The PhD in Health Sciences curriculum includes a set of core courses providing a comprehensive structure for doctoral education including:

  • Philosophical foundations.
  • Concepts and practices that contribute to students, development as teaching scholars.
  • Research methods.
  • A series of seminars that build students, critical thinking skills, familiarity with a range of health sciences research topics, and experience in scholarly dialogue and presentation.

Concentrations and Cross-Disciplinary Courses

In addition to the core courses, the program includes concentration and cross-disciplinary courses in areas such as disability and rehabilitation, diagnostic and biomedical sciences, human movement sciences, population health, and health administration/policy. Independent research and the dissertation will be structured according to the choice of specialization.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


To be considered for admission to the program applicants must satisfy all UWM Graduate School admission requirements in addition to the following College of Health Professions and Sciences requirements:

  1. Submission of scores on the General Test portion of the Graduate Record Examination; test taken within last five years.
  2. One of the following:
    • Master’s degree or equivalent in an area that provides foundational academic preparation in proposed Health Sciences PhD Area of Concentration.
    • Bachelor’s degree with exceptional promise, as indicated by research experience/evidence of writing or an undergraduate project, recommendations, GRE scores, and undergraduate GPA.
  3. A sample of the applicant’s written work that demonstrates their ability to conduct research and/or the ability to critically analyze the scholarly work of others.
  4. A letter outlining the applicant’s academic and professional background, declaration of Area of Concentration and Major Professor as well as specific research interests and goals for the PhD program. This statement should be submitted to the Graduate School and must be complete and thorough as it provides information that is central to the admission decision. This letter will serve in lieu of the Graduate School’s “Reasons for Graduate Study” statement.
  5. Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s intellectual achievement and potential. At least two of these letters must be from faculty or senior administrators at academic institutions.

For applicants from countries other than the U.S.A. whose first language is not English, a score of at least 250 on the computer-based (or 600 on the paper-based) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required. A score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) examination will be accepted in lieu of the TOEFL.

The PhD Steering Committee will make an admission recommendation and forward it to the appropriate College of Health Professions and Sciences departmental Graduate Faculty or Executive Committee and identified Major Professor. The final admission decision is contingent upon approval by the departmental Graduate Faculty Committee or Executive Committee, the applicant’s Major Professor, and the Graduate School.

Prior to admission an eligible College of Health Professions and Sciences Graduate Faculty member must agree to serve as the applicant’s major professor.


A student who has received a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Health Care Administration, or Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee must formally reapply for admission to the Graduate School before continuing studies toward the PhD degree.

Credits and Courses

The Health Sciences PhD program requires you to complete a minimum of 72 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree, including no more than 36 credits from a related master’s and/or other post-baccalaureate coursework. Depending on the area of concentration additional credits may be required. Consult with your major professor for the individual program of study requirements. You must complete a minimum of 36 credits, or 50% of the total credits required for the degree, in doctoral status at UWM, including pre-candidacy and candidacy work.  

Of the credits taken in residence, you must complete at least 8 graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, or 6 or more graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, inclusive of summer sessions.  

The precise number of credits and actual course requirements will be determined after a review of your previous coursework by your major professor and the Program Director. You will then plan an individual program of study in consultation with your major professor and doctoral advisory committee that will include a set of core courses, an area of concentration, cross-disciplinary courses, electives, and the dissertation.  

Core 1
Research/Grantsmanship 3
Select a minimum of 3 credits from the following:
Doctoral Proseminar:
MCW 20253A Methods in Grant Preparation
Writing a Federal Grant in the Public Health Sciences
Experimental Design and Research in Biomedical Sciences
Experimental Design
Research Design in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion
Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis
Teaching 3
Select a minimum of 3 credits from the following:
Preparing Future Faculty & Professionals:
College Teaching
Guided Teaching Experience in Health Sciences
CETL workshops in combination with guided teaching. CETL workshops may count as 1 credit under independent study or guided teaching.
Statistics 6
Select a minimum of 6 credits from the following:
Statistical Analysis in the Health Sciences
Multiple Regression
Applied Multiple Regression Analysis
Predictive Analytics in Healthcare
Qualitative Methods in Health Research
Advanced Quantitative Methods in Health Research
Advanced Qualitative Methods in Health Research
Multivariate Methods
Measurement Methods and Related Multivariate Statistics
Seminar 3
Select a minimum of 3 credits from the following:
Advanced Seminar in Health Sciences (counts as duplicate of BMS 910)
Advanced Seminar in Health Sciences (counts as duplicate of KIN 910)
Preparing Future Faculty & Professionals:
Doctoral Proseminar:
Foundations of Interprofessional Practice
Graduate Seminar in Biological Sciences
Seminar in Neuroscience
Area of Concentration9
(Minimum of 9 credits): Courses related to the area of concentration will require you to draw upon the strengths and expertise of the faculty and curriculum in an interdisciplinary and collaborative manner.
Cross Disciplinary Requirement6
(Minimum of 6 credits): Cross-disciplinary courses are courses in areas outside of your area of concentration but related to your cross-disciplinary focus.
(10 credits): Elective courses are courses relevant to your Program of Study. Foreign language coursework is optional, depending upon the recommendation of the major professor.
(Minimum of 12 credits): The last component of the degree requirements, independent research and dissertation, will be structured by your area of concentration. Your dissertation is to consist of focused, independent research that contributes to the existing body of scientific knowledge. Per the UWM Graduate School policy, exactly 3 dissertation credits may be taken in a given semester. Thus, a minimum of 4 semesters of dissertation work is recommended.
Total Credits52

