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College of Health SciencesPHD Program in Health Services Research

Health Services Research Ph.D. Program

The primary mission of the Ph.D. in health services research is to develop leaders and problem solvers whose professional services will improve health and health care system not only in Eastern Virginia but also statewide, nationally, and internationally. Health services researchers examine health care quality and effectiveness, primary and managed care, new technologies, and other critical health services and related public health research practice topics. Health Service Research is a multidisciplinary program offers 60 credit hour of core curriculum and elective courses. The goals of the program are to enable students to conduct and interpret health services research, to formulate and analyze public health policy, to lead programs and organizations that address the health care needs of populations and to work directly with community members to empower them to be a part of the policy formulation process. Health services researchers pursue careers in many settings, including academia, industry, professional organizations, research centers, health policy groups, clinical settings, and in federal, state, local, and international agencies.

In accomplishing these goals students in the program will develop the critical skills necessary to integrate knowledge and competencies applicable to public health and health services questions and problems. Students will be able to design viable programs, manage resources, and measure the effectiveness of service delivery public health interventions to populations. Students will be awarded the Ph.D. in health services research after the completion of all university and program requirements for graduate degrees.

Program Information

Admissions & Financial Assistance

Students entering the Doctor of Philosophy program in Health Services Research must have a completed master's degree from accredited program. Candidate with M.D., J.D., and D.D.S. are also acceptable. Students should meet the minimum university admission requirements (Graduate Admission) and are admitted to the Ph.D. program during the fall term with exceptions. Applications are reviewed based on their statement of purpose, academic interest, academic potential, reference letter and grade point average. Complete the application form and submit all required materials to the Office of Admissions, Old Dominion University.

Admission Criteria

  1. Master's degree in related field from an accredited institution.
  2. Minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) overall for the master's degree.
  3. Acceptable GRE scores.
  4. Three Reference Letters
  5. Written Statement of Purpose
  6. Fulfillment of Prerequisite Competencies
  7. Identify mentor associated with the program (prior enrollment)

Application Documents

  1. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) not required but strongly recommended.
  2. For those whose native language is not English a TOEFL score of at least 550 for paper based and 79 for internet-based test.
  3. Official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended
  4. A current curriculum vitae or resume.
  5. Three letters of reference from sources capable of commenting on the applicant's readiness and commitment for doctoral studies. At least two, and preferably all letters should be from academic sources; other letters must be from professional supervisors.
  6. A 1500-word essay discussing the applicant's academic and professional goals. This essay should discuss how the Ph.D. in Health Services Research program will contribute towards meeting these goals.


The completed application and supporting documents should be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions by the following deadlines:

Entry Term Application - Fall (Annual)

International - February 1st.

Domestic - March 1st.

Application, review, and admission decision is on the rolling bases, but anyone interested in fall admission should submit application no later than February 1st for the international and March 1st for the domestic.

Application should be submitted through the Old Dominion University Office of Admissions/Graduate Admissions at www.odu.edu/admission/apply

Financial Assistance

Ph.D. in Health Services Research offers financial assistance to qualified students. Types of aid includes Graduate Research Assistantship, Teaching Assistantship, and fellowship to the full-time graduate students.


Ph.D. Health Services Research program offers student to pursue their academic career in Applied Health Research or Health Policy and Management Research.

The Applied Health Research track emphasizes the skills required to design and conduct research in health care settings. Students are trained in cutting edge methods that are needed to solve the complex health issues.

Health Policy and Management prepares students for complex health care systems and policy processes nationally and internationally via various subjects and research opportunities. It is a field that focuses on the delivery, cost, and quality of the individual's health.


