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2007-2009 Student Handbook

Message from the Dean Academic Calendar Administration Mission Statement
About SBMI Application Information Enrollment Status Certificate and General
Admission Process

Message from the Dean

The School of Health Information Sciences is a very non-traditional place where excellence in research, education and service is pursued and the future leaders of Health Informatics are trained. This is the first program of its kind in the State of Texas and the only school of its kind in the Western hemisphere. The varied and talented cadre of professionals at our school represent expertise both in the theory and practice of informatics applied to biomedical science and health care. You’ll find our performance based, highly interdisciplinary, team-oriented education and research programs both stimulating, challenging and career enhancing.

Masters and Doctoral degree programs as well as a certificate program in health informatics are offered in the unique environment of the Texas Medical Center, the most concentrated area of biomedical and healthcare expertise, knowledge and skills on the planet. There are outstanding opportunities for students to be involved in informatics applied to health care and biomedical research in the many clinical and research components of The University of Texas Health Science Center and the more than forty other healthcare related entities in the Texas Medical Center. These opportunities are unmatched anywhere else.

You will interact with highly qualified and experienced faculty active in research and applications in a wide array of Health Informatics problems. Through such research consortia and centers as the Gulf Coast Consortia for Structural and Computational Biology, the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, Center for Biosecurity and Public Health Informatics Research, Institute for Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, NASA/Johnson Space Center you will interact with the best and brightest on the frontiers of human experience.

As a Masters degree student you will learn to apply our most advanced understanding of healthcare and biomedical knowledge to improve biomedical discovery and the delivery of healthcare. As a Doctoral student you will work with leading researchers in a broad array of Health and Biomedical Informatics areas to advance the state-of-the-art and open up new areas of inquiry for future generations. The certificate program is designed to introduce professionals to the practical applications of information science to modern healthcare. These certificate courses are available via distance education.

Students and faculty in our programs come from numerous health professions, basic sciences, biomedical sciences, social sciences, cognitive sciences, engineering, bioengineering, and computer science backgrounds. The “transdisciplinary” nature of our educational and research programs makes them unique, rewarding and is resulting in breakthrough discoveries. Our faculty and students are making groundbreaking contributions to healthcare, biomedical discovery and educational research. This includes inventing and evaluating new ways to capture, store, access, and evaluate healthcare and biomedical research knowledge and information. Advances in computational biomedicine, pioneered at our school, are revolutionizing the study of the molecular basis of normal and abnormal biological processes as well as discovering the meaning of genomic and proteomics data, the structural and functional basis of the molecular machinery of the cell. We are exploring the relationships between brain function and structure, improving biosecurity, understanding human-computer interaction, inventing new nanotechnology, and changing space medicine. We are also innovative in the use of educational research and technology, revolutionizing how we design and implement online educational and learning environments for both biomedical scientists and healthcare professionals.

Are you up to the challenge? Then join us, become the informatics leaders of tomorrow, and help us invent the future of health care and biomedical discovery.

Jack W. Smith, MD, PhD

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Academic Calendar

Fall Term 2007
Aug 1 - Aug 26, 2007 Orientation - Entering Students Registration
Aug 27, 2007 Classes Begin
Dec 7 Classes End
Dec 10 - 14 Final Examinations
Spring Term 2008
Dec 15 - Dec 31, 2007 Orientation - Entering Students Registration
Jan 7, 2008 Classes Begin
Mar 10 - 14 Spring Break
April 25 Classes End
April 28 - May 1 Final Examinations
Summer Term 2008 (12-Week Session)
May 1 - May 14, 2008 Summer Term Begins
May 19 Classes Begin
Aug 11 Classes End
Aug 12 - 13 Final Examinations
Fall Term 2008
Aug 1 - Aug 28, 2008 Orientation - Entering Students Registration
Sept 2 Classes Begin
Dec 12 Classes End
Dec 15 - 19 Final Examinations
Spring Term 2009
Dec 1 - Dec 31, 2008 New Student Orientation
Jan 12, 2009 Classes Begin
Mar 9 - 13 Spring Break
May 1 Classes End
May 4 - 8 Final Examinations
Summer Term 2009 (12-Week Session)
May 1 - 20 New Student Orientation
May 26 Classes Begin
Aug 18 Classes End
Aug 19 - 20 Final Examinations

Note: At the discretion of the Dean, the attendance of certain individuals (students/faculty) may be required on a scheduled university holiday and on other than the usual scheduled class dates because of practicum/preceptorship requirements. Holidays will be announced in the class schedule each semester/session.

