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What is Health Services Research?

Health services research identifies and answers important questions regarding health services and policies in the United States. The goal of health services research is to inform policy and practice and to improve the health outcomes of individuals and populations.

What is a PhD in Health Services Research and Policy?

This Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Services Research and Policy program is designed to train doctoral students to pursue original quantitative, qualitative and/or mixed methods research in the broad areas of health policy and health services research in the United States and abroad, with an emphasis on research that can be translated into policy, programs and/or practice.

Students benefit from engagement with the Department of Health Management and Policy’s interdisciplinary faculty, the Dornsife School of Public Health’s emphasis on urban health and social justice, and the School’s location in Philadelphia—the 6th largest city in the United States—where dynamic networks of academic, government, non-profit, and community-based organizations share a commitment to addressing health problems.

Drexel Dornsife's current Phd in Health Services Research and Policy students are studying important research topics such as mental health services, Hispanic/Latino health, urban health disparities, access to nutrition, and substance misuse.

Funded Slots for Students for 2024-2025 Academic Year

The PhD program in Health Services Research and Policy is accepting applications for multiple fully-funded slots for the 2024-2025 academic year. Tuition, health insurance, and a stipend at the NIH rate are provided. Faculty who are potentially accepting students include, but are not limited to:

  • Dr. Kasim Ortiz: Dr. Ortiz’s lab currently is focused on improving rigorous methodologies regarding the implementation of community-engaged research, with an explicit focus on substance use (smoking) related dynamics among sexual and gender minority populations. Importantly, this work seeks to illuminate how structural racism shapes the health of Black + Latine queer populations; uncovering multilevel drivers of empowerment (e.g., interplay between organizational and individual) that can thwart harmful substance use. Diverse methodological approaches and the utilization of various types of data, including secondary data and systematized review analytic techniques, are deployed in Dr. Ortiz’s lab.
  • Dr. Alina Schnake-Mahl: Students will work on and should have interest in projects related to analysis and evaluation of United States state and city policies and relationship to health inequities.
  • Dr. Lindsay Shea: Students will have opportunities to work on projects focused at the intersection of disability and public health, large data sources from national sources, and policy-specific initiatives particularly centered in public health insurance sources.
  • COMPASS Coordinating Center: DSPH received a $20 million, five-year award from the NIH Common Fund to serve as the national coordinating center for Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) program, a cutting-edge NIH endeavor to study health equity solutions nationwide. The ComPASS program enables research at 25 community-serving institutions that address underlying structural factors within communities such as access to education, healthy food, employment, transportation, and health care. The HSRP program is recruiting 1-2 PhD students to work with COMPASS Cores that provide data and methodological support for the coordinating center. HMP faculty eligible to support these students include Drs. Jessie Pintor and Kasim Ortiz (co-leads of Research Capability Building Core), Lindsay Shea (co-lead of Data Core), and Jan Eberth (co-lead of Admin Core), in collaboration with other faculty leading and co-leading COMPASS activities.

Feel free to reach out to Brent Langellier, PhD, MA, Associate Professor, Health Management and Policy, with questions.

Why Pursue a PhD in Health Services Research and Policy at Drexel

Unique benefits of the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy program at Drexel Dornsife include:

  • The ability to choose a cognate to further your research interests
  • Renowned faculty with a mix of practice and research backgrounds. Faculty specialize in health services research and policy across broad areas of topics and methods.
  • Examples of areas of expertise within the department include:
  • Implementation science
  • Population mental health
  • Health disparities and immigrant health
  • Maternal and child health policy
  • Systems science methods

All applicants to the PhD in Health Policy program are automatically reviewed for a graduate assistantship, which includes full tuition remission, a health insurance subsidy and a stipend in exchange for 20 hours-a-week of teaching and/or research support, based on department needs. Graduate assistantships can be renewed yearly based on student's performance and available funding.

Prospective doctoral students are also eligible for the Urban Health Collaborative Doctoral Fellowship Program. Fellows will be supported to conduct urban health research under the mentorship of a faculty research sponsor. Fellows will receive a stipend, full tuition remission and additional support for research and travel. Awards are renewable for a second year.

PhD in Health Services Research & Policy Competencies & Learning Objectives

Students in the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy program will be prepared to:

  • Weigh the social, political, behavioral, and economic contexts of health and health services
  • Develop and use theoretical frameworks to formulate testable research questions in health services research
  • Apply quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods to answer health services research questions
  • Translate and disseminate research findings to inform health services practice and policy
  • Ensure the ethical and responsible conduct of health services and policy research

Enhance your skill set and propel your career forward with a PhD in Health Services Research and Policy from the CEPH-accredited number one school of public health in Philadelphia. Start your application today.

