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School of Public Health
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PhD Program in Health Services

Required Courses

The required courses consist of general health services knowledge, theory and methods. These courses emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of health services research. All entering students receive grounding in the theory and methods as applied to health services research from the disciplines of Health Services, Biostatistics, Economics, and the other Social and Behavioral Sciences, Epidemiology, and Policy Analysis. (Advanced students entering with equivalent training in these areas will be allowed to opt out of a specific course by passing an exam or presenting documentation of the level of course work completed.)

HSERV 512 (3)
Health Systems and Policy

HSERV 513 (3)
Health Policy Research

HSERV 514 (3)
Social Determinants of Population Health and Health Disparities

HSMGMT 514 (4)
Health Economics

HSERV 523 (4)
Advanced Health Services Research Methods I - Large Public Databases; Big Data

HSERV 524 (4)
Advanced Health Services Research Methods II - Hierarchical and Incomplete Data

HSERV 525 (4)
Advanced Health Services Research Methods III - Causal Inference Using Observational Data

BIOST 511 (4), Medical Biometry I

BIOST 512 (4), Medical Biometry II

BIOST 513 (4), Medical Biometry III

Note: Students may substitute the BIOST 517/518 series or the BIOST 514/515 series for the BIOST 511/512/513 series.

EPI 512 (4), Epidemiologic Methods I

EPI 513 (4), Epidemiologic Methods II

One theory course from the following list:
  • ANTH 475 (5), Perspectives in Medical Anthropology
  • ECON 400 (5), Advanced Microeconomics
  • ECON 500 (4), Microeconomic Analysis I
  • HSERV 590, Organizational Theory and Applications in the Study of Health Services
  • PPM 506 (4), Advanced Microeconomics for Policy Analysis
  • SOC 510 (3), Seminar in Sociological Theory
  • CSDE 513/SOC 513 (3), Demography and Ecology (Students completing the CSDE Graduate Certificate must choose a different theory course)
  • SOC 518 (3), Social Stratification
  • SOC 467 (5), Immigration and Ethnicity
  • SOC 565 (3), Inequality: Current Trends and Explanations
  • SOC 590A (3), Foundations of Population Health and Health Disparities
And one writing course from the following list:
  • HSERV 578 (3) Preparing, Writing, and Critiquing Scientific Research Proposals
  • SOC WL 591 (3) Grant Writing Seminars
    (2-course sequence) for a total of 6 credits

Seminar and Dissertation

Doctoral students are required to attend at least 8 quarters of research seminar, unless they complete the program in under three years.

Program Seminar

HSERV 592 (2)
Health Services Research Seminar (minimum of 5 quarters)
These seminars are a combination of presentations by students on their work in-progress and by UW faculty on the methods they are using and problems they face in conducting health services research. This course also builds professional skills by teaching successful strategies for: (1) writing grants and papers for publication and successfully navigating the peer review process;(2) disseminating results at national and state conferences, and to lay audiences; (3) translating research into practice and policy; (4) career development and job searches.

Other Seminars

HSERV 592 (1)
Health Services Department Seminar (minimum of 1 quarter)
Health Services Departmental Seminar presents sessions on current issues in research and practice.

Selected Research Seminars
A number of other research seminars, both at the UW and affiliated institutions, may be used to satisfy up to 3 of the 8 required quarters.


HSERV 800 (variable credit)
Doctoral dissertation (minimum of 30 credits)
There are many opportunities for student and faculty interaction during attendance at seminars and faculty meetings of specific interests, such as Maternal and Child Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Anthropology, Psychiatry and Health Services, Center for Statistics and Social Sciences, Sociology/Demography, Center for Cost and Outcomes Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Brown Bag Seminars, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, etc.

Doctoral students are strongly recommended to pursue independent studies under faculty supervision or to conduct collaborative research by working as research assistants on faculty projects. These collaborations provide a base of experience from which the doctoral student can form a research question and conduct dissertation research. A student may choose to conduct a dissertation that is an offshoot of a faculty member's research project. Or a student may choose a dissertation topic unrelated to currently funded research, but supervised by faculty interested in the area. In either case, the dissertation proposal would outline an independent research study conceived and implemented by the student.

The dissertation proposal is developed in three steps. First, the dissertation committee (also known as the "supervisory committee") is formed and registered officially with the Graduate School. Second, a Preliminary Dissertation Proposal (PDP) is written and approved by the dissertation committee before the written general examination is conducted. Third, a Final Dissertation Proposal (FDP) is written and reviewed by the dissertation committee prior to the oral general examination, which is a defense of the FDP.

Students take a minimum of 30 dissertation credits. Funding for the dissertation is procured from dissertation grants from private foundations or federal agencies. If the topic is closely linked to a faculty member's currently funded research, the dissertation could be supported by that grant. Or if the research takes place in a health care organization, that organization may pay for it.