Collaborative Specializations


A Collaborative Specialization is an intra-university graduate field of study that provides an additional multidisciplinary experience for students enrolled in and completing the degree requirements for one of a number of approved Master’s and/or PhD programs. Students meet the admission requirements of, and register in, the participating (or “home”) program but complete, in addition to the degree requirements of that program, the additional requirements specified by the Collaborative Specialization. The degree conferred is that of the home program, and the completion of the Collaborative Specialization is indicated by a transcript notation indicating the additional specialization that has been attained (e.g., PhD in History with specialization in Migration and Ethnic Relations).


  • Applicants to a collaborative specialization must first be offered admission to a participating graduate degree program. 

Application Procedure

  • Application for admission to the specialization should be made following admittance to a participating department and, normally, prior to the commencement of the first semester of the program.
  • In addition to the requirements of the application to a participating graduate degree program, the collaborative specialization will have a distinct application process.  Please visit the collaborative specialization website for more information.

Degree Requirements

  • In addition to the degree requirements of the home program, additional requirements are specified by the collaborative specialization. Collaborative specialization requirements are normally met with elective room in the home program, and can include:
    • common core course(s)
    • seminar(s) or activity that routinely brings students and faculty together
    • completion of any research requirements for the home program, within the collaborative program discipline area, under the supervision of a graduate faculty member associated with the collaborative program

Western currently offers 14 collaborative specializations for students to consider:

Artificial Intelligence

The Collaborative Specialization in Artificial Intelligence (CSAI) is jointly offered by the Computer Science, and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Programs. CSAI enhances the education and research of a graduate student by adding a module to their program of study. This interdisciplinary field is designed so that graduate students develop a solid foundation in artificial intelligence methodologies, enabling technologies which include big data computational platforms, data management systems, and GPU programming, as well as social and ethical challenges/limitations/advantages of AI.

For more information including participating programs:

Developmental Biology

The purpose of the Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Developmental Biology is to create a community of graduate students with an interest in Developmental Biology and to provide specific courses to support and teach that community. Our aim is to train Developmental Biologists who will go on to make significant contributions to the field.

For more information including participating programs:

Engineering in Medicine

Modern advances in engineering science and technology have enabled the rapid development of miniaturized medical devices, customized implants, sophisticated diagnostic instrumentation, precision surgical robotics, and information technology for e-Health. The health care industry has become one of the world’s biggest industrial sectors providing a wide range of job opportunities in research, product development and patient care.

For more information including participating programs:

Environment and Sustainability

The Collaborative Specialization in Environment and Sustainability is an interdisciplinary field designed for current graduate students who wish to become specialists in specific aspects of environment and sustainability, and who also wish to gain an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems and solutions.  The student earns a degree in the home department plus credit for participation in the collaborative specialization.

For more information including participating programs:   

Global Health Systems in Africa

The Collaborative Graduate Specialization will augment the training received in the student’s home department by providing specialized training in scholarship related to Global Health Systems in Africa. The objective is to provide students with a transdisciplinary, knowledge-to-action, systems approach learning experience (in both research-based and professional programs) in order to become global leaders with an understanding of one of the most challenging, complex areas of the world. Students will explore thematic areas inspired by the 2015-2030 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals where Western University has established strengths such as in poverty reduction; maternal and newborn child health; HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases; environment and sustainability; and food and nutrition.

For more information including participating programs:

Hazards, Risks, and Resilience

The Collaborative Specialization in Hazards, Risks, and Resilience is an interdisciplinary field designed for current graduate students (Master's and PhD) who wish to become specialists in the field of natural hazards and risks, and who wish to gain an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of disaster risk reduction problems and solutions. The students earn a degree in their home departments plus credit for participation in the collaborative specialization.

For more information including participating programs:

Machine Learning in Health and Biomedical Science

The Collaborative Specialization in Machine Learning in Health and Biomedical Science is an interdisciplinary training field that is designed to enable students apply modern machine learning approaches to improve human health and well-being. Innovations in health and biomedical science are increasingly driven by large sets of genetic, physiological, imaging, and behavioural data, and the algorithms necessary to analyze them.

The specialization provides a solid foundation in machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques, and its application to problems in health and biomedical sciences. Special training is provided in project development, end-user engagement, and a reflected practice that considers the ethical implication of the developed techniques.

For more information including participating programs:

Migration and Ethnic Relations

The Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Migration and Ethnic Relations at Western University brings together graduate students and faculty to study questions of migration, ethnic relations, cultural diversity, conflict, acculturation and the integration of migrants, from the perspective of various social science disciplines. The collaborative experience for students is an add-on to existing well-established graduate programs in AnthropologyGeographyHispanic StudiesHistoryPolitical SciencePsychologySociology, and Women's Studies and Feminist Research. Students register in and meet the requirements of one of the collaborating discipline-specific graduate programs, as well as having the opportunity to participate in the program in Migration and Ethnic Relations. The combination of solid disciplinary training with advanced interdisciplinary training provides students with the tools necessary to better understand and conduct research in the area of Migration and Ethnic Relations.

For more information including participating programs:

Molecular Imaging

Molecular imaging is a new and rapidly emerging biomedical research discipline that involves the non-invasive detection of changes in the expression of genes, molecules and cells in vivo over time. It may be defined as the visual representation, characterization and quantification of biological processes at the cellular and molecular levels within intact living organisms.

For more information including participating programs:

Musculoskeletal Health Research

The Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Musculoskeletal Health Research will develop scientists with the research and leadership skills necessary to build transdisciplinary research teams focusing on integrated therapeutic, surgical and rehabilitative approaches for the management of bone and joint diseases.

For more information including participating programs:

Music Cognition

The Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Music Cognition at Western University offers exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary coursework, lab-based research training, and rigorous musical engagement. This specialization can be added to graduate degrees in Music, Neuroscience, Psychology, and Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (Hearing Science and Speech-Language Science fields). Students are mentored by faculty members from the Don Wright Faculty of Music, the Brain and Mind Institute, and the National Centre for Audiology.

For more information including participating programs:

Planetary Science and Exploration

The Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration hosts the only planetary science graduate specialization in Canada. Students are usually registered in either the Department of Physics & Astronomy or the Department of Earth Sciences. This interdisciplinary field emphasizes original student research; small group discussion of literature and current developments; an interdisciplinary approach; and hands-on experience gained through laboratory and/or fieldwork. Graduates of this program have gone on to careers in industry, government and academia.

For more information including participating programs:

Scientific Computing

Scientific Computing aims to provide students from different disciplines with solid hands-on knowledge of how different computational techniques can be used in, for example, physical, biological and social sciences. The Specialization consists of coursework and research on the fundamental principles and techniques in computation in order for the students to be able to carry out computationally intensive work in their own field. The emphasis of the specialization is on the development of state-of-the-art methods and the application of these methods to real-world scientific problems. Examples include the development of algorithms, application of symbolic methods, high-performance computing, parallelization, data analysis and visualization.

For more information including participating programs:

Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction

The Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction offers two academic programs which provide students with interdisciplinary instruction in Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction. Students explore aspects of transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction, including societal and state transition relating to development, democracy, the environment, the economy, human rights, politics, peace agreements, peacebuilding, justice after atrocity, and social rebuilding.

For more information including participating programs: