Health Services Research, PhD Curriculum

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The PhD in Health Services Research program consists of a common core, concentration and elective courses, and dissertation sequence courses. The curriculum was carefully developed so students graduating from the program will achieve career-focused competencies related to their area of study. These core competencies comprise the basis for program coursework.

Courses are taught once a week in the late afternoon and evening, and occasionally on alternate Saturdays. Some courses are also taught in an online format to provide students with flexibility. The on-campus classes are primarily offered at the Fairfax Campus, but some are held at the Arlington Campus.

Core Courses (30 credit hours)

I. Research and Computational Methods Core Courses (12 credit hours)
II. Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics Core Courses (9 credit hours)
III. Health Systems and Policy Core Courses (9 credit hours)

Concentration and Elective Courses (30 credit hours)

Students pursue additional courses in one of two concentrations: Health Systems and Policy or Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics.  

Dissertation (12 credit hours minimum)

Students can complete their degree at their own pace provided that they advance to candidacy within six years and successfully complete and defend their dissertation within nine years of the date they started the program. 

Reduction in Credit

Students must have a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution before being admitted to the 72-credit PhD program. Up to 12 hours of past master’s-level credit may be substituted for an equal number of doctoral program credits, on a course-by-course basis, as approved by the doctoral program coordinator. Students will complete a minimum of 60 additional credits to earn the PhD in Health Services Research.


This interdisciplinary PhD program allows students to benefit from the wide variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise of the faculty within the program. The faculty's research not only provides real and meaningful contributions to the fields of health care administration, policy, and informatics, but it also serves to add value to our students’ experience, allowing them to learn from experts in the field who are working to solve some of the most challenging issues our health care system faces today. More information about the research interests of the program faculty can be found on the health policy research page and the health informatics research page.