University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Institutional Training Programs

AHRQ funds 18 institutions which recruit and train predoctoral and/or postdoctoral health services researchers. Details on characteristics of the University of Michigan program and its self-identified areas of research interest are described.

School of Public Health


Richard A. Hirth, Ph.D.
Program Director
Department of Health Management & Policy
School of Public Health
109 South Observatory
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029

Web site:  

Content Areas

  • Health Care Financing and Incentives.
  • Policy Evaluation and Analysis.
  • Organization of Health Care.
  • Health Information Technology (HIT) Organization and Policy.
  • Comparative Effectiveness.
  • Political Analysis of Health and Health Care.
  • Public Health Law.
  • Cost-Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit Analyses.
  • Quality of Care.
  • Aging and Long-term Care.
  • Population-Based Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  • Tobacco Control Policy.
  • Mental Health Services and Policy.

Program Description

Predoctoral training. This is a multidisciplinary pre-doctoral program that trains scholars for research careers in health services research, with a focus on addressing a broad range of key (primarily applied and policy research-oriented) problems in the field. The program is primarily housed in the Department of Health Management and Policy's Doctoral Program in Health Services Organization and Policy in the School of Public Health, and operates in collaboration with the Center for Health Outcomes & Policy (CHOP), which is the primary home of the post-doctoral component of the AHRQ training program. Trainees are provided conceptual and analytic skills required to address a broad range of health services issues.  These skills are grounded in the disciplinary track chosen by the student (e.g., economics, sociology, organizational studies, political science, finance, operations research/decision sciences). The program is supported through the organizational and administrative resources of the School of Public Health, and Department of Health Management and Policy, in collaboration with disciplinary departments across the University of Michigan. The University of Michigan offers a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary research and training environment. In health services and systems research, this is highlighted by the University's recently established Institute for Health Policy and Innovation (IHPI) which brings together hundreds of health services researchers from multiple units on campus as well as from a number of non-University-based research groups from the Ann Arbor area.

The traineeship experience includes coursework in health services concepts and issues and health services research methods; active involvement in ongoing research programs; participation in seminars and professional conferences; and structured interchange across disciplines and occupations. The training experience provides students with rigorous health services training, knowledge of the special issues of contemporary health services research, and a specific research program to guide their future work. As a result of their training experience, predoctoral students develop skills in disciplinary areas and health services content and methods; integrative activities in which all students participate include core courses in health and health services offered in the Department of Health Management and Policy;  a research practicum during which students learn to develop research proposals for external support and publication; and numerous relevant seminar series (including a departmental research and professional development seminar organized by pre-doctoral students, a regular departmental seminar focusing on early stage research, the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy seminar, a multi-school health economics seminar, faculty and fellow research seminars at the  at which faculty and students present their research, seminars for faculty and fellows at CHOP, and various seminar series in disciplinary departments and research groups affiliated with the IHPI). Trainees may also elect to take one or more summer institute courses in various aspects of methodology. In addition, almost all students gain research experience by publishing one or more papers outside of their dissertation work.

The typical 5-year doctoral program supports students from AHRQ funds for the first 1 or 2 years. Subsequent to this, support is provided through funded research under the supervision of faculty in the form of research and teaching assistantships.

Postdoctoral training. The primary goal of the postdoctoral program is to help trainees acquire the skills required of successful, independent investigators in health services research, including contextual insight and ability to ask novel and important research questions, methodological and analytic expertise, the ability to communicate effectively and disseminate their research, grantsmanship and other academic survival skills.

Depending on their prior education and training, trainees will engage in didactic coursework necessary for acquiring skills in both quantitative and qualitative health services research. With strong mentorship from a team of experienced faculty researchers and access to rich data resources and other infrastructure, all post-doctoral trainees can "hit the ground running" and engage in research projects immediately after starting their fellowships—both as project leads and as collaborators in faculty-directed research. This model has proven extremely successful, as evidenced by the scientific productivity and subsequent academic and funding success of current and former CHOP trainees.

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Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created August 2008
Internet Citation: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.