Program Information

The content covered in these courses consists of the basic competencies regarding the healthcare system that are expected of Ph.D. graduates:

Foundation Courses (Taught Every Year)

  • US Health Care System (Fall Semester) HSA 6114
  • US Health Insurance System (Spring Semester) HSA 6126
  • Intro to Mgmt of HS Organizations (Spring Semester) HSA 6115
  • Health Policy (Spring Semester) HSA 6152
  • Health Economics (Spring Semester) HSA 6436
  • Epidemiology (Fall Semester) PHC 6001
  • Statistics Methods for Research I (Fall & Spring) PHC 6052
  • Regression Analysis (Fall & Spring) PHC 6053

The following seminars cover the core areas of competency in health services research:

Core Courses (Taught Every Other Year)

  • Costs & Financing (Fall Semester) HSA 7936
  • Access & Utilization (Fall Semester) HSA 7106
  • Quality & Outcomes (Spring Semester) HSA 7759
  • Health Sociology (Fall Semester) HSA 7414
  • Health Services Organizational Research (Spring Semester) HSA 7116
  • Health Policy Research (Spring Semester) HSA 7157
  • Advanced Health Economics (Spring Semester each year) HSA 7437

Health Services Research Methods Courses (Taught Every Year)

These courses provide the quantitative skills required for a successful career in health services research. The supporting field or minor area methods course is chosen in conjunction with the student’s supporting program or minor area program of study:

  • HSR Research Methods I (Fall Semester) HSA 7707
  • HSR Research Methods II (Spring Semester) HSA 7708
  • Survey Research Methods (Summer Semester) PHC 6716
  • Supporting Field or Minor Area Methods
  • Advanced Statistics

Advanced Seminars

Students take these courses to prepare for the preliminary examinations and the defense, and to further refine and hone their ability to become productive health services researchers:

  • Advanced Seminar: Integrative (Summer each year) HSA 7938
  • Advanced Seminar: Grant Proposal (Summer each year) HSA 7938
  • Advanced Seminar: Defense (Each Semester) HSA 7980
  • Advanced Seminar: Professional Development (Each Semester)

Supporting Field or Minor Area

Students must choose either a supporting field or a minor area. Students create these programs of study and submit them for approval by the faculty. A minor area must be approved by the relevant department at the University of Florida in addition to approval by the student’s Supervisory Committee. Examples of supporting programs, including related methods courses, are shown below. Other potential areas of supporting or minor programs could include health policy, health outcomes, finance, epidemiology, medical sociology and other health related areas.

Example of Supporting Program: Organization Science
  • MAN 7108 – Concepts and methods in the behavioral sciences
  • MAN 7205 – Organization theory
  • MAN 7275 – Organization behavior
  • SYO 6545 – Complex organizations
  • SOP 7319 – Seminar: research in social psychology
Example of Supporting Program: Health Economics
  • ECO 7424 – Econometric models and methods
  • ECO 7115 – Microeconomic theory I
  • ECO 7116 – Microeconomic theory II
  • ECO 7525 – Welfare economics and the second best
  • ECO 7534 – Empirical public economics

See Graduate Catalog for course listings.


Electives may be taken in areas that fit the student’s program of study and are approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee. The University of Florida is an extremely large and very diverse setting, encompassing virtually all academic and professional disciplines. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities provided in such a setting.

Preliminary Examinations

Taken near the end of the program course work (usually in the summer after the second year), preliminary examinations are intended to evaluate the student’s mastery of the field. The examinations assess the degree to which students can demonstrate (a) a thorough understanding of the body of knowledge composing the field of health services research and its practice;(b) knowledge of the methodological approaches whereby health services research is conducted; and (c) ability to integrate the material.

Qualifying Examination

Subsequent to the successful completion of preliminary examinations, students in the Ph.D. program are required to prepare and submit a formal proposal outlining their anticipated dissertation research. The dissertation proposal will be submitted to the student’s Supervisory Committee, and a meeting will scheduled in which the proposal will be orally presented and defended by the student. Successful oral defense of an acceptable written dissertation proposal together constitute the program’s qualifying examination.

Admission to Candidacy

Ph.D. students are formally admitted to candidacy for the degree when they have successfully completed all required coursework, passed the preliminary examinations, and accomplished a successful oral defense of the dissertation research proposal.


Ph.D. students are required to prepare and submit a dissertation that demonstrates independent investigation and scholarship, meeting the format requirements of the Graduate School. The dissertation must be presented and orally defended before the student’s supervisory committee. Other faculty may also be present at the final defense. A minimum of two semesters must elapse between the successful defense of the dissertation proposal and the final defense of the completed dissertation. The semester in which the proposal is defended may count as one of the two required semesters only if oral defense of the dissertation proposal takes place prior to the midpoint of the semester.

Admission to the Program

Only full-time students will be admitted to the program. Completion of a high-quality, rigorous doctoral education in Health Services Research requires that students devote their attention to full-time study. We do anticipate, however, that students will receive graduate research assistantships during their doctoral studies (see discussion of financial support). The program admits students with diverse education, work, and life experiences who have demonstrated a capacity to pursue a rigorous course of doctoral study. Admission is limited, competitive, and open to students with clear career goals in health services research. Students are expected to live in the Gainesville area during the course of study and attend full-time.

Financial Support

The Ph.D. Program in Health Services Research makes every attempt to provide some level of financial support to students.

Such support comes in a variety of forms. Some students are appointed to positions as graduate research assistants or graduate teaching assistants. These appointments typically require work commitments at the level of .25 FTE (10 hours per week). Depending upon the source of funds, they include salary payments of about $10-$15 per hour and a waiver of tuition for up to nine (9) semester hours during the fall and spring semesters, and up to six (6) semester hours during the summer. For the most part, these appointments are made at the beginning of the fall semester and may be for periods of one, two, or three semesters. Exceptionally well-qualified students may be eligible for Fellowships. These awards can be made at the University, College or department level for varying lengths of time. In general, Fellowships provide a stipend and tuition waiver, without a work requirement. Scholarships, based primarily on outstanding academic achievement, may also be available for some students.

After it is determined that they are eligible for admission to the program, applicants are considered for financial assistance based on their experience and qualifications, the availability of funds, and faculty needs for research or teaching assistants. If appropriate, applicants are referred to other programs that might provide support. When possible, the Program will make formal commitments to appointments or other forms of support during the admission process.

After admission to the program, students compete for financial support throughout the period of their doctoral education. For students interested in academic careers, every effort will be made to provide teaching experience (and assistantships) for at least some part of their program of study. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in at least one formal, externally funded research program during their program, and are usually appointed to an assistantship for this purpose. When appropriate, students in the program are encouraged to seek external (grant) funding in support of their dissertation research.

By means of these various approaches, the program seeks to provide at least some level of support for at least some part of their program of study to all students in the Ph.D. Program.

Applicants should remain in close contact with the program director regarding these opportunities. After matriculation, students in the program will find it valuable to work with their major advisor in determining the specific combination of experiences and support that will provide the optimal fit with their program of study and career aspirations.