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Dual Degree Programs: PhD/MA

About the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy Concentration)/M.A. in Applied Economics Dual Degree Program

Health care is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. and around the world, creating a significant demand for skilled analysts specializing in health economics and outcomes research (HEOR).

Given rising healthcare costs that are driven in part by skyrocketing drug prices, insurance companies, consulting firms, the pharmaceutical industry and medical device manufacturers, and academic and government organizations are looking for specialists with background in health coupled with economics to conduct cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses to improve efficiency in healthcare and drive the costs down.

The dual-degree program for the Pharmaceutical Sciences Ph.D. (with Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy Concentration) at the UH College of Pharmacy and the M.A. in Applied Economics at the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences presents complementary fundamental and practical knowledge and experiences to excel in HEOR career paths.

Although many PHOP Concentration Ph.D. program alumni work in the HEOR field and the degree program already includes some coursework in economics, students in the dual degree program receive a more intensive foundation in such areas as data management and statistical analysis, trend monitoring and forecasting, critical thinking/problem-solving, and regression analysis that complements the PHOP curriculum and specific background and skill sets in demand within the HEOR field.


Students entering the Ph.D./M.A. dual degree program must apply and be admitted separately by both the College of Pharmacy and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Applications for admission to this degree program will be accepted in compliance with the application deadlines for each school. Admission to one program has no bearing on admission to the other program.

All students wishing to enter the Ph.D./M.A. dual degree program must apply to the second program no later than the end of their first year.

Students in the Ph.D. program need not retake the GRE as required for admission to the M.A. program, and students in the AE M.A. program may submit their GRE scores from the M.A. application as part of their Ph.D. application.

Visit UHCOP PhD page admission requirements.

Visit CLASS page for M.A. in Applied Economics admission requirements.

Coursework & Internship

The PHOP Concentration of the Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 70 semester credit hours (SCH), including 18 SCH for electives. The MAE program requires a minimum of 30 SCHs for graduation, including the completion of a 6 credit hour full-time internship requirement during the summer.

Both degrees can be completed in 4 to 5 years as a full-time student. Upon completion of all requirements for each degree, a total of 12 credit hours from the Ph.D. curriculum will be applied to the MAE (6 hours of coursework and 6 hours are completed with an internship/research practicum), and 12 semester credit hours from the MAE program will be applied to the Ph.D.

Both programs offer an internship/research practicum component. The MAE requirement for internship can be met through completion of the research practicum hours through the Ph.D.

The first year of the dual degree program must be in one college or the other. The student may choose in which college to begin the joint program. Starting from the second year, MAE and Ph.D. courses can be taken concurrently as long as prerequisites for each course are satisfied.


To graduate with the concurrent degree, students must meet all academic, curricular and graduation requirements of both colleges. Until all of these requirements have been met, no course credit from either college will be applied toward the degree in the other college.

Students must file for graduation and pay all applicable filing fees to the University of Houston. When filing for graduation, students must state on their application that they are filing for both degrees in the same semester. Graduates will receive two diplomas.

Program Contacts

Ph.D. (PHOP Concentration) — Hua Chen, M.D., Ph.D., 832-842-8355

Applied Economics M.A. — Rebecca Achée Thornton, 713-743-3820