Requirements for Degree Completion

Program Learning Objectives

The Program Learning Objectives for the PhD program in Health Economics are available here.

Academic Content

The doctoral program in Health Economics requires coursework in economics, preventive medicine, policy research and epidemiology. Additionally, specialized courses in pharmaceutical economics, including pharmaceutical policy, health economics, economic assessment methods, applied health econometrics and welfare theory are part of the core curriculum taught within the department. A limited number of electives in public administration, biostatistics, comparative analysis of health systems, gerontology, marketing, pricing, psychology and other related disciplines are considered on an individual basis. From the beginning of the academic program, students are encouraged to work closely with faculty on collaborative research projects.

The following areas of specialization are recommended for PhD candidates in the Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy track:

Grade Requirements

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 coursework taken as a graduate student at USC. A grade of “B” (3.0) or higher must be attained in at least one graduate-level course in econometrics.

Course Requirements

The PhD in Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy requires 24 units of graduate-level courses numbered 500 or higher (excluding 794) and a minimum of 4 units of 794. Normally, a full-time graduate student course load is three full courses or their equivalent per semester, with a four-course maximum. Students must complete the following course sequence:

Year 1 – Fall
PMEP 509 Research Design
PMEP 547 Programming Methods for Empirical Analysis of Health Data
PMEP 510 Foundations of Health Economics

Year 1 – Spring
PMEP 535 Behavioral Science and Policy in Healthcare
PMEP 539 Economic Assessment of Medical Care
PMEP 551 Introduction to Health Econometrics

Year 2 – Fall
PMEP 525 Pharmacoeconomics I
PMEP 534 Health Economics I
PMEP 552 Advanced Health Econometrics I

Year 2 – Spring
PMEP 526 Pharmacoeconomics II
PMEP 544 Health Economics II
PMEP 553 Advanced Health Econometrics II

Exceptions to this course sequence will be considered on an individual basis.

Additional Requirements

There is no foreign language requirement. However, competence in the use of one computer programming language is required for the degree. Such competence can be demonstrated either by course work, research activities or examination. Students in the PhD program must complete the requirement before taking the qualifying exams.

Every student is required to take and satisfactorily complete a four-unit research seminar (PMEP 698). Before completing the dissertation, the student must present at least one original research paper in a seminar. This paper should normally consist of original results contained in the student’s dissertation. It becomes part of the student’s permanent file.

A student must pass two written screening exams prior to presenting a dissertation proposal defense (see below). These exams cover research design (courses 509, 519, 529, 539) and econometric methods (ECON 414, 511, 615; PMEP 549). The two screening exams are taken following completion of the second year in the program. Each exam is graded independently, allowing a distinct grade on each one. If necessary, each student is allowed one retake of one exam should a passing grade not be achieved on the first attempt.

Upon successful completion of the course and grade requirements and the core theory examination, the student presents and defends a detailed written dissertation proposal. After passing this examination, the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree.

After admission to candidacy, the student forms a dissertation committee composed of at least three faculty members, one of whom can be from an outside department (i.e., a department other than the school Program in Health Economics). The chair of this committee is the dissertation supervisor. The student is expected to register for PMEP 794 (doctoral dissertation) each semester, excluding summer sessions, until the dissertation and all other degree requirements are completed.

The dissertation is defended in an oral examination administered by the dissertation committee when the committee agrees that the student has completed the research and a satisfactory draft of the dissertation has been written. If the committee agrees to pass the student, all suggested extensions, modifications and corrections are incorporated into a final draft, which must be approved by all members of the committee.

Course Offerings

USC Course Catalogue

  • For Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy (PMEP) courses, see School of Pharmacy.
  • For Economics (ECON) courses, see the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
  • For Preventive Medicine (PM) courses, see Keck School of Medicine

Schedule of Classes

For course availability for the current year see the Schedule of Classes. Most department courses are listed as TBA to facilitate scheduling course lectures around courses provided by other Departments.