Department of Health Metrics Sciences

PhD in Global Health – Metrics Track

The Department of Health Metrics Sciences, in collaboration with the Department of Global Health, offers a PhD program in Global Health that is the first of its kind, building on the expertise of our faculty in the areas of metrics and implementation science. The PhD program provides students with the latest and most innovative tools to advance global health solutions that are critical for decision-making and priority setting. Upon graduation, students will have acquired the knowledge and skills required to make meaningful and innovative contributions to the field of global health.

Highlights of the program include:

  • Two areas of emphasis: metrics and implementation science. Both are dynamic, growing, and in-demand fields
  • A unique and interdisciplinary curriculum comprised of advanced quantitative methods, epidemiology, population health measurement, impact evaluations, and implementation science methods
  • Skill building opportunities through didactic courses, seminars, and research activities, including primary data collection and quantitative analysis
  • An academic home in Seattle, one of the world’s global health capitals, where innovation and collaboration have led to groundbreaking advances in healthcare sciences and delivery

Learn about our current students here.

Information session, recorded on October 19, 2023.

More Information

Areas of Emphasis

The Metrics track of the PhD program is hosted by the Department of Health Metrics Sciences. Students in this track translate evidence into useful knowledge by learning and applying advanced quantitative methods, impact evaluation techniques, and analytic tools. Students in the metrics area of emphasis organize their research around answering three critical questions that are essential to understanding the current state of population health and strategies necessary to improve it:

  • What are the world’s major health problems?
  • How well is society addressing these problems?
  • How do we best dedicate resources to maximize health improvement?
  • Examples of projects that doctoral students in metrics engage in:

  • Estimating the Global Burden of Disease for diabetes
  • Improving the cost effectiveness of antiretroviral delivery systems in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Improving the methods to measure mortality by cause in a comparable way across countries
  • Evaluating the effect of malaria control policies on reducing child mortality
  • The contribution of development assistance for health on health outcomes
  • Estimating spending and the effect of spending on primary health care
  • Assessing the impact of diet on health outcomes and race/ethnicity health disparities in the US
  • Generating small area estimates of access and quality of primary health care in three low-income countries
  • The Implementation Science track of the PhD program is hosted by the Department of Global Health. Students in this track focus on developing and applying diverse, state-of-the-art methodologies to understand and improve complex health systems to close the gap between incomplete evidence on interventions into effective programs. The interdisciplinary implementation science framework includes systems analysis and improvement techniques; innovative designs to measure impact; economic analysis; and policy research to inform the formulation, implementation, and scale-up of improved delivery approaches.

    Because of the applied nature of this area of emphasis, it is expected that implementation science doctoral projects will involve primary data collection.

    Examples of dissertation topics:

  • Development, application, and evaluation of simulation and optimization models for provincial and district human resource allocation systems
  • Systems analysis and improvement for malaria case management in primary health care settings
  • Stepped wedge trial of alternative delivery strategies for prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV
  • Cost effectiveness of partner services for HIV
  • Impact of the introduction of point of care diagnostics for TB care system performance

    Learn more about the Implementation Science track by visiting the Department of Global Health website.

    Program Structure

    All students admitted to the doctoral program will be expected to complete a minimum of 98 credits. This includes a minimum of 27 dissertation credits, 46 credits in the core requirements, 12 credits in the area of emphasis, and the remaining credits in elective courses.
    Research and Dissertation
    Doctoral students begin research within their respective area of emphasis in their first year by working as a research assistant with a faculty member. During their third year they typically begin working on their dissertation research, leading to a three-paper or a book-length dissertation.
    Preliminary Written Examination
    The preliminary written examination is given at the end of the second academic year. It tests the student’s ability to apply the principles and methods presented in the core requirements. Students who pass will be eligible to move on to the next phase, which includes establishing a doctoral committee and taking general examinations to advance to doctoral candidacy.
    General Examination
    The general examination consists of written and oral components. It covers the student’s area of emphasis and dissertation topic. The exam measures the student’s ability to analyze and synthesize information, determines whether the student has significant breadth and depth of knowledge in the area of emphasis and dissertation topic, and evaluates whether the student has adequate knowledge of recent advances in methodological issues relevant to the area of interest. The written exam concentrates on the student’s proposed research area and the methods applicable to study their topic of interest.
    The oral portion of the general examination includes a defense of the dissertation proposal and may include questions in areas of academic weakness identified during the written examination. Students will present their proposed research, and the doctoral committee will ask questions on any aspect of the presentation or dissertation proposal.
    Final Examination
    The final examination for the PhD degree consists of a public defense of the student’s dissertation orally before their doctoral committee. Students must successfully defend their research for the degree to be granted. Students may repeat their defense if performance is unsatisfactory.
    It is expected that most students will complete their PhD degree within four years, for students who are not involved in primary data collection, and five years for students who are involved with primary data collection. Students may be able to complete the degree sooner, if they enter the program with master-level graduate studies in a relevant area.


    In this unique interdisciplinary program, students develop skills through a combination of didactic courses, seminars, and research activities including primary data collection and analysis. The PhD program is comprised of a core curriculum in advanced quantitative methods, epidemiology, population health measurement, impact evaluations, and implementation science methods.
    UW curriculum resources for students:

  • Time Schedule
  • Global Health Course Description Catalog (UW)
  • Health Metrics Sciences Course Description Catalog (UW)
  • Coursework:
    Students complete six quarters (two years) of coursework, 46 credits for the core requirements, 12 credits for the area of emphasis, a minimum of 27 dissertation credits, and the remaining credits in elective courses.

