Degree Requirements

The Population Health and Clinical Outcomes Research program offers one doctoral degree with two possible concentrations: Population Health or Clinical Outcomes Research. Core requirements are the same for both concentrations. Students specialize through the different concentration requirements. With advisor approval, students may tailor their degree to their specific interests via the selection of elective course offerings in departments such as Molecular Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, the Graduate Program in Public Health, Technology and Society, Pharmacologic Sciences, Sociology or Psychology.

Population Health

The population health specialization will focus on understanding the community and the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of public health and community-based interventions. It will emphasize methodology in observational study design, determinants of population health, and development of evidence-based public health practice including efficiency, effectiveness, and access studies. Students will identify a cognate area that provides theoretical and/or methodological depth related to a population health problem and its determinants. A cognate area may be multi-disciplinary or discipline-specific. As an example of a multi-disciplinary approach, a student might develop a family violence cognate through the selection of courses in psychology, sociology, public policy, and social welfare. Another example of a potential cognate area might be health communications, with courses found primarily in journalism or psychology.

Clinical Outcomes Research

The clinical outcomes specialization will provide students with the tools to enhance preventive or chronic care strategies, and analyze the patient care outcomes for clinical disciplines. Moreover, the students within the clinical outcomes specialization will be able to formulate policies, advance clinical practice, or identify patient-based opportunities to improve medical care. As an example of a multi-disciplinary approach, biomarkers for cancer may become a cognate emphasis with advanced courses selected from the graduate programs in Experimental Molecular and Cellular Biology or Molecular Genetics. Another cognate area might relate to evaluating the impact of e-health initiatives upon ischemic heart disease medication management, with advanced courses selected from the departments of Technology and Society or Pharmacologic Sciences.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the core and concentration requirements, doctoral students will be required to pass a preliminary written examination, submit and have approved a dissertation proposal, complete a dissertation, and submit two publishable manuscripts. Preliminary Examination Doctoral students will be required to pass a preliminary examination. The Preliminary Examination will emphasize the integration of the student's knowledge in the core areas. The successful completion of this examination will allow the student to proceed towards the formal identification of their research supervisor and supervisory committee for the preparation and defense of the doctoral dissertation requirement. The purpose of the Preliminary Examination is to test the preparedness of the student for the doctoral research phase of the program. Students will be expected to exhibit a mastery of the material covered in the three areas – quantitative analysis, research methods, and the determinants of health and disease - as well as an ability to integrate and synthesize concepts and approaches relevant to population health and clinical science research.


The most important requirement for the Ph.D. degree is the dissertation, which must be an original scholarly investigation that meets the standards in the field for scholarly publications. Following the successful completion of the Preliminary Examination, students may be advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of all degree requirements of the Graduate School and program, other than the graduate seminars and the dissertation requirements. The Dean of the Graduate School confers this status upon recommendation from the Doctoral Program Director. Students must advance at least one year prior to the dissertation defense.

A proposal for the dissertation must be prepared, orally defended, and approved by the student’s research supervisor or supervisory committee – appointed by the Doctoral Program Director in consultation with the student. The proposal will synthesize the literature on an important topic in population health or clinical outcomes research, and identify gaps in the literature that clearly demonstrate the importance for the student’s planned dissertation research. The topic should be broad enough to allow for the preparation of at least two publishable papers in peer-reviewed journals.

The makeup of the dissertation committee includes the dissertation supervisor (faculty mentor), defense chairperson, a third member from the program, and at least one person outside of the program or University. To avoid any potential perception of a conflict of interest, the student’s dissertation supervisor (faculty mentor) will not be able to chair their dissertation committee.

Preliminary research to develop a dissertation topic will normally begin in the second year of study and the third year will be mainly devoted to developing and refining the doctoral research.

Seminars organized by the program related to research in progress (i.e., a formal research in progress presentation) will provide an opportunity for students to present their thesis material to other students and interested faculty. Upon approval of the research supervisor or chair of the supervisory committee (and approval of the Graduate Program Director), a public presentation with a defense of the dissertation will be scheduled. Additional requirements for the dissertation may be found in the Graduate School Bulletin under “Degree Requirements”.

Practicum in Teaching

Doctoral students will be provided with teaching opportunities and are expected to develop their teaching skills through the “Practicum in Teaching”, an advanced two semester sequence completed after the Preliminary Examination has been passed. Teaching opportunities for doctoral students will include undergraduate and graduate teaching.

Course Requirements

Core Curriculum:

HPH 501  Introduction to the Research Process
HPH 506 Biostatistics I
HPH 507 Biostatistics II
HPH 508 Health Systems Performance
HPH 514 Epidemiology for Public Health
HPH 523 Social & Behavioral Determinants of Health
HPH 527 Health Economics and Policy
HPH 559 Advanced Research Methods
HPH 560 Applied Biostatistics
HPH 562 Data Management & Informatics
HPD 605 Intro Doctoral Studies
HPD 685 Research in Population Health & Clinical Science
HPD 686 Mentored Research
HPD 687 Advanced Research Seminar

Students are required to complete one concentration:

Concentration: Population Health

HPD 673 Longitudinal Data Analysis
HPD 674 Causal Inference
HPH 534 Spatial Analysis
HPD 661 Psychometric Theory

Concentration: Clinical Outcomes Research

HPD 664 Clinical Trials
HPD 665 Clinical Outcomes Research
HPD 673 Longitudinal Data Analysis
HPD 674 Causal Inference

Post-Preliminary Exam Courses:

HPD 692 Practicum in Teaching I
HPD 693 Practicum in Teaching II
HPD 694 Grant Writing
HPD 699 Dissertation Research