The PhD in Health Professions Education can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. To be eligible for admission into the HPE program, an individual must be an employee of the federal government (either civilian or uniformed).

A master’s degree (e.g., MHPE, MPH, MEd, or MS degree) is a prerequisite for the PhD in HPE. Learners entering the program without an MHPE should expect to complete all masters level coursework before beginning the PhD level coursework. The PhD degree is meant to serve those select learners with the desire to be at the forefront in the scholarship, leadership, and teaching of health professions learners. The PhD degree is a research-intensive degree meant for those individuals planning to serve as independent researchers and principal or associate investigators on grant-funded HPE research after graduation. It also provides additional education and training in all HPE competencies. The dissertation requires more focused and thematic (series or related studies) investigation with demonstration of expertise in research methods in HPE. The leadership and teaching curricula are also more challenging, requiring a higher level of mastery than the MHPE.

The PhD in HPE is targeted toward deans (associate, senior, vice level), clinical chairs, clinical vice chairs of research and education, directors of research and teaching programs, and other senior leaders in HPE to further enhance their knowledge beyond the core areas of the MHPE program. Like the MHPE program, there is an emphasis on the practical application of core principles. Graduates are expected to serve as leaders, scholars, and educators in the DoD’s health professions programs.


The PhD in HPE is sequenced to be completed in four years on a full-time basis (five to six years on a part- time basis). It requires 24 months of full-time study (36 months of part-time study) beyond the MHPE degree. For individuals pursuing a PhD in HPE without a MHPE, required MHPE courses will need to be completed. Learners are required to regularly check in (in person, phone, email, or via video teleconference) with their academic advisor to discuss courses for each term. Note that PhD in HPE required course offerings can be taken as electives at the MHPE level.

Learners who wish to obtain a PhD in HPE without also obtaining a MHPE degree must complete required MHPE courses (see above). Learners will also be expected to complete 140 hours of practicum time (20 credit hours of practicum) if seeking a PhD degree without first obtaining a Master’s degree (MHPE or equivalent).

The minimum credit load per quarter required for a full-time learner is 12, the maximum allowed is 22, and the average load is 16-18. The satisfactory completion of a dissertation is required for graduation (resulting in at least four peer-reviewed papers accepted for publication and a fifth paper submitted), as are completion of a written qualifying exam (the portfolio) and an oral dissertation defense.

*Note: USU graduate courses are based on quarter credit hours. One (1) traditional semester credit hour is equivalent to 1.5 quarter credit hours

**Students must maintain a 3.0 (B) average or better throughout graduate training to remain in good academic standing.


MED 500 Leadership Roles in HPE - 3 credits

MED 502 Philosophies of Science - 2 credits

MED 504 Principles of Instruction - 2 credits

MED 505 Quantitative Research Methods in HPE - 2 credits

MED 506 Principles of Online Instruction - 3 credits

MED 507 Qualitative Research Methods in HPE - 3 credits

MED 550 Learning Theories - 3 credits

MED 555 Teaching Methods - 3 credits

MED 560 Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation - 3 credits

MED 565 Curriculum Development - 3 credits

MED 800 Fundamentals of Systems Thinking - 2 credits

MED 801 Advanced Theories in HPE - 3 credits

MED 802 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in HPE - 3 credits

MED 803 Advanced Quantitative Research Method in HPE - 3 credits

MED 804 Advanced Instructional Methods and Curriculum Dev in HPE - 3 credits

MED 805 Advanced Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation in HPE - 3 credits

MED 806 Advanced Leadership Roles in HPE - 3 credits

MED 807 Advanced Online Learning and Instruction - 3 credits


Students must earn a minimum of 3 credits from the courses listed below. Additional credits can be earned through MED 912 Independent Study to fulfill the 144 credit requirement for PhD in HPE.

MED 912 Independent Study - credits vary

MED 400 Practicum - credits vary

MED 503 Practice of Assessment of Competence - 2 credits

MED 605 Survey Design - 2 credits

MED 605 Rhetoric and Academic Writing - 2 credits

MED 605 Advanced Mixed Methods Seminar - 2 credits


MED 605 Meet the Experts Seminar - 2 credits

MED 605 Grant Writing Seminar - 2 credits

MED 605 Leadership Seminar - 2 credits

MED 605 Mixed Methods Seminar - 2 credits


MED 400 Master’s Practicum in HPE (70 hours) - 10 credits

MED 911 Doctoral Practicum in HPE (70 hours) - 10 credits


The PhD program also requires students to prepare a portfolio that demonstrates evidence of their learning pertaining to each HPE competency.


