Founded in 1978, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Program in Administration-Health Services is a collaborative degree program between the  the Department of Health Services Administration in the School of Health Professions and the Collat School of Business. The primary purpose of the program is to improve health administration practice and policy through the generation and conduct of research in the management of health service organizations. This mission is accomplished through the education of individuals for academic positions, and for high-level analytical and research positions in non-academic organizations.

Interdisciplinary Approach

The program offers an interdisciplinary approach that provides advanced studies in the conceptual, philosophical, and applied aspects of administrative processes, within the context of health. The program’s interdisciplinary foundation is based on the active involvement of faculty members who are nationally recognized scholars in their field from a variety of departments across campus including the sponsoring schools as well as the School of Public Health, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing. te program also draws on the resources of campus wide centers, such as the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, and Center for Aging, to enhance the training environment of the program.


The program’s curriculum is designed to provide students with the necessary tools to conduct research and contribute to the fields of health administration, health informatics, health policy, strategic management, and/or health services research. It consists of three parts: the core courses, research methods and quantitative methods courses, and specialization courses. There are three specialization tracks: Strategic Management, Health Services Research, and Health Informatics. The Strategic Management track is a “lock-step” program featuring a pre-set seven-course sequence designed to provide the student with a disciplinary foundation in strategy. The Health Services Research (HSR) track allows the student to create a more customized curriculum by selecting a seven-course sequence from a group of pre-approved courses or from courses approved by his or her “program committee” of faculty advisors. Likewise, the Health Informatics track allows students to create a more customized curriculum by selecting five HI electives that have been approved by the HI Program Director.

The program is designed as a full-time, residential program, and is typically completed in 3 to 6 years (mean completion time is 4.9 years), including the dissertation phase. Students with outstanding qualifications may be admitted on a part-time basis, but such cases are not common. Students spend two years completing core and specialization course work. The third year and beyond are spent preparing for comprehensive examinations, developing and defending a dissertation proposal, and writing and defending the dissertation. Students must pass comprehensive examinations in three areas (health services, research methods, and their area of specialization) before submitting a dissertation proposal.

Student Life and Expectations

We seek to recruit a diverse and talented group of national and international students who are attracted to careers in research and teaching. The educational experience in the Ph.D. Program is characterized by exposure to the various disciplines relevant to health administration and policy from across the university. Among the most relevant areas where coursework and mentor relationships may be developed are health administration, business, public health, nursing, and medical sociology. Students are expected to work closely with selected faculty in one-on-one mentorship relationships both prior to and during the writing of the doctoral dissertation. These research experiences are expected to serve as a foundation for future research throughout their careers.

Upon completion of the program, students are expected to be competent researchers. Students completing the program should be capable of:

  1. Conducting and managing empirical and conceptual research.
  2. Demonstrating high levels of expertise in a specialization.
  3. Meeting the requirements for a faculty position in a department of health services administration or policy.
  4. Performing well in a high-level research or policy-making role in a non-academic organization such as a corporation, non-profit institution, or a government agency.
  5. Effectively communicating their ideas both orally and in writing.

In addition, recognizing that many of our graduates will find employment in academic settings, we offer students opportunities to develop their teaching skills. Doctoral students are often invited to provide guest lectures for master’s level courses, to serve as teaching assistants or graders for master’s level courses, and to serve as primary instructors for undergraduate courses. These opportunities exist in the School of Health Professions, School of Business, and School of Public Health.