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Jack W. Smith, MD, PhD Professor and Dean
Jiajie Zhang, PhD Professor and Associate Dean for Research
Randolph H. Scott, PhD, MBA Associate Dean for Management
Todd R. Johnson, PhD Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Deborah A. Todd, B.S. Director of Admissions

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Mission of the University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston

The primary purpose of the School is interdisciplinary graduate education. The initial educational programs in this newly directed school are focused on health informatics, the electronic transmission, storage, access, interpretation, and analysis of health data. Health Informatics also examines the way in which knowledge and information are transmitted to and by humans. The education of competent Health Informatics professionals in healthcare, clinical and medical research for service in the State of Texas is the primary endeavor of this School. The educational programs lead to a Master of Science in Health Informatics degree or a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics. These graduate programs allow students to specialize among several areas within health informatics. Degree programs are highly customized to meet the unique needs of each student. However, the degree programs allow three broad focus areas.

  • The first focus is in the broad area of data information and knowledge management. Components of this focus include storage, access, interpretation, and analysis of health and medical data communicated through electronic transmission. The study of informatics allows health professionals and scientists to conceptualize and plan the collection, communication and analysis of data in efficient and effective ways.
  • The second focus is in the area within health informatics concentrating on the area of knowledge generation from complex data sets. This focus involves the integration of computational and biomedical methods and techniques by faculty and Students. This is accomplished in a learning environment characterized by state-of-the-art biomedical research and computational methodologies coupled with a highly interdisciplinary program.
  • A third focus is in the area of knowledge transmission and communication. This focus includes research involved in teaching/learning using new technologies in the education of health professionals and Scientists. Health informatics has many facets and it also examines the ways in which knowledge and information are transmitted to and by humans using new technologies and how this process may be improved.

The interaction of students from varied academic and professional backgrounds, with each other and with an equally diverse faculty, is at the heart of the graduate educational programs at the School. It is a way to prepare students for the interdisciplinary and collaborative work in their future professional lives. The educational goals of each student are considered in designing their educational experience in the School. Students are encouraged to bring “real-world” problems from their work environment into the classroom where the issues can be addressed by both faculty and other students. The goal is to have the classroom model the problem solving in which the student will engage following graduation.

Research is valued as an integral part of scholarship and teaching. The research may be directed to clinical practice, biomedical basic research, or human learning. This is accomplished in a learning environment characterized by state-of-the-art clinical care, biomedical research, and computational methodologies coupled with a highly interdisciplinary program and excellent informatics faculty. Collaborative interdisciplinary projects are secured because their very nature strengthens interdisciplinary teaching activities. Additional funding from outside resources supports these research efforts. The faculty believes that the issues related to computational knowledge will be at the heart of the next advances in health informatics. The integration of health delivery with the study in this school by students and the activities of the faculty provide a vital link between service, teaching, learning, and research.

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About SBMI (Formally SHIS)

The School of Health Information Sciences was originally founded in 1973, as the School of Allied Health Sciences. The School of Health Information Sciences (SHIS) is one of the six schools at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. UTHSC-H is located in the world renowned Texas Medical Center (TMC), the largest medical center in the world.

In 1992, UTHSC-H determined it would focus on graduate education in the health sciences. At that time, the School of Health Information Sciences began the shift from traditional allied health baccalaureate programs toward the development of graduate programs to join those of the other schools in the University. The result has been the development of a new School and the new area of Health Informatics. The School currently offers, a certificate of completion, a Master of Science in Health Informatics and a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics, and is developing other programs to be adopted in the future.

