Working with Administrative Data

Code: PHDA01
Apply this course towards: Population Health Data Analysis

Course description

This course examines the basics of what administrative data are:

  • where they come from
  • how they can be used for research
  • what the data produced for research projects look like
  • the skills needed to work with them
  • basic statistical analysis of these data

This course also provides an overview of ethics and privacy issues related to research uses of administrative data as well as hands on data analysis using SAS software.

Learning objectives

  • Articulate privacy issues and protections as they relate to the analysis of administrative health data for research purposes.   
  • Articulate a clear and "research-ready" research question appropriate to administrative health data.
  • Create a data dictionary.
  • Create an analytic data set—with one record per person—from administrative data.
  • Navigate within and use Population Data BC's Secure Research Environment.
  • Use SAS statistical software both for data management and for (relatively simple) data analysis.
  • Write methodology that supports reproducibility of the analyses undertaken.
  • Present findings showing policy relevance of your research.

Admission requirements

Admission to the Professional Specialization Certificate in Population Health Data Analysis or permission from the program to take up to two courses for professional development. Please note: in addition to other course fees, new students will be charged a one-time $100 secure ID token fee when registering for their first course. (Please unclick this box if you have already paid this fee.)


  • Admission to the PSC in Population Health Data Analysis or permission of the Faculty Advisor
  • SAS statistical software will be introduced in this course; no previous experience is required. 


This course is eligible for the StrongerBC future skills grant. To register using this grant please first review your eligibility and then select the StrongerBC future skills grant fee type below. 

Must be resident

Students must reside in Canada in order to access the data used in PHDA 01.


If space is available, you may take PHDA01 as a stand-alone course for professional development. Non-certificate students must meet the same prerequisites as certificate students.

Minimum registration requirement

This course may be cancelled if the minimum enrollment requirement is not met by the registration deadline.

Our students say...

"The course was well structured. [...] It was an excellent course and a good refresher for me, as it has been 5 years since I've done data analysis. A number of course assignments required me to pair with a fellow student and undergo peer review of one another's code. It was interesting to see how my peer structured their code to produce their dataset. I enjoyed and learned a lot from this exchange. The flexibility of distance learning meant that it was possible to complete work at my own pace and schedule. It was also helpful to learn from students in different locations, who worked in related fields but had different strengths, skills and perspectives. Finally, this course gave me experience working with administrative datasets and tools that can be difficult to access on the job. The opportunity to work with samples of real data exposed me to some of the challenges I could face at work in learning, cleaning, formatting and analyzing the data. I would highly recommend this course and the PHDA program to my colleagues. It's a well structured and organized program and provides a good theoretical and practical approach to population health data analysis."

-Esther Parker, Senior Policy Analyst, BC Ministry of Health

To see what other students are saying about this course, please visit


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Info you should know:

Continuing Studies statement on use of educational technology

This course will require the use of Zoom and may use other education technology such as internet-based applications, cloud services, or social media. In order to complete this course you will be required to either consent to the disclosure of your personal information outside of Canada to enable use of these technologies, or work with the Division of Continuing Studies to explore other privacy protective options (such as using an alias or nickname).