The Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) provides a rigorous background in a range of disciplines critical to preparing the next generation of health services researchers. The program's interdisciplinary approach combines theories and concepts from fields such as economics, sociology, psychology, management sciences, education, epidemiology, industrial/safety engineering, history, and law. The UW–Madison Division of Health Services Research in Pharmacy, which administers the degree, has a national reputation for its research productivity, extramural funding support, publication record, and teaching.  See faculty information and research interests. The HRSP Graduate Program at UW-Madison has educated generations of researchers who have taken challenging leadership and advisory positions in academia, industry, and government.  Our faculty members and graduates have provided influential roles in communicating research findings to the public, policy makers, pharmacists, and other health care professionals to improve health outcomes, patient care, medication use, and the healthcare system. UW–Madison's Sonderegger Research Center (SRC) is housed at the School of Pharmacy and complements graduate student interactions with faculty, enriching student exposure with other researchers in the field.

About the Program

The program was renamed from the Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) M.S. Program.  Students who earn degrees in the Fall of 2019 and after will earn the degree name Health Services Research in Pharmacy. Entering graduate students without a research-based master's degree earn the M.S. on the way to the Ph.D. in this same field or may apply for a (terminal) master's degree.  

The objective of the HRSP graduate program is to prepare students for independent, theory-based research, leading to new knowledge and understanding of medication use, patient and provider communication and behaviors, health outcomes, patient safety, and healthcare systems. Further, it evaluates the need for pharmacists to fulfill various roles, such as clinical practitioner, drug consultant, and drug distribution system manager, in order to meet the needs of diverse patients, providers, and organizations that use pharmacy services. This is accomplished by integrating knowledge of pharmacy and pharmaceuticals with theories and concepts from numerous disciplines.  The name change to HSRP was driven by faculty recognition of the policy orientation of much of its work, whether related to standards of care, practice innovations, reimbursement, safety, or a focus on patient-centeredness.  There was also acknowledgement of the division’s scholarship as involving the examination of multiple health services, and being significantly broader than “pharmacy” research only.  The new name better reflects the training offered and the career trajectory of its graduates.

Why Consider a Graduate Degree in Health Services Research in Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Students in the HSRP graduate program have the advantages of studying at a world class institution of higher learning. Courses may be taken from a wide range of academic units, providing access to top instructors and researchers. The HSRP graduate program has considerable curricular flexibility, and can be tailored to individual student interests. As program faculty have a broad range of knowledge and expertise, students can specialize in diverse areas of emphasis.

UW–Madison is one of the nation's most prolific research universities, located on the shores of Lake Mendota in the state's vibrant capital city. The city of Madison is consistently recognized as one of the best cities in the nation in multiple categories for quality of life. Visit to learn more about the many reasons to choose UW–Madison for graduate study.

The Graduate Student Handbook and program brochure are sources for additional information.  

A dual PharmD–M.S. degree program in HSRP has been approved. The dual degree program is an opportunity for professional pharmacy students to concurrently pursue an M.S. degree in HSRP during the latter half of their professional pharmacy academic years. See the School of Pharmacy's Graduate Programs Coordinator for more information about the dual degree's specifics.

Post-Graduate Information

Placement information for recent HSRP alumni is updated yearly; see the program website.  HRSP has a rich history of creating future pharmacy educators; prospective students interested in careers in academic pharmacy are encouraged to explore resources from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Beyond academia, common career setting options are in the pharmaceutical industry, contract research organizations, managed care, nonprofit research centers, and government entities.  In non-academic settings, alumni have titles such as director for health economics and outcomes research; health researcher for patient safety and quality; social researcher; research scientist; director of pharmacy; director for global market access, pricing, and policy.  Placement information for those who have exited the program with a terminal masters may be found by consulting the School's Graduate Coordinator.

Fall Deadline January 3
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) May be required in certain cases; consult program.*
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Those with pharmacy-type work experience or a degree in a related field are invited to inquire about the compatibility of their background for admissions purposes. A professional degree in pharmacy is helpful, but not required, for applicants to the HSRP M.S. graduate program. Academic backgrounds in public health, sociology, industrial/systems engineering, or economics are well suited for graduate study in HSRP. If you seek to apply your knowledge and skills to pharmacy or medication-related research at the highest levels, contact us. You can earn the M.S. degree in Health Services Research in Pharmacy with emphasis in any of the diverse areas of concentration within our program.

