PhD in Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy

The UNMC PhD program in Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy educates students to be scholars and health services researchers for careers in academia and also in large corporations, insurance companies, government agencies, health care organizations, and consulting firms. Incorporating the core competencies of health services research, the program focuses on methods and application of health services research, health administration, and health policy. Program graduates will be equipped to serve the public and private sectors in Nebraska, the Midwest region, the nation, and the world. Students will gain valuable experience by working closely with faculty whose research interests include health economics, health care finance, organizational behavior, medical geography, policy analysis, program & policy evaluation, health outcomes research, public health informatics, workforce, public health services research, and underserved populations. Program faculty conduct research and service activities through the Center for Rural Health Research and the Center for Health Policy.  

Application Process

The Graduate Program Committee of the Department of Health Services Research and Administration (HSRA) determines the standards for admission into the program. The committee considers the prospective student’s academic qualifications and professional experience.

Students are encouraged to apply by January 1 to receive the highest consideration.

Requirements for admission to the PhD program are listed below.

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Graduate assistantships are awarded to doctoral students on a competitive basis. The intent of the graduate assistantship is to provide financial support and professional development. The decision to award a graduate assistantship is made by the HSRA Graduate Program Committee and is based on the student’s academic and prior work performance and available departmental funding for assistantships. Doctoral students in the HSRA Department who are awarded graduate assistantships are required to work 20 hours per week on assigned projects under the close supervision of a faculty supervisor. Assistantships are not guaranteed and are renewed annually based on student performance. The HSRA Graduate Program Committee, in consultation with the department chair and the student’s faculty supervisor and academic advisor, makes renewal decisions for graduate assistantships. Additional information about funding options can be found on the UNMC Graduate Studies website.

Program Competencies

Graduates of the PHD in Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy program should be able to:

Articulate the importance of collaborating with policymakers, organizations, and communities to plan, conduct, and translate health services research into policy and practice.

Degree Requirements

Students enrolled in the PhD program without a Master’s degree are required to complete a total of 90 credit hours in course and dissertation work, including the following:


Course Work

39 Required courses
15 Area of emphasis courses
12-18 Elective courses
18-24 Dissertation

The required courses are designed to help students build a strong foundation of multidisciplinary knowledge and skills for scholarship in health services research. After completing all required courses, students will then take area of emphasis courses. In addition to coursework, all PhD students are expected to attend the monthly Doctoral Program Seminar throughout their program of study.

Required Courses

 Course Number

US Healthcare System HSRA 810
Health Policy HSRA 874
Health Services Administration HSRA 873
Health Economics HSRA 860
Health Care Organizational Theory and Behavior HSRA 830
Biostatistics I BIOS 806
Biostatistics II BIOS 808
Epidemiology in Public Health EPI 820
Foundations of Public Health HPRO 830
Health Care Finance HSRA 872
Quantitative Methods in Health Services Research HSRA 920
Design of Health Services Research HSRA 930
Qualitative Research Methods HPRO 910
Area of Emphasis Courses (selected—see advisor for more options)  
Integrated Seminar in Economics and Health Services Research HSRA 940
Application of Medical Geography to Health Services Research HSRA 950
Seminar in Health Care Administration HSRA 960
Seminar in Health Policy  HSRA 980
Directed Readings or Research HSRA 996

New PhD students are recommended to take courses in the following order for the first year, and consult with your academic advisor each semester to register for courses.

BIOS 806 Biostatistics I
HSRA 810 US Healthcare System
HSRA 873 Health Services Administration
HPRO 830 Foundations of Public Health
BIOS 808 Biostatistics II
EPI 820 Epidemiology in Public Health

Transfer Credit Hours

The HSRA Graduate Program Committee may approve transfer of elective courses from previous institutions. The decision on transfer credit hours is made after the student has matriculated into the PhD program and is reviewed by the committee by the end of the student’s first year in the program. Students who have completed a Masters in Public Health or Masters in Health Administration from an accredited (CEPH or CAHME) program in the U.S. are allowed to transfer credits up to a maximum of half of course work (10 courses), provided the course was taken no earlier than 7 years before entry in to the program, and the student has earned a B or higher.

Academic Progress

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 for all courses completed for the PhD. Failure to maintain a 3.0 GPA will result in suspension or termination from the PhD program. In order to graduate, students must also pass a comprehensive exam and the final defense of their dissertation. The study period is expected to be four to five years if the student is admitted to the program with a related master’s degree (e.g., Master of Health Administration, Master of Public Health) and five to six years if the student is admitted to the program with a bachelor's degree. Students are also expected to fulfill the residency requirement (at least one-half of the course requirements, other than dissertation, must be completed within a consecutive eighteen-month period, with the further provision that the courses be taken after receipt of the Master’s degree or its equivalent)

Supervisory Committee

Each student is required to form a Supervisory Committee. The chair of the Supervisory Committee will serve as the student’s primary mentor during the study period. Students are expected to work together with the chair of their Supervisory Committee to identify other committee members. A Supervisory Committee will consist of at least four graduate faculty members (including the chair), with at least one faculty member coming from outside of the HSRA Department. The main responsibility of the Supervisory Committee is to provide guidance and approval for the student’s doctoral study, including the course work plan and dissertation research. The Supervisory Committee is also responsible for developing, administering, and grading the student’s comprehensive examination.

Comprehensive Exam

Once students complete their course work, they must take and pass a comprehensive exam in order to move on to the dissertation research stage. The student’s Supervisory Committee will determine the contents and format of the comprehensive exam. The comprehensive exam will be designed to test students’ knowledge and skills related to the program curriculum as well as the core competencies of health services research, administration, and policy.

Dissertation Research

After passing the comprehensive exam, students must conduct and successfully defend their dissertation research by working with their Supervisory Committee. Generally, students are expected to complete their dissertation research within two years. This PhD program is a research-oriented degree program; therefore, a high standard of dissertation research that complies with the core competencies of the health services research discipline is expected. Although not required, students studying in this program are encouraged to complete and/or publish some research products (e.g., peer-review journal articles, policy briefs, or reports to public health agencies) before their graduation from the program.


Office of Graduate Studies
Graduate Studies Bulletin
PhD Timeline
PhD Forms

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