Information for Applicants

Why should I choose UNC?

There are many reasons to attend UNC, including our student-centered culture; emphasis on professional development; outstanding and engaged faculty; and our culture of collaboration. It is also a great place to live. Finally, our students get jobs after graduation.

  • Student-centered culture: HPM works hard to create a student-centered culture. There are many opportunities for informal interactions between students and faculty. And, students have a voice into decisions about the PhD program through the PhD Advisory Committee. This committee, which governs the PhD program, has four student members, one from each cohort. This insures that students have a cohort representative who can provide input into all aspects of the PhD program.
  • Emphasis on professional development: All of the top PhD programs provide students with rigorous training in research and analytical methods, as well as content knowledge in health services and health policy. We also emphasize professional development skills that are essential to our graduates’ long-term success, including: conducting research on interdisciplinary teams; providing real-world experience through shadowing; writing for diverse audiences; and teaching.
  • Faculty: Our faculty are recognized locally and nationally for their research and teaching. When students are admitted, they will have a commitment from a faculty member with overlapping interests who is excited to serve as the advisor and, in most cases, the dissertation chair. This will help insure that the student has a faculty member who advocates for and supports them, even before they arrive at UNC. The faculty members who serve as advisors/dissertation chairs are listed below, along with links to information about them.
Faculty Advisors, HPM PhD Program 
Ethan BaschSandra GreeneCleo Samuel
Antonia Bennett(George) Mark HolmesChris Shea
Sarah BirkenJessica LeePaula Song
Alyssa Mansfield DamonKristen Hassmiller Lich Sally Stearns
Peggye Dilworth-AndersonJonathan OberlanderSean Sylvia
Marisa DominoGeorge PinkJustin Trogdon
Leah FrerichsByron J. PowellMorris Weinberger
Bruce FriedKristin ReiterStephanie Wheeler

Culture of collaboration: We have wonderful collegial relationships throughout the area. At UNC, these include:

We also have strong relationships with organizations external to UNC, including:

Non-academic organizations, including:

Great place to live: The Research Triangle area is one of the most desirable places in the country to live. Durham (which borders Chapel Hill) was rated by The New York Times as one of the top 41 places in the world to visit in 2011. We are also within easy driving distance of the beach or mountains. With two major colleges (UNC and Duke), there are many inexpensive things to do. For example:

Students get jobs: For students who have graduated since 2003, we post their first and current positions, as well as links to their dissertation abstracts (when available) so you can learn about the research our students conduct.

What is the program like?

The PhD program is designed to provide students with the competencies, academic foundation, and research experience to become independent and creative health services/health policy researchers (see Guidelines and Procedures manual). It is designed to be completed in four years. During the first two years, all students take required courses in health services research, research design, quantitative methods, and health policy (see typical course schedule).

In addition, students take courses that allow them to develop expertise in a minor area.Current minors are Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research, Economics, Financial Management, Health Politics and Policy, Quality and Access, and Organization and Implementation Science. Students may take courses at Duke University or North Carolina State University at no additional cost. Students must pass written comprehensive examinations after completing course work, then present and defend a dissertation proposal and the final dissertation based on original research. Some helpful information follows:

PhD Guidelines and Procedures manual

The Guidelines and Procedures manual contains many of the rules, regulations, policies, and procedures of the PhD program.

Typical course schedule   
Fall, Year 1Spring, Year 1Fall, Year 2Spring, Year 2Fall, Year 3
BIOS 600HPM 881HPM 882HPM 883HPM 994
HPM 880HPM 885HPM 886HPM 874
HPM 884HPM 873HPM 874 Minor
HPM 873MinorMinor

  • BIOS 600 (Principles of Statistical Inference), HPM 880 (Math/Stata Tutorial), HPM 754 (Health Care in the United States: Structure and Policy), EPID 600 (Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health), and SPHG 600 (Introduction to Public Health Concepts) are prerequisites for which students may place out; students who must take these courses will do so in the semester that best fits their schedules.
  • HPM 873 and HPM 874 are core Departmental seminars. All students are required to take HPM 873 during the fall and spring semesters of their first year (total of 2 credit hours) and HPM 874 during the fall and spring semesters for their first two years (total of 4 credit hours).
  • HPM 871 (Seminar in Teaching Health Policy and Management) will be taken in the semester the student is a Teaching Assistant.

What are the options for minors?

