From 2020 to 2023, the program’s first-year cohort grew by nine students – more than doubling – from eight to 17 enrolled, its largest cohort to date. Currently, 52 students are enrolled in the program in various phases of study, with 14 of those in the candidacy phase, working on their dissertations. Twenty-eight students have graduated from the program since 2016.

The doctoral program is designed for the working health professional to achieve a Ph.D. without having to leave a current job as an academic in health sciences, in public health or within a health care organization. The curriculum can be tailored to meet individual career aspirations and research interests through elective coursework, projects completed within courses and dissertation.

Through studying teaching, leadership, advanced practice and scholarship, students in the program prepare for leadership roles related to health – which meets a great work force need in health care and academic leadership.

Kory Zimney, Ph.D., program director of the Ph.D. in health sciences program and associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, explained why the program is gaining steam among health professionals.

“With the continued growth of health science degrees moving to higher levels of educational requirements, university faculty with Ph.D.s are needed,” he said. “Often, clinicians moving into these faculty positions have adequate clinical skills but lack research skills, which this program provides them.

“The flexibility and affordability of the program are often the biggest draws for students to enter the program, as well as its interdisciplinary nature,” Zimney continued. “Many of our graduates have become our best advocates, singing high praises for the program and recruiting others.”


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