MD Program

Graduate Diploma in Health Research

Graduate Diploma in Health Research (GDipHR)

PROGRAM Commitments

The purpose of the GDipHR is to provide selected 1st year medical students an opportunity to participate in the continuum of research – from idea creation to data collection to scientific publication and/or presentation at a scholarly meeting – via a consecutive 20-month longitudinal research program. Students will also be exposed in course work to a broad range of research concepts, topics, methodologies and applications to health care. Newly established in 2018, GDipHR supersedes the CREMS Research Scholar Program, which was introduced with much success in 2010.

Eligibility – Supervisors

GDipHR includes a mentored research project, supervised by at least one full-time faculty member.  Primary Supervisors must have an unrestricted Associate or Full Member appointment to the School of Graduate Students (SGS) in the University of Toronto, preferably a demonstration of previous student mentorship and available funds sufficient to cover half of the student’s stipend ($7,500) and the costs of the student’s research. 


A GDipHR student receives a stipend of $15,000 for the entire 20-month period; the Program will contribute $7,500 and the research supervisor will be responsible for $7,500.  The supervisor is also responsible for any costs of the student’s research, extraneous study and travel expenses (which include, but are not limited to, conferences, meetings, poster printing, etc.).  The stipend will be paid in monthly installments.  Payments from the program office are processed through the internal system ROSI via direct deposit to the students’ bank account.  The supervisor’s portion of the payment must be set up by the supervisor’s institution either through a finance officer or HR department. The $7,500 payment is to be considered an award. The student is expected to clear $7,500. Please contact your payroll or Human Resources department to find out how to process this. Institutional procedures vary – it is NOT the responsibility of GDipHR to know how stipend payments are processed from institution to institution.


The GDipHR Program runs from the beginning of January of a given year to the end of August of the following year.  That is, GDipHR covers from the beginning of the 2nd term of Year 1 in the MD Program until the end of August between MD Years 2 and 3, including a total of 4 weeks of vacation.

Time Commitment and Requirements for Successful Completion

In order to successfully complete GDipHR, certain requirements must be met in addition to the research project. Failure to complete these requirements may result in the student being terminated from the program.





MD Year 1

Beginning of January

to late May


Orientation Period




Students must have registered with SGS in courses MSC1991Y Supervised Research Project and MSC1992Y Research Skills for the Physician Scientist.  They must attend the weekly 1-hour seminars of the didactic course MSC1992Y.


Perform all preparations needed to being the actual research project. This will include literature reviews; meeting with supervisor; ensuring administrative tasks are taken care of (e.g. stipend set-up, ID badge, hospital/institute orientation) Note: all of the on-site prep is the responsibility of the student and the faculty supervisor.


It is recommended that students not spend more than 8-10 hours per week on GDipHR during this term.


  • Students will submit by late April a written research plan, which the supervisor will grade as Credit / No Credit by the middle of May.
  • The primary supervisor will recruit at least 2 additional SGS-appointed graduate faculty to form a supervisor committee (analogous to an MSc student’s committee) and schedule the first meeting early in the Summer.


Summer I


Between MD Years 1 and 2

June – end of August


Students work fulltime on their MSC1991Y research project and attend MSC1992Y seminars.  



Students may arrange with their supervisor to have 2 weeks of vacation between the conclusion of this summer experience and the onset of Year 2


NOTE: If interim evaluations suggest that reasonable progress in research is not being made, the student may be removed after appropriate consultation.



Students may request a meeting with the GDipHR Director to discuss any concerns.

Medical Student Research Day (MSRD)


January / February of MD Year 2



Students will participate in the annual MSRD, including submission of an abstract with preliminary research findings in the form of a poster presentation at the event



To be judged for prizes

MD Year 2


September to May



Maximum of 8-10 hours/week of continued research under the same supervision during the normal MD curriculum



Summer II


Between MD Years 2 and 3

June – end of July


Students work fulltime on their research project with the aim to complete all experimental work, data analysis and writing and submission of results for peer review.


Students will attend MSC1992Y seminars.


Students may negotiate with their supervisor to have 2-4 weeks off between the conclusion of this summer experience and the onset of MD Year 3.



  • By the end of August, the student must submit a final research report in a prescribed format.
  • The report will be graded Credit / No Credit by the supervisory committee (not including the primary supervisor)




January / February of MD Year 3



Students will participate in the annual MSRD, including submission of an abstract with final research findings in the form of a poster presentation at the event



To be judged for prizes


In order to receive the Graduate Diploma in Health Research, with an official record on their University of Toronto academic transcript, graduating MD students will have successfully completed the following courses:

MSC 1991Y, Supervised Research Project (Credit evaluation of the Final Report by the Supervisory Committee),

MSC1992Y, Research Skills for the Physician Scientist

An approved elective Graduate half – course.


