The Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) program 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. 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) PhD Program. Students who earn degrees in the Fall of 2019 and later will earn the degree name Health Services Research in Pharmacy.

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 shore 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 grad.wisc.edu to learn more about the many reasons to choose UW–Madison for graduate study.

The Graduate Student Handbook is a resource for additional information.  

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, as Wisconsin HRSP PhD alumni are faculty members at schools and colleges of pharmacy across the United States and abroad. 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; and director for global market access, pricing, and policy.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

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) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1241.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Academic backgrounds in public health, sociology, industrial/systems engineering, or economics are well suited for graduate study in Health Services Research in Pharmacy. A professional degree in pharmacy is helpful, but not required. 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. 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 PhD 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 master's degree at the time of application, but is interested in the PhD degree, that PhD intent should be in the application (and if admitted, such students would typically pursue an MS in Health Services Research in Pharmacy on the way to the PhD).  


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 restrictions 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. Such appointments include health insurance; see the Graduate Program Manager 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. The Sonderegger Research Center is another source for funding, with the availability of annual dissertation grants. HSRP 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

Mode of Instruction

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

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required for graduate-level courses (numbered 300 and above, excluding research) to receive a degree.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
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 Doctoral students must pass both written and oral preliminary examinations to achieve dissertator status (see Graduate Program Handbook found in the Contact Information). The written preliminary examination is evaluated on a pass/fail basis. The oral preliminary examination must be completed within six months after having passed the written preliminary examination.

A dissertation and final oral defense are required. See Graduate Program Handbook found in the Contact Information for details.

The final step to completing the degree will be to deposit a copy of the final thesis into the UW-Madison Memorial Library.
Language Requirements Candidates with an emphasis in the history of pharmacy are required to achieve competence in two foreign languages (one in addition to the language acquired for the MS degree). Contact the school’s graduate programs coordinator for more information.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. Refer to the Graduate School: Breadth Requirement in Doctoral Training policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1200.

Students completing Option B minors must complete a minimum of 9 credits outside of SA PHM, reflecting a cohesive and logical combination of courses for specialization emphasis. For Option B, the doctoral minor is developed by the student and faculty advisor as a plan for specialization. In Health Services Research in Pharmacy, the student’s committee approves the minor Option B plan. The minor supports the theoretical foundations for the PhD and should consist of a majority of courses that are theory-focused (i.e., not focused on research methods or analytical/statistical techniques); that is, theoretical courses should comprise all or most of the minor plan.

Required Courses

Core Seminar Courses
Select all of the following:8
Grant Writing for Health Services Research
Mixed Methods for Health Sciences: Purpose, Design and Approach
Community Engagement in Health Services Research
Dissemination, Implementation and Sustainment of Change in Health Services Research
Core Methods and Principles
Select all of the following:6
Research Methods for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Research
Social Behavioral Theories in Pharmacy, Drug Use, and Health Behavior
Research and Analysis
Methods (Select from approved list in consultation with major professor.)6
Analytic Techniques (Select from approved list in consultation with major professor.)9
Specialty and Advanced Coursework22
Select in consultation with major professor:
Breadth-Graduate/Professional Certificate or Doctoral Minor (Option A or Option B)
Other Elective Courses
Research (credit varies)
Foreign Languages (History Concentration only). PhD students with a history concentration must achieve reading ability in two foreign languages and take a minimum of 3 credits in methods of research and analysis.
Total Credits51

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

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

Students accepted into the PhD program with an equivalent masters degree in Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) should refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

A request to apply transfer credits should be presented to program faculty prior to one's first graduate semester. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), another Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) faculty, and the advisor will review and approve the proposed transfer credits for compatibility with the Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) curriculum and approval.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

A request to apply transfer credits should be presented to program faculty prior to one's first graduate semester. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), another Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) faculty, and the advisor will review and approve the proposed transfer credits for compatibility with the Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) curriculum and approval.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

A request to apply transfer credits should be presented to program faculty prior to one's first graduate semester. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), another Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) faculty, and the advisor will review and approve the proposed transfer credits for compatibility with the Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) curriculum and approval.

Credits Earned as a University Special student at UW–Madison

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

A request to apply transfer credits should be presented to program faculty prior to one's first graduate semester. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), another Social and Administrative Sciences in Pharmacy (SAS) faculty, and the advisor will review and approve the proposed transfer credits for compatibility with the Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) curriculum and approval.


A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.0 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full-time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time) the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.

Advisor / Committee

All students in the PhD program are required to have a major professor/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 PhD students annually.

Composition requirements of the Health Services Research in Pharmacy PhD oral preliminary examination committee are located in the Student Handbook; this same committee typically also serves as the dissertation final oral defense committee.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral defense and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examinations may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Grievance Policy for Graduate Programs in the School of Pharmacy

Any student in a School of Pharmacy graduate program who feels that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty member, staff member, postdoc, or student has the right to have a complaint heard about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing of the grievance, following these grievance procedures. Any student who discusses, inquires about, or participates in the grievance procedure may do so openly and shall not be subject to intimidation, discipline, or retaliation because of such activity. The person whom the complaint is directed against must be an employee of the School of Pharmacy. Any student or potential student may use these procedures unless the complaint is covered by other campus rules or contracts.