Note: Students would need prior approval from their Major Professor and Program Director for any courses not listed. For some core courses, the course number will change depending upon the department through which the course is offered during a particular semester. 

Additional Requirements


The student must complete at least half of the graduate credits required for the PhD in residence at UWM in doctoral status. In addition, the student must complete at least 8 graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, or 6 or more graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions. In exceptional cases, modifications of the residence requirement may be requested, subject to the approval of the College of Health Professions and Sciences PhD Steering Committee and the Graduate School.

Foreign Language

Foreign language coursework is optional, depending upon the recommendation of the student’s Major Professor.

Doctoral Committee

In consultation with the Major Professor, each student is responsible for selecting a Doctoral Committee before completing 12 credits in the doctoral program. The doctoral committee shall consist of the student’s major professor and four other graduate faculty: three of these must be at UWM, including at least two from CHPS. The other member may be from another institution, subject to the approval of the student’s program executive committee. Upon formation of the Doctoral Committee, the student must file a “Doctoral Committee” form with their major professor which is to be subsequently filed with the PhD Steering Committee.

Doctoral Preliminary Examinations

The doctoral preliminary examinations must be completed within three years of initial enrollment in the program. Students may receive up to two additional semesters to complete the preliminary examinations with approval of the PhD Steering Committee. The examinations consist of a written examination designed to demonstrate the breadth of a student’s knowledge and the ability to conduct advanced research, and an oral exam covering issues raised during the written exam and/or focusing on the proposed dissertation research. The oral exam must follow the written exam within 10 days. Students take the preliminary examinations after completing all doctoral coursework or with no more than three credits of doctoral coursework remaining. Students cannot take the examinations if they have any incomplete or unreported grades or a GPA lower than 3.0. Students who fail the preliminary examinations may not proceed to the dissertation. The examinations may be retaken only once.

Dissertation Proposal

Upon successful completion of the preliminary examinations, the student submits a written dissertation proposal and delivers an oral presentation of the proposed research to the Dissertation Committee. The proposal takes the form of a scholarly document outlining the problem, its background and significance, summarizing relevant literature, and outlining the proposed research methods. It should include a tentative timetable and outline any required resources (space, equipment, etc.). Members of the student’s Dissertation Committee must approve the dissertation proposal. Acceptance of the dissertation proposal establishes an agreement between the student and the Dissertation Committee as to the nature and scope of the research to be conducted, and the procedure for completing the dissertation. Upon Dissertation Committee approval, research proposals that use animal or human subjects must receive approval from the Animal Care and Use Committee or the Institutional Review Board.

Dissertator Status

Specific requirements which must be completed before a doctoral student qualifies for dissertator status are described on the Graduate School Doctoral Requirements page.


The dissertation is a major piece of original research representing a substantial contribution to the existing body of knowledge. The original research findings embodied in the dissertation should be acceptable for publication in a refereed journal. The student’s Major Professor and Dissertation Committee provide guidance in completing the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense

Once the dissertation document meets with Dissertation Committee approval, an oral defense takes place. At the time of the defense, the dissertation must be of publication-quality (as judged by the Dissertation Committee). The dissertation defense will be held in an open forum after which the Dissertation Committee will meet in closed session to make a decision on degree conferral. The time and place of the public presentation must be announced with adequate time (i.e., at least one week prior to the defense) so that faculty and students may attend.

Time Limit

The student must complete all requirements for the degree within seven years of the date of initial enrollment in the program. Upon successfully passing the preliminary examinations, the student must complete all requirements for the degree within four years.