PhD in Health Systems and Services Research



The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health offers a program of instruction leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Health Systems and Services Research (HSSR). The program provides students with the theoretical and methodological foundations necessary to conduct creative and independent research on health systems and services, with the ultimate goals of identifying pathways to improved health system and services performance through evidence-based policy and management. The curriculum involves intensive and focused study in the theoretical perspectives and methodological strategies relevant to research on the organization, financing, and delivery of health services, including issues of quality, accessibility, efficiency, and equity within systems of care. Students will develop scholarly expertise in these areas of study, advanced skills in quantitative research methods, and a high standard of scientific integrity and professionalism. Job opportunities for individuals with this degree exist in university-based and independent health services research centers, health policy institutes, foundations and philanthropic organizations, consulting firms, and professional and advocacy associations working at state and national levels.

Students are expected to gain experience in a chosen substantive area, often related to the expertise of department faculty, which includes the areas of health economics, health insurance, access to care, quality of care, long-term care, rural health care, nutrition policy, health disparities, community-based public health, and public health policy and law. A student’s course work and substantive area of study will combine to form a coherent theoretical, institutional, and methodological knowledge base that the student will use to pursue dissertation research.

Read more about our Health Policy and Management Department

How To Apply

Admission Requirements

Any individual desiring admission to this program must submit application materials through the on-line centralized School of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS), which outlines complete application content. Once submitted through SOPHAS, the application materials will be administered to a review committee by the UAMS Graduate School.

It is preferred that students have received an M.P.H. or related graduate degree (e.g. M.P.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D.) prior to entry into the program, along with some relevant experience in health policy or health services. Well qualified students without a master’s degree are encouraged to apply, but note that pre-requisite coursework, such as Intro to Public Health (COPH 5003) may be required (with a minimum grade of a B) based on the undergraduate degree held.

Students are required to submit a Personal Statement in their application packet to describe and substantiate their areas of research and policy interest to assess a close match between student interests and faculty expertise.

Students are strongly encouraged to submit a GRE score from an exam taken within five (5) years immediately preceding the requested semester of the admission. GRE scores at or above the 50th percentile in both Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning are preferred for full consideration for admission to the program. International student must present a TOFEL score of at least 80.  The TOEFL requirement is waived for International applicants who earned an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an accredited educational institution is the US or in a country in which English is both the primary spoken language and the language of instruction in educational institutions.

Scholarships and Assistantships

A limited number of research assistantships for the PhD in HSSR are available on a competitive basis for qualified students that cover tuition and up to $30,000 a year in stipends for up to three years.

We also offer a pre-doctoral scholarship (ARCHD-T32) for students with an interest in health disparities research and advanced data analytics. This four-year program is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Minority Health and Disparities, and includes an annual stipend and tuition discounts. To learn more about this program, visit our ARCHD-T32 web page, or contact Mick Tilford, Ph.D. at


The PhD Program is designed for full-time study and requires a minimum of seventy (70) semester credit hours of study, which can be completed within a three-year period. Students will spend their first two years in full-time residential study at UAMS completing coursework in four core areas:

  1. Eighteen (18) semester hours of course work in health system and services theory and applications;
  2. Thirteen (13) semester credit hours of course work in research methodology;
  3. Fifteen (15) semester credit hours of selective course work to allow for an area of concentrated study; and,
  4. Six (6) semester credit hours of course work on scholarship skills.

The HSSR curriculum and course descriptions can be viewed online in the UAMS academic catalog.

After completing these 52 hours of coursework with the minimum 3.0 grade-point average, students must successfully pass written doctoral candidate examinations demonstrating mastery of core areas of the coursework before progressing to dissertation work.

Students who receive passing grades on all examinations will then focus on the development, conduct, and defense of their dissertation research under the guidance of a doctoral dissertation committee comprised of faculty members chosen by the student. As the first step in the dissertation research process, students must develop a written proposal of their dissertation research and successfully defend the proposal during an oral presentation before their committee. After successfully defending their dissertation proposal, students must complete the research (in a minimum of eighteen (18) credit hours) as proposed, develop a written document (taking one of two allowable formats) that details their completed dissertation research, and successfully defend the research during a public, oral presentation to their dissertation committee and other interested parties. The dissertation research must represent valid, independent research conducted by the student that makes a significant contribution to health policy, health system and services management and practice, and/or health system and services research methodology. The dissertation research may include analysis of existing, secondary data and/or analysis of primary data collected by the candidate.

Completion of these requirements ensures that graduates have attained competencies for the Ph.D. in Health Systems and Services Research.

Ph.D. in Health Systems Research Competencies

For More Information

Program Director:
Anthony Goudie, Ph.D.
4301 West Markham, Mail Slot 820
Little Rock, AR 72205