PhD in Health Sciences Informatics Program

The PhD is a fully funded campus based program only.

Directed by Hadi Kharrazi, MD, PhD, the program offers the opportunity to participate in ground breaking research projects in clinical informatics at one of the world’s finest medical schools. In keeping with the tradition of the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the program seeks excellence and commitment in its students to further the prevention and management of disease through the continued exploration and development of health IT. Division resources include a highly collaborative clinical faculty committed to research at the patient, provider and system levels. The admissions process will be highly selective and finely calibrated to complement the expertise of faculty mentors.

Areas of research:

  • Clinical Decision Support
  • Global Health Informatics
  • Health Information Exchange (HIE)
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Multi-Center Real World Data
  • Patient Quality & Safety
  • Population Health Analytics
  • Precision Medicine Analytics
  • Standard Terminologies
  • Telemedicine
  • Translational Bioinformatics

Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative

As diverse PhD students at Johns Hopkins, Vivien Thomas scholars will receive the academic and financial support needed to ensure their success, including up to six years of full tuition support, a stipend, health insurance and other benefits, along with significant mentorship, research, professional development and community-building opportunities.

Click here to read more.

Application Requirements for the PhD in Health Sciences Informatics

Applicants with the following degrees and qualifications will be considered:

  • BA or BS, or
  • BA or BS, and a minimum of five years professional experience in a relevant field, or
  • MA, MLS, MD or other PhD, with no further requirements.

"Relevant fields" include medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, nursing, ancillary clinical sciences, public health, librarianship, biomedical basic science, bioengineering and pharmaceutical sciences and computer and information science. An undergraduate minor or major in information or computer science is highly desirable.

The Application Process

Applications for the class entering in academic year 2025-2026 will be accepted starting in September 1, 2024 through December 15, 2024. (The application is made available through the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine here.)

Please note that paper applications are no longer accepted. The supporting documents listed below must be received by the SOM admissions office by December 15, 2024. Applications will not be reviewed until they are complete and we have all supporting letters and documentation. 

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcript of school record
  • Certification of terminal degree
  • Statement of Purpose
  • You may also submit a portfolio of published research, or samples of website or system development to support your application if you wish.

This program does not require the GRE.

Important Transcript Information

It is the policy of the School of Medicine Registrar that new students have a complete set of original transcripts on file prior to matriculation showing the degree awarded and date. An official transcript is one that is addressed to the Office of Graduate Student Affairs and sent directly from the granting institution to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Office of Graduate Student Affairs, 1830 East Monument Street, Ste. 620, Baltimore, MD 21287. The transcript envelope must be sealed and stamped on arrival at the OGSA office. Transcripts addressed to the student can not be accepted even if they are sent to the OGSA address above.

Program Description

Individuals wishing to prepare themselves for careers as independent researchers in health sciences informatics, with applications experience in informatics across the entire health/healthcare life cycle, should apply for admission to the doctoral program. The following are specific requirements:

