Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What are the disciplines of Epidemiology and Biostatistics?

Epidemiology is the study of the determinants and distribution of diseases and application of this knowledge to control health problems. the objectives of epidemiology are to:
  1. Determine extent of disease in a community;
  2. Identify patterns and trends in desease occurrence;
  3. Identify causes of diseasse (etiology);
  4. Determine the natural history and prognosis of disease;
  5. Evaluate interventions that prevent and treat disease;
  6. Evaluate methods of delivering health services;
  7. Provide a foundation for public policy and regulatory decisions.
Applicants to this field come from a wide variety of backgrounds including (but not restricted to) biological, social and health sciences, and health care disciplines. An aptitude for quantitative statistical methods is integral to success in this field.

Biostatistics is an area of research in which new statistical methods for collecting, analyzing and interpreting data arising from medical and epidemiological research are developed and evaluated. Applicants to this field should have a mathemaical statistics background and hold a degree from a department of statistics, methematics or applied mathematics.

How long does the Master's graduate program take to complete?

For full-time Master's students, a typical registration period is 2 years. Part-time Master's students will typically take twice the amount of time.

How long does the Doctoral graduate program take to complete?

Full-time Doctoral students typically require 4 years to complete the program. We do not offer the Doctoral program as part-time.

Does the department have any student resources?

The department provides both a graduate and an undergraduate computer lab for students in our programs. Graduate students will receive shared office space within the department as well. Additionally, graduate students have access to our thesis library containing a copy of all completed theses from within the department.

How do I access the thesis library?

Graduate students may visit the department main office for access to the thesis library. All theses must be formally signed out and returned in a timely manner. Theses completed after September 2010 are often available online through Western's Thesis Repository.

Where can I learn more about Epidemiology and Biostatistics graduate courses?

Basic descriptions of our courses are available on our course descripiton page. Course outlines and times are also available on a term-by-term basis through the graduate course schedule. If more detailed information is necessary, inquiries should be directed to the instructor(s) of the specific course.

Administrative Questions

How will the department contact me?

All official electronic communications to students will be through your Western University-issued e-mail address (yourname@uwo.ca). Non-Western email addresses will not be used so please foreward any e-mail as necessary. Letter mail and other hard-copy documents will be available in your assigned department mailbox. It is expected that students are checking their Western e-mail daily and their department mailboxes weekly.

Occasionally, government documents like tax forms (T4, T4-A, etc.) will be sent to your home address on file. It is important to ensure this information is updated in both the Student Centre and the MyHR website.

Do I have a mailbox?

All graduate students have mailboxes in the department's main office. It is expected that students are checking their mailboxes weekly.

Do I have an office?

All graduate students have an assigned office which they share with other graduate students.

How do I get keys to my office, the computer lab, or Kresge Building?

Key requests must be made through the Facilities Management Key Request webform. Please speak with the Administrative Officer before requesting a key.

The Kresge Building is a keycard entry facility. Your WesternONE student card will grant you after-hours access to the building.

What do I do if my WesternONE card doesn't work?

If your WesternONE is not unlocking the door, first verify it is an iClass-enabled card by looking on the back for the iClass notification. iClass card technology can be sensitive to damage so bending or puncturing your keycard is strictly discouraged. Any damages to your WesternONE card could result it in not working properly.

If your WesternONE card is an iClass card and there are no damages, please speak with the Administrative Officer to verify that your card number has clearance for Kresge. The next step would be to request a new card through the Office of the Registrar located in the Western Student Services Building. Information on WesternONE cards may be found on their website.

Where can I print/fax/scan a document?

Printing access for graduate students is available in the graduate student computer lab. Research-related scanning and faxing is available in the main office. You will need your supervisor's scanning or faxing account code. For personal documents, the nearest location is in Taylor Library.

What do I do if I have issues with my computer access?

You will need to speak first with the Administrative Officer before contacting the Schulich IS Helpdesk.

Financial Questions

What is the tuition cost for the graduate program?

Tuition is handled by the Office of the Registrar in conjunction with the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. For specific tuition amounts for both domestic and international students, please refer to the fee information page on the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.

What are the other costs associated with living in London?

The various approximate costs of living in London are available on the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies financial planning page.

What kind of funding is available to students?

A funding package is available to eligible students, comprised of the Western Graduate Research Scholarship and Research Funding which can be a combination of Graduate Research Assistantships, Research Assistantships, and Graduate Teaching Assistantships (as determined by the department and depending on the availability of positions). All students are expected to apply for all scholarship competitions for which they are eligible. Any successful scholarship applications will be factored into existing funding packages.

More details regarding funding opportunities within and outside of the department are outlined on the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Student Finances page.

What kind of scholarships are available to students?

Please see the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Student Finances page for details regarding graduate student scholarships.

How and when will I be paid for my Graduate Research Assistantship or Research Assistantship?