This policy does not apply to employment-related issues for Graduate Assistants in TA, PA, and/or RA appointments. Graduate Assistants will utilize the Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures (GAPP) grievance process to resolve employment-related issues.

Requirements for Programs

The School of Pharmacy requires that each director of graduate studies (DGS) serve as a grievance advisor for the school. The program must notify students of the grievance advisors, including posting the grievance advisor’s names in the program handbook. The student will be able to select the grievance advisor of the student’s choice and does not need to use the grievance advisor from the student’s program.

A grievance advisor may be approached for possible grievances of all types. They will spearhead the grievance response process described below for issues specific to the graduate program, including but not limited to academic standing, progress to degree, professional activities, appropriate advising, and a program’s community standards. They will ensure students are advised on reporting procedures for other types of possible grievances and are supported throughout the reporting process. Resources on identifying and reporting other issues have been compiled by the Graduate School.


  1. The student is advised to initiate a written record containing dates, times, persons, and description of activities, and to update this record while completing the procedures described below.
  2. If the student is comfortable doing so, efforts should be made to resolve complaints informally between individuals before pursuing a formal grievance. If students would like to seek guidance at this informal step, the student can contact the Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the DGS for the student’s program, or the UW Ombuds Office.
  3. Should a satisfactory resolution not be achieved AND the complaint does not involve an academic program, the procedure outlined in Step 6 below should be followed. Should a satisfactory resolution not be achieved in step 2, the student should contact an SOP grievance advisor of one’s choice to discuss the complaint. The grievance advisor should keep a record of contacts with regard to possible grievances. The first attempt is to help the student informally address the complaint prior to pursuing a formal grievance and should occur within 10 days of notifying the grievance advisor. The student is also encouraged to talk with their faculty advisor regarding concerns or difficulties.
  4. If the issue is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student may submit a formal grievance to the grievance advisor in writing, within 60 calendar days from the date the grievant first became aware of, or should have become aware of with the exercise of reasonable diligence, the cause of the grievance. To the fullest extent possible, a grievance shall contain a clear and concise statement of the grievance and indicate the issue(s) involved including individuals, the relief sought, the date(s) the incident or violation took place, and any specific policy involved.
  5. On receipt of a written grievance, the following steps will occur. The final step must be completed within 30 working days from the date the formal written grievance was received. The program must store documentation of the grievance for seven years. Significant grievances that set a precedent may be stored indefinitely.  
    1. The grievance advisor will convene a SOP faculty committee with at least three members to facilitate the grievance following Steps b, c, and d. The grievance advisor assumes the role of coordinator. Any faculty member involved in the grievance or who feels that they cannot be impartial may not participate in the committee. Committee composition will include at least one member from outside the student’s home program.
    2. The faculty committee, through the grievance advisor, will obtain a written response from the person or persons toward whom the grievance is directed. The grievance advisor will inform this person that their response will be shared with the student filing the grievance.
    3. The grievance advisor will share the response with the student filing the grievance.
    4. The faculty committee will make a decision regarding the grievance. The committee’s review shall be fair, impartial, and timely. The grievance advisor will report on the action taken by the committee in writing to both the student and the person toward whom the grievance was directed.
  6. If either party (the student or the person or persons toward whom the grievance is directed) is unsatisfied with the decision of the program’s faculty committee, the party may file a written appeal to the SOP Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education within 10 working days from the date of notification of the program’s faculty committee. The following steps will occur:
    1. The grievant will be notified in writing, within five business days of the written appeal, acknowledging receipt of the formal appeal and establishing a timeline for the review to be completed.
    2. The associate dean or their designee may request additional materials and/or arrange meetings with the grievant and/or others. If meetings occur, the associate dean or their designee will meet with both the grievant and the person or persons toward whom the grievance is directed.
    3. The associate dean or their designee will make a final decision within 20 working days of receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
    4. The SOP Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education must store documentation of the grievance for seven years. Significant grievances that set a precedent may be stored indefinitely.  
  7. The student may file an appeal of the School of Pharmacy decision with the Graduate School.  See the Grievances and Appeals section of the Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures.


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.

Professional Development

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.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an advanced critical knowledge and in-depth application of economic, policy, and/or social behavioral analyses to the study of the interrelationships between pharmacy, pharmaceutical services, health care systems, and patients.
  2. Formulate research questions, design experiments to test hypotheses, apply appropriate quantitative and qualitative methods, and evaluate evidence relevant to questions in health economics, health care systems, healthcare organization and management, outcomes research, health care policy, and pharmacy services.
  3. Communicate, both orally and in writing, scientific knowledge, research findings, and/or core principles effectively to a range of audiences.


A list of Health Services Research in Pharmacy (HSRP) graduate faculty and their respective areas of research specialization is available from the division website.