More details on course description can be found in Course Catalog

Health Services Core (12 Hours)

  1. HLSC 776 Global Health (online)
  2. HLSC 801 Introduction to Health Services and Health Care Systems
  3. HLSC 809 Multidisciplinary Approaches to Health Services
  4. HLSC 814 Theory in the Health Sciences

Research Core (18 Hours)

  1. HLSC 810 Research Design and Application
  2. HLSC 811 Quantitative Research Methods in Health Care
  3. HLSC 812 Qualitative Research Methods
  4. HLSC 813 Measurement of Health Phenomena

5. HLSC 746 Epidemiology [ZQ(1]

  1. HLSC 873 Development of Grants and Contracts in Health Professions

Choose 1 of 2 tracks (12 credits from either track)

Track 1: Health Administration & Policy (HAP)

  1. HLSC 702 Health Management
  2. HLSC 864 Health Economics & Policy
  3. HLSC 872 Policy and Politics of Health
  4. HLSC 868 Internship in Health Services
  5. HLSC 874 Administration in Health Services

Track 2: Applied Health Research (AHR)

  1. HLSC 785 Global Health Research
  2. HLSC 804 Methods of Program Evaluation
  3. HLSC 815 Applied Decision Analysis
  4. HLSC 861 Advanced Quantitative Methods
  5. HLSC 898 Supervised Research

Electives (Choose any 2-3 credits - list not all-inclusive)

  1. HLSC 706 Leadership
  2. HLSC 778 Global Environmental Health
  3. HLSC 805 Interprofessional Study Abroad in Global Health

Colloquium (4 hours)

  1. HLSC 889 Colloquium I
  2. HLSC 890 Colloquium II
  3. HLSC 891 Colloquium III
  4. HLSC 892 Colloquium IV

Dissertation (12 hours)

Please refer to HSR PhD Handbook for more information on the Dissertation

Overview of the Dissertation

Candidacy Exam

  1. The candidacy examination is comprehensive in nature and consists of written and oral components and is scheduled during the semester in which the last formal graduate credits are completed.
    1. Written Candidacy Examination is consisted of Grant Proposal

    b. Oral Candidacy Examination is hour and half long in-depth discussion with the committee members about the written topics.

    1. Students demonstrate a mastery of the subject matter in all fields of the program including research skills
    2. To be eligible
      1. GPA 3.0
      2. Meet all program requirements
    3. Examination is scheduled for the first week of November (Fall Semester), the last week of March (Spring Semester), and the last week of July (Summer Semester).

    Advancement to Candidacy

    Students are responsible for the initiation of the Request for Advancement to Candidacy after student has successfully competed formal coursework, passed the candidacy examination (written and oral) and have obtained approval of the topic from the dissertation committee.

    Dissertation Proposal (discuss by faculty)

    1. Topic selected should be related to Health Science Research (see the topics of dissertations for our past students).
    2. Proposal should showcase the student's mastery on research skills, writing and scholarly independent investigation.
    3. The proposal defense is delivered in form of presentation in presence of dissertation committee members.
    4. Presentation is typically 30-45-minute long and followed by questions and answers.

    Three Article Format

    1. Students are responsible for three full-length publishable manuscript during the program.
    2. Manuscripts should be approved by the committee members.

    Research Project Format

    1. Independent research conducted on the selected topic
    2. Consist of Introduction, literature summary, methods, results, and discussion.

Final Dissertation Defense

Must be approved by the dissertation chairperson and the dissertation committee prior oral defense.

Oral Defense

The oral dissertation defense is scheduled to understand the candidate's research in more depth by exploring the research methodology, results, and outcomes with candidate.

Graduate Global Health Certification

College of Health Sciences offers a Certification program for professionals or students interested in practicing health globally. It is a competitive, comprehensive online program that offers training in various health issues and prepares students to take the challenge of resolving them. (https://www.odu.edu/academics/programs/certificate/global-health)

[ZQ(1]A new course for Ph.D. in Fall 2022

Diversity & Inclusiveness

Aligned with ODU statement on the diversity and inclusiveness, Health Services Research program is committed to value the unique perspective that students bring regardless their diverse background. Faculty and staff of Health Services Research aims to provide healthy and discrimination free environment for the students.

Program welcomes students with equal opportunity and are not judged based on their racial, ethnic, sex, gender, and disability status.

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