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PhD in Health Services Research and Policy Admissions Requirements

The Dornsife School of Public Health seeks students who wish to use their training to improve the U.S. healthcare system, individual health, and population health outcomes through research and advocacy. Applicants who demonstrate a strong commitment to research are preferred.

To be considered for the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy program at Drexel Dornsife School of Public Health, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of a Master's degree with a concentration in public health, health services research, health policy, health care management, or other social science-related fields.
  • Successful completion of undergraduate- and graduate-level coursework in quantitative analytic methods.
  • Evidence of prior research experience.

Application Requirements for the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy Program

In order for your application for the PhD in Health Services Research to be reviewed, applicants must complete the following:

  • Online application
  • Official transcripts from every college-level institution you attended (academic records from institutions outside the U.S. must undergo a credentials evaluation).
  • English proficiency test score (TOEFL or IELTS), if applicable
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of Purpose and Objectives
  • Writing sample

A note on official GRE scores: GRE scores will not be a part of the Drexel University Department of Health Management and Policy application for those applying for Fall 2024 entry. The Admissions Committee will continue to evaluate candidates based on a holistic and overall assessment of the required application materials. 

Admissions and Application requirements

Health Services Research and Policy PhD Curriculum

The PhD in Health Services Research and Policy curriculum equips students with skills and training in the following core areas:

  • Social and political determinants of health and health systems
  • Research methods
  • Health economics
  • Implementation science
  • Research specialization

Required Courses to Complete a PhD in Health Services Research & Policy

The PhD in Health Services Research & Policy degree program consists of required core courses and electives. Students consult with their faculty mentor to select electives that enhance the student's research and professional goals.

Core courses in the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy program include:

  • HMP 511 Legal Aspects of Public Health – 3 credits
  • HMP 802 Health and Human Rights – 3 credits
  • BST 560 Intermediate Biostatistics I – 3 credits
  • ECON 550 Econometrics – 3 credits
  • HMP 810 Health Services Research – 3 credits
  • HMP 815 Cost Benefit Analysis for Health Services – 3 credits
  • HMP 852 Health Economics I – 3 credits
  • HMP 820 Methods in Implementation Science – 3 credits

Degree Requirements for the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy

Completion of the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy will require:

  • A minimum of 90 quarter credit hours (21 credits from master's degree will be transferred over)
  • Passing the doctoral comprehensive examination;
  • Passing the dissertation proposal defense;
  • Completing a research dissertation of publishable quality; and
  • Passing the final dissertation defense.

Students can complete the program in as little as three years.

To learn more about the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy degree requirements, courses, and plans of study, visit the links below.

Review degree requirements and courses

Sample Plan of Study

What Can You Do With a PhD in Health Policy?

The PhD in Health Services Research and Policy prepares researchers and scholars for careers in universities and other organizations, such as state and local governmental agencies and private health-related industries (insurers, pharmaceuticals, philanthropic foundations, etc.), where health services research is conducted.

Some health research and policy positions require a master's degree for entry level positions, while some jobs require a health policy PhD.

With a PhD in Health Services Research and Policy, individuals have the opportunity to explore unique and valuable career paths, including:

  • University Professor
  • Program Director
  • Public Health Policy Analyst
  • Research Scientist
  • Senior Policy Manager
  • Health Policy Consultant

Program graduates find rewarding and successful careers, serving to improve the U.S. healthcare system, individual health, and population health outcomes through research and advocacy.

PhD in Health Services Research and Policy Salary Scale

While salary can range across industries, the median salary for a research analyst was $85,720 in May 2022. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated job outlook is much faster than average, growing at 23%.

The median salary for a medical scientist was $99,930 in May 2022, and the estimated job outlook is 10%, which is much faster than average.

Job Title Median Salary
Research Analyst $85,720
Medical Scientist $99,930

To learn more about the PhD in Health Services Research and Policy, request more information and get in touch with one of our academic advisors today.

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95 percent of Drexel Dornsife doctoral students receive some kind of funding

Paying for Your Public Health Degree

Ninety-five percent of PhD students receive tuition remission, stipend, and health insurance.

In general, PhD students finance their education through a variety of sources, and the Dornsife School of Public Health provides financial support through training grants, scholarships, stipends, and working as a teaching or research assistant.

Explore scholarships and financial aid


Brent A. Langellier, PhD, MA
Program Director
Assistant Professor, Health Management and Policy

David A. Wood, MBA, MS
Executive Director, Enrollment Management