with a BScN qualification make up a large part of the public health workforce.

Bachelor's degrees in health sciences and health studies

These programs provide training with a broader scope than just public health. Many institutions also offer programs that prepare students to work as public health inspectors or environmental health officers. For more information, please refer to the Canadian Institute of Public Health InspectorsExternal Link.

Master's degrees

A number of universities have established Master of Public Health programs or offer degrees related to public health, including Master of Nursing Science, Master of Public Administration and Master of Health Administration programs. There are three types of master's programs:

  • Research-oriented
    These programs prepare students for careers in research and typically provide instruction in the generation, analysis and dissemination of new knowledge.
  • Professional
    These practice-oriented programs provide a broad mastery of subjects such as epidemiology, biostatistics, disease control and health promotion. They equip students to organize, analyze, communicate and apply evidence into practice.
  • Course-based
    Also referred to as non-thesis degrees, these programs are not research-oriented but do not meet the practicum requirement of a professional program.

Click here for a list of master's programs in public health offered by Canadian universities.

Doctoral degrees

Doctoral programs tend to be research-oriented, balancing advanced training in practice with applied research.

Learning opportunities for physicians

Physicians may undertake post-graduate training to achieve specialist status in community medicine through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of CanadaExternal Link. This five-year program, which includes residency placements in practice settings through a university program approved by the Royal College, requires at least one year of full-time academic study (typically leading to a master's degree) and one year spent in clinical training.