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Ph.D in Heath Sciences


The comprehensive Ph.D. in Health Sciences curriculum includes coursework in the following sequences:

  • Core Curriculum
  • Specialization Track
  • Research

Students in all tracks take the core courses, which provide an understanding of the healthcare delivery system and its role and importance within a variety of organizations. All students also take additional courses in research design, which teach the critical analysis of research and the scientific basis of investigation. Students select specialized courses in their chosen track and design individualized plans of study that meet their research needs and practice interests. See below for more information on the coursework.

Academic Advising and Mentorship

Each student develops his or her educational program plan in consultation with, and with the approval of, an academic advisor. An academic advisor (a faculty member in the Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration) will be assigned to each student upon admission to the Ph.D. program. The advisor will guide you in selecting and completing your coursework and will participate in the selection of your dissertation committee.

Credit Requirements

  • This program of study requires the completion of a minimum of:
    • 57 credits beyond a master's degree, or:
    • 48 credits beyond a clinical doctorate.

  • Course requirements for those with a clinical doctorate will be adjusted in consultation with the student's academic advisor.

  • Students are required to complete a minimum of:
    • 12 credits of core courses
    • 18 credits of specialization courses
    • 15 credits of research courses
    • 12 credits of dissertation

Doctoral Coursework

Core Courses: The goal of this portion of the program is to provide the basis for an understanding of the healthcare delivery system, philosophical values and an understanding of the importance of communication and teaching within an organizational structure.

Specialization Courses: For this area of study, the student takes specialization courses designed to provide critical analysis and intervention skills and the scientific basis of practice. Selection of specialization courses is dependent on the track in which the student is enrolled (Health Professions Leadership, Movement Science or Speech-Language Pathology).

Research Courses: The goal of this portion of the program is to provide the student with a broad and comprehensive understanding of research findings and the communication of those findings to others. Students take statistics and research methods courses, in which they learn about:

  • inferential statistics;
  • correlation/regression and multivariate statistics; and
  • quantitative and qualitative research design.

For a full description of any of the courses, see the Graduate Catalogue.

Doctoral Dissertation: Students are required to conduct and defend an original research investigation for the purpose of advancing the body of knowledge in their own field. The Ph.D. candidate plans, proposes, conducts and completes a major research project under the guidance of a research faculty advisor and dissertation committee. The dissertation represents an intensive, highly professional training experience, the completion of which demonstrates the candidate's ability to address a major intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion while at the same time demonstrating a high level of competence and expertise.

The dissertation should be a theory-based, in-depth and original exploration of a well-defined problem that contributes to the body of knowledge in the candidate's field of study. The dissertation is theory-based to the extent that it tests or extends existing theory or creates new theory in the field. The dissertation is in-depth to the extent that the problem and approach selected are founded on a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the relevant literature. The dissertation is original to the extent that the underlying data is collected by the dissertation candidate.

Successful completion of the dissertation phase results in production of an approved dissertation manuscript.

Dissertation Process

Admission: Planning for the dissertation begins when applying to the program. The admissions process involves "'matching" of applicant's research interests with the expertise of the program faculty. For this reason, program applicants should be able to articulate one or more areas of investigation they are interested in pursuing in the dissertation phase.

Pre-Candidacy Phase: Since these preliminary plans may change prior to candidacy, students should arrange an early meeting and maintain contact with their academic advisor to discuss their evolving research interests. Often, exposure to core or specialization coursework helps the student better focus on their proposed problem, or may even result in selecting a new research direction. The academic advisor can help the student refine his or her interest and, if necessary, select an appropriate research advisor. Published faculty profiles can be helpful in this regard with respect to students' selecting an advisor whose research aligns with his or her interests.

In addition, students taking Research Project II (GMHS 7602) are required to formulate a draft research proposal under the guidance of the course instructor(s). This draft proposal may address the research problem that the student plans to pursue in the dissertation. Students should note, however, that the draft proposal developed in the research project course is insufficient to fulfill the subsequent requirements for the formal proposal developed and presented in dissertation phase. The formal dissertation proposal is developed while enrolled in GMHS 9504 (Dissertation I).

Dissertation: To be eligible for the dissertation phase, the student must have successfully passed the qualifying and candidacy exams and the 45 credits of pre-dissertation course work. The dissertation phase requires completion of a minimum of 12 credits of coursework, to include GMHS 9504-9505 (Dissertation I and II) and GMHS 9506 (Dissertation Advisement). Students may be advised to take Independent Studies to support their dissertation work. Also, students must enroll for Thesis Continuation (THCN 8999 or THCN 9000) if dissertation coursework is incomplete in a fall or spring semester.