PhD In Health Services Research

Health policy research examines the development, implementation and effects of policy actions taken at the local, state, national and/or international level. Health policy research is not involved in the advocacy of particular policies. Rather, it strives to better understand how and why policies are created and executed. Most importantly, it seeks to determine the effects of policies on the health and health care of populations and population subgroups.

If public policy is to be efficient and fair, policy makers need access to rigorous research that examines the impacts of policy decisions on relevant consumers and providers. They also need an understanding of what may be unintended consequences of policy actions.

The program in health policy research begins to provide this level of research by bringing together resources in the School of Public Health, Texas A&M University and ultimately, The Texas A&M University System. The interactions of skilled researchers and doctoral students improve the quality of the research, generates new ideas and solutions, and allows the overall research endeavor to be more than the sum of its individual parts.

On-going seminar series:

One objective of the program is to host a monthly seminar throughout the academic year featuring nationally known researchers who will present their work-in-progress. It is through this external collaboration with leaders in health policy research that students are given the opportunity to identify research topics of importance to external constituencies and to identify opportunities for the funding of health policy projects and programs of mutual interest. In the past academic year, we have serviced:

  • Dr. Kosali Simon – Herman B Wells Endowed Professor, Indiana University Bloomington, “Health Insurance and Mortality”
  • Dr. Conrad Tucker – Director of the Design Analysis Technology Advancement Laboratory at Penn State, “The Virtually-Merged Clinic: Enabling Real-Time Patient-Physician Interactions through Healthcare Data Mining.”
  • Dr. Robert Town – Professor of Economics, Faculty Research Associate, Population Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, “Regulating Innovation with Uncertain Quality: Information, Risk, and Access in Medical Devices.”
  • Dr. Michelle Mello – Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, “Outcomes of a Communication-and-Resolution Program in Two Massachusetts Hospital Systems”
  • Dr. Janet Bronstein – Senior Scholar, Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, Professor, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Preterm Birth in the United States. A Sociocultural Approach”
  • Dr. Guy David – Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania, “The Inner Workings of the Patient-Centered Medical Home Model.”
  • Dr. Patricia Born – Eminent Scholar and Doctoral Program Director, Risk Management/Insurance, Florida State University, “The Managed Care Options: Does Utilization Management Affect Financial Performance.”
  • Mr. Matthew Penn – Director, Public Health Law Program within the CDC’s Office of State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, “Public Health Law in the 21 st Century.”
  • Dr. Michael Carter – Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, “Healthcare Engineering: Models to Support Healthcare Decision Making.”
  • Dr. Jean Abraham – Associate Professor, Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota, “Trends in Competition and Value in Corporate Wellness: Perspectives from the Supply-Side.”
  • Dr. Bisakha (Pia) Sen – Professor, Department of Healthcare Organization and Policy, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Effectiveness of Pediatrics Preventative Dental Care.”

Cross-campus collaboration:

The program will initially collaborate with the faculties in the School of Public Health and the Bush School of Government and Public Service.  It is anticipated that over time, the program will also work with faculties in the economics, political science, and agricultural economics departments, and the Mays School of Business. From time to time the program will host national and regional symposia in which national and local health policy researchers will present their work to be reviewed and critiqued by their colleagues. Already scheduled is: 

The Annual Health Economics Conference in 2018 undertaken with the support of the School of Public Health, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, and the Department of Economics. 

Health Competencies:

Each student in the PhD program will, in the core courses, receive exposure to a broad range of analytic and conceptual tools with which to investigate issues in health services. However, in order to provide the students with an opportunity to develop a higher level of skill in using a single conceptual approach to the evaluation of health services, they will take nine credit hours in one of two cognate areas: 1) Health Politics & Policy, 2) Health Economics.

In addition, each student will, with the assistance of his or her adviser, choose an area of substantive specialization for nine credit hours of work. This combination of a general core, a cognate conceptual area, and an area of substantive specialization will provide graduates with both the depth and breadth of knowledge in health services research that should make them very competitive in both the academic and research community job markets. For more information review the PhD Student Handbook.



PhD Program Chair

Robert Ohsfeldt, PhD


PhD Program Vice Chair

Michael Morrisey, PhD