Please see admissions on the program website for a link to the application and a description of the required supplementary materials.  Applications are only considered at the yearly January deadline, for matriculation in the following fall semester.  Applications are not reviewed at any other time during the year. If one does not hold a research-based masters degree at the time of application, but is interested in the Ph.D. degree, that Ph.D. intent should be in the application (and if admitted, such students would typically pursue an M.S. in HSRP on the way to the Ph.D.).  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

HSRP faculty believe in supporting graduate students in their quest for knowledge and research expertise; maintaining a range of graduate student funding mechanisms is a high priority. Graduate students are typically provided with tuition remission and stipend (salary) support as either teaching assistants, research assistants, or fellows.  The minimum graduate stipend for 2018-19 is $18,350 for the academic year (Sept-May); note that these levels are adjusted annually.  Such appointments include health insurance; see the Graduate Coordinator for details.  In addition, incoming students are provided with new laptop computers for their learning and research endeavors and access to state-of-the-art statistical software.  Travel grants facilitate graduate student participation at national meetings. HRSP graduate students who are licensed pharmacists are typically encouraged to continue practicing part-time (e.g., on weekends), to maintain ties to the profession. See the School's webpage for the latest on HSRP graduate funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement At least half of degree coursework (at least 16 credits out of 32 total credits) must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required for graduate-level courses (numbered 300 and above, excluding research) to receive a degree.
Other Grade Requirements Candidates may be dropped from the program if they receive more than 7 credits of grades at the BC level or lower. This applies to formal courses, seminars, and research credits.
Assessments and Examinations A formal master’s thesis based on original research is required and must be defended orally. For specific details, see
Language Requirements Only candidates with an emphasis in the history of pharmacy are required to attain competence in foreign language. Contact the School’s Graduate Programs Coordinator for more information.

Required COURSES

Completion of a set of core courses is required. At least 9 credits in core courses, 9 credits in methods of research and analysis, and 11 credits in specialty/advanced courses are required.

Core Courses
Core Seminar4
Research Seminar in Social & Administrative Pharmacy 1
Core Principles3
Research Methods for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Research
Social Behavioral Theories in Pharmacy, Drug Use, and Health Behavior
Methods of Research and Analysis9
Select from approved lists:
Additional Research methods (3 credits minimum)
Analytic techniques (6 credits minimum)
Specialty/Advanced Courses 211
Select in consultation with major professor.
Research (credit varies)
S&A PHM 990 Research1-12
Total Minimum Credits32

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 16 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions (the student must have graduate student status on the other institution’s transcript at the time the courses were taken). Such courses should be presented to program faculty prior to one’s first graduate semester and require the review/approval of at least two program faculty members. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 7 credits of UW–Madison courses numbered 700 or above (earned as a UW–Madison undergraduate or professional student) toward the M.S. Such courses should be presented to program faculty prior to one’s first graduate semester and require the review/approval of at least two program faculty members. 

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 7 credits of coursework numbered 700 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Such courses should be presented to program faculty prior to one’s first graduate semester and require the review/approval of at least two program faculty members. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).


Students are required to maintain a program faculty member as an M.S. advisor through the duration of their studies. Students should select a permanent major professor before the end of the second semester enrolled in the program. Program graduate faculty monitor the progress of M.S. students annually.

Requirements for the composition of the HSRP M.S. thesis committee are presented at this link.


15 credits

Time Constraints

The HSRP M.S. is designed to be completed in two years.

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that were earned before their absence. Further, that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.


Program faculty believe in supporting graduate students and a range of funding mechanisms are possible; graduate students are often provided with tuition remission and funding support either as teaching assistants, project assistants or fellows. In addition, new students are provided with new laptop computers for their learning and research endeavors, access to state-of-the-art statistical software and support, and travel grants to present their research at national meetings.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

HRSP faculty conduct comprehensive annual reviews of each HSRP graduate student, providing confidential feedback to each student's own self-assessment.  This combination provides a great launch for a meaningful goal setting.  HSRP faculty are committed to coaching graduate students to grow as instructors and to mentoring them in this dimension, complementing the wealth of campus resources for teaching and learning.    The School of Pharmacy's Sonderegger Research Center regularly hosts "Brown Bag" lunches where HSRP graduate students can interact informally with SRC staff.  There is increased emphasis to connect current students to PhD alumni (e.g. via Skype "informational interviews") for career discussions and mentoring.  The School of Pharmacy student body, along with those from other UW-Madison health professional schools, participates in a number of annual "Lunch and Learn" events throughout the academic year to build community and talk about other challenges regarding diversity, equity, inclusivity, and climate in higher education.  

  1. Demonstrate critical knowledge and in-depth understanding of principles in the core area of the program and the student's area of expertise.
  2. Identify important research questions, formulate testable hypotheses, and design experiments to test those hypotheses.
  3. Conduct original research that contributes to the student's field of study.
  4. Communicate, both orally and in writing, scientific knowledge and research results effectively to a range of audiences.
  5. Demonstrate ability to teach SAS concepts and principles to a range of audiences.
  6. Apply ethical principles in conducting scientific research.