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PhD Program in Health Services

Occupational Health Services Research Training Program

Program Co-Directors:

Contacts for Prospective Students:

The Occupational Health Services Research (OHSR) training program is jointly sponsored by the Department of Health Systems and Population Health and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences within the University of Washington School of Public Health. Administratively the program is housed within the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Washington. Funding for the program is provided by a training grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The University of Washington is one of only two NIOSH-funded programs in the United States that produces researchers and policymakers trained in OHSR. OHSR experts are crucial to reducing occupational disparities, improving workers' compensation health care and services, and improving return-to-work and other outcomes for workers with occupational injuries or illnesses. Occupational health services researchers are also essential to advancing the health of workers by improving physical and social work environments, developing policy to promote worker well-being, and increasing productivity for workers and organizations. They collaborate with employers and local, state, and federal governments to manage resources efficiently to provide better care for workers.

Doctoral students are admitted to the program through the Department of Health Systems and Population Health PhD program. They follow the core curriculum for health services research and take a minimum of fifteen-course credits in occupational health or related topics. These courses can be tailored to students' interests.


The training program prepares leaders for careers in academia, public health, government, and the health industry. Pre-doctoral trainees obtain a PhD. The training program offers multidisciplinary, applied research opportunities at the University, numerous research partners (including government agencies and health organizations), and higher education institutions in the five-state region. Mentorship is provided by experts, research teams, and program leaders. Trainees obtain advanced substantive knowledge of health policy, the health care system, social determinants, and population health. In addition, trainees pursue their individual interests by taking the Occupational Health area of emphasis.

Lastly, they obtain rigorous training in research methods, communication skills, and the translation of research into practice. The Department of Health Systems and Population Health and its research partners have an excellent record of producing highly qualified researchers. The average graduate writes 2-3 journal articles in training and 90% have pursued careers in health services research.

Who is a good fit for this program?

Work is an important social determinant of health, and the focus of OHSR goes well beyond surveillance, prevention, health care, and outcomes related to occupational injury and illness. OHSR also addresses worker well-being, including topics such as precarious work arrangements, job strain and burnout, workplace health promotion, and health equity. OHSR may utilize the total worker health model. Students will develop research projects using quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed methods, and will develop conceptual models for interdisciplinary research that may include wide-ranging influences and outcomes, such as mental health and emotional well-being, labor law and policy, and the structures of our health systems. The OHSR training program builds on principles of occupational health by adding training in health services research methodology, social and behavioral theory, and evaluation of workplace health, health care, and health systems that serve working populations. The interdisciplinary nature of OHSR supports a broad range of research interests.


Selection of pre-doctoral training fellows occurs during the annual admission process. Appointments are determined by the Admissions Committee, in consultation with the OHSR Program Director. Applicants should indicate interest in this training fellowship on their PhD application form.

Financial Information

Trainees selected for the program receive a monthly stipend, tuition support, and health insurance coverage. All stipend amounts are determined and updated by the Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety annually.

In addition, travel support is provided for students to conduct research and attend national and regional public health meetings.