Students sitting at desk during class

The Professional Certificate in Population Health Sciences Research (PHSR) is a new non-degree program in the Department of Population Health Sciences that offers healthcare professionals strong foundational training in population health sciences research via a flexible format. Participants will learn theoretically grounded, applied, and pragmatic interdisciplinary approaches to solve health and healthcare challenges.

Our new certificate program will train and prepare you to:

  • Address health and disease by integrating population-level thinking.
  • Critically evaluate scientific evidence and its potential impact on populations.
  • Apply population-level strategies in health promotion, clinical care, research, teaching, and health policy efforts.
  • Conduct research according to the highest scientifically rigorous and ethical standards and serve the needs/values of the populations with which they interact.
  • Understand the ever-changing healthcare landscape.
  • Engage stakeholders.
  • Develop and evaluate new models of healthcare delivery.

Who is the Certificate for?

The Certificate is for:

  • Past or active employees in public health who want more specialized or analytical skills
  • Established professionals in healthcare or government who want to incorporate advances in health services research
  • Clinicians who want to focus on policy-relevant research to improve health and healthcare

Of particular note, is the flexibility the certificate offers. Participants may complete the certificate over a period of up to 3 years, at their convenience, so that they may undertake their training while also continuing to work. Completion in 2 years is recommended; participants must complete all requirements within 3 years. 

The Certificate is designed exclusively for professionals, and is not available to any degree-seeking student, either at Duke or elsewhere.

Why should I apply?

The need for population health scientists has become increasingly clear, and improving the value of, access to, and quality of care requires a scientific workforce that is skilled in the development, dissemination and implementation of strategies to address our healthcare delivery problems. To fill this gap, the Department of Population Health Sciences (DPHS) is offering a Certificate in Population Health Sciences Research, empowering working healthcare professionals with the skills to move science into practice using quantitative and qualitative methods, by using established implementation frameworks and engaging key stakeholders to influence health outcomes.

Core Competencies

The Certificate in Population Health Sciences Research will give students:

  • The knowledge to investigate, address, and solve ‘real world’ healthcare problems.
  • The analytical and methodological skills they can apply to emerging and changing approaches to study design and traditional methods.
  • The expertise to identify problems, formulate questions, and use diverse methodologies to evaluate and implement in uncertainty.
  • A multidisciplinary skillset anchored in project-based experiences to succeed in the growing interdisciplinary healthcare environment.

Why Duke?

With a strong connection to the Duke University Health System, the DPHS Education programs create a living laboratory for health services research, implementation science, and health policy analysis.

Career Services

Students in the certificate program can take advantage of the Master’s program career development resources and those offered by the Graduate School's Professional Development Programs  and the Duke Career Center

Does this program fit your needs?

If so, learn more about the coursework, timeline, application process in our frequently asked questions.

FAQs about the Certificate in PHSR

The program consists of 8 courses (20 academic credits), which comprised the core curriculum of the Master of Science courses in the Department of Population Health Sciences. Training includes courses in analytic methods, statistical programming, and research methods.

$850 per credit

All required courses for the certificate program are self-contained within the Department of Population Health Sciences (e.g., no need for courses outside the department).

Please note:

  • Odd-numbered courses are offered in the fall and even-numbered courses are offered in the spring.
  • Each course is a full-year, indivisible course offered in two parts (fall and spring). You must take both parts of the same course in the same year (e.g., if you take Analytic Methods I, you must take Analytic Methods II the same year), and you may not take the courses out of sequence (e.g., Analytic Methods I must be completed before taking Analytic Methods II).
  • Because the content is inextricably linked, participants will be required to take Analytic Methods and Statistical Programming at the same time.
  • In order to support students who have relevant prior experience or training, courses may be substituted with a more advanced (800-level or 900-level) PHS course in a similar area. This requires prior approval of the PHS Director of Graduate Studies.

PHS 701: Analytic Methods
Instructor: Dr. Brad Hammill

This is an introductory course in statistical analysis and inference methods useful for Population Health Sciences. Topics include descriptive statistics, analysis of contingency tables, one-and two-way analysis of variance, simple linear regression, measures of uncertainty, and hypothesis testing. Both parametric and nonparametric techniques are explored. Core concepts are taught through team-based case studies and analysis of research datasets taken from the population health sciences literature and demonstrated in concert with Population Health Sciences 703. Computational exercises will primarily use the SAS Statistical Computing Platform.

