Ph.D. in Public Health with a Concentration in Health Services Research

The Ph.D. Program in the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM) prepares students for research careers in both academic and non-academic organizations. Program of study is tailored to the interests and backgrounds of individual students. All students who complete the HPM doctoral degree program must demonstrate proficiency in defined substantive areas and must develop stated competencies. In addition to the general Doctor of Philosophy degree competencies, graduates with a concentration in Health Services Research will:
  1. Know how to apply alternative theoretical and conceptual models relevant to health services research (HSR);
  2. Apply in-depth disciplinary knowledge and skills relevant to health services research, and pose innovative and important research questions, informed by systematic reviews of the literature, stakeholder needs, and relevant theoretical and conceptual models;
  3. Use knowledge of the structures, performance, quality, policy, and societal context of health and health care to formulate solutions for health policy problems;
  4. Select appropriate interventional (experimental and quasi-experimental) study designs to address specific health services research questions, and use appropriate analytical methods to clarify associations between variables and to delineate causal inferences;
  5. Introduce how to collect primary health and health care data obtained by survey, qualitative, or mixed methods;
  6. Know how to assemble secondary data from existing public and private data sources;
  7. Use a conceptual model to specify study constructs for a health services research question and develop variables that reliably and validly measure these constructs;
  8. Implement research protocols with standardized procedures that assure reproducibility of the science;
  9. Assure the ethical and responsible conduct of research in the design, implementation, and dissemination of health services research; and
  10. Effectively communicate the findings and implications of health services research through multiple modalities to technical and lay audiences.

Areas of Demonstrated Proficiency

At the time of the Qualifying Examination, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in three substantive areas: 1) core disciplines of public health, 2) research methodology, and 3) a recognized specialty area in health policy or health management.

  1. Core Public Health Disciplines. Students are expected to master the basic disciplines of public health, in addition to mastering more advanced work in the fields of epidemiology and biostatistics.
  2. Research Methodology Students are expected to develop a working knowledge of the principal statistical approaches used in contemporary health services research.
  3. HPM Specialty. In view of the broad interdisciplinary nature of the HPM field, students are given considerable latitude in delineating the third area of study. In general terms, students are expected to develop specialized knowledge in one or more substantive area of interest to HPM professionals. Examples include health outcomes research, health care management, health policy analysis, medical care organization and financing. All students are expected to augment their specialty work by acquiring suitable skills in the core disciplinary fields of HPM, particularly economics and decision sciences, health politics and law, and management and organizational behavior. Students are expected to identify a problem area or topic of sufficient individual interest to lead to the design of a proposal for the dissertation research phase of the PhD program.

Admission Process and Acceptance

Admissions Requirements for HPM Doctoral Students

Student Qualifications: The HPM faculty and Admissions Committee are committed to identifying and recruiting qualified applicants for the Ph.D. program, particularly minority candidates and those who will contribute to the diversity of the student body. Please also see Admission Requirements for Doctoral Degree Programs.

To be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program, applicants must have: A master's degree from an accredited university (exceptional applicants with a bachelor's degree may be considered for admission); GRE or GMAT score which was taken within five years preceding the application, and TOEFL score if international student applicant.

The minimum standards for graduate GPA or GRE, GMAT and TOEFL scores are summarized below.

Application and Review Process: Doctoral program applicants should submit a SOPHAS application as instructed on the College‚Äôs Graduate Admission/Application Procedures page. The completed application package will be forwarded to the College of Public Health Academic and Student Affairs office, and subsequently to the Chair of the HPM Admissions Committee.

Only qualified applicants are considered for admission. Applicants are regarded as qualified if they achieve the graduate GPA and test score standards. In addition, exceptional applicants, with only a bachelor's degree and an undergraduate GPA exceeding 3.0, may be considered.

The HPM Admissions Committee evaluates doctoral program applicants regarding their academic performance, research interests and potential, professional experience, recommendations, and personal statements. The Admissions Committee identifies those candidates who have demonstrated excellence in past academic and professional pursuits relevant to public health, health policy, or health services management, and subsequently assesses faculty willingness to serve as sponsors.

Faculty Sponsor: For admission, qualified applicants must have a faculty sponsor. Doctoral student applications are circulated to faculty who can serve as faculty sponsors. Faculty sponsors must be eligible to chair a Doctoral Supervisory Committee, and must document their willingness to work with an applicant.

In making decisions to sponsor students, faculty members assess applicants regarding their academic performance, professional experience, research interests and potential, recommendations, and personal statements. On-campus or telephone interviews are required. Faculty members only sponsor applicants who 1) demonstrate excellence in academic and professional performance, 2) articulate distinct research goals and interests that are consistent with the faculty member's work, and 3) provide evidence of maturity and self-direction based on accomplishments, interview findings and recommendations. Applicants are not admitted if they are not qualified or do not have a faculty sponsor.

Admission Decision: Once an eligible faculty member agrees to sponsor an applicant, the Admissions Committee recommends a decision to the department chair. The department chair makes a recommendation regarding admission or denial. This recommendation is sent to the College of Public Health academic coordinator, and subsequently to the Graduate Admissions Office.