The School has affiliation agreements with many of the organizations in the Texas Medical Center, such as the Memorial Hermann Hospital System, The Methodist Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital Integrated Delivery System, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Texas Woman’s University, and Baylor College of Medicine. Other cooperating institutions include UT Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas A & M University, Houston Academy of Medicine/Texas Medical Center Library, VNA (Visiting Nurses Association) of Houston, Rice Medical Center, Schull Institute, and the University of Houston.

Members of the Texas Medical Center (TMC) have pooled their resources to form the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library (HAM-TMC). The HAM-TMC Library ranks as one of eight top echelon Region National Network Libraries recognized by the National Library of Medicine. HAM-TMC Library has more than 338,880 volumes, 2742 print serial subscriptions, and 4009 electronic serial subscriptions and is quickly becoming a center for digital library activities allowing unparalleled access to resources for students, clinicians and researchers. Additionally, the collections of Rice University and the University of Houston, a national depository library, are available to students and faculty through a regional consortium agreement.

SHIS maintains a multi-platform computer network for support of students, faculty, and staff. This network is in a continuous process of upgrade to meet the educational and research needs of students and faculty. The local network connects through fiber channels to the other TMC organizations. These links include a current connection to the high performance computer backbone Internet II that is currently under development. UTHSC-H has facilities for interactive video transmissions linking sites within the state and internationally. The Office of Academic Computing ( research_acad_aff/oac/) at UTHSC-H supports this infrastructure.

SHIS is a school continually re-inventing itself to meet the future. Anticipated directions include the implementation of new programs, new technologies, and new teaching strategies. Currently the School of Health Information Sciences is located in the University Center Tower, 7000 Fannin Street, Suite 600, Houston, TX, 77030.

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Application Information

Applications for the programs in the School of Health Information Sciences may be obtained online at

u. Additional information may be obtained by contacting the office of the Registrar at:

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHSCH)
Office of the Registrar
7000 Fannin, Ste 2250
Houston, TX 77030
Telephone: (713) 500-3361

Specific requirements for admission to the certificate and degree programs are given in the program section of this catalog. Subject to approval of the Dean, each program’s faculty has the responsibility to select applicants for admission.. Admission of applicants is made without regard to, race, gender, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, veteran status or disability.

All official transcripts of all previous academic credit must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar. Courses with grades of “D” are not transferable for admission or graduation credit.

Waiver or alteration of any course or credit-hour requirements, other than those mandated by statute, for admission to the School or of courses offered by the School, must be based upon a review of the circumstances, a justification and review by the faculty, and final written approval by the Dean. Requirements mandated by statute will not be waived or altered.

A Texas resident may apply for admission to and enroll as an undergraduate student who has applied under Texas Education Code 51.931, “Right to an Academic Fresh Start”. If an applicant elects to seek admission under this section, SHIS shall not consider academic course credits or grades earned by the applicant 10 or more years prior to the starting date of the semester in which the applicant seeks to enroll. An applicant who applies under this section and is admitted as a student may not receive any course credit for courses undertaken 10 or more years prior to enrollment.

If a student who enrolls under this section completes a prescribed course of study, earns a baccalaureate degree, and applies for admission to SHIS, the School, in considering the applicant for admission into the postgraduate or professional program, shall consider only the grade point average of the applicant established by the course work completed after enrollment under this section, along with any other criteria the School uses in evaluating applicants for admission.

In order to register, a student must have on file in the Office of the Registrar all official transcripts and documents of all previous academic work, as well as having met all admission requirements.

A student who knowingly falsifies or is a party to the falsification of any official University record (including transcripts, application for admission) will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include dismissal from the University.

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Immunization Policy Overview

Student Immunizations and Health Records Policy in the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOOP 6.07)

All students registering at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) are required to furnish an immunization record signed by a heath care provider. Contact the Student Health Clinic, 713-500-5171, for more information or on the web at stud_health/index.html.

