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Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics Programs
2011-2012 Student Handbook

Program Description and Goals Qualifications
Transfer Credit Degree Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics
Course of Study for the Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics Sample Curriculum

Program Description and Goals

This program is designed to be a research based trans-disciplinary program involving students with a variety of backgrounds. Students will work together in teams to research real clinical and biomedical health problems. They will gain both the scientific background for such research and also skills needed to address the problems. The program is designed to meet the unique needs of each student by using a matrix curriculum plan with an Advising Committee to guide them from their admission in the program through graduation. Each student must have a faculty research mentor to guide the student through participation in research projects.

The Health Informatics doctoral program is conceptualized and designed to be inherently transdisciplinary and integrative. This means that the fundamental informatics concepts that transcend and apply to all traditional healthcare disciplines will be emphasized in the doctoral program. This program will identify and teach the major informatics concepts that integrate and link diverse health disciplines.

The doctoral program in Health Informatics is constructed as a post-baccalaureate degree. The post baccalaureate approach simplifies the construction of a matrix for the student which both addresses the knowledge and skills that the student brings at admission, but also allows the student to build on previous knowledge and skills to attain the research focus needed for the completion of the doctoral program in Health Informatics.

Students admitted to the masters program can apply to the doctoral tract by meeting the same admission requirements as those who apply directly to the doctoral program. Full admission to the doctoral program occurs only after admission to candidacy. Admission will be limited to students who are matched with faculty members’ area of research, scholarship, and teaching expertise. Formal study of informatics at the doctoral level at UTHSC-H is designed to be a trans-disciplinary approach to accomplish these major goals:

  • Expand the scope of the discipline of Health Informatics
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the health informatics research literature, including in-depth knowledge of a selected health informatics research area.
  • Research and evaluate new regions or domains in Health Informatics
  • Lead interdisciplinary teams in the search for solutions to Health Informatics problems
  • Effectively communicate research findings to peers and to practitioners who can use the research findings.

The curriculum is conceptualized as a matrix. Each doctoral student will take basic, research and advanced informatics courses in Health Informatics. Each student must have a mentor who is a full-time SHIS faculty member and an Advising Committee that will oversee that student’s progress from admission to graduation. . The advising committee must be composed of the student’s mentor, at least one other full-time SHIS faculty member and a third faculty member who represents the student’s interest or discipline area. The student’s mentor will chair the Advising Committee. The Advising Committee will guide the student in the selection of courses, designation of a preceptorship site and the development of the student’s research interests. This continuity between the student and the Advising Committee will allow the faculty to understand each student’s strengths and allow the student to explore areas which need to be strengthened while allowing the student to meet the student’s individual goals for graduate research education. Students will be encouraged to work cooperatively with faculty at other institutions.

The doctoral program is a 93-semester credit hour program developed as a post baccalaureate program. Each cell of the matrix represents a learning experience in each of the four areas: basic informatics, research informatics, advanced informatics, and area of research interest. The program allows full-time and part-time enrollment. Part-time enrollment requires approval of the mentor and advising committee.

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Financial Aid

Substantial financial packages and research assistantships will be available to all students to facilitate full-time doctoral education. Part-time students may also be eligible for some assistance.

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Presentation of Qualifications

The applicant should present a completed application and official documentation of the following to the Registrar’s Office:

  1. a baccalaureate or higher degree in an appropriate area, e.g., science, medicine, dentistry, MIS, engineering, or computer science
  2. a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score or Millers Analogy Test (MAT) score (required)
  3. Grade Point Average (GPA) in previous degrees
  4. a minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test, on the internet based test writing 26, speaking 23, reading 21, listening 17, total 87 or a minimum score of 213 on the computer test is required for international students
  5. Submit a brief (no more than three pages single-spaced, 12 point font size) personal statement that addresses the following items:
    • A brief summary of your background in all relevant fields, such as biomedicine, mathematics, and computer science, describing research experience and any results that were generated in research work. Provide dates, research advisors, project titles, and references to publications.
    • A statement of educational goals and how these goals would be advanced through the PhD program.
    • A statement of short- and long-term career objectives, including specific information regarding short-term objectives, (any projects you may have in mind for your PhD work). Be sure to include how those objectives fit the opportunities provided by the SHIS educational and research environments.
  6. Satisfy a criminal background checks if offered admission.
  7. All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by a professional agency on a course by- course basis. This is at the applicants’ expense.

