Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Ph.D. program granted exceptional merit status

Contact: Joel Krauss

2022 Ph.D. program cohort

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Association of Doctoral Programs in Health Sciences (ADPHS) has bestowed the Program of Merit status on the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Ph.D. Program at Western Michigan University. It is one of only five doctoral programs in the country to obtain this distinction.

The reviewing committee noted the program’s commitment to quality faculty engagement as a primary area of strength. “This status from the ADPHS indicates that the College of Health and Human Services has developed a nationally recognized doctoral program,” says Dr. Kieran Fogarty, program director.

Over the past 20 years, the Ph.D. program has thrived in the college. With biennial cohorts of 12 to 15 students, the program is usually made up of 35 to 40 doctoral students, consistently making it one of the three largest Ph.D. programs at the University.

Individuals from 17 different academic departments at Western, and more than 50 major leading research universities, hospitals and healthcare agencies across the nation have made up dissertation committees for students in the program. This academic diversity and the national scope of leading subject matter experts who participate highlight the interdisciplinary approach students can expect to encounter in the doctoral program.

Ph.D. students presenting posters in 2008

In ongoing efforts to engage the greater academic and healthcare communities it serves, the IHS Ph.D. program recently initiated a virtual Grand Rounds series, inviting nationally-recognized speakers to explore emerging healthcare topics of national value. Speakers have included Dr. Kata Chillag, the Hamilton McKay Professor of Biosciences and Human Health at Davidson College and former senior policy analyst to President Barack Obama, and Dr. Captain Joshua Devine, regional health administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Ph.D. program is well positioned going forward,” adds Fogarty. “It’s clearly emerging as a leading doctoral program for preparing interdisciplinary scholar-practitioners with the skills and vision to become thought leaders, improving health and human services in all areas of society.”

 In addition to academic and institutional appointments, IHS Ph.D. program graduates are increasingly being awarded prestigious post-doctoral fellowships with leading academic centers and healthcare agencies. External reviewers noted that this as a clear indication of the quality and scope of the program. “We are respected by peer institutions for our doctoral education process, and also for our strength in producing highly qualified graduates who are making meaningful contributions to their professions at the regional, national and international levels,” says Fogarty.

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