  • A student should plan and successfully complete a coherent program of study including the core curriculum, Oral Examination, and additional requirements of the Research Master’s program. In addition, doctoral candidates are expected to take at least two more advanced courses. In the first year, two or three research rotations are strongly encouraged. The Master’s requirements, as well as the Oral Examination, should be completed by the end of the second year in the program. Doctoral students routinely will not be receiving a Masters degree on their way to the PhD; particular exceptions will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Doctoral students are generally advanced to PhD candidacy after passing the Oral Examination. A student’s academic advisor has primary responsibility for the adequacy of the program, which is regularly reviewed by the Doctoral Study Committee (DSC) of the Health Sciences Informatics (HSI) program.
  • The student must have a minimum of two consecutive semesters (four quarters) of full time enrollment and resident on campus as a graduate student
  • To remain in the PhD program, each student must receive no less than an B in core courses, must attain a grade point average (GPA) as outlined above, and must pass a comprehensive exam covering introductory level graduate material in any curriculum category in which he or she fails to attain a GPA of 3.0. The student must fulfill these requirements and apply for admission to candidacy for the PhD by the end of six quarters of study (excluding summers). In addition, reasonable progress in the student’s research activities is expected of all doctoral candidates.
  • During the third year of training, generally in the Winter Quarter, each doctoral student is required to present a pre-proposal seminar that describes evolving research plans and allows program faculty to assure that the student is making good progress toward the definition of a doctoral dissertation topic. By the end of nine quarters (excluding summers), each student must orally present a thesis proposal to a dissertation committee that generally includes at least one member of the Graduate Study Committee of the Health Sciences Informatics program. The committee determines whether the student’s general knowledge of the field, and the details of the planned thesis, are sufficient to justify proceeding with the dissertation.
  • As part of the training for the PhD, each student is required to be a teaching assistant for two courses approved by the DHSI Executive Committee; one should be completed in the first two years of study.
  • The most important requirement for the PhD degree is the dissertation. Prior to the oral dissertation proposal and defense, each student must secure the agreement of a member of the program faculty to act as dissertation advisor. The University Preliminary Oral Exam (UPO) committee must consist of five faculty members, two of whom to be from outside the program, with the chair of the UPO committee coming from outside the program. The Thesis Committee comprises the principal advisor, who must be an active member of the HSI program faculty, and other, approved non HSI faculty members. Thesis committees must meet formally at least annually. Upon completion of the thesis research, each student must then prepare a formal written thesis, based on guidelines provide by the Doctor of Philosophy Board of the University.
  • No oral examination is required upon completion of the dissertation. The oral defense of the dissertation proposal satisfies the University oral examination requirement.
  • The student is expected to demonstrate the ability to present scholarly material orally and present his or her research in a lecture at a formal seminar, lecture, or scientific conference.
  • The dissertation must be accepted by a reading committee composed of the principal dissertation advisor, a member of the program faculty, and a third member chosen from anywhere within the University. All University guidelines for thesis preparation and final graduation must be met.
  • The Executive Committee documents that all Divisional or committee requirements have been met.

Program Handbook

Details about our program's policies are provided in our handbook here.

Course Offerings

The proposed curriculum is founded on four high-level principles:

  • Balance between theory and research, and between breadth and depth of knowledge: By providing a mix of research and practical experiences and a mix of curricular requirements.
  • Student-oriented curriculum design: By creating the curriculum around student needs, background, and goals, and aiming at long-term competence using a combination of broadly-applicable methodological knowledge, and a strong emphasis on self-learning skills.
  • Teaching and research excellence: By placing emphasis on student and teaching quality rather than quantity, by concentrating on targeted areas of biomedical informatics, and by close student guidance and supervision.
  • Developing leadership: By modeling professional behavior locally and nationally.

The Health Sciences Informatics Doctoral Curriculum integrates knowledge and skills from:

  • Foundations of biomedical informatics: Includes the lifecycle of information systems, decision support.
  • Information and computer science: E.g. computer organization, computability, complexity, operating systems, networks, compilers and formal languages, data bases, software engineering, programming languages, design and analysis of algorithms, data structures.
  • Research methodology: Includes research design, epidemiology, and systems evaluation; mathematics for computer science (discrete mathematics, probability theory), mathematical statistics, applied statistics, mathematics for statistics (linear algebra, sampling theory, statistical inference theory, probability).
  • Implementation sciences: Methods from the social sciences (e.g., organizational behavior and management, evaluation, ethics, health policy, communication, cognitive learning sciences, psychology, and sociological knowledge and methods.) Health economics, evidence-based practice, safety, quality.
  • Specific informatics domains: Clinical informatics, public health informatics.
  • Practical experience: Experience in informatics research, experience with health information technology.

To achieve in-depth learning of the above knowledge and skills we adopt a student-oriented curriculum design, whereby we identify “teaching or learning processes,” that is, structured activities geared towards learning (i.e., courses/projects/assignments, seminars, examinations, defenses, theses, teaching requirements, directed study, research, service, internships). These processes were selected, adapted, or created in order to meet a set of pre-specified learning objectives that were identified by the faculty as being important for graduates to master.

The requirements are:

  • 35 quarter credits/17.5 semester credits Core Courses (9 courses + research seminar 8 quarters)
  • 48 quarter credits/24 semester credits Electives (may include optional practicum/research)
  • 6 quarter credits/3 semester credits ME 250.855 practicum/ research rotation
  • 36 quarter credits/18 semester credits ME 250.854 Mentored Research
  • 125 TOTAL quarter credits/62.5 semester credits

Students are required to be trained in HIPAA and IRB submission, and to take the Course of Research Ethics.

IRB Compliance Training:…