Program Description

The Health Services Research (HSR) doctoral program in offers training in research methods to advance knowledge of issues central to the improvement of population health by focusing on organizational characteristics of health care delivery systems, providers and economic forces that shape consumer and provider behavior, as well as the policy environment in which these relationships exist. The competency-based curriculum provides students with a strong analytic foundation and general health services research orientation. Students may select an emphasis area in Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, Healthcare Economics or Comparative Effectiveness Research and Evidence-based Medicine.

HSR Graduate Program Director: Amal Trivedi  | Program Manager: Catherine (Cat) Leopold     


HSR Seminars

SIZED HSR Doctoral Students with HSR Seminar Speaker Abigail Friedman on Nov. 13, 2019.png

             HSR doctoral students with HSR Seminar guest lecturer Dr. Abigail Friedman,                       
         November 13, 2019
Our students have one-on-one access to eminent leaders in the
         field of health services research from around the country at the HSR Seminar Series lectures.


Student Groups

Our students participate in and form groups such as the HSR Journal Club and the Student Writing Accountability Group (SWAG). SWAG meets weekly in a local coffee shop where HSR students write in solidarity with each other with specific program goals in mind.

HSR students at a SWAG meeting











Academic Program Handbook

HSR Doctoral Program Handbook 2020 - 2021

PhD in Health Services Research - Basic Degree Requirements

If matriculating into the program with a master's degree, students must complete 16 tuition units. If matriculating without a master's degree, students must complete 24 tuition units.

Degree completion requirements for all doctoral students at the School of Public Health include:

  1. Completion of a program of courses covering core areas of required expertise.
  2. Demonstration of proficiency in teaching.
  3. Synthesis of a core body of knowledge to be evaluated via a written examination.
  4. Demonstration of readiness to undertake original research, via oral presentation and defense of a written dissertation proposal (oral exam).
  5. Completion and oral defense of a dissertation that makes an original contribution in the chosen field of study.

The methods for meeting these requirements may differ depending on the individual program of study

PhD in Health Services Research - Required Courses
All course offerings are subject to change. Consult [email protected] for the most up-to-date schedule and course descriptions.

Concepts learned in the classroom are reinforced through lectures, reading courses, and other structured learning experiences. Additional coursework beyond those listed depends on the requirements of the specialty track. 

Foundations in Epidemiologic Research Methods (PHP2150)
Intermediate Methods in Epidemiologic Research (PHP2200)
Principles of Biostatistics and Data Analysis (PHP2510)
The US Health Care System:  Case Studies in Financing, Delivery, Regulation and Public Health (PHP2400)
Health Services Research Methods I (PHP2455A)
Graduate Independent Student and Thesis Research (Full Credit)  (PHP2980)
Development of a Research Proposal in Public Health (PHP2850)

PhD in Health Services Research-Specialty Tracks

In addition to demonstrated ability in the eight core competency areas, students are expected to select a specialty track: Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, Healthcare Economics or Comparative Effectiveness Research and Evidence-based Medicine. Students may create their own specialty track in conjunction with their advisor. Permission for the plan of study must be obtained by the Graduate Program Director.

Specialty Track in Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmaceutical Health Services Research

The Department of Health Services Policy & Practice is committed to advancing safe, effective, and cost-effective pharmaceutical use.  While drug products and devices are evaluated for efficacy in clinical trials, their population effectiveness is dependent upon their dissemination to patients who can benefit from them while at the same time limiting the adverse consequences inherent to their use.  Students in our graduate program benefit from interdisciplinary, state-of-the-art training in epidemiology and biostatistics and application of real-world data to contemporary gaps in knowledge. These applications broadly span pharmacoepidemiology and pharmaceutical health services research.

Pharmacoepidemiology is the application of the principles of epidemiology to the study the use and effects of medications and other medical devices, generally in large populations.  Most studies examine the adverse events or therapeutic benefits of drugs or medical devices after products have been launched (post-marketing).  Such work is critical to overcome the inherent limitations of pre-marketing studies and for supporting the most appropriate use of medications/devices with respect to safety and effectiveness.

Pharmaceutical health services research moves beyond the risks and benefits of drugs in selected populations to important questions about access, quality, and costs.  Despite the fact that the United States spends more on pharmaceuticals than any other nation, there remain significant disparities in prescribing and utilization, poor adherence, and failure to achieve therapeutic outcomes. 

Specialty in Health Economics

The goal of the specialty track in health economics is to offer additional training in both the theory and methods of economics in order to prepare students to to better understanding the demand for health services and the industry factors that influence the distribution and shape of health care services in different markets.

In addition to demonstrated ability in the eight core competency areas, students selecting the health economics specialty take 3 additional courses.

Required Courses (Students are required to select 3 courses)

Health Economics (ECON 1360) 
Note: Undergraduate concentrators in Community Health may use this course to the meet the U.S. Health Care Organization Policy elective requirement. This course is an approved MPH elective.

Industrial Organization (ECON 1460) 
Note: Approved course selection for Health Services Research, specialty track in Health Economics.

Race and Inequality in the United States (ECON 1370) 
Note: Approved course selection for Health Services Research, specialty track in Health Ecomnomics.

Economics of Health and Population (ECON 2360) 
Note: Required course for Health Services Research, specialty track in Health Economics.

Economics of Medical Therapies: Health Policy and Practice (PHP 2350) 
Note: 1.000 Credit hours 1.000 Lecture hours

In response to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) notice NOT-OD-13-093, and the Brown University School of Public Health mandate regarding the use of Individual Development Plans (IDP) for graduate students, effective April 1, 2015, the doctoral program in Health Services Research will require:

  • All incoming, matriculating doctoral students (regardless of funding source) to complete an IDP, in consultation with their advisor, by the beginning of their second semester.  
  • All doctoral students (regardless of funding source) to submit an updated IDP, in consultation with their advisor, on an annual basis.  

NOTE:  Doctoral students may submit an earlier version of an IDP that they have completed as long as it was initially completed within the last few years and has been reviewed/ discussed with their Graduate Program Directors and/or advisors.

The IDP is a valuable tool that gives students the opportunity to address their short-term and long-term career goals.  In order to achieve compliance with the IDP policy, please fill out the Individual Development Plan for Health Services Research Doctoral Students, discuss with your advisor, and submit your completed form.