Doctoral Degree

Health Professions Education (PhD)

Here, you'll take the inside track to greater leadership. Prepare to advance the health professions field through education, research, and innovation. 

Program Overview

The PhD program in health professions education at Widener University provides an avenue for you to become an agent of change in an academic setting. 

Designed for students who already possess a master’s degree or clinical doctorate in a health professions-related field, the program focuses on three tenets:

  1. Community-engaged practice with a social justice lens
  2. Leadership development at the community, classroom, and administrative levels
  3. Interprofessional education, practice, and research 

Offered in a hybrid online and in-person course format, the academic doctorate in health professions combines both a teaching and research core, giving you the unique flexibility to be equally prepared for faculty positions in graduate health education programs and research positions within your realm of clinical expertise. You'll engage in authentic application of educational and research theory, supported by faculty who bring active clinical and academic research experience to the classroom. And through our array of well-established interprofessional pro-bono clinics, you'll gain perspective on using evidence-based practice to impact the local community.   

Today, health professions programs commonly require a doctoral degree beyond a clinical doctorate for tenure-track faculty. Given the expansion of health professions programs, the number of faculty retiring, and the shortage of doctorally-prepared educators, you'll graduate from our PhD in health professions well-positioned to prepare the next generation of health professionals and emerge as a scholarly leader within your field.  

Program Options for the PhD in Health Professions

The PhD program in health professions education combines a teaching and research core.

  • As part of the teaching practicum, you'll design and deliver components of a health professions education course with the guidance of a seasoned faculty member. You'll engage in PhD boot camps that will foster an understanding of the key elements of being a faculty member, as well as practical matters such as syllabus and course design.
  • The research core culminates in a doctoral dissertation with the goal of launching a sustainable research agenda. You'll learn about research ethics, research design, and qualitative and quantitative analysis. You'll apply this knowledge directly to the development, execution, and defense of the dissertation. And you'll receive mentorship on the dissemination process to successfully engage in peer-reviewed presentation and publication of your research. 

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Admissions Information

  • Master's degree or clinical doctorate in a related field
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate programs
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Written statement outlining your background, professional goals, prior clinical and/or academic teaching experience, and research interests
  • One letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to your clinical and academic background and experience
  • Complete the application form

Note: There is no test requirement for admission into this program. 

Applications are due March 1st for a summer start in May. 

Program Highlights

Two health care professionals looking at patient charts in a hospital setting

Interprofessional Learning & Collaboration

Learn from faculty mentors who use their clinical and academic experience to fuel your journey. Engage with classmates who bring backgrounds in a wide range of health professions into class discussions and out-of-class conversations. Work collaboratively with professionals from neighboring fields as you focus on issues in health education, health care, and social justice. You'll graduate with an interprofessional perspective that sets you apart from your peers. 

Instructor in front of sociology classroom preparing to answer a question

Flexible Career Path

Our PhD program will prepare you for two powerful roles at the same time: a faculty position in a graduate health education program and an educational researcher role within your respective discipline. No matter which path you take, you'll graduate ready to impact health care and health professions education.

Faculty mentoring student

Culture of Leadership

Develop into a leader within your respective health profession. The initial peer-reviewed presentations and publications that arise from your dissertation will serve as the starting point for lifelong scholarship. And the knowledge and experience you gain will prepare you to educate the next generation of health care professionals. 

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

Interest in and employment of health care professions continues to grow. Your doctoral degree in health professions education will place you on the inside track to a rewarding career as an educator or educational researcher who will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the profession.

Outlook & Outcomes

Health care Employment Growth

Employment in health care occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2021 to 2030, adding about 2.6 million new jobs. 

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Meeting a National Need

With the increasing demand for PTs, OTs, PAs, and SLPs, PhD graduates will meet a national need for doctoral-prepared faculty. 

Potential Career Paths

  • Tenure-track or non-tenure track faculty in a health professions program
  • Health professions education leader or coordinator for a health system

Potential Career Paths (cont.)

  • Health education researcher for a health system or government entity
  • Health education curriculum and assessment consultant

Take the Next Steps


Visit our online application system to complete your app and share supplemental materials. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.