PhD in Health Services Research

The Doctor of Philosophy in Health Services Research (PhD) degree program offered by the Department of Health Policy & Management is designed to provide individuals with excellent research skills for use in academic, industry, or government settings. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with senior faculty in innovative research crucial to the improvement of health care delivery, treatment outcomes, and government policies. Graduates are known for their excellent methodological skills and substantive knowledge of health care settings and policies, skills that enable students to translate research findings into practical applications.

The doctoral program supports a focus on quantitative research methods or qualitative methods, but emphasizes mastery of mixed methods, and offers students two fields of specialization:

  • Health Outcomes and Quality
  • Health Economics

Program Requirements

The doctoral program includes 69 credits of coursework: 34 credits of core courses and the remainder in field courses and electives. Students who have appropriate master’s degrees with preparation in epidemiology, biostatistics, health services, and health law are required to complete a minimum of 34 credits of coursework in the PhD program. Students without such preparation will be required to take additional coursework in those areas. A minimum grade of a B is required in each of the core PhD courses.

Core PhD Courses

  • BS 704 Introduction to Biostatistics
  • EP 713 Introduction to Epidemiology
  • LW 751 Public Health Law or LW 799 Human Subjects: Fundamental Legal and Ethical Principles
  • PM 811 Health Services Research Methods
  • PM 814 Contemporary Theoretical and Empirical Issues in Health Services
  • PM 821 Advanced Health Services Research Methods
  • PM 824 Theory and Research on Organizations
  • PM 826 Health, Illness, and the Use of Health Services
  • PM 842 Health Economics for Health Services Research or CAS EC 501 Microeconomic Theory or GRS EC 701 Microeconomic Theory

PhD Field Courses

Required field courses for PhD students in the Health Outcomes & Quality specialization are:

  • PM 837 Evaluating Health Care Quality
  • PM 855 Cost-Effectiveness Analysis and Decision Analysis
  • PM 830 Developing Patient-Based Health Status and Outcomes Measures

Required field courses for PhD students in the Health Economics specialization include:

  • 1-credit Health Economics Research Seminar (register as PM 932)
  • PM 855 Cost-Effectiveness Analysis and Decision Analysis
  • plus two 4-credit courses from the Boston University Economics Department chosen with approval by the PhD program director

The program has a list of recommended elective courses. Choice of elective courses must be approved by the PhD program director.

Students are required to complete all the requirements for graduation within seven years of matriculation. PhD students are required to complete and pass an admission to candidacy exam, a field exam in the field of specialization, a qualifying paper, a doctoral dissertation, and dissertation defense.

Students who have completed the PhD coursework must register for PM 980 Continuing Study each fall and spring semester until the dissertation is defended and accepted. PM 980 is ungraded and zero credits; it certifies a student as full time and carries the equivalent of a 2-credit tuition charge plus the fee for student health insurance (unless waived). Students must adhere to dissertation submission deadlines and requirements.

All PhD students must adhere to the Doctoral Graduation Calendar in preparing and submitting the dissertation in 2013–2014.