    Curriculum requirements:
    Core credits (46)
    Global Health:

  • G H 511: Problems in Global Health (4)
  • G H 535: Advanced Methods for Global Health I (4)
  • G H 536: Advanced Methods for Global Health II (4)
  • G H 537: Advanced Methods for Global Health III (4)
  • G H 541: Fundamentals of Implementation Science in Global Health (4)
  • G H 580: Global Health Doctoral Seminar (4)
  • Epidemiology:

  • EPI 512: Epidemiologic Methods I (4)
  • EPI 513: Epidemiologic Methods II (4)
  • Quantitative Methods (8)
  • Leadership, Policy, and Management (3)
  • Areas of Emphasis

  • Advanced Quantitative Methods (8)
  • Global Health Measurement (4)
  • Implementation Science:

  • Advanced Health Systems Research Methods(8)
  • Operations Research/Modeling (4)
  • Electives (16)
    Dissertation (27)
    Overall Total (98)

    Program FAQs

    What makes this program different from any other PhD program in Global Health?
    This program is first of its kind to have emphasis in metrics and implementation science. The PhD program provides students with the latest and most innovative tools to advance global health solutions that are critical for decision-making and priority setting. PhD candidates will have the opportunity to work in one of the true global health capitals – where innovators in research, funding, and delivery work side by side to improve population health.
    Who do I contact to further discuss the PhD program?
    Please write to with any general questions you may have about the program and your eligibility.
    What are the application deadlines?
    We have only one admissions cycle, with a midnight December 1 deadline (or the next business day if December 1 falls on a weekend). All applications received between September 1 and December 1 are reviewed together; there is no early application process. Please do not apply until September 1 or later, as materials and procedures change each year. All materials, including test scores, are expected to be submitted by the deadline. Please plan ahead for this. While applications typically open on September 1 each year, due to system updates being made at the Graduate School, the PhD application for Autumn 2024 entry will not open until September 15. The deadline will remain the same: December 1.

    Do I apply to the program overall or are there separate application processes for each track?
    Because the Metrics track is housed in the Department of Health Metrics Sciences and the Implementation Science track is housed in the Department of Global Health, the application processes and review committees are completely separate. Please be sure to apply to the track you are most interested in. You can apply to both tracks, but need to complete both applications separately.
    What tests do you accept and can I waive test scores? Is there a time limit on my test scores?
    No standardized test scores, including scores from the GRE, are not required for this program.
    International applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English. Please see the Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements to determine whether you will need to submit language proficiency scores.
    Can I check the status of my application?
    Yes. In fact it is up to you to keep track of your application materials by checking on your application in the system. Once you have started or submitted a UW Graduate School application, log in to your account to check the status of your submitted application, letters of recommendation, transcripts & test scores. Please check via the electronic system, rather than by emailing staff.
    How many students are admitted to the program?
    On average, 2 to 3 students are admitted to the Metrics track each year.
    If I am admitted, can I defer for one year?
    No, we do not permit deferrals. However, if you are admitted and would like to reapply the following year, we can keep your application materials on file for one year as long as you notify the department by April 15th.
    Do you keep waitlists for different tracks?
    We do keep waitlists in case any of the applicants to whom we offer admission decline our offer and space becomes available. If you are placed on a waitlist, we will let you know at the time admissions decisions are announced. We are not able to predict if or when a waitlisted student might be admitted, and we do not release the order of the waitlist to applicants. We will keep the waitlist open until school begins in autumn quarter.
    Do I have to begin study in autumn? What about spring?
    The program begins in fall quarter. Because the coursework is sequential in nature, students cannot begin in winter or spring quarters.
    How long does it take for students to complete the program?
    The program is designed to be completed in four years.
    What funding is available?
    As part of admission to the program, the Department of Health Metrics Sciences offers our Metrics PhD students 4 years (3 quarters per year) of funding as a Graduate Research Assistant or a Teaching Assistant. Student appointments provide student and student dependents with 12 full months of medical, dental and vision eligibility each year under the Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan, described here. In order to maintain eligibility for a graduate service appointment and its benefits, students will need to enroll full-time (at least 10 credits) for each quarter in which they hold the appointment. All appointments are based on satisfactory progress in the PhD program and satisfactory execution of a student’s duties. The appointment also includes full payment of tuition and carries a waiver of the quarterly operating fee and technology fee. Funding for summer quarters is not part of admissions and funding package. Prospective students are also encouraged to pursue external funding and scholarship opportunities to support their studies.


    Are you ready to apply to the PhD in Global Health Metrics and Implementation Science (Metrics track)?
    Applications for Autumn 2025 will open on September 1, 2024! Learn more about how to apply here.

    Fee waivers can be requested from the Graduate School here. If you are an international applicant and have questions about your eligibility, please contact the Graduate School directly. A small number or waivers will also be available through HMS on a first come, first served basis for applicants who do not qualify for Graduate School waivers but demonstrate need. In order for department waivers to be awarded, applicants must have completed their application (with the exception of recommendations, which can be submitted later). It may take 1-2 weeks for these waivers to be processed. They can be requested here.

    The program handbook for current students can be found here.