Research PhD

The goal of our doctoral program is to train the next generation of researchers to advance the science of Biomedical and Health Informatics. Our emphasis is on the science of Biomedical and Health Informatics, rather than on computer implementations or technology transfer of known methods to biomedical domains. The study of biomedical information leads to a set of core research questions about biomedical data and knowledge representationknowledge and information retrieval, and information and technology use. As our trainees strive to answer research questions in these arenas, they will acquire both a breadth of knowledge across informatics aspects of biomedicine and health care, as well as a depth in their particular area of specialization within biomedical and heath informatics. The cross-cutting themes listed on our vision page provide a general vision for our graduate programs (MS and PhD) and the broad themes and goals we value in biomedical & health informatics education.

Our doctoral students are key partners in on-going research efforts at UW BHI. As they progress through our program, we will teach them the skills needed to contribute significantly to our field, and will guide them in their transition from apprentices to valued colleagues.

The core PhD curriculum is built around nine courses, but students are expected to build on these from the wide range of related courses available from BHI-affiliated programs, as well as the UW catalog as a whole. Optionally, students may also pursue a Data Science Specialization with their BHI PhD (the specialization requirements are in addition to the below).

PhD Coursework Requirements

BHI Program Core Coursework Requirements: All courses listed below are to be numerically graded, with the exception of Research Seminars, and the student must pass all these with individual grades of at least 2.7. Courses count for 3-4 credits (in parentheses), for a total of 34 credits.

  • BIME 530   Introduction to Biomedical & Health Informatics (3)
  • BIME 533   Public Health and Informatics (3)
  • BIME 534   Biology and Informatics (3)
  • BIME 535   Clinical Care and Informatics (3)
  • BIME 537   Informatics Research and Evaluation Methods (4)
  • BIME 539   Teaching, Learning and Communication in BHI (4)
  • BIME 550   Knowledge Representation and Applications (3)
  • BIME 554   Biomedical Information Interactions and Design (4)
  • BIME 543   Consumer Health and Informatics (3) *
  • BIOST 517 Applied Biostatistics I (or BIOST 537 Survival Data Analysis in Epidemiology or other equivalent biostatistics graduate course with approval) (4)**

*  effective for Autumn 2015 cohort and later

** effective for Autumn 2014 cohort and later

See the curriculum page for a recommended timeline on completing the above core courses.

Research seminars: In addition to the numerically graded courses listed above students must regularly enroll in BHI research seminars, BIME 591 (Biomedical and Health Informatics Research Colloquium) and/or BIME 590 (Selected Topics in Biomedical and Health Informatics)—12 credits required for PhD students. Students who lead a BIME 591 seminar may also register for the course.

General Degree Requirements: Cumulative GPA of 3.25 minimum and quarterly GPA of 3.0 minimum. Total of 90 credits minimum, of which 60 must be prior to scheduling the General Examination, and 27 are 800 level Dissertation credits over a period of at least three quarters. 60 credits minimum completed at the University of Washington. Only courses graded 2.7 and above will count toward the degree.

The Qualifying Exam: After completing required BIME coursework, students must pass a qualifying exam that covers breadth of knowledge prior to formally creating a PhD supervisory committee and proceeding with dissertation research. (See BHI Qualifying Exam Policy).

The General Exam: Scheduled at least four months (recommended) after the Qualifying Exam and formation of a doctoral supervisory committee, successful completion of the General Exam results in admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. Enrollment in Dissertation credits (BIME 800) may begin in the quarter following successful completion of the General Exam. (See BHI PhD General Exam Policy and UW Graduate School General Exam policy). BIOST 517/537 must be completed before taking the General Exam.

Final Exam (AKA Dissertation Defense): Candidates for the PhD must present a dissertation demonstrating original and independent investigation and significant achievement in the field of Biomedical and Health Informatics–formatted according to UW Graduate School Requirements. The final oral exam includes a presentation and defense of the dissertation to the Supervisory Committee, Biomedical and Health Informatics faculty and students, and public, in accordance with Graduate School regulations. (See UW Graduate School Dissertation Defense policy)

Graduate School Requirements: Students are responsible for reviewing the Graduate School policies, procedures, and requirements for the Doctoral Degree.

Satisfactory Progress:  All degree requirements above are expected to be completed according to BHI’s Satisfactory Progress Guidelines. In addition, students and their advisors are required to submit a Quarterly Progress Report at the beginning of each academic quarter.

The University of Washington itself is situated in the beautiful city of Seattle, a veritable mecca for those who enjoy the beautiful outdoors and the diverse offerings of a big city. We look forward to your application and welcome your interest.

Video: Welcome to Life in Seattle

For additional information about our PhD program and how to apply, please visit our Become A Student section.