Dec 03, 2021  
UofM 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
UofM 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Health Systems and Policy, (PhD)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

SangNam Ahn, PhD, MPSA

Associate Professor and Coordinator
Health Systems Policy and Management

The PhD degree in Health Systems and Policy (HSP) is the highest academic degree for individuals planning to pursue scholarly careers in this discipline. The HSP PhD is designed for those who want to teach and conduct research utilizing evidence-based best practices and rigorous scientific theories and methods to understand and improve the structure, process, and outcomes of health systems, as well as the transformative nature of healthcare data and evidence; and the need to address health systems issues within the context of improving population health. Graduates of the program will be prepared to conduct innovative, interdisciplinary, and translational research and a variety of academic, government, and non-profit health settings.

Program Admission

A master’s degree in a public health, health services administration, health policy or other related health field is required for admission. Applicants for the doctoral program must show potential for further study by having maintained a GPA of at least a 3.0 average in their master’s‐level coursework. An acceptable, competitive score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) from the past five years is required. Applicants already holding a doctoral degree or its professional equivalent from a U.S. university may be exempted from the GRE requirement. Other professional school standardized test scores (MCAT, DAT, GMAT, or LSAT,) may be substituted for the GRE by applicants who are working toward, or who have already earned, post‐baccalaureate degrees in medicine, dentistry, management, or law earned in the U.S. 

All international applicants who will be attending the University on a visa, are non-native English speakers, and are not University of Memphis graduates must supply a minimum score of 96 (80%) on the computer-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) or an equivalent score on the paper-based test (TOEFL PBT).

Letters of recommendation from three professionals (at least two letters from former professors) familiar with the applicant’s academic background or experience in public health related work, specifying in detail the applicant’s capabilities for graduate study and for future performance as a public health scholar, are required. Applicants must also submit a personal statement of approximately 750 to 1000 words indicating his/her present interests and career goals, including how the PhD in Health Systems and Policy will prepare the candidate to achieve these goals.

Materials submitted will be reviewed by the faculty admissions committee. Admission decisions are based upon the overall quality of the applicant’s scholarship and academic ability (i.e., GPAs, GRE scores, undergraduate and graduate coursework completed, research conducted, and recommendations), as well as the applicant’s “fit” for the program in terms of research interests and career goals.

Students are usually admitted to the HSP PhD program for the fall semester. The priority application deadline is December 1, guaranteed consideration deadline is February 1, and final application deadline is April 1.

Program Requirements

Credit Hours:

A minimum of 54 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the master’s degree is required for the PhD in Health Systems and Policy. All work for doctoral credit must be approved by and must be completed at a level of performance satisfactory to, the graduate faculty of the Division of Health Systems Management and Policy. Students also may take coursework for degree credit outside the School of Public Health with advisor approval.

Transfer Credit:

Graduate School regulations must be followed regarding accepting academic credits from another institution. Courses proposed for transfer credit must meet the following two requirements. (a) The Tennessee Board of Regents requires a minimum of 750 contact minutes for each semester credit (2250 for a 3-hour course). (b) The Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools requires a minimum of 3 hours of class work per week for 3 hours of credit. Grades earned at another institution will not be computed in the University cumulative grade point average, nor will they be accepted for transfer, unless they are “B” (3.0) or better and are from an accredited program. No credit will be transferred unless it meets with the approval of the major advisor or program graduate coordinator.


Full-time students are expected to carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester, and to devote full time during their enrollment to the pursuit of degree-related activities. Full-time students with graduate assistantships are required to enroll for 9 credits each semester. Part-time students are expected to carry a minimum of 6 credits per semester, unless permission is granted from the advisor for a reduced course load.


All doctoral students are expected to be active in research collaboratively with members of the Division faculty each semester they are enrolled. Students may receive credit for research involvement by enrolling in PUBH 8800 - Guided Research in PUBH .

Comprehensive Examination:

Upon completion of required coursework and prior to enrolling in dissertation hours (PUBH 9000 ), the student must successfully complete a written and oral comprehensive examination. The examination will assess mastery of areas covered in the student’s program. The content of the examination for each student will consist of core competencies in public health and health systems and policy applied to public health, health services and policy, and dissertation topic. The student’s advisory committee will be responsible for organizing and evaluating the comprehensive examination.


To fulfill the requirements for the PhD in Health Systems and Policy, the student must write and defend a dissertation. The dissertation must adhere to the format outlined by the Graduate School. The dissertation topic will be determined by the student in consultation with the advisor with input from the advisory committee.

Residency Requirements:

The last thirty semester hours of credit for the doctoral degree must be earned at the University of Memphis. Only the number of dissertation hours accepted by the program toward the degree will be accepted as part of the last 30 hours.

Program Curriculum

Curriculum Requirements:

The HSP doctoral program is a 54 semester hour degree program. Students are required to fulfill prerequisite courses PUBH 8150 - Biostatistical Methods I , PUBH 8170 - Epidemiology in PUBH , and HADM 8105 - Health Policy and the Organization of Health Services , or document their equivalent. Credit hours for these prerequisite courses will not count toward the 54 hours required for graduation.

Elective Courses

Students will choose up to 9 credit hours of faculty-guided electives.


up to nine (9) credit hours

HSP PhD Program Requirements

In addition to completion of the 54 semester hours of required coursework, program requirements include successful completion of written and oral comprehensive examinations, and the preparation and successful defense of a dissertation in accordance with the University of Memphis Graduate School policies and guidelines.

Questions about the HSP PhD Program curriculum and degree requirements?

SangNam Ahn, PhD, MPSA, Associate Professor and Coordinator
Health Systems Policy and Management

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