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PhD Research Areas

Each student in the PhD program begins their course sequence with a series of core courses, where they are exposed to a broad range of analytic, data science, and conceptual tools critical to conducting health services research. Beyond these core courses, all PhD students will have the opportunity to develop a higher level of skill by focusing on one of two research areas known as cognates:  1) Health Economics or 2) Health Politics & Policy.  Students must select their preferred cognate area by the end of their first semester in the program.  All students also have 12 credit hours of electives to develop expertise in areas relevant to their research interests.

Health Economics

By working with nationally distinguished faculty and research centers, the health economics cognate prepares students for careers as health economists and data scientists with emphasis on empirical evaluation focused on health care costs, health care organizations, and the impact of health policy. In addition to the PhD core and required methods courses, students in this cognate will take courses in advanced health economics, cost-effectiveness analysis, and health insurance. Overall, the cognate combines the latest in economic theory, data science, health informatics, and analytical skills to equip students for positions in academia, research institutes, government agencies, and the private sector.

Recent graduates of the health economics cognate have produced dissertation research focused on important issues in health economics, including the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the relationship between health, health insurance and retirement, as well as patterns of out-of-pocket health expenditures and healthcare service use among patients with cancer.

Health Politics & Policy

Students in the health politics and policy cognate work with health policy faculty and our research centers to better understand the development, passage, and impact of health policies. Students also learn about the politics of public health and study the influence of health policies on health access, quality, cost, and population health. In addition to the PhD core and required methods courses, students in this cognate will take courses in health policy analysis, health policy and politics, and advanced health policy. Overall, the cognate provides students with the background needed in policy theory, research methodologies, and analytical skills for future careers in health policy design, health policy analysis, and health policy research.

Recent graduates of the health policy and politics cognate have produced important dissertations on topics such as the impact of Medicaid expansion on individuals with diabetes and how parents of children with special needs coordinate medical care for their children.