PhD in Health Services Research

The Doctor of Philosophy in Health Services Research (PhD) degree program offered by the Department of Health Law, 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, competencies that enable students to translate research findings into practical applications.

The doctoral program supports a focus on quantitative methods and/or qualitative methods, while fostering facility with mixed methods designs.

Program Requirements

The doctoral program includes the coursework requirements outlined below. Students with an earned master’s degree may take fewer courses, if course waivers are granted based on previous relevant graduate coursework. However, in all cases, students are required to take no fewer than 32 credits of PhD coursework in residence at Boston University post matriculation into the PhD program. A minimum grade of a B is required in all PhD coursework.

Core PhD Courses

  • PH 842 Research Theory and Design
  • PH 843 Quantitative Methods for Health Services and Other Public Health Research
  • PH 844 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
  • PM 814 Contemporary Theoretical and Empirical Issues in Health Services
  • PM 824 Theory and Research on Organizations
  • PM 826 Health, Illness, and the Use of Health Services
  • PM 837 Evaluating Health Care Quality
  • PM 842 Health Economics for Health Services Research or equivalent
  • PM 844 Health Policy & Policy Making for Public Health Researchers

Additional Course Requirements

  • A minimum of 12 credits is required in elective courses. These 12 credits can and should be used to define an area of emphasis.
  • Either PM 821 Advanced Health Services Research Methods or PM 828 Advanced Qualitative Methods is required
  • 8–9 credits in additional coursework to fulfill one of the following emphasis areas:
    • Economics
    • Quality/Outcomes
    • Health Care Policy
    • Implementation Science/Organizational Change

Students are required to complete all the requirements for graduation within seven years of matriculation. PhD students are required to successfully complete the qualifying process, and complete and orally defend a dissertation.

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 allows a student to be certified 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 2016–2017.

All SPH students will need a laptop or tablet for classes, purchased according to the recommendations of the Medical Campus Information Technology professionals.