The PhD in Health Services Research prepares graduates to be scholars, educators, researchers, and leaders in higher education, health care and service organizations, health care consulting firms, government and nonprofit organizations, and private businesses that support or regulate the health service industry. The degree has the following two specialized programs of study (concentrations):

  • Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics
  • Health Systems and Policy



Students must have a master's degree or other advanced degree (i.e., MD, JD, PhD or equivalent) from an institution of higher education accredited by a Mason-recognized U.S. institutional accrediting agency or international equivalent before being admitted to the 72-credit PhD program.

Applicants must meet the admission standards and application requirements specified in Graduate Admissions  and must apply using the online Application for Graduate Admission. For application deadlines and detailed application requirements, refer to the College of Public Health Admissions website.


Transfer of Credit

Transfer of credit is governed by the policies outlined in AP 6.5 Credit by Exam or Transfer. Students who enter with a master's or other advanced degree may transfer up to 30 credits for previous coursework that closely corresponds with doctoral program requirements. The credit transfer decision will be made by the doctoral advisor and requires approval of the doctoral program director. Requests for transfer of credit are reviewed only after acceptance to the doctoral program.

Time Requirements

Students must complete all requirements for the PhD in Health Services Research within 9 calendar years from the time of first enrollment as a doctoral student in the program. PhD students are expected to progress steadily toward their degree and to complete all coursework and comprehensive and field exams in order to advance to candidacy within no more than 6 years.

Banner Code: PH-PHD-HSR

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

Core Courses

GCH 700Social and Ecological Determinants of Health3
HAP 671Health Care Databases3
HAP 761Philosophy of Science and Research Methods3
HAP 780Data Mining in Health Care3
HAP 819Advanced Statistics in Health Services Research II3
HAP 824Systematic Literature Review Meta-Analysis for Health Services Research3
HAP 835Causal Inference in Health Services Research3
HAP 846Advanced Health Economics3
HAP 850Health Informatics Research3
HAP 865Health Services Research Seminar3
Total Credits30

Concentration and Electives

Students take additional courses in one of two concentration domains: Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics or Health Systems and Policy. Doctoral-level electives outside of the College of Public Health or concentration-related content areas may be taken as approved by the student's academic advisor. A maximum of 6 credits of 600-level courses may be applied to the degree.

Concentration in Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics (KDHI)

HAP 823Causal Analysis Comparative Effectiveness3
HAP 880Advanced Health Data Mining3
Select 24 credits from the following:24
Computational Tools in Health Informatics
Health Data: Vocabulary and Standards
Advanced Statistics in Health Services Research I
Health Data Integration
Health Care Decision Analysis
Health Care Security Policy
Medical Decision Making and Decision Support Systems
Artificial Intelligence in Health
Generative AI Applications in Health
Radiology Informatics
Advanced Methods in Qualitative Research for Health Care
Advanced Independent Study
Measurement Theories and Applications of Self-Report in Public Health Research
Statistical Graphics and Data Visualization
Computational Learning and Discovery
Teaching Practicum in Public and Population Health
Other course(s) supporting the student's subject matter or research methods, as approved by the advisor
Total Credits30

Concentration in Health Systems and Policy (HSYP)

HAP 661Policy Development and Analysis for Community Health Programs3
HAP 719Advanced Statistics in Health Services Research I3
HAP 742Health Policy Development and Analysis3
HAP 925Advanced Methods in Qualitative Research for Health Care3
Select 18 credits from the following:18
Introduction to Health Services Research
Contemporary Issues in Health Systems Management
Health Care Security Policy
Health Policy Leadership
Causal Analysis Comparative Effectiveness
Advanced Independent Study
Measurement Theories and Applications of Self-Report in Public Health Research
Teaching Practicum in Public and Population Health
Other course(s) supporting the student's subject matter or research methods, as approved by the advisor
Total Credits30

Comprehensive Exams

Two comprehensive examinations will determine whether the student has the necessary knowledge and skills to undertake dissertation work. These examinations must be taken within one year of completion of all coursework (except for dissertation sequence courses).

Advancement to Candidacy

Students who complete all core and concentration course requirements, pass the comprehensive exams, and successfully defend the dissertation proposal can advance to candidacy. A student must advance to candidacy status before taking the dissertation credits.

Dissertation Sequence Courses

Complete at least 12 credits:12
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal
Doctoral Dissertation (at least 6 credits)
Total Credits12


After advancement to candidacy, the HSR PhD student must complete an approved dissertation. The student must seek and obtain the approval of the HSR PhD Program Director on the selection of his/her Dissertation Chair and committee members. The committee must have at least three members, each of which must be a full-time member of the graduate faculty. The Chair must hold an appointment in the Department of Health Administration and Policy (HAP) and be approved by the Program Director. The second member of the dissertation committee may be a member of either the HAP Department or the College of Public Health, and the third member of the committee may be from the College of Public Health, other academic unit at George Mason University, or from outside of Mason. A fourth member of the committee may be appointed, from another academic unit or from outside Mason, with the approval of the Program Director.

Within twelve months of passing the comprehensive examinations, the student must submit a draft of the dissertation proposal to the Dissertation Chair and committee. The proposal shall describe the proposed research as directed by the Chair and Committee. The proposal must provide a detailed literature review that provides the context and rationale for the research objectives, state the dissertation objective(s), and describe the proposed study design and analytic methods. An oral proposal defense must be scheduled with dissertation committee members who have agreed to serve. During the oral proposal defense, the student will describe their proposed research and address questions by the committee members. At the oral defense, the Dissertation Committee determines approval or disapproval of the proposal. Committee disapproval is accompanied by written recommendations for improving the proposed research with expectations for resubmission.