GDipHR Classroom Course - MSC1992Y "Research Skills for the Physician Scientist"

Part 1 of the course, Preparing for Research, 13 classes will be held on the St. George campus weekly on Wednesdays. With the notable exception of Feb 13, classes will be from 4:00 (promptly!) – 5:00 pm, beginning Wed., Jan. 9, 2019. These classes will be divided between lectures by research faculty, and presentations and group discussions by the students. Initially, faculty will talk about specific approaches to bridging gaps in knowledge in their field; topical subjects include ethics, problem-solving and decision-making. Later, student presentations and group discussions will be about the plans for their projects in the companion Supervised Research Project (MSC1991Y) practicum course. one class each, there will be a self-guided online teaching element on writing research grants and a didactic session on research literature searching by the Liaison & Education Librarian for MD Program & Institute of Medical Science.


Student attendance will be taken; only one absence out of 13 classes will be permitted without a doctor’s note or pre-arrangement with the course director. Student presentations and participation in class discussions will be graded Pass / Fail by Faculty.


The schedule for the first 6 sessions is:




PLACE - Health Science Bldg, 155 College St.,



4:00 – 5:00 pm

Room HS 614

Nancy Baxter


4:00 – 5:00 pm

Room HS 614

Martin Post


4:00 – 5:00 pm

Room HS 614

Kaitlin Fuller


4:00 – 5:00 pm

Room HS 614

Shafique Keshavjee


4:00 – 5:00 pm

Room HS 614

Robert Fowler


9:00 – 10:00 AM

Room HS 696

Sandra Black



Graduate Diploma in Health Research


The Graduate Diploma in Health Research (G.Dip.H.R.), will be offered by the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) in the Faculty of Medicine (FOM). Consistent with School of Graduate Studies requirements for graduate level studies, admission to this master’s level Diploma of 2.5 full course equivalents will require a four-year Bachelor's degree. The designation is an appropriate recognition of the academic level, duration and subject matter involved. Potential applicants will be registered students in good academic standing in the 4-year-long Doctor of Medicine (MD) Program of the FOM, University of Toronto. The entire Diploma curriculum will be completed within the MD timeframe. For 5 consecutive terms, Diploma students will be registered as part-time graduate students, beginning with the Winter term of the first MD year.

The purpose of the Diploma is to provide accepted applicants high quality training in health research in order to understand, interpret and apply the rapid changes in the scientific underpinnings of health care. The Diploma specifically targets those future physicians who will need the additional skills necessary to contribute to health-related studies in their future careers and the select group who will become leaders in health research. It will broaden the students' awareness of the scope and depth of health research, and provide them with skills and networking interactions to facilitate their career development. It will also address an identified need in the training of physicians, especially of physician-scientists, and will provide one possible pathway to a career as a physician-scientist.

International students in the first year of their MD program who meet all requirements (including a four-year bachelor’s degree) are eligible to apply to GDipHR.   They will, however, be required to pay international fees.

All courses in all four years of the MD Program at the University of Toronto are evaluated using a credit/no credit grading scale, which is commonly referred to as ‘Pass/Fail’ at other institutions. Diploma students are expected to maintain CR status across all courses and not to be on academic probation for any part of the MD Program. Those who do not meet these criteria will not be eligible to apply or to remain in the Diploma program. The requirement for concurrent enrollment in the University of Toronto Doctor of Medicine degree program throughout the registration in the Diploma is by definition central to the learning outcomes for the program. The MD Program office will promptly notify the Diploma program office should any GDipHR student's continuation in the MD be threatened for academic reasons. Withdrawal from the MD Program would automatically constitute withdrawal from the Diploma.


Applicants will apply through a competitive process to the Diploma in the Fall of Year 1 of the MD and, if accepted, start in January of that year. Expected intake is 15 students per year.

Acceptance of eligible medical students into the Diploma program will occur as follows. At the beginning of the fall term, all first year MD students will be notified about the Diploma Program and directed to resources including the Program’s website that will list constituent Faculty and areas of research activity.


Any interested students may apply to the program by submitting the following documents by email to The deadline for this is November 12, 2018.

Please note:  the adjudicators will be evaluating these documents, not the descriptions of projects posted on this website:

  1. Curriculum Vitae
  2. personal statement explaining their interest in the Program
  3. description of a research project they are interested in. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the prospective supervisor, to ensure that they have a clear understanding of what will be involved in undertaking the proposed research project. 