Review by the Admission, Progression, and Graduation Committee
As part of the admission process, applicants are to submit relevant materials in a portfolio manner. Once complete, the portfolios are then forwarded to the admission progression and graduation committee, which reviews the materials and recommends which applicants will not be granted admission and which are recommended for an interview - the next step in the admissions process. The criteria that the committee considers are the same as for the MS program with the addition of prior research experience. Students who are recommended for an interview will be contacted by the Director of Admissions and asked to form their advising committee.

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Applicants granted an interview will be interviewed by all members of their advising committee. Separate interviews may be conducted due to scheduling issues. The interview will focus on the applicant’s research goals and how they can be achieved in the SHIS doctoral program.

Final Doctoral Admissions Committee Review and Recommendation
The application packages of all applicants who complete an interview are reviewed by the SHIS faculty as a whole who then make an admission recommendation to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics application deadlines:
Fall admission --- February 1
Spring admission --- November 1

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Transfer Credit

Transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere, submitted to meet part of the degree requirements, may be awarded following review and written approval by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The maximum number of transferable credit hours for the doctoral program is 36 semester credit hours. Credit for courses taken elsewhere and which are offered in this School is granted only through Petition for Equivalency. Credit for support courses taken elsewhere is approved by the students’ advising committee. Contact the Director of Admissions for information.

Applicants who are presenting course work from universities or colleges outside the United States to meet admission or graduation requirements should see the section on International Applicants in this catalog for a listing of additional requirements.

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Degree Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics

Academic Requirements

Credit hours must total at least 93 semester hours for all courses in the degree plan. Six of those semester credit hours will be in support courses not offered by the School. The support courses could include areas such as cognitive sciences from Texas A & M University, computer science from Rice University, mathematics from the University of Houston, measurement courses from the University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston or courses studying healthcare outcomes from The University of School of Public Health at Houston.

A total of 93 semester credit hours listed in the sample curriculum matrix for Health Informatics must be completed prior to graduation.

A full-time student in the Program in Health Informatics has up to ten years from the time of entry to complete the required course work. Continuous enrollment is required unless approval from the Advising Committee is obtained. A maximum of one year of approved leave will allow for continuance in the program. If more than one year occurs, the student must seek readmission to the program.

Each course with a HI prefix in the Health Informatics degree plan is a graduate level professional course and must be passed with a grade of “B” or better. The minimum GPA required for graduation is 3.0 on all HI courses. If a student in the Health Informatics program fails a course in the curriculum, the student may enroll in that particular course one more time (a total of two enrollments for the same course).

If the student’s grade is lower than a B in that particular course the second time, the student cannot continue in the program. If a student fails two academic courses in one semester, the student will be dismissed from the program for academic reasons. If a student fails an overall total of three courses (i.e., any three courses), the student will be dismissed from the program for academic reasons.

Other Requirements

In Residence Requirement: The term “in residence” refers to a total of 57 semester credit hours that must be taken at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston. A student must fulfill his or her in residence requirement in order to receive a doctoral degree from the School.

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Course of Study for the Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics

The doctor of philosophy degree is a post baccalaureate program. The curriculum of the doctor of philosophy degree in Health Informatics includes required didactic courses and preceptorship courses. Didactic courses (lecture/discussion, demonstration and student laboratories) are presented to provide facts, concepts, and theories related to the techniques and procedures of health informatics. They include instruction in basic informatics, research, and advanced informatics and support courses. The preceptorship courses are designed to give the students the opportunity to apply theory and techniques in the hospital, research or private laboratory setting. For a full-time student, the Program in Health Informatics is four years (12 semesters). For a part-time student, the length of the program varies.

