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    University of Southern California
  Sep 25, 2017
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Health Economics, Microeconomics Track, (PhD)

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Doctor of Philosophy in Health Economics

The Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy (School of Pharmacy) offers a program of study leading to the PhD degree in Health Economics. The program focuses on microeconomics; econometrics; health economics and policy; public finance; pharmaceutical economics and policy. The program offers one track in microeconomics and a second track in pharmaceutical economics and policy.

Microeconomics Track

Students in the microeconomics track will complete the microeconomic theory and econometric sequence and course work in health economics. They will receive focused training and mentoring in health economics through collaboration on research projects.

Foreign Language Requirement

There is no formal foreign language requirement. However, competence in the use of one computer programming language is required for the graduate degrees. Such competence can be demonstrated either by course work or examination.

Grade Point Average

A grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 and typically considerably higher (on a scale of 4.0) must have been achieved on all graduate work at USC for the passing of the screening procedure. The Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 on all course work taken as a graduate student at USC.

Unit Requirements and Recommended Courses

The PhD in Health Economics requires a minimum of 64 units of graduate-level courses numbered 500 or higher (excluding 794) and a minimum of 4 units of 794. A maximum of two full courses (eight units) or their equivalent may be PMEP 790 Research  since directed research will generally be incorporated into most 500- and 600- level courses. Exceptions will be considered on an individual basis. Normally, a full-time graduate student course load is three full courses or their equivalent per semester, with a four-course maximum.

Satisfactory completion of the economic theory sequence with a grade point average of B or higher.

At least one of the econometrics courses must be completed with a grade of B or higher:

Additional Requirements

Three electives at the 500 level or higher from the School of Pharmacy's Health Economics Program and from the departments of economics, mathematical statistics, biometry, epidemiology, public administration, computer science or other relevant fields are required.

Qualifying Exam

The student will be assigned to a member of the graduate faculty who will serve as his or her temporary adviser until the formation of a qualifying exam committee. The student should consult the health economics director of graduate studies on the appointment of a PhD qualifying exam committee after taking the written screening examinations. The chairman of the student's PhD qualifying exam committee advises the student on matters of curriculum and graduate opportunities. The qualifying exam committee comprises three to five members, at least one of whom can be from outside the department; at least two members must specialize in the student's area of emphasis; and at least three of the members must be suitable for service on the student's dissertation committee. The composition of all PhD qualifying exam committees must be approved by the health economics director of graduate studies. The student must form his or her qualifying exam committee soon after passing the departmental screening procedure.

Screening Procedure

The student's progress will be reviewed after each semester and before registration for any additional course work to determine if progress has been satisfactory. The screening procedure will include satisfactory performance on written screening exams covering the major topics covered in the recommended course work for each track.

Seminar Requirements

Every student is recommended to take and satisfactorily complete 4 units of research seminars chosen from ECON 693 , PMEP 698  or the equivalent. At least one of these seminars must be related to the student's major field, and the same seminar may be taken more than once. Before completing the dissertation, it is recommended that the student present at least one original research paper in a seminar of his or her choice. This paper should typically consist of original results contained in the student's dissertation.

Dissertation Proposal Preparation

The student is required to register for two units of PMEP 790  and write a research paper on a topic suitable for a dissertation. Typically, the chair of the student's guidance committee directs this work. The resulting essay becomes part of the student's written dissertation proposal which is presented and critiqued during the oral portion of the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination

Upon successful completion of the first two years of course and grade requirements, and following passing of required screening procedures, the student takes a general written and oral examination on the chosen area of research emphasis after presenting a detailed written dissertation proposal. After passing these examinations, the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree.


After admission to candidacy, the student forms a dissertation committee comprising three faculty members, one of whom can be from an outside department. The chair of this committee is the dissertation supervisor. The student must register for PMEP 794a , PMEP 794b , PMEP 794c , PMEP 794d , PMEP 794z  each semester, excluding summer sessions, until the dissertation and all other degree requirements are completed.

The student is expected to complete a dissertation based on an original investigation. The dissertation must represent a significant contribution to knowledge and must be defended in an oral examination administered by the dissertation committee (see the section on Theses and Dissertations ).

Student Teaching

Teaching experience is considered an integral part of the training of graduate students. As part of the general requirements for the PhD, all students are required to undergo training as an educator. This will include participating in seminars on educational techniques and hands-on teaching experiences through participation in didactic and small group teaching in the School of Pharmacy or the USC Price School of Public Policy.

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