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Immunization Procedure

In accordance with the regulations promulgated by the Texas Board of Health the following immunizations and tests are required for all students enrolled at the Health Science Center who have direct patient contact in medical or dental care facilities or who come in contact with human biological fluids or tissue:

  • Tuberculin (PPD) skin test or chest x-ray (see statement below regarding requirement of this test prior to registration);
  • Measles: proof of two doses of measles vaccine administered on or after the first birthday and at least 30 days apart or proof of immunity (see statement below regarding requirement of this test prior to registration);
  • Mumps: proof of one dose of mumps vaccine administered on or after the first birthday or proof of immunity;
  • Rubella: proof of one dose administered on or after the first birthday or proof of immunity;
  • Tetanus/diphtheria: proof of one “booster” dose of tetanus/diphtheria (within 10 years);
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV): proof of serologic immunity to HBV or certification of immunization with a complete series of Hepatitis B vaccine. Students will be required to present a letter or other suitable written certification. In addition to the immunization & tests required by the Texas Board of Health, the varicella titer or vaccine series is strongly recommended for all students.
  • Varicella (chickenpox): history of disease in the past. If no disease in the past, varicella titer is required. If varicella titer is negative, varicella vaccine series required.

In accordance with the regulations promulgated by the Texas Board of Health the tuberculin skin test or chest x-ray is required for all students at the Health Science Center who do not have direct patient or body fluids contact. The following test must be completed before prospective School of Health Information Sciences students may register for classes: Tuberculin skin test or chest x-ray must be completed or evidence of testing must be submitted to the Student Health Services prior to registration. Students are strongly urged to obtain measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus/diphtheria, hepatitis B, and varicella immunizations for their own protection. It is possible that some practicum or clinic sites will require the student to show evidence of these immunizations before the student will be allowed to enter the site. 

All immunizations except hepatitis B and varicella are given to registered UTHSC-H students free of charge at the Student Health Services. Prior to being a registered student, an individual must assume the full cost of immunizations. The student must cover the cost of the three hepatitis B injections and the varicella series. Individual schools may require other immunizations.

Students may obtain information from the Student Health Services regarding the consequences of not being current on immunization for certain diseases; the age groups most vulnerable to these vaccine preventable diseases; and local providers of immunization services. 

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Enrollment Status

A student is considered officially enrolled if tuition and fees are paid by the twentieth class day of the fall and spring semesters and by the fourth class day of a summer session. Students that matriculate in the School of Health Information Sciences fall into one of the following categories.

  • Program Student: a student admitted to an academic program that is following a set curriculum and pursuing a degree without an interruption of more than two semesters in enrollment.
  • Full-time Student: a graduate student enrolled in at least nine semester credit hours each during the fall semester and spring semester, or six credit hours in the 12-week summer session.

Only those credit hours for UTHSC-H courses taken for credit are counted in the calculation of credits designating a full-time student.