Each student will develop his or her curriculum with approval of his or her Advising Committee. A degree plan will be filed with the approval of his or her Advising Committee that includes a minimum of:

  • 9 semester credit hours in foundational courses
  • 6 semester credit hours in basic informatics,
  • 12 semester credit hours in research,
  • 6 semester credit hours in advanced courses,
  • 6 semester credit hours in support courses,
  • 9 semester credit hours in preceptorship courses,
  • 21 semester credit hours in a specific research area approved by the mentor,
  • 3 semester credit hours of research seminar, and
  • 9 semester credit hours of dissertation.

Changes to the degree plan must have the written approval of the Advising Committee.

Pre-Foundations to meet Core Competencies

  • Information Technology for Biomedicine
  • Introduction to Clinical Healthcare
  • Molecules to Man in Health Informatics
  • Data Structures and Algorithms in Biomedicine
  • Essential Mathematics for Health Informatics
  • Technical Writing for Health Informatics

Foundation Courses

  • Foundations of Health Information Science I
  • Foundations of Health Information Science II
  • Foundations of Health Information Science III

Basic Informatics courses include:

  • Information Systems in the Delivery of Health Care
  • Decision Making in Health Care
  • Cognitive Science in Health Informatics
  • Advanced Database
  • Concepts in Health Informatics
  • Legal Ethical Aspects of Health Informatics
  • Health Information Systems Security
  • Systems Analysis for Health Informatics
  • Introduction to Object-Oriented Systems Development in Health Informatics
  • Cognitive Engineering in Health Informatics I
  • Introduction to Learning Environments in the Health Sciences
  • Biomedical Signal Processing
  • Image Processing Introduction to Health Data and Electronic Health Records
  • Principles and Foundations of Public Health Informatics
  • Methods in Public Health Informatics
  • Synthesis Project of Public Health Informatics
  • Technology Assessment in Healthcare
  • Quality and Outcome Improvement in Healthcare
  • Emerging Technologies for Teaching, Learning, and Research
  • Nanomedicine in Healthcare
  • Introduction to Telehealth

Research courses include:

  • Evaluation of Health Care Systems
  • Research Design and Evaluation in Health Informatics
  • Statistical Methods in Health Informatics
  • Health Informatics Data Analysis
  • Triangulation Methods in Health Informatics
  • Learning Environment Development in the Health Sciences
  • Methods in Computational Biomedicine
  • Grant Writing
  • Cognitive Engineering in Health Informatics II
  • Consumer Informatics
  • Knowledge Modeling II

Advanced informatics courses include:

  • Advanced Health Information Systems
  • Health Data Display
  • Consultation in Health Informatics
  • Social Dynamics and Health Information
  • Information and Knowledge Representation in Health Informatics
  • Knowledge Modeling and Engineering in Health Informatics I
  • Healthcare Interface Design Advanced Decision Analysis I
  • Introduction to Computational Aspects of Bioinformatics
  • Applied Computational Biomedicine
  • Project Management in Healthcare
  • Advanced Topics in Computational Biomedicine
  • Datamining in Bioinformatics
  • Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Reasoning and Decision Making in Medicine
  • Scientific Writing in Healthcare

The Advising Committee must approve all courses as part of the degree plan.

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Advance to Candidacy

The student must have completed 36 semester credit hours before taking the exam. The exam must be completed before the student takes more than 58 semester credit hours. The candidacy exam will consist of a written and oral presentation of the student’s proposed research topic. The student will submit the written proposal to all Health Informatics Faculty at least 10 working days prior to the oral presentation. The oral presentation will be open to all students, faculty, adjunct faculty and interested parties. The exam must be completed at the 58th hour limit or a defense will be scheduled the morning of the posters session following the semester in which the student earned the 58th hour.