MED 905 Master’s Thesis  in HPE (10 credits)*

MED 910 Doctoral Dissertation in HPE (15 credits)**

*MED 905 credits are awarded as follows: Completion of dissertation proposal form (5 credits); Paper 1 accepted to peer-reviewed journal (5 credits).

**MED 910 credits are awarded as follows: Paper 2 accepted to peer-reviewed journal (5 credits); Paper 3 accepted to peer-reviewed journal (5 credits); Paper 4 accepted to peer-reviewed journal and dissertation submitted to Board of Regents (5 credits).

The satisfactory completion of an original written dissertation is an academic requirement for the PhD in HPE degree. The dissertation represents a ‘culminating experience’ and should demonstrate a student’s ability to synthesize, integrate, and apply the knowledge and skills acquired through coursework in the core areas of HPE. There is also greater emphasis on demonstrated dissemination skills.

In particular, students will do the following as pertains to their dissertation topic:

  1. Identify an HPE problem or issue;
  2. Formulate focused research questions and conduct a comprehensive review of the scientific literature;
  3. Develop a research protocol using appropriate study design;
  4. Obtain the necessary institutional assurances and approvals;
  5. Collect data;
  6. Select and apply appropriate analytic techniques;
  7. Discuss study findings, including how such findings fit with the extant literature, practical implications to include how the work impacts the military, next steps for investigation, and study limitations;
  8. Interpret, communicate, and disseminate study findings in peer-reviewed outlets.

The full dissertation timeline includes completing the dissertation proposal form; selecting research advisors and a dissertation committee; advancing to candidacy; defending the proposal; providing annual research presentations; providing annual progress updates; submitting a final written dissertation; and completing the dissertation defense.

Qualifying Examinations & Advancement to Candidacy

Upon satisfactory completion of the formal, required course work, and no later than the end of the second year of graduate study, a Qualifying Examination shall be taken by the student. The exam consists of a written and an oral component.

After passing the candidacy examination and meeting other requirements as specified, the student can register for dissertation hours.

Admission to Candidacy

The following are required to be admitted to candidacy and enroll in dissertation hours:

  • Admission is no later than two years after initiation of program of study
  • Completion of a minimum of 48 credit hours of formal coursework
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Completion of laboratory rotations
  • Successful completion of the Qualifying Examination
  • The dissertation advisory committee is formed, consisting of approved graduate faculty and graduate faculty scholars.


  • An earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited academic institution.
  • Applicants must be Active Duty Military Personnel or a Civilian Federal Employee (*Exceptions to this rule can occasionally be established through an official MOU between USU and an organization that wishes to enroll students in the HPE program.)
  • Complete college transcripts and transcripts of all previous graduate studies (if applicable).
  • A complete employment history.
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty members under whom the applicant has studied.
  • Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, taken no more than two years before the time of application (though you may request a waiver; in some circumstances the HPE Admissions Committee can waive such a requirement).

Apply for admission using the USU application portal. Specifically:

  • Complete the HPE Personal Statement following the instructions below.
  • Visit the USU Registrar at, which will bring you to the homepage of Empower, our Registrar's system. Click on "Applications" at the top (not "USU-SSO Login"). On the next page, select "GEO Application."
  • Begin the formal USU application process, including submitting required official transcripts (college-onward), three letters of recommendation (for part-time applicants, one letter must be a letter of support from your supervisor), and a GRE score from within the last two years (though you may request a waiver; in some circumstances the HPE Admissions Committee can waive such a requirement).

Personal Statement Instructions:

For all applicants:

  • Why are you applying to the HPE program?
  • How has your background prepared you to succeed in the HPE program?
  • How will you use the knowledge, skills, and attitudes acquired in USU’s HPE program to help you accomplish your career goals?
  • Please tell us anything else you would like us to know that might be pertinent to our evaluation of your application for admission to the HPE program.

For MHPE and PhD students only:

  • Outline your research interest(s) (please be brief; no more than 500 words).
  • Why are you interested in pursuing this line of research (please be brief; no more than 250 words)?

Instructions for submission:

  • Please name your personal statement using the following file naming structure:
  • Last Name_First Initial_Personal Statement
  • Please email your personal statement as a PDF file, using the guidance provided in the application for emailing.
  • In the text box below type: “please see attached personal statement.”


Apply by December 1st to begin courses in the Summer Term (mid-May).



Tuition: $0

Fees: $0

Books: $0

Equipment: $0

Tuition and fees are waived for students. Civilian students do not incur service obligation to the United States government after the completion of their graduate studies.

All officers are strongly encouraged to seek official clarification from their respective personnel offices.