VCU Bulletins

Healthcare Policy and Research, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Barnes, Dr. Andrew
Graduate Program Director

For inquiries contact:
Grant, Kate
Program Coordinator
(804) 828-5329

Admission requirements summary

Healthcare Policy and Research, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

of entry:


Applications by Jan 15 strongly encouraged

Special requirements:
Please see program admission requirements below.

The Ph.D. program in Healthcare Policy and Research trains students to use economic and statistical frameworks and methods to address health policy issues. With an interdisciplinary and integrated curriculum, the program is designed to prepare individuals for academic careers or senior research positions in government or the private sector. The program requires 38 credits of course work in methodological and policy training plus a minimum of 12 credits of electives and a minimum of nine credits of dissertation research.

Student learning outcomes

Sample curriculum

The sample curriculum provides one example of how the course requirements are met during the first two years. Additional course options are available where indicated.

Fall 1
ECON 501 Introduction to Econometrics* 3
HCPR 699 Departmental Seminar 1
HCPR 701 Health Services Research and Policy I 3
OVPR 601 Scientific Integrity 1
Elective 3
Semester total 11
Spring 1
ECON 612 Econometrics 3
HCPR 699 Departmental Seminar 1
HCPR 702 Health Services Research and Policy II 3
HCPR 703 Health Economics: Theory and Principles 3
Elective 3
Semester total 13
Fall 2
ECON 642 Panel and Nonlinear Methods in Econometrics* 3
EPID 650 Epidemiologic Methods for Research 3
HCPR 699 Departmental Seminar 1
HCPR 732 Research Design and Proposal Preparation 3
Elective 3
Semester total 13
Spring 2
HADM 763 Health Program Evaluation* 3
HCPR 689 Applied Research in Health Policy and Health Services 3
HCPR 699 Departmental Seminar 1
HCPR 733 Statistical Methods in Analysis and Healthcare Research 3
Elective 3
Semester total 13
Years 3 and 4
HCPR 899 Directed Research 3/6
HCPR 899 Directed Research 3/6
Two-year total 9
Total 59
* Other course choices may be substituted.

A cumulative GPA of 3.0 must be maintained. Students must receive a minimum grade of B for all required courses. A student who receives a grade of C in a required course shall repeat the course. A second grade of C in a required course shall result in dismissal from the program. At the discretion of the HCPR Doctoral Committee, a student who is retaking a required course may still be eligible to take the comprehensive examination and to start the dissertation prior to repeating the course.

At the end of the second year of required course work, students will take a written comprehensive examination designed to evaluate the student’s ability to: 1) integrate course material; 2) demonstrate critical thinking and evaluation of the literature in healthcare policy and research; and 3) demonstrate quantitative analysis skills.

After passing the written comprehensive examination, the student will schedule the proposal defense within 12 months. Following successful defense of the proposal, the student will prepare three manuscripts of publishable quality that will comprise the body of the dissertation and will orally defend the dissertation. It is anticipated that students will complete the program in four to five years. All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within six years from the date of admission to the degree program. Extensions may be approved in extenuating circumstances.

For additional information, see

Program admission requirements

  1. College-level course in calculus with a minimum grade of B.
  2. Graduation from an accredited university or its equivalent, with a master’s degree in a related discipline (e.g., economics, public health, public policy, health administration, public administration). Applicants must have completed relevant course work (including microeconomics and introductory statistics) or have professional experience in a health-related field (two years minimum) that provides an appropriate background for graduate level study in healthcare policy and research.
  3. Graduate Record Exam within the past five years with minimum scores equivalent to 500/153 verbal, 600/148 quantitative. Analytic writing scores of 4.5 preferred. A writing sample may be requested.
  4. Applicants from countries where English is not the primary and official national language must complete one of the following:
    • English proficiency verification through official TOEFL score 550 or higher
    • Graduate with a master’s degree following two years of study at a U.S. institution
    • English language proficiency certification through appropriate English training programs at other U.S. institutions, or English language proficiency certification by passing the English Language Proficiency Examination and/or the corresponding English Language Institute courses
  5. Applicants who hold an international degree will have their qualifications reviewed by the credentials evaluator of the VCU Global Education Office’s credentials evaluator.
  6. Three letters of recommendation from individuals who are in a position to judge the applicant’s ability to engage in interdisciplinary graduate study in healthcare policy and research are required. At least one recommendation must be from an individual who can comment on the applicant’s academic qualifications (e.g., former instructor or adviser).
  7. A written statement of professional intent that includes the proposed area of research interest.
  8. A curriculum vitae or resume.
  9. A recent writing sample, such as a first author, peer-reviewed publication; a master’s thesis; a book chapter; a policy brief or report; or a graduate course paper. An undergraduate course paper may be substituted if none of the above is available.
  10. Prospective students must be available to interview either in person or teleconference via technology such as Skype.

To apply please visit



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Last update: 10/9/2014

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