All Faculty present at the oral presentation cast a vote to pass or fail the student. A student passes if the majority of the faculty present vote to pass and the student’s mentor votes to pass. The students mentor is included in the number of faculty present when calculating the number of votes needed to achieve a majority, but the student’s mentor must If the student passes, he or she is admitted to candidacy. If the student fails, the faculty can recommend failure without another attempt, or failure with the opportunity to re-defend within 30 days. If the student again fails the exam, he or she will be given the option of completing a Masters of Science in Health Informatics degree.

Advanced Preceptorship

As part of the preceptorship, students will be expected to apply theoretic knowledge to research Health Informatics problems in the student’s area of interest. The student’s faculty mentor and Advising Committee must approve the focus of the research. See Student Handbook for details.

Research in Health Informatics

The research in Health Informatics will be based upon the proposal that the student submitted for the advance to candidacy exam. The student will obtain a clear understanding of the domain of knowledge and research methods needed to complete the dissertation research. The student will use this time to develop a unique research focus under the mentor’s guidance.


The Health Informatics faculty believes that communication and dissemination is a critical aspect of the research process. The student will have two options available for the dissertation. The first option will consist of three articles that are submitted for publication. Publication must be in journals or proceedings, which are both, peer reviewed and indexed for academic retrieval. The three papers are combined with an introduction and summary and bound as a dissertation. The second option requires the student to write a monograph or dissertation. The monograph will review the literature, research approaches and options, the data design and gathering processes. The findings and data will be discussed in the context of the published literature. The monograph will be bound.

The dissertation must be presented at an oral defense, which is open to the public. All research papers, theses, and dissertations authored by degree candidates are available to interested members of the general public upon request. After the presentation, the students’ Advising Committee votes to pass or fail the student. If the student passes, the Advising Committee recommends awarding of the degree to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The degree requirements have been met.

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Sample Curriculum

Course No. Course Title Semester Credits
Fall Semester  
HI 5310 Foundations of Health Information Sciences I 3
HI 5352 Statistical Methods for Health Informatics 3
HI 5354 Cognitive Engineering in Health Informatics 3
Total 9
Spring Semester  
HI 5351 Research Design and Evaluation in Health Informatics 3
HI 5304 Advanced Database Concepts 3
HI 5307 Systems Analysis 3
Total 9
Summer Semester  
HI 5308 Introduction to Object-Oriented Systems Development 3
HI 6307 Cognitive Engineering in Health Informatics II 3
Total 6
Fall Semester  
HI 6301 Health Data Display 3
HI 6308 Consumer Informatics 3
Support Course 1 3
Total 9
Spring Semester  
HI 7000 Preceptorship in Health Informatics 6
Support Course 2 3
Total 9
Summer Semester  
HI 6311 Advanced Decision Analysis I 3
HI 6309 Healthcare Interface Design 3
Total 6
Fall Semester  
HI 7301 Grant Writing 3
HI 6351 Triangulation Methods in HI Research 3
HI 6302 Knowledge Modeling I 3
Total 9
Advance to Candidacy Exam  
Spring Semester  
HI 7050 Research in Health Informatics 6
HI 9999 Dissertation 3
HI 7150 Research Semester 1
Total 10
Summer Semester  
HI 9999 Dissertation 6
Total 6
Fall Semester  
HI 7050 Research in Health Informatics 9
HI 7150 Research Seminar 1
Total 10
Spring Semester  
HI 7050 Research in Health Informatics 9
HI 7150 Research Seminar 1
Total 10
Grand Total 93

Applications are accessible at If further assistance is needed contact:
Office of the Registrar
The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston
7000 Fannin, Ste 2250
Houston, Texas 77030
Telephone: (713) 500-3361
Email address: [email protected]

For further curriculum information, contact:
School of Health Information Sciences
Attn: Robert W. Vogler, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin, Ste 800
Houston, Texas 77030
Telephone: (713) 500-3591
Email: [email protected]
Web address:

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