PHS 702: Analytic Methods II
Instructors: Drs. Matt Maciejewski, Valerie Smith

This course is the second course in a two-course sequence that provides students a foundation in methods for analyzing clinical, health and economic outcomes often encountered in population health studies. Through course readings, in-class discussions, and data analysis, students will develop research skills and competencies related to understanding, conducting, and interpreting regression analyses. Prerequisite: Population Health Sciences 701 and 703.

PHS 703: Statistical Programming for Population Health Sciences I
Jared Dean

Introduction to statistical software packages (i.e., SAS Software System, R Statistical Computing Platform) to provide an introduction to the core ideas of programming including data preparation, input/output, debugging, and strategies for program design. Students will learn to write code to perform descriptive, statistical, and graphical analyses, and write maintainable code, to test for correctness and to apply basic principles of reproducibility. Programming techniques and their applications will be closely connected with the methods and examples presented in the concurrent course Population Health Sciences 701. This course assumes minimal programming knowledge.

PHS 704: Statistical Programming for Population Health Sciences II
Instructor: Jared Dean

Students will build on programming learned in Population Health Sciences 703 using the SAS Software System and R Statistical Computing Platform. Students will continue to learn to write code to perform descriptive, statistical, and graphical analyses; write maintainable code to test for correctness and to apply basic principles of reproducibility. Programming techniques and their applications will be closely connected with the methods and examples presented in the concurrent course Population Health Sciences 702. Prerequisite: Population Health Sciences 703.

PHS 705: Topics in Population Health Sciences I
Instructor: Dr. Matt Dupre

This course is designed to introduce students to the transdisciplinary field of population health sciences and provide students with a greater understanding of the general theories, concepts, and measures often used in population health sciences.

PHS 706: Topics in Population Health Sciences II
Instructor: Dr.Virginia Wang

This course introduces the key components of the US healthcare system—the organization, financing, and delivery of services; the role of prevention and other non-medical factors in population health outcomes; key management and policy issues in contemporary US health care. These components are one of the foundations from which we can understand contemporary challenges and questions to address within population health. Topics include the overall structure of the US health-care system, financing (insurance and payment models), health system and providers, the Affordable Care Act, mental health, health economics, and quality of care. Prerequisite: Population Health Sciences 705.

PHS 707: Research Methods I
Instructor: Dr. Heather King

This is the first in a two-course sequence that gives students a strong foundation in population health research methods. The course introduces critical concepts in research methods, including varying types of validity, reliability, and causal inference. Topics include sampling and interpretation of probability and nonprobability sampling; an introduction to measurement theory; threats to internal validity; experimental designs; and quasi-experimental designs.

PHS 708: Research Methods II
Instructors: Drs. Lesley Curtis, Sudha Raman

This is the second in a two-course sequence where students establish a strong foundation in population health research methodology, including randomized and non-randomized study design. Prerequisite: Population Health Sciences 707.

The PHSR is designed exclusively for working professionals and is not available to any degree-seeking students, those at Duke or elsewhere.

Participants may take up to 3 years to complete the program. Completion over 2 years is recommended, though participants have the option to complete the certificate in 1 year. 

Please email Heidi McCann a CV and a 500-word personal statement.

All submitted applications will be reviewed by a faculty member.

Selected candidates will be asked to complete a virtual interview with members of the DPHS Education Team, prior to a decision being reached.

The application decisions will be made on a rolling basis and no later than September 1. Decisions will be released through email notification only.

Coursework will be graded according to the same policies outlined by The Graduate School:

  • A (exceptional, 4.0 grade point) is the highest grade.
  • B (good, 3.0 grade point) and
  • C (satisfactory, 2.0 grade point)
  • F (failing) is unsatisfactory.
  • I (incomplete) indicates that some element of the student’s work is missing for an acceptable reason at the time grades are reported.

Do you have additional questions? Ask us!