Q1. What is health services and outcomes research (HSOR)?

Health services and outcomes research refers to the scientific design, data collection, and analysis of healthcare and the end results of healthcare. It focuses on quality, cost-effectiveness and the effect of treatment on quality of life in patients. Outcomes research evaluates the effectiveness of health interventions through changes in outcomes such as improvements in patient functional status, satisfaction with care, and mortality. Apart from traditional experimental and quasi-experimental designs, outcomes research methodology embraces epidemiological research designs (such as retrospective or prospective, longitudinal or cross-sectional, case-control or cohort study designs), econometric modeling (such as decision-tree analysis, cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis), and survey research methods (such as quality of life measurements, satisfaction with care). With health care costs increasing five folds in the last two decades, accountability demanded of health care systems and providers is a timely issue. There has been growing recognition that resources are limited, and health care interventions have to be cost-effective, and not just efficacious in clinical trials.

Q2. What are the goals for the HSOR graduate program? 

The HSOR program prepares highly qualified graduate students as independent researchers through didactic and practical training in health services outcomes, and policy research.

Q3. What job opportunities are available for graduates? 

Employment opportunities for those with PhD's in HSOR continues to be excellent. Our students are trained to take jobs in universities, the pharmaceutical industry, government agencies, clinical research organizations, and the managed care industry and have assumed leading roles in these areas. For more examples, visit Alumni – Where are They Now? 

Q4. How do I apply? 

Please submit the following to Graduate Admissions 

  1. Application form
  2. Transcripts
  3. Test scores
    1. Current GRE (required for Fall 2024-2025 and 2025-2026)
    2. TOEFL/IELTS for international students (Required) Code 5904
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. Curriculum Vitae of educational, training and job experiences
  6. Statement of purpose
  7. Application fee

Q4a. What is the application deadline?

  • The application deadline for fall is February 1, with those meeting the deadline given full consideration.
  • Application reviews are completed by mid-March.
  • Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status by no later than April 15.
  • Additional applications may be considered after the deadline until all positions are filled.

Please give yourself sufficient time to complete the process by starting in September of the year before you plan to enroll.

Q4b. May I have a waiver of the application fee?

The department may consider a waiver of the application fee for domestic students (from the United States of America and associated territories) based on financial need.  West Virginia University provides application fee waivers to all WVU full-time employees, McNair Scholars, Active and Retired US Military members and members of AmeriCorp or Peace Corp.  If you do not meet one of the qualifications, you are not eligible for an application fee waiver.

Q4c. What is the program major code for Health Services and Outcomes Research in the graduate school application?

The program major code is 8980.

Q4d. What is the institutional code for WVU for the GRE or TOEFL?

The GRE and TOEFL institutional code is 5904.

Q4e. Do I need to identify an advisor at the time of application?

No.  Interim advisors are assigned when the student joins the program.  A dissertation advisor is determined during the first or second year.

Q4f. Where do I mail my application materials?

Our department cannot accept direct submission of applications.  Applications must be handled by the respective admissions office.  Graduate degree-seeking applicants must send their official transcript from their undergraduate and graduate institutions. It is preferred that official transcripts be sent via an online, secure service such as eScrip-Safe, National Clearinghouse, or Parchment. Alternatively, sealed, untampered with physical official transcripts can be sent to

WVU Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment
P.O. Box 6510
Morgantown, WV 26506-6510


WVU Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment
1 Waterfront Place, 2nd Floor
Morgantown, WV 26501

International applicants must submit official, physical, untampered with, undergraduate and graduate transcripts in original language of issue from an accredited institution to:

WVU International Admissions
PO Box 6009
Morgantown, WV 26506-6009


WVU International Admissions
1 Waterfront Place, 2nd Floor
Morgantown, WV 26501

Q4g. May I have a waiver of the GRE?

GRE is a requirement for the program and no waiver is available.  If you have older scores, we may be able to consider these in our decision-making process; however, we will need current scores before our final acceptance of an applicant.

Q5. When can I enter the program?

Because of the sequence of core courses, students are admitted in the fall semester only, which begins in mid to late August. In rare instances, a student may be admitted in the spring semester if he/she already has a research master’s degree. Admission is subject to the department’s approval.

Q6. Is financial assistance available?

A limited number of teaching and research assistantships and fellowships are available within the department. They are awarded each year on a competitive basis, with the highest ranked applicants given priority. Assistantships include:

  • $30,000 per year stipend
  • Benefits, including full tuition waiver

Qualified students must work 20 hours per week as part of their assistantship. Students with assistantships have to pay approximately $684/semester towards the use of the recreation center, the public rapid transport system (PRT), and other such conveniences along with other university fees. Those who perform their duties well and make satisfactory progress toward their degree objectives will receive the stipend throughout their studies.

Q7. Do I need a PharmD degree or a BS in Pharmacy to apply?

No.  We consider any student with a relevant  BS/BA, MS, MPharm, or PharmD degree. A professional degree in pharmacy, medicine or health-related discipline is preferred, but not required. Students with master’s degrees in marketing management, economics, psychology or sociology, with a demonstrated interest or experience in healthcare, may also apply.

Q8. How many students apply to the program each year?

We receive approximately 25-40 applications each year. 

Q9. How many students are accepted into the program each year?

