Graduate Program Overview

graduate program collage

The University of Alberta Medical Physics Graduate Teaching Program offers both an MSc in Medical Physics and a PhD degree in Medical Physics. These are research-oriented degrees examined by defence of a dissertation.

The program has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP). CAMPEP standards pay special attention to the overall quality of the program (i.e., number and competence of the teaching staff; teaching loads, breadth and depth of instructional offerings; adequacy of facilities and supporting personnel; aptitude of its students; and performance of its graduates). Benefits for students graduating from a CAMPEP accredited program include greater access to research funding and a one-year credit towards the clinical experience Medical Physicists need to write their professional certification exams.

Starting in the 2008/2009 academic year, the Medical Physics Graduate Program at the University of Alberta is offered exclusively by the Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. New students will register in the Department of Oncology and the following degrees will be conferred:

  • MSc in Medical Physics
  • PhD in Medical Physics

Previous to this academic year, the program was a joint program of the Department of Physics (Faculty of Science) and the Department of Oncology (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry). There is no change to the course requirements of the program.

The MSc Program

The M.Sc requirements are:

  1. eleven didactic courses and 2 laboratory courses are required.
  2. The student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.7 throughout the course of the program.
  3. an M.Sc thesis focusing on Radiation Oncology Physics or Diagnostic Imaging Physics.
  4. a final oral defense of the the thesis before an examining committee.
  5. the M.Sc. program must be completed 4 years from initial registration in the Program.

The first year of an MSc program will be filled with course work. There are 11 didactic courses, 6 courses in the fall semester and 5 in the winter semester. The courses extend into the spring session with 2 laboratory courses. For a more detailed description of the required courses, see the Courses web page. At the completion of these courses the student will then undergo research for a MSc thesis.

Each student chooses a research supervisor by May of his/her first year. Each supervisor has his/her own area of research. Research interests of the Division include image guided adaptive radiotherapy, intensity modulated radiotherapy, positron emission tomography, digital portal imaging, inverse treatment planning, etc. Additional information concerning the research interests of the department can be found in the Research section of the website. The research interests of individual faculty members can be found in their individual webpage.

By July of their first year, a supervisory committe should be appointed for each student. By the end of the first year of the program and each year thereafter, the supervisory committee must meet with the student and make a formal recommendation on the candidate's potential for or progress in gradute work. The results of the student's research project must be presented in a thesis and defended in a final oral examination by an examining committee.

The PhD Program

The Ph.D. requirements are:

  1. eleven didactic courses and 2 laboratory courses (If not already taken in their MSc) are required.
  2. two additional elective courses based on area of research and discussions with the candidate's supervisor and the leader of the Medical Physics program. See the Courses webpage for more information.
  3. The student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.7 throughout the course of the program.
  4. an oral PhD candidacy examination that covers the research project and medical physics, in general.
  5. a Ph.D. thesis in Medical Physics. Applications from students with an M.Sc from other universities or other specialties in physics will be considered for a PhD, with the understanding that they must complete the same course requirements or get credit if they have taken the equivalent, and then take the 2 additional elective courses as stated in (2) above.
  6. a final oral defense of the thesis before an examing committee.
  7. the Ph.D. program must be completed 6 years from initial registration in the Program.

New Medical Physics graduate students begin their studies in September. In their first year, PdD students take the courses required for their doctoral degree. The course load could be as much as 11 didactic courses, 2 elective courses and 2 laboratory courses or as few as 2 elective courses depending on which courses they have already taken in their MSc degree. See the Courses webpage for a description of each course.

A student chooses a research supervisor by May of his/her first year. By July of their first year, a supervisory committee should be appointed for each student. By the end of the first year of the program and each year thereafter, the supervisory committee must meet with the student and make a formal recommendation on the candidate's potential or progress in a PhD program.

When most of the course requirements are completed and the PhD thesis project is well defined, a PhD student must pass an oral candidacy examination in subjects relevant to his/her general field of research.

Each doctoral student must plan and carry out original high quality research leading to an advance in knowledge in the candidate's field of study. The results of this research must be presented in a doctoral thesis that is reviewed and defended in a final oral examination by an examining committee.

Admission and Graduation Statistics

Table 1: Admission metrics for the medical physics graduate program.

Admission Metrics 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
No. of Applicants 15 21 13 11 12 10 11
No. of Students Offered Admission 3 3 4 3 9 3 6
No. of Students Matriculating* 1 4 8 4 1 3 6

*Includes new students and students who completed MSc(Medical Physics) and began PhD(Medical Physics)

 

Table 2: Post Graduation metrics for the medical physics graduate program.

Post Graduation Metrics 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
No. of Students Graduating MSc: 3
PhD: 1
MSc: 4
PhD: 1
MSc: 4
PhD: 3
MSc: 1
PhD: 3
MSc: 0
PhD: 1
MSc: 1
PhD: 2
MSc: 3
PhD: 3
No. in Residencies 2 2 4 2 1 1 3
No. in Advanced Degree Programs 1a
1b
2a 2a   0 1 0
No. in Industry         0 0 0
No. in Clinical Positions         0 0 0
No. in Academic Positions       1 0 0 0
No. in Other Activities   1c 1d 1c 0 1c 2c 1f

aContinued studies: PhD in Medical Physics
bContinued studies: Medical School
cResearch
dStill looking for a position
eLeft studies before completion
fWorking in a position outside of Medical Physics

More Information

These links provide more detailed information about the graduate program:

General information about the graduate studies program can be found at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Website.