2014 cohort

The Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences at Western Michigan University is for people who hold a master's degree in an area related to health and human services and are interested in furthering their careers as researchers, higher education faculty and leaders of interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving.

Students are encouraged to develop their in-depth knowledge within chosen areas through cognate courses and a research practicum. Program and interdisciplinary faculty, across the College of Health and Human Services and beyond, provide supportive mentoring in a context of rigorous standards and expectations.

The program

This interdisciplinary Ph.D. program uses a cohort model, with 12 to 15 students (no more than three from any one discipline) admitted biennially (in even years) through a competitive process. There are usually 35 to 40 students active in the program at any time.

We have designed the curriculum to build competence in interdisciplinary collaboration, research and problem solving. Your experience will be tailored to develop competence in the three areas of contribution expected for university faculty - research, teaching and service.

Thus, it aims to address current and pending national shortages in doctoral level faculty across the fields of health and human services. Graduates are prepared to assume leadership positions in other venues as well.

The mission

The mission of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Ph.D. program at Western Michigan University is to prepare doctoral-level researchers, educators and leaders with the interdisciplinary skills and vision to improve health and human services in all areas of society.


WMU's College of Health and Human Services developed the Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences in response to the findings of the Pew Health Professions Commission and National Commission on Allied Health** which laid out the need for doctoral-prepared research faculty who are educated in an interdisciplinary framework.

These commissions challenged professional schools to restructure education to reflect fundamental changes that have occurred in health care in the last two decades. They identified inflexible curricula and disciplinary boundaries as the biggest barriers that must change if students are to be prepared for interdisciplinary, team-oriented work places. They also indicated that the lack of research in allied health would be a serious impediment to improving care and service delivery. 

The Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences was designed to meet this challenge. It develops doctoral level professionals with interdisciplinary competencies, as well as with advanced skill for teaching in higher education, and in using interdisciplinary research methodologies to address important questions in health (including allied health) and human services. The first students were admitted to this program in 2002.


**National Commission on Allied Health. "Executive Summary." Journal of Allied Health. Summer 1995; 24(3):165-185. National Commission on Allied Health was established by the Health Professions Education Extension Amendments in 1995 (PL 102-408).