All students must select a minor area that may be either disciplinary or interdisciplinary. They must take at least 18 credit hours that include both the requirements for their minor area (typically five 3-credit courses) plus one (or more) 3-hour health policy elective. Current minors are Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research, Economics, Financial Management, Health Politics and Policy, Quality and Access, and Organization and Implementation Science.

  • Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research

The minor in Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research is an interdisciplinary program that prepares PhD students to focus on (1) methods for analyzing potential benefits/harms and costs of health technologies and interventions and (2) how to measure, analyze, and apply patient-reported outcomes to important health conditions.

All minor students are required to take HPM 772 (Techniques for the Economic Evaluation of Healthcare); and HPM 794 (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement and Application in Healthcare Research and Practice). Additional required courses will depend upon whether students choose the modeling or outcomes research emphasis for a total of 15 credit hours; these courses will be selected in consultation with the student’s minor advisor.

Students without prior spreadsheet modeling experience are required to take HPM 770 (Introduction to Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis Tools for Improving Health Care Management and Policy Decision Making) as a pre-requisite, which does not count toward the 15 total credit hours.

Faculty Advisors, Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research
Stephanie Wheeler*Alyssa Mansfield DamonSally Stearns
Ethan BaschLeah FrerichsJustin Trogdon
Antonia BennettKristen Hassmiller Lich *denotes lead contact for this minor
  • Economics

Students in the economics track have the flexibility to take field courses in a number of areas of microeconomics for a total of 15 units.

Three core courses are required for this minor: Math Methods (Econ 700, which typically begins in early August), Microeconomic Theory (Econ 710), and Health Economics (Econ 850). For the remaining two electives, students can chose from courses at either UNC or Duke in advanced microeconomics, labor economics, public finance, economics and population, econometrics, or other advanced topics in microeconomics.

In addition, all health economics students are expected to attend the Triangle Health Economics Workshop. Students may receive one unit of credit for participating in the Triangle Health Economics seminars each semester by enrolling in HPM815, for up to 3 units of credit towards the minor.

Faculty Advisors, Economics 
Justin Trogdon*(George) Mark HolmesSean Sylvia
Marisa DominoSally Stearns*denotes lead contact for this minor

  • Financial Management

The financial management minor has three required courses and two electives. Required courses include PLCY 700 Math Camp (3 hours); PLCY 788 Advanced Economic Analysis for Public Policy I (3 hours); and BUSI 881 Theory of Financial Management II (3 hours).

In addition, students must select two or more accounting and/or finance courses offered by the Kenan-Flagler School of Business or the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. In order to assure adequate preparation for these courses, students admitted to the healthcare financial management minor usually have completed courses in finance, microeconomics, and calculus.

Faculty Advisors, Financial Management
George Pink*Kristin Reiter Paula Song
*denotes lead contact for this minor
  • Health Politics and Policy

The health politics and policy minor introduces students to theories and practices of policymaking, policy analysis, and political science, with the goal of understanding how and why governments and private institutions make and change health policy.

Students explore a wide range of issues in health politics and policy, including health care reform, Medicare and Medicaid, program evaluation, and developments in private insurance.

Students may also concentrate their coursework on public opinion, agenda setting, political institutions, interest groups or other aspects of political science relevant to health policy.

Students take two required classes, HPM 757 (Health Reform: Political Dynamics and Policy Dilemmas) and HPM 758 (Underserved Population and Health Reform). Students take additional courses from other departments (including political science and public policy) and health policy and management to complete the minor requirements.

Faculty Advisors, Health Politics and Policy 
(George) Mark Holmes*Jonathan Oberlander *denotes lead contact for this minor
  • Quality and Access

Access to, and the quality of, health care in the United States are often the focus of important health policy discussions at the local, state, and national levels.

The minor in Quality and Access is an interdisciplinary program that prepares PhD students to obtain the substantive, methodological and statistical skills required to conduct research in this area. HPM 762 (Quality of Care) is required of all students who minor in quality and access.

In addition, students must take courses from at least three departments (including Health Policy and Management).

Faculty Advisors, Quality and Access 
Peggye Dilworth-Anderson*Sandra GreeneCleo Samuel
Ethan Basch (George) Mark HolmesPaula Song
Antonia Bennett George PinkMorris Weinberger
Bruce Fried Kristin Reiter Stephanie Wheeler
*denotes lead contact for this minor.
  • Organization and Implementation Science

Implementation science is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of study, with multiple federal agencies and Institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) assigning scientific priority and research funding to this area of research.