The above three documents are to be submitted by email at as a single, bookmarked PDF document.

  1. written confirmation of Good Standing in the MD Program (letter from the program, signed by the Registrar/Vice-Dean)
  2. undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts for any previous programs of study.

Applications will be submitted to the Adjudication Committee for competitive selection. Adjudicators will assess each application for overall acceptability as well as provide a cumulative numerical score for rank ordering. The students with the top 15 applications will be informed of their selection and will be required within 10 days of notification to obtain the written commitment of the faculty member to supervise their specific research project.



The Diploma consists of 2.5 full course equivalents (FCE):

  • MSC1991Y Supervised Research Project — mentored, supervised and experiential learning. The supervisor provides guidance as needed during the conduct of the project, during reflection upon what has been learned thereby and during the dissemination of novel results to target audiences. This classical form of research learning is considered essential to graduate level research training.
  • MSC1992Y Research Skills for the Physician Scientist—consists of four Parts of equal (0.25 FCE) weight, with a blend of lectures, seminar discussions, project assignments and on-line material.
  • Elective Graduate Level Half Course—chosen by students from amongst a list of courses offered by the Institute for Medical Sciences, the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation.


About Research Skills for the Physician Scientist (MSC1992Y)

This course is presented in four parts of equal weight (0.25 FCE), spread out over five consecutive terms. Students are introduced to advanced concepts pertinent to health related research. They are provided a basis for understanding approaches and methodologies applicable to the broad range of research fields included in the four pillars of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Briefly, the four course Parts are:

  1. Preparing for Research
  • Lectures by research faculty about specific approaches to bridging gaps in knowledge in their field; topical areas including ethics, problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Presentations by students and group discussions of the plans for their projects in the companion Supervised Research Project (MSC1991Y) practicum course.

Self-guided online teaching element on writing research grants.

  1. Translational Research Topics for Health Professionals
  • Seminars by faculty experts on their areas of translational research.
  • Approach to a research question and problem solving.
  • Journal club critiques of assigned research papers by students.
  1. Special Topics in Health Research
  • Faculty presentations illustrating the application of health research principles and techniques such as quantitative and qualitative techniques; statistical analysis / clinical epidemiology/ clinical research; basic biomedical / molecular / developmental / stem cell biology; public health/ education / health services / health economics research; knowledge translation / quality improvement.
  • Journal club critiques of assigned research papers by students.
  1. Dissemination of Results
  • Communicating the results of research to a variety of audiences
  • Seminars on career development issues, including communicating with potential employers, the media (TV, radio, newspapers), trainees at all levels, the general public, publishers, funding agencies, peer reviewers, applicants for funding / training positions, university and hospital administrators, government, industry.
  • Student oral presentations of the results of their research projects.
  • Poster presentation at Medical Student Research Day.


PROGRAM SCHEDULING - relationship between MD and Diploma programs

All Diploma students must also be registered in the undergraduate MD program, which has Fall and Winter terms in each year, but not Summer terms in the first two years. The Diploma program will begin at the start of the second (Winter) term of the MD Program's first year. The Diploma students will be registered on a part-time basis program over 5 consecutive terms, proceeding with a registration sequence of winter /summer /fall /winter /summer. Therefore, Diploma students will also be registered concurrently as full-time MD students in the Winter term of the first MD year and during the Fall and Winter terms of the second MD year.

In order to limit the additional workload generated by Diploma-related activities during the regular MD program, the aggregate of Diploma activities will occupy at least 40 hours per week during the Summer sessions, but no more than 10 hours per weeks during the Fall and Winter sessions. The scheduling of MD for-credit activities early in the MD program provides the opportunity for MD students to pursue cognate academic activities, such as the GDipHR.


Student's stipend $15,000 for the 20 month (5 consecutive terms) period; 50% paid by the Diploma and 50% by the resources of the research project supervisor, who will also be responsible for covering the expenses of the student's research project.


GDipHR Students will be required to pay tuition as part-time graduate students.




Info, for approval in May 2019

Domestic Students - Health Science Graduate Diplomas (full – time)



Domestic Students - Graduate Diploma in Health Research (part-time, 0.3 FTE)



Proposed International Students - Health Science Graduate Diplomas (full – time)



Proposed International Students - Graduate Diploma in Health Research (part-time, 0.3 FTE)



Please note that the above tuition amounts DO NOT include incidental fees which could come up to just over $850 for both domestic and international students.



If you have any questions, please contact:

Lisa Charrette,

Coordinator, Graduate Diploma in Health Research