Health Professions Education

The PhD in Health Professions Education develops educators who design, lead and evaluate evidence-based instructional and curriculum innovation within a variety of health professions learning contexts.


Students sitting in class

Please Note

As a university focused on providing quality education to prepare future leaders in healthcare, our academic departments constantly evaluate and improve our graduate degree and certificate programs to ensure they meet the demands of the market. In doing so, there comes the need from time to time to hold the admission process to new students in order to spend time in the evaluation process effectively.

As a result, the decision has been made to hold admissions for the Fall 2020 entry term for the PhD and CAGS programs in Health Professions Education. Once the evaluation process concludes, we will send an update about the programs and any relevant timeline information. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to updating you about the program in the future.

About the Program

Our PhD program prepares students to train clinicians and faculty to meet the evolving healthcare needs of individuals, families and communities across the continuum of healthcare.

Our students are nurses, nutrition professionals, pharmacists, physician assistants, genetic counselors, occupational, physical, and speech therapists, public health practitioners, social workers, athletic trainers, radiologists, paramedics and surgical technicians. You'll conduct original research to inform best practices in learning and teaching, debate issues and trends in higher education, learn the principles of teaching strategy, analyze professional health curricula and conceptualize the values and ethical systems of the health professional.

Doctoral experience is essential for the advancement of academic and professional educators. Our program is a hybrid, taught both online and onsite — allowing you to plan your classes around your schedule. PhD coursework is typically completed in 3 years followed by a rigorous research study preparing you to work in higher education and in professional education programs in healthcare.

Requirements for entry into program

Applicants must have a Master's degree or higher academic degree in a health professions specialty from a regionally accredited US post-secondary institution. Practical experience within the healthcare arena within the past three years is also required.

An overall GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate and graduate studies. GRE (scores from within five years prior to the application deadline) sent by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) directly to the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences are required. We are unable to accept electronic scores or copies of student score reports. Allow 4-6 weeks for such official scores to be received by the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences. Simmons GRE code is 3761.

Delivery mode or modes available

(full-time, part-time, locations, technologies, etc.)

The PhD in Health Professions Education (HPED) curriculum has two major components: education and research. The HPED courses are the education cognates, the foundation and theory for the education knowledge base. These courses are taught exclusively online and constitute the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) Health Professions Education program.

The education courses in the PhD program provide the background and theory for the research portion culminating in the dissertation research project. These courses are taught on site at Simmons University.

This program is offered in 6 credit/semester or 3 credit / semester options.


48 Credits

Core, Pre-requisite, and elective course requirements and progression, etc.

6-Credits/Semester Sequence

Year 1

FALLHPED 520: Trends in HPE3
 HPED 521: Learning Theory and Practice3
SPRINGHPED 530: Principles of Inquiry and Evidence in Education3
 HPED 531: Teaching Methodologies, Course Design, and Assessment3
SUMMERHPED 540: Curriculum Development, Program Design, and Evaluation3
 CNBH 661: Applied Stats 13

Year 2

SemesterCourse Credits
FALLHPED 541: Educational Application and Immersion Experience3
 CNBH 660: Perspectives in Research and Theory in HPE3
SPRINGCNBH 663: Qualitative Research Methods3
 CNBH 665: Leadership and Organizational Change in HPE3
 NBH 667: Dissertation forum0
SUMMERCNBH 664: Qualitative Research Analysis3
 NBH 667: Dissertation forum0

Year 3

FALLCNBH 662: Applied Stats 23
 CNBH 666: Quantitative Research Methods3
 CNBH 667: Dissertation Forum0
WINTER INTERSESSIONWritten Comprehensive Exam (P/F)0
SPRINGCNBH 670: Proposal Development3
SUMMERMay begin dissertation if proposal defended successfully in spring 

Year 4

FALLCNBH 690: Dissertation6

Capstone, Placement, Internship, Practicum, etc.

HPED 541 is a 100 hour immersion experience in the field of higher education individualized to help you achieve your career aspirations. You will work with faculty to identify a PhD prepared educator to work with for a full semester who will provide advice and mentorship to help you apply the theories, concepts, principles, and research learned throughout the educational courses.

After completing this program, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze social, political, economic, and scientific trends in healthcare including policies and structures that require meaningful transformations in health professions education.
  2. Navigate health professions educational systems and organizations in order to implement successful innovation.
  3. Apply educational theories and principles of cognitive and learning science to enhance student learning in health professions education.
  4. Design and deliver creative and impactful lessons, courses, curricula and programs in health professions education.
  5. Identify, evaluate, and apply evidence-based teaching strategies.
  6. Design learning environments and organizational structures to intentionally and equitably support and engage all learners, particularly those from historically marginalized groups.
  7. Develop and implement processes and tools to assess learning outcomes and evaluate programs in order to inform and improve practice.
  8. Critically analyze and evaluate research in health professions education, marshaling evidence in support of arguments and using data to support educational practice.
  9. Design and conduct ethical and scientifically rigorous original research that informs best practices in health professions education
  10. Apply principles of ethical and inclusive educational leadership and management practices aligned with current research and theories of leadership in organizations
  11. Demonstrate proficiency in the range of research methods relevant to health professions education and in the collection, analysis, interpretation, and communication of data and evidence
  12. Critically analyze existing published research and theoretical underpinnings in order to identify areas amenable to further research
  13. Disseminate results of scholarly work in peer-reviewed journals, books, conferences, and other professional venues
Offered As
  • Doctorate
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