The NIH defines implementation science as “the use of strategies to adopt and integrate evidence-based health interventions and change practice patterns in specific settings.” Organization science has much to contribute to implementation science since the implementation of evidence-based health interventions typically occurs in organizational settings and efforts to change practice patterns typically focus on organizational members.

The newly created Organization and Implementation Science minor equips doctoral students with the knowledge and skills to conduct implementation research, while preserving their marketability for faculty positions in health care organization and management.

Faculty Advisors, Organization and Implementation Science 
Chris Shea*Leah FrerichsAngela Stover
Ethan BaschBruce FriedStephanie Wheeler
Sarah BirkenByron J. Powell*denotes lead contact for this minor

Students in this minor are required to take:

  • HPM 930/NURS 928 (Doctoral Seminar in Organizational Theory and Health Care Organizations) OR BUSI 853 (Macro Organizational Behavior)
  • HPM 767 (Implementation Science in Health)

Students also must take at least three other minor courses approved by their advisor. Examples of courses previous students have taken include:

  • HBHE 730 (Theoretical Foundations of Social and Behavioral Science)
  • DPOP 803 (Social and Behavioral Aspects of Pharmaceutical Use)
  • BUSI 851 (Individual Behavior in Organizations)

What is the curriculum?

Prerequisites are courses that are viewed as necessary for PhD students in Health Policy and Management. Credits earned for prerequisites do not count towards the required 43 credit hours. The prerequisites must be taken before the written comprehensive examination.

There are five prerequisites for our PhD students: BIOS 600 (Principals of Statistical Inference); HPM 754 (Health Care in the United States); HPM 880 (Math/Stata Tutorial); EPID 600 (Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health); SPHG 600 (Introduction to Public Health Concepts). Many students, especially those with master’s degrees in public health or a related field, may have taken these courses (or their equivalents) prior to matriculation into our PhD program.

Students who wish to be exempted from any prerequisite must receive permission from the instructor and complete an exemption application form.A core competency of the PhD Program is to prepare students to be effective classroom teachers. To fulfill this competency, students must complete HPM 871 and be a paid teaching assistant (TA) at some point during their training. HPM 871 is a 1-credit hour seminar that PhD students take during their first semester as a TA.

The seminar is designed to: (1) facilitate the development of a contract identifying mutual expectations for the TA and course instructor; (2) help prepare students to develop and deliver a lecture (or equivalent activity) in the course for which they are a TA—giving this lecture is required for TAs (as is the faculty member providing feedback to the TA) and is intended to provide students with the skills and confidence to be effective teachers; (3) identify and resolve common TA issues using a key incidents/discussion approach; and (4) identify resources on campus (e.g., Center for Faculty Excellence) or the Internet to support students.

Students who wish to teach their own course may be encouraged by their advisor to take EDUC 757, which is designed specifically to provide graduate students with the skills to plan all aspects of a course of their choosing.

MSPH-to-PhD Track

UNC offers an MSPH-to-PhD track within the PhD Program. Currently our PhD Program (Track 1) requires students to enter our program with a Master’s degree or equivalent experience. The MSPH-to PhD option (Track 2) complements our existing PhD program by allowing us to admit students with great potential for doctoral studies, but lack either a Master’s degree or work experience.

Table 1 presents the requirements for each Track within our PhD program. Notably, students in Track 2 would receive their MSPH when they fulfill all requirements for the degree, typically at the end of their second year; PhD students in Track 1 will not receive an MSPH on their way to the PhD. Table 2 shows a typical schedule for students in Track 2. See this program’s Gillings Program Search page for more information.

Do students receive funding?

Doctoral students receive funding from a variety of sources. HPM provides PhD students financial support (including stipend, tuition, and health insurance) for at least the first two years of study through department research and teaching assistantships, federal traineeships, and Graduate School awards. After their first two years, our students have been extremely successful in obtaining funding through:

What kinds of research do our students conduct for their dissertation?

How can I apply to UNC?

We only accept on-line applications. Information about the application process, including deadlines, can be found here.

Tips for a strong application can be found here.

Content for this page provided by the Department of Health Policy and Management. If you have further questions about admission requirements or programs, please contact the HPM Student Services Office. For technical problems with the online application form, contact UNC Slate Support. For questions or comments about the information on this page, contact the webmaster.