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Course of Study

The Ph.D. is the culmination of a sequential process of coursework, comprehensive examination, and the research, writing, and defense of a doctoral dissertation. Students take a series of courses in the core areas of public health, policy, health systems, and research design and methods. At the completion of coursework, there is an oral and written comprehensive examination that challenges students to apply what they learned to their dissertation work. Before advancing to Ph.D. candidacy, students complete and defend a dissertation proposal.  Students then design, implement, and analyze a research project. The last major step is a written dissertation and an oral defense.

Students admitted to the program who have completed a relevant masters previously such as an MPH in health management and policy or an MPA in health administration may receive substantial credit for relevant courses, decreasing the number of courses required for the PhD. Students with other master’s degrees may also request course credit for relevant, successfully completed graduate courses. Each student’s past courses are evaluated upon admission to the program and a determination will be made regarding which courses will be waived and which courses will comprise the student’s Ph.D. program of study in HS&P.

The HS&P Handbook can be found here

The four primary emphasis areas of the program reflect faculty expertise in:  1) health systems organization, financing and delivery, 2) health policy analysis and application, 3) health services access, quality and cost, and 4) community-based health and social services. 

The program includes 104-114 required credits, including 21-27 credits in required core courses, 19-21 credits in policy courses, 12 credits in health systems courses, and 19-23 credits in research design and research methods courses.  Students will be required to enroll in a one-credit health systems and policy dissertation seminar each quarter during their first two years of coursework to help prepare them for the dissertation process (up to 6 credits).  Finally, students will complete 27 credits of dissertation preparation.  Additional major requirements include a written and oral comprehensive exam at the completion of course requirements and before advancement to the dissertation, a written dissertation proposal with an oral defense, and a final written dissertation with an oral defense.

Note that effective Fall 2016 the PAH prefix will become HSMP; course numbers will remain the same.

Core Courses (21-27) [all required]
PAH 541/641 Organizational Behavior in Health
PAH 571/671 Health Policy
PAH 573/673 Values and Ethics in Health
PAH 574/674 Health Systems Organization
PAH 577/677 Health Care Law and Regulation
PAH 586/686 Introduction to Health Economics
PAH 660 Contemporary Research in Health Systems and Policy; students may take this up to three times to address and synthesize concepts towards their dissertation topic

NOTE:  A student who has completed an MPH in health management and policy or a comparable masters degree could potentially waive some or all of the first six courses in the core. All students are required to fulfill prerequisites of the equivalent of Epidemiology I (PHPM 512 or PHE 530), Introduction to Biostatistics (PHPM 524), and Foundations of Public Health PHE 511); students entering with an MPH will usually have completed such content.

Policy Courses (19-21)
Required: (10 credits)
PAH 575 Advanced Health Policy (3)
PAP 616 Policy Process (3)
USP 615 Economic Analysis of Public Policy (4)
Choose 3 from the following (or others as approved by the advisor): (9-12 credits)
PA 554 Policy Analysis Research (3)
PAP 653 Policy Analysis:  Theoretical Foundations (3)
PAP 656 Advanced Political Economy
PHE 657 National Long-term Care Policy (3)
SOC 684 Social Inequality (4)
SOC 686 Health and Inequality (4)
SOC 687 International Health Inequalities (4)
SW 652 Advanced Social Policy Analysis (3)
USP 536 Policy Evaluation Methods


Health Systems Courses (12)
Required: (3 credits)
PHE 622 Health and Social Inequalities (3)
Electives: (9 credits)
Selected by student with advisor approval to create a substantive field for the student and complement their interests from existing 500 and 600 level courses across relevant departments at PSU and OHSU.

Research Design and Methods (19-23)
3 courses on research design
Required: (6 credits)
PAH 589/689 Research Design in Health Services (3)
Choose two from: (6-8 credits)
PAH 588 Program Evaluation and Management in Health Services (3)
PAP 690 Research Design for Politics and Policy (4)
PSY 669 Research Design in Applied Social/Community Psychology (4)
PSY 686 Social Program Evaluation (4)

3 courses on analytic methods 
Required: (4 credits)
PHE 520/USP 683 Qualitative Analysis (4)
Choose two from: (6-8)
PAP 607 Research Methods for Political Science (3)
PHE 510 Social Epidemiology Methods and Theory (3)
SOC 593 Quantitative Analysis (3)
SOC 695 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Sociology (4)
USP 634 Data Analysis I (4)
USP 654 Data Analysis II (4)
BSTA 511/611 Estimation and Hypothesis Testing for Applied Biostatistics (3)

Doctoral Seminar in Health Systems and Policy (PAH 607) (6 credits)
Students will enroll in a one-credit seminar each quarter of their first two years to help prepare them for the dissertation process; they are encouraged to continue to attend the seminar throughout their entire program.  The seminar will meet weekly with a selected faculty mentor to discuss research topics, including critical evaluation of health systems and policy research, framing research questions, proposal writing, the grant application process, data collection and synthesis, human subjects review, dissertation writing and presentation, the review process, program requirements, and publication opportunities.  Students will present their developing work at the seminar to receive peer feedback.

Dissertation Research (PAH 603) (27 credits)
Students will enroll in dissertation research credits throughout their dissertation process.