  • Part-time Student: a graduate student enrolled in a program for fewer than nine semester credit hours in the Fall, Spring semester, or fewer than six credit hours in the 12-week Summer session.
  • Certificate student: a student admitted to the certificate program seeking a certificate of completion of 15 semester credit hours.
  • Non-degree Student: a student who is admitted to the School for one or more courses but not admitted to a degree program or certificate program. Enrollment as a non-degree student does not in any way entitle a student to admission to a program. A non-degree student is not eligible to receive a degree and is allowed to register only with the permission of the course instructor. Non-degree students will not be allowed to register for practicum/doctoral courses. Non-degree students may complete a MAXIMUM of (12) semester credit hours maintaining a 3.0/4.0 grade point average.
  • Transfer Student: a student who brings graduate level credits from another institution and who applies for admission to a degree program at the UTHSC-H School of Health Information Sciences. This student must be in good standing at the institution last attended.
  • Concurrent/Interinstitutional Student: Concurrent and Interinstitutional students may complete a MAXIMUM of twelve (12) semester credit hours maintaining a 3.0/4.0 grade point average.
  • Any UTHSC-H student not admitted to a degree program or certificate program in the School of Health Information Sciences may complete a MAXIMUM of twelve (12) semester credit hours maintaining a 3.0/4.0 grade point average. If a student takes more than (12) semester credit hours, only (12) semester credit hours can be counted toward any degree in the School of Health Information Sciences.
  • International Student: a student who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. All non-U.S. citizens must have a hold removed by the International Office prior to processing registration. An international applicant seeking admission to the School must submit the following:
  1. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score
    • Brochures and application material for the TOEFL may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar (applicants should use an institution code of 6906 or 6907). The scores for the TOEFL test must be submitted directly to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Office of the Registrar, from the TOEFL test centers. The minimum acceptable score is 550 on the paper test, a minimum score of 213 on the computer test, and on the internet based test a score of writing 26, speaking 23, reading 21, listening 17 and a total score of 87. Upon recommendation of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and approval by the Dean, requirements for the TOEFL may be waived for applicants whose native language is English or if applicant has graduated from a high school or university in the United States. See for test sites and testing information. The applicant must pay for the evaluation report.
  2. International applicants must submit official transcripts and a professional course-by-course evaluation of all transcripts from all universities outside the United States. The application forms (Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., for such an evaluation may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar. The results of the evaluation must be submitted directly to the UTHSC-H Office of the Registrar by the agency. The applicant must pay for the evaluation report.
  3. The I-20 form, required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is prepared by the University and issued to qualified non-immigrant applicants who have been admitted and who have demonstrated financial ability to support their education. Upon acceptance, the nonimmigrant student will be asked to provide financial and visa information so that the I-20 form may be completed. The student must submit the completed form to the American Embassy in his/her country of origin in order to receive a student visa, or must otherwise be eligible for F-1 status in the U.S. Please contact the Office of International Affairs for information on I-20 forms by calling 713-500-3176.
  4. International Students are required to show proof of health insurance, including hospitalization or proof of purchase of health insurance. The policy must include repatriation coverage. The student may purchase health insurance including repatriation coverage, offered by The University of Texas System, and available through Auxiliary Services at 713-500-8400.

Student Enrollment

Students enroll each semester by using UTLINK on the web at There is no on-site enrollment. Enrollment dates are announced in the online Schedule of Classes.

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Certificate and General Admission Process

Completed applications are reviewed by the Director of Certificate programs. Recommendations are made to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for or against admission. The Director of Certificate programs advises all certificate students.

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General Admission Process for Degree Programs

The School admissions committee reviews completed applications to graduate degree programs. The committee makes recommendation for or against an interview with an admissions advising committee. The committee makes recommendations to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. All applicants are required to discuss their interests and enrollment plans with a faculty member of the focus area of study and/or the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the School prior to an admission decision being rendered.

In assessing the academic success of the student and his/her potential contributions to the knowledge base and practice in the field of study, the following criteria, and material reviewed in evaluating each, will be utilized in making admission decisions.

Each focus area may also identify additional factors that will be considered by the School’s admissions committee. Additional focus area criteria are set forth in the program section of the catalog. The admission criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Prior academic preparation (depth, breadth, and performance): application, college transcripts, and letters of recommendation;
  • Relevant work experience (particularly practice in the field of study): application, goal statement, cv or resume and letters of recommendation;
  • Career goals: application, goal statement, and letters of recommendation;
  • Motivation: goal statement, letters of recommendation, college transcripts;
  • Integrity: goal statement, letters of recommendation; • Standardized tests: scores on GRE or MAT and TOEFL (if required);
  • Thesis, publications and other scholarly works: supplemental documents provided by applicant.
  • Non-degree seeking status: grade performance

Additionally, a personal interview is required when initiated by invitation from the departmental admission committee. Applicants who meet the listed criteria will be invited to interview. The Director of Admissions will schedule personal interviews. In addition to the listed criteria, the applicant’s communication skills and understanding of the program may be evaluated based on the personal interview. Admissions decisions will be made after all interviews are completed. Completed applications with all supporting documentation must be received July 1 for fall admission, March 15 for summer admissions, and November 1 for spring admissions to the certificate and masters program and February 1 for the doctoral program.

Address application inquiries to:
Todd R. Johnson, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for of Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin, Ste 600
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-3921

Address personal interview inquiries to:
Director of Admissions
School of Health Information Sciences
7000 Fannin, Ste 600
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-3903

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