Ph.D. Areas of Emphasis

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UW Health Services Ph.D. students are required to complete an area of emphasis, taking a minimum of five courses or 15 credits in specialized theory or methods coursework. The area of emphasis is typically chosen after the first year.

Prospective students are welcome to contact faculty representatives of the areas of emphasis to learn of current research activities and opportunities.

General Requirements

Evaluative Sciences and Statistics

Lead Faculty: Emily Williams

The Evaluative Sciences and Statistics area of emphasis provides the student with advanced methods and analytic skills. The student may choose to acquire in-depth skills in a specific field, such as evaluation, econometrics, or statistical techniques; or the student may choose a combination of courses that provide skills in a broader area, such as survey research methods, outcomes assessment, or qualitative methods. In either case, the goal is to develop in-depth knowledge of research methods and analytical techniques that can be applied to the dissertation topic in health services research.

Credit and Course Requirements

Credits Needed: 15

Required Courses

Choose at least four additional courses with the guidance of your mentor. At least two of the four courses must be from the statistics courses list.

Statistics Courses

At least two of the four of the additional required courses you select with guidance of your mentor must be from the following.

Evaluation and Cost-Effectiveness Courses

  • ECON 454: Cost-Benefit Analysis (5 credits)
  • HEOR 530: Economic Evaluation in Health and Medicine (3 credits)
  • HEOR 532: Advanced Methods in Economic and Outcomes Evaluation in Health and Medicine (3 credits)


  • ECON 580: Econometrics I (4 credits)
  • ECON 581: Econometrics II (4 credits)

Survey Methods Courses

Epidemiology Courses

Methods Courses

  • BIOST 524: Design of Medical Studies (3 credits)
  • HSERV 529: Introduction to Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis of Evidence (3 credits)
  • BIME 541: Introduction to Systematic Reviews & Meta-analysis of Evidence (2 credits)
  • NMETH 588: Mixed Methods Research for Health Sciences (4 credits)
  • PUBPOL 513: Public Policy Analysis (3 credits)
  • EDLPS 574: Mixed Methods in Educational Research (3 credits)
  • GH 535: Advanced Methods for Global Health I (4 credits)
  • GH 537: Advanced Methods for Global Health III (4 credits)

Qualitative Methods Courses

Health Behavior and Social Determinants of Health

Lead Faculty: India Ornelas

The Health Behavior and Social Determinants of Health area of emphasis provides opportunities for trainees to apply social and behavioral science theory and methods to the study and practice of public health. The concentration offers specialized instruction in the social determinants of health, health behavior theory, intervention methods, program planning and evaluation, health communication, and community-based participatory research.

Credit and Course Requirements

Credits Needed: 15

Additional Courses

Choose at least two additional courses with mentor or committee guidance.

Health Economics

Lead Faculty: Paul Fishman

Health economics uses economic theory and methods to answer relevant questions in health care and medicine both at the individual and group levels. The area of emphasis in health economics is designed to explore this theory and its applications with the goal of providing doctoral trainees with the skills needed to independently apply this knowledge to different health care settings in their work and also to conduct cutting-edge research within the field. The curriculum covers a broad spectrum of subjects including economics, statistics, epidemiology, health status measurements, health services research, and public policy.

Credit and Course Requirements

Credits Needed: 15

Note: Make sure to check that you meet any prerequisites before registering for the courses listed below.

Prerequisite Courses

Choose one of the following courses, which are for people without a sufficient background in economics.

  • PPM 506: Advanced Microeconomics for Policy Analysis (4 credits)
    Note: Preferred
  • ECON 500: Microeconomic Analysis I (4 credits)

Required Courses

One Additional Course

  • ECON 450: Public Finance: Expenditure Policy (5 credits)
  • ECON 518: Contract Theory (3 credits)
  • ECON 534: Empirical Industrial Organization (3 credits)
  • ECON 591: Microeconomics of Development (3 credits)
  • ECON 592: Development Policy (3 credits)
  • ECON 594: Economic Growth (3 credits)
  • ECON 595: Growth and Inequality (3 credits)

Implementation Science

Lead Faculty: Christian Helfrich

Many evidence-based interventions fail to translate into meaningful patient or public health outcomes because they are not used effectively, consistently, or sometimes used at all, causing a “know-do” gap. Implementation science seeks to close the know-do gap by studying the causes, and developing and evaluating strategies to close it. Implementation scientists have robust theoretical and analytic training to address broad and complex implementation issues in health systems research.

