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The PhD in Health Informatics program at UNC Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) prepares graduate students to contribute to the field of biomedical and health informatics studies through research, teaching and exposure to practical biomedical and health informatics challenges. The Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) PhD trains scholars for careers in research and instruction as well as leadership roles in the industry.  CHIP provides students with research experience, familiarity with biomedical and health informatics concepts, theories and methods.  In addition, the program supports an active research community at UNC-CH and strong connections to the thriving biomedical and health informatics industry in the Research Triangle Park, NC area.


Program Details

Credit Hours

Total: 55 credits

  • Pillars: 21 credits
  • Electives: 12 credits
  • Research credit (994): 6 credits at a minimum
  • Transfer: up to 18 credits

Note: Coursework can be transferred in from previous degrees.  CHIP limits transfer credit to 18 credit hours toward the health informatics PhD.  The recommendation to grant transfer credit will be made on an individual basis and will require the approval of the graduate school.


Learning Environment

The PhD in Health Informatics degree is a 100% residential doctoral degree program.

For more information about residency credit requirements at UNC - Chapel Hill, please follow this link to the UNC Graduate School student handbook.


Enrolled Student Demographics

  • Total Enrolled - 20 doctoral students
  • Female 35%; Male 65%
  • International 50%

Who Should Apply?

Individuals seeking advanced health informatics training for a broad range of research and leadership roles in academic, corporate, non-profit, and governmental settings.

Applicants with research exposure and the following educational backgrounds tend to have the most success in our programs:

  • Computer Science
  • Information Science
  • Public Health
  • Life Sciences
  • Statistics


Program Structure

The program is structured to support interdisciplinary research training, gaining teaching experience, and administrative knowledge acquisition. It includes rigorous coursework prior to dissertation research and is designed to adapt to the diverse needs of program students. Full-time students typically complete the Health Informatics PhD program within 5 years, while part-time students typically complete the program within 8 years. For more information about PhD program, view the CHIP PhD Handbook and CHIP PhD Timeline.

The coursework portion of the program is based upon five content pillars:

  • Core and frontier topics in health informatics (foundational concepts of informatics)
  • Tools and infrastructure (advanced techniques for manipulating health data)
  • Research methods and execution of research
  • Project management and academic leadership skills
  • Implementation science and translation.

Click Here to view sample Pillar course offerings.

The coursework is followed by comprehensive examinations, consisting of a written portion and an oral defense.  After successful completion of comprehensive examinations, the student will prepare and defend a dissertation proposal before engaging in the dissertation research project, followed by a public dissertation defense. Additionally, students are expected to actively participate in scholarly writing and dissemination of research through presentations at regional and national conferences, as well as publications in high impact scholarly journals.


Program Cost & Funding

Tuition & Fees

Information about tuition and fees can be found at UNC Cashier Office website.  For more information on tuition, please see the Tuition Estimator. Helpful tip using the tuition estimator tool: the PhD in health informatics is a graduate program offered through the School of Information and Library Science.


Funding Opportunities

Funding is not guaranteed with admission to the health informatics doctoral program. Applicants who submit a complete application by the Graduate School Fellowship & Academic Program Aid deadline will automatically be considered for available funding. Prospective students may also find the following resources helpful in their search for funding:


Admission Requirements

CHIP PhD applicants are expected to clearly demonstrate an interest in the area of health informatics, as well as articulate plans for research to pursue as part of PhD studies and post-graduate career goals. Full admission application details and instructions are outlined below:


Bachelors Degree & GPA

    • An undergraduate degree from an accredited institution
    • GPA of 3.0 or greater



    • Unofficial copies of transcripts from all post-secondary education.


Letters of Recommendation

    • 3 strong letters of recommendation from advisors, previous instructors, employers, or mentors.


Standardized Test