PhD Curriculum

 

Doctoral Program courses are distributed across four areas:

  • Foundations of health services organization and research (11 credit hours);
  • Health services organization theory core (12 credit hours);
  • Health services research methods (18 credit hours); and
  • Electives (7 credit hours).

In addition, 9 dissertation credit hours are required. The course work is sequenced so that it can be completed in two years of full-time study. A part-time option, which requires three years of course work, is also available. Required courses are listed below. Other courses, independent studies, special topics, and practicum courses are available as electives in the Department of Health Administration as well as in other VCU departments.

Foundation of Health Services Organization and Research - 11 credit hours

(Each course is a three hour semester course, three credit hours, unless otherwise noted.)

Health System Organization, Financing and Performance (HADM 602) - Examines the structure, functioning and financing of the U.S. health services system. Emphasizes foundational concepts for understanding and analyzing patterns of health and illness; health care cost, quality, access and utilization; workforce; competition in health care markets; and supplier, provider and payer effectiveness and efficiency.

Health Economics (HADM 624) - Prerequisites: ECON 203 with a minimum grade of B and ECON 211. Develops an understanding of (1) economics as a managerial tool in making choices or decisions that will provide for an optimum allocation of limited health care resources and (2) economics as a way of thinking about and approaching issues of public policy in financing and organizing health and medical services. Individual research on crucial or controversial issues in the health care field. Crosslisted as: ECON 624.

Research in Health Care Financing and Delivery Systems (HADM 702) – Prerequisites: HADM 701, 704, 705 or permission of the instructor.  Critically reviews and evaluates emerging research in organization, delivery and financing of health care services.

Introduction to Health Services Organization Research I (HADM 711) - (1 cr.) - Assists PhD students in becoming members of the health services research community and developing skills to be a successful researcher.  Introduces students to health services research as a field, major data bases for health services research, career paths, and related ethical issues.  Develops key foundational skills including data base management, statistical software, grant applications and career development.  First in a two course sequence.  

Introduction to Health Services Organization Research II (HADM 713) - Assists PhD students in becoming members of the health services research community and developing skills to be a successful researcher.  Introduces students to health services research as a field, major data bases for health services research, career paths, and related ethical issues.  Develops key foundational skills including data base management, statistical software, grant applications and career development.  Second in a two course sequence. 

Health Services Organization Theory - 12 credit hours

Foundations of Health Organization Theory (HADM 704) - Examines the roots of foundational theories and concepts in organization theory and their application to research on health care organizations and systems. Emphasizes the environment and structure of health care organizations and systems.

Advanced Health Service Organization Theory (HADM 705) – Prerequisite: HADM 704 or permission of the instructor.  Covers contemporary perspectives in health organization theory in depth, with emphasis on their research application in health care organizations. Critically assesses current examples of research on health care organizations using these perspectives.

Organizational Behavior for Health Services Research (HADM 701) - Prerequisite: HADM 704 and HADM 705 or permission from instructor. Analysis of medical care organizations at both micro and macro levels. Critical review of empirical research in organizational analysis and design. Identifies measurement issues related to the quality of care and to the formulation of evaluative research on health services programs.

Health Services Research Methods - 18 credit hours

Health Services Research Methods I (HADM 761) - Prerequisites: upper division course in statistics. Research as a systematic method for examining questions derived from related theory and/or health service practice. Major focus in on the logic of casual inference, including the formulation of testable hypotheses relating to health services organizations and management, the design of methods and measures to facilitate study, and the concepts, principles, and methods of epidemiology.

Applied Health Services Research (HADM 763) - Prerequisites: HADM 761 and ECON 501 or permission of the instructor.  Seminar for Ph.D. students who have had courses in quantitative analysis of health care data and research methods. Develops framework for classifying the major topics and issues addressed by health services research. Explores the relationships between health services research, policy analysis and program evaluation. Emphasizes assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of the health system at various levels of analysis. Stresses the importance of conceptual modeling as a foundation to rigorous empirical research.

Introduction to Econometrics (ECON 501) - Semester course 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ECON 500, 210 or 203, the latter with a minimum grade of B; and MGMT 301, STAT 210 or STAT 212. Sources and uses of economic data; includes the application of statistical methods and regression analysis to time series and cross-section data to test hypotheses of micro- and macroeconomics.

Econometrics (ECON 612). Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ECON 501. Provides empirical content to the theoretical concepts of the economics by formulating and estimating models. Introduction to simultaneous equation problems in economics and the studies of production, demand, and consumption functions.

Elective. Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. 

Electives - 7 credit hours

With faculty advisor's assistance, students choose three elective courses that comprise an area of specialization. Generally, these courses are drawn from other programs at VCU and from independent study with department faculty. Students may choose independent study under the direction of faculty mentors in their expertise areas or may enroll in courses in other departments at VCU.

Comprehensive Examinations

Students take two written comprehensive examinations over the coursework: (1) health services organization theory and (2) health services research methods.

Dissertation - 9 credit hours

Upon successful completion of the four major study areas, students devote an additional 9 credit hours to preparing a dissertation. The Doctor of Philosophy degree is awarded after the minimum 57 credit hours of course work are completed, comprehensive exams are passed, and the dissertation is written and defended orally.

Oral Defense of Dissertation Proposal

Students must orally defend their proposal before their dissertation committee.