The implementation science area of emphasis prepares Ph.D. students with grounding in implementation concepts and frameworks, advanced methods and analytical skills, practical considerations related to engaging stakeholders, and understanding real-world context. Students may choose to acquire training in quantitative methods and qualitative methods that support their research interests. The goal is to develop in-depth knowledge of implementation theory, applicable research methods and analytical techniques, and real-world implementation considerations that can be applied to a variety of dissertation topics in health systems research.

Credit and Course Requirements

Credits Needed: 15

Required Courses

Choose One

Students can take both and only take one additional elective under “Choose Two.”

  • GH 536: Advanced Methods for Global Health II
  • GH 537: Advanced Methods for Global Health III

Choose Two

If you take both courses listed under “Choose One,” then you only need to select one of the following.

Occupational Health

Lead Faculty: Janessa Graves

Occupational health services researchers study systems affecting worker well-being, develop performance measures, and assess the organization, access, cost, quality, and outcomes of care for work-related injuries and health problems. They also design and evaluate preventive and curative programs that deliver care effectively, efficiently, and equitably. This area of emphasis provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be an occupational health services researcher.

The occupational health area of emphasis is required for students enrolled in the Occupational Health Services Research (OHSR) Training Program. The OHSR Training Program offers training in health services research methods with a focus on occupational health.

The occupational health area of emphasis is based on the custom area of emphasis model, including standardized features necessary to meet the particular needs of OHSR trainees as well as the requirements of the training grant.

Occupational Health Area of Emphasis Criteria

Criteria are based on the custom area of emphasis model for the Health Services Ph.D. program.

The area of emphasis should consist of a cohesive set of courses that prepare the student to conduct occupational health services research. Justification for each proposed course (other than the required courses listed below) must be provided by the student. The justification must describe the student’s individual research focus (e.g., occupational health disparities, workplace health promotion, workers’ compensation system research, occupational injury/illness outcomes research, etc.), and explain how the proposed set of courses are important to the student’s education and training in occupational health services research.

Trainees have the additional option of completing one of the department’s other defined areas of emphasis, but doing so is not required.

Independent study coursework with faculty who have the necessary expertise may be required in order to meet specific educational needs. A maximum of four credits of independent study coursework (600 level, in any combination of credits by quarter) may be counted toward the 15-credit requirement. The content of such coursework must be described and formally justified in the area of emphasis proposal, and approval is not guaranteed. The content must have a focus specific to occupational health research.

Credit and Course Requirements

Credits Needed: 15

Trainees must complete a custom area of emphasis of at least 15 credits, developed in consultation with their mentor and/or the occupational health faculty lead.

Courses not listed below, including courses without an occupational health focus, may be included in the custom area of emphasis proposal with adequate justification, but approval is not guaranteed. It is recommended that approval of the custom area of emphasis proposal be obtained prior to enrollment in courses that are not listed below.

Required Courses

All Ph.D. students in the occupational health area of emphasis must take the following courses.

Required Courses – Choose One

Choose one of the following courses.

  • ENV H 570: Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology (3 credits)
  • ENV H 564: Recognition of Health and Safety Problems in Industry (2 credits)
  • ENV H 550: Occupational and Environmental Disease (3-4 credits)

Recommended Elective Courses

  • HSERV 548: Research Methods for Social and Contextual Determinants of Health (3 credits)
  • HSERV 581: Strategies of Health Promotion (4 credits)
  • ENV H 511: Environmental & Occupational Health (3 credits)
  • ENV H 520: Advanced Technical Communication in Public Health (3 credits)
  • ENV H 556: Quantitative Occupational Exposure Analysis (3 credits)
  • ENV H 564: Recognition of Health and Safety Problems in Industry (2 credits)
  • ENV H 566: Introduction to Ergonomics (3 credits)
  • ENV H 576: Clinical Occupational Medicine (2 credits)
  • ENV H 550: Occupational and Environmental Disease (3-4 credits)
  • ENV H 592: Current Topics in Occupational Health Sciences (1 credit)
    Note: Up to 2 credits of ENV H 592 may be counted
  • ENV H 596: Current Issues in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2 credits)
    Note: Up to 4 credits of ENV H 596/NURS 580 may be counted
  • NSG 554: Occupational Health Nursing: Practice Issues (3 credits)
  • NSG 558: Occupational Health Nursing: Advanced Practice and Leadership in Program Development (3 credits)
  • SOC WL 591: Embodiment of Risk, Outcome Disparities, and Stress Mechanisms (3 credits)
  • MGMT 583: Special Topics in Organizational Behavior Research I (4 credits)
  • MGMT 584: Special Topics in Organizational Behavior Research II (4 credits)

OHSR Training Program