Typically 3-4 students, but the count varies depending on the number of graduates from the previous year. The School likes to maintain a number of 13-16 students to enable close mentoring and training relationships with faculty advisors.

Q10. How are applications evaluated?

Application materials are reviewed by all members of the department graduate faculty. Applicants do not need to select a advisor/mentor before applying (An interim advisor is selected by the department upon student acceptance.).

Each application is holistically reviewed first in terms of meeting the minimum academic, GRE, and TOEFL criteria. Applications not meeting these criteria are immediately rejected.

The Admissions Committee discusses and ranks applications through a consensus process. Sustained academic excellence, good to outstanding GRE scores, past work or research experience in areas of interest, well-written statement of purpose, leadership and extracurricular activities, and supportive recommendations are important. Video or personal interview are typically required by the graduate faculty. Students ranked according to merit are offered admission with an assistantship in the order of listing until no more assistantships are available. A verbal offer by telephone is made to students who are offered admission with assistantships, and upon verbal acceptance of the offer, are sent formal letters of acceptance.

Q10a. Do I need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam?

Students who completed a bachelor’s degree in one of the following countries, then you have met the WVU English proficiency requirement and do not have to submit a test score (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.): Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Liberia, Nigeria, Commonwealth Caribbean Countries (Anguilla, Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caico).

The HSOR graduate program requires a score of:

  • Academic  IELTS: 6.5
  • TOEFL iBT: 79 (WVU accepts MyBest scores)
  • PTE Academic: 53
  • Duolingo English Test: 105 

Once admitted, and if awarded a teaching assistantship, students are also required to pass a spoken English test before they are allowed to teach in classes or labs.

Q10b. How are grades and GRE/GMAT scores considered in the overall admissions evaluation?

While sustained academic excellence is considered to be among the best predictors of academic performance, GRE scores are also important to compare students from different domestic and international education systems. GRE scores are preferred over GMAT. For students from English speaking parts of the world, quantitative and analytical scores are given more weight than the verbal scores. Faculty participating in application reviews typically look for overall educational achievements, competitive GRE scores, extracurricular and leadership activities, and demonstrated interest in research in the chosen area of study.

Q10c. What are acceptable GRE or GMAT scores?

Scores on the GRE or GMAT are reported in terms of percentiles. For example, if a student scores at the 65th percentile, this means that he or she scored at or better than 65 percent of the students who took that test. We obviously want the best students who apply.

Q10d. If my GRE, GMAT or TOEFL scores are not good, should I retake these exam(s)?

If you take these exams and are not satisfied with your scores, you should retake them if you feel certain that it will help you improve your test scores. Education Testing Service reports the results of all attempts within the previous three years. The GRE is preferred over the GMAT.

Q11. Will there be an interview?

Yes. Selected applicants are interviewed either by video conference (e.g., Zoom) or in person in Morgantown. International students are interviewed by video conference.

Q12. Does the HSOR program offer a master's degree?

This program does not at this time have a terminal Master's degree. Students are only admitted into the PhD Program. Students with a non-thesis Master’s degree (e.g. M.P.H.) are required to complete a research project and publish a manuscript by the end of the first year of their PhD studies. Students who already have a research (with thesis) Master’s degree are admitted with no such stipulations. All students have to complete the PhD degree requirements to be awarded a PhD.

Q13. Can I transfer graduate coursework from my current institution if I have not completed a master's degree?

Yes, on admission to the graduate program and upon forming a PhD committee with an advisor, the committee will take into consideration whatever recent graduate coursework you have completed that can contribute to your plan of study given your educational goals and program needs. WVU allows up to 18 credit hours of coursework to be transferred that are not part of a degree program. See Application for Transfer of Graduate Credit to WVU

Q14. Where can I find examples of PhD dissertations for this program?

Recent PhD dissertations are listed here.

Q15. How long will it take to finish my PhD?

Typically, 3-5 years depending on the student's master's degree.

Q16. What is it like to study at WVU and live in Morgantown?

WVU is ranked as a Research University (Highest Research Activity) – R1 – in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. As West Virginia's major research and development center and only comprehensive doctoral-granting institution, WVU faculty conducts over $150 million in sponsored contracts and grants per year.

Morgantown has a population of 30,549, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2019). It is within driving distance to major U.S. cities such as Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.  BizJournals.com rated Morgantown as the “No. 1 Small City in America.” And, Business Insider ranks it as the "ninth best college town in American." Other recent rankings:

  • Kiplinger.com: "10 Great Places to Live" and "50 Smartest Places to Live" lists
  • Sporting News: One of the "Best Sports Cities" lists
  • Forbes: Number five on the "Best Small Metro" list and Number two on the "Best College Town for Jobs" list
  • Inc: Number 12 on the "Hottest Small City" list

For information about the Morgantown area, visit the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau or the City of Morgantown.

Q17. What if I have more questions or concerns?

For application-related inquiries, or specific Health Services and Outcomes Research graduate program related inquiries, please contact: 

Khalid Kamal, MPharm, PhD
Acting HSOR Graduate Program Director
Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy
E-mail: pharmacyhsor@hsc.wvu.edu

For questions about University policies on graduate programs at West Virginia University, please visit Undergraduate, Graduate, and Health Sciences Center Catalogs.