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PhD Program in HI

The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston (SBMI) offers a full time doctoral program in Health Informatics that is designed to be inherently trans-disciplinary and integrative.  Involving students with a variety of backgrounds, the program emphasizes fundamental informatics concepts that can apply to all health disciplines. The program is only offered on a full-time and on-campus basis.  Students usually take five years to complete this 93 semester credit hours program.

→ Curriculum/Degree Plans
→ Admission Requirements


The trans-disciplinary doctoral program focuses on advanced studies of biomedical informatics in both theories and applications.  Students with a variety of backgrounds, including biomedical sciences, computer science and engineering, work together in teams to research real clinical and biomedical problems and develop innovative solutions. The program meets the unique needs of each student by using custom-designed degree plans with the assistance of an advisory committee that guides student progress from admission through graduation.

Students enrolled in the doctoral program will take a set of required courses as well as a set of elective courses based on student interest, pass an advance to candidacy exam, carry out doctoral research in proposed topics, assemble a doctoral dissertation, and defend the dissertation in public.

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics Curriculum - (Effective Fall 2012)
Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics Curriculum
 - (For students from Fall 2007 to Summer 2012)
Doctor of Philosophy in Health Informatics Curriculum - (For students who began study prior to Fall 2007)

THECB Report

A total of 93 semester credit hours must be completed prior to graduation. 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 science and 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 health care outcomes and biostatistics from The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston.

A full-time student in the program in health informatics has up to eight years from the time of entry to complete the required coursework. Continuous enrollment is required unless approval from the advising committee is obtained. A maximum of one year of an approved leave of absence will be allowed for continuance in the program. If more than one year of leave occurs, the student must apply for readmission to the program.

Each course with an HI prefix in the health informatics degree plan is a graduate-level professional course and should be passed with a grade of "B" or better. Only one course grade of "C" is allowed. The minimum GPA required for graduation is 3.0 on all HI courses.

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 58 hour limit or a defense will be scheduled the morning of the poster session of 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 student's mentor is included in the number of faculty present when calculating the number of votes needed to achieve a majority. 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 master of science in health informatics degree, but will otherwise be dismissed from the doctoral program.

The 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 accepted 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 that 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 and all degree requirements have been met, the advising committee makes its recommendations to the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs whether to award the degree.

Contact Information

For more information or questions about the doctoral program, please contact:

Office of Academic Affairs
(713) 500-3591

Trevor Cohen, MBChB, PhD
Doctoral Program Coordinator
(713) 486-3675

Admission Deadlines

For a summary of the admission requirements for the degree and non-degree programs click here.

Fall - March 1
Spring - July 1
Summer - November 1

Applications will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee when all required documentation and official transcripts are received.