Graduate Research Assistantships and Research Assistantships are processed through Western Human Resources. All employees receive a monthly pay on the second last business day of the month. If you have set up direct deposit in the MyHR system, your pay will automatically deposit into the specified bank account. Otherwise, a cheque will be issued on the following Friday and mailed to your home address on file.

How and when will I receive my CIHR, NSERC, OGS, QEIIGSST, or Western Graduate Research Scholarship funds?

Tri-council scholarships (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC), Ontario Graduate Scholarships, Queen Elizabeth II Scholarships in Science and Technology and Western Graduate Research Scholarships are all automatically deposited into your tuition account directly. If you have set up direct deposit in the MyHR system, any surplus after tuition fees have been paid will be deposited directly into your specified account. Otherwise, a cheque will be issued on the following Friday and mailed to the department where you may pick it up in the main office.

Are Graduate Teaching Assistantships available in the department?

Graduate Teaching Assistantships are normally available to Doctoral and second year Master's students within the department. There are a limited number of positions available. GTA assignments are made by the Academic Programs Committee in consultation with the course instructor. The receipt of a GTA will factor into the stipend amount received from a student's supervisor. Full-time graduate students may work no more than 10 hours a week in a GTA position.

Am I able to work elsewhere on campus?

Occasionally, with prior approvaly of their assigned supervisor(s), our students are able to find work in other departments on campus. The receipt of a position outside the department will factor into the stipend amount received from a student's supervisor. Full-time graduate students may work no more than 10 hours a week in a position unrelated to their studies, including GTAs within and outside of the department. Students are obligated to notify their home departments of any positions accepted outside of the department.

Am I able to work off-campus?

Off-campus work should be on a part-time basis only. Upon receipt of full-time employment, students will be required to submit a change of status request to change to part time. Information on changing status is available in the Master's and Doctoral registration and progression pages.

Where can I find information on OSAP, bursaries, and student loans?

Financial assistance information is available on the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Student Finances page.

Academic Questions

Can I take more courses than the required number?

If your supervisor agrees, you may enroll in additional departmental courses provided you meet the pre-requisites for the course at no additional cost while registered as a full-time student in our graduate program.

Can I take a graduate course outside of the program?

If your supervisor agrees, you may enroll in a graduate course outside of the department. The form to do so may be found on our forms and documents page. Be sure to indicate if your supervisor requires this course as part of your graduate program or not.

Can I take an undergraduate course outside of the program?

If your supervisor agrees, you may enroll in an undergraduate course outside of the department. The form to do so may be found on our forms and documents page. Be sure to indicate if your supervisor requires this course as part of your graduate program or not.

Who can help me pick my courses?

Your courses should be selected in discussion with your supervisor(s).

When does the term start and end?

The academic year for graduate students is broken into three terms:
  • Fall: September 1 - December 31
  • Winter: January 1 - April 30
  • Summer: May 1 - August 31
Classes in the fall and winter terms will usually end before the end of the term so please check for specific end dates in the sessional dates available on the course schedule page as well as referring to individual course outlines.

When are final exams?

All final exams will take place during the exam periods outlined in the sessional dates available on the course schedule page.

What do I do if I need accommodation in a graduate course?

Please refer to the accommodation information available on your course outline. If you are still unsure, speak with the graduate course instructor.

What do I do if I need to appeal a mark for an assignment, test, or exam in a graduate course?

The first step of appealing a mark is with the course instructor. If the situation is not resolved, a student may seek a meeting with the Graduate Chair. The appeal process is outlined in our progression pages for Master's and Doctoral students.

What is a Thesis Supervisory Committee?

A thesis supervisory committee is a team composed of your thesis supervisor(s) and at least one other faculty member with School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies membership. Details on how to build your thesis supervisory committee are available from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Regulations, #11. Supervision.

What is the process to transfer from a Master's to Doctoral program?

A transfer from the Master's to the Doctoral program requires an application and as such is not guaranteed. Details on the transfer process may be found on our Master's registration and progression page.

What is the process for a Leave of Absence?

A leave of absence may span be issued for one, two, or three terms. Leaves are only granted in special circumstances as outlined in the Leave of Absence page from SGPS. All leave requests must be received no later than five weeks before the start of the term for which they will begin.

What is the process for changing my status to part-time?

The process for a request for change of status to part-time (or the reverse) is outlined on our Master's registration and progression page. Master's students may hold part-time status for the duration of their program. Doctoral students will only be able to request part-time on a term-by-term basis as our program is not designed for part-time completion. If a Doctoral student wishes to hold part-time status for more than one term, it is necessary to discuss this with the administrative office.

Who do I contact if I need help in the program?

Students should feel comfortable seeking assistance from their thesis supervisor, first and foremost. The Graduate Chair is also an excellent resource for all graduate students. A student may approach any of our core faculty members for guidance as well. The administrative staff are available for administrative assistance as needed.