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2011-2012 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 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 one of the few found the in the Western hemisphere. The varied and talented cadre of professionals at our School represents expertise both in the theory and practice of informatics applied to biomedical science and health care, as well as pursuing cutting edge research with a focus on translational informatics moving research from the lab to the bedside. Students find our performance based, highly interdisciplinary, team-oriented education and research programs stimulating, challenging and career enhancing.

Both the Masters and Doctoral degree programs 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 at Houston and the more than forty other healthcare related entities in the surrounding Texas Medical Center. Students interact with highly qualified and experienced faculty active in research and developing solutions for a wide array of Health Informatics problems. Through such research consortia and centers as: the Gulf Coast Consortia for Structural and Computational Biology, Center for Computational Biomedicine, Center for Biosecurity and Public Health Informatics Research, Institute for Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, and 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 such as translational informatics inquiry for future generations.

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 resulting in breakthrough discoveries. Our faculty and students are involved in 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. If this is the kind of challenge and learning environment you are looking for, then join us and become part of the informatics leaders of tomorrow. Help us invent the future of health care and biomedical discovery.

Jack W. Smith, MD, PhD

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Academic Calendar

Fall Term 2009
Aug 1 - Aug 25 Orientation - Entering Students Registration
Aug 31 Classes Begin
Dec 11 Classes End
Dec 14 - 18 Final Examinations
Spring Term 2010
Dec 17 - Jan 7 Orientation - Entering Students Registration
Jan 11 1Classes Begin
Mar 8 - 12 Spring Break
April 30 Classes End
April 28 - (May 3 - 7) Final Examinations
Summer Term 2010
May 24 Summer Term Begins
May 24 Classes Begin
Aug 13 Classes End
Aug 16 - 17 Final Examinations
Fall Term 2010
Aug 1 - Aug 25 Orientation - Entering Students Registration
Aug 30 Classes Begin
Dec 10 Classes End
Dec 13 - 17 Final Examinations
Spring Term 2011
Dec 15 - Jan 7 New Student Orientation
Jan 10 Classes Begin
May 7 - 11 Spring Break
April 29 Classes End
May 2 - 6 Final Examinations
Summer Term
May 1 - 20 New Student Orientation
May 23 Classes Begin
Aug 12 Classes End
Aug 15 - 16 Final Examinations

Note: At the discretion of the Dean, the attendance of certain individuals 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
Robert W. Vogler, DSN, M. Ed Associate Proffesor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Kelly Polk, JD Assistant Director of Admissions

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

The Mission of the School of Health Information Sciences is to improve healthcare and biomedical research by developing, refining and advancing the field of Biomedical Informatics through research, curriculum development, service, and by training professionals in all areas of the discipline including bioinformatics, clinical informatics, computational biomedicine, and public health informatics. This mission is consistent with the mission of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston as a comprehensive health science university that educates health science professionals, discovers and translates advances in the biomedical and social sciences and models best practices in clinical care and public health.

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About SBMI (Formally SHIS)

The School of Health Information Sciences (SHIS) was originally founded in 1973 as the School of Allied Health Sciences. The School is the youngest of the six schools at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHSC-H). 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 began the shift from traditional allied health baccalaureate programs toward the development of graduate programs to join the other professional and graduate schools in the university. In 1998 the School created the Department of Health Informatics and began to offer an MS in Health Informatics. In 2001, the name of the School was changed to the School of Health Information Sciences which also subsumed all faculty and students in the Department. The school now offers a Master of Science in Health Informatics, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics and has recently developed Certificate Programs in Health Informatics for non degree seeking students. The school will continue to develop other additional programs to meet future informatics needs.

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 http://registrar.uth.tmc.ed

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
Email: [email protected]

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 and Procedure

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.

The School of Health Information Sciences requires the Tuberculin Skin test or chest x-ray.

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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, , 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 Enterprises 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

Certificate 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.

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, and college transcripts;
  • Integrity: goal statement, and 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;
  • Success in overcoming social, economic or educational disadvantages: curriculum vitae or resume

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.

Master of Science in Health Informatics and Master of Science in Applied Health Informatics Application Deadlines
Fall admissions July 1
Summer admissions March 15
Spring admissions November 1
Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics Application Deadlines
Fall admissions February 1
Spring admissions November 1

Address application inquiries to:
Assistant Director of Admissions, Kelly Polk, J.D. Office of Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin, Ste 800
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-3476
[email protected]

Address personal interview inquiries to:
Assistant Director of Admissions
School of Health Information Sciences
7000 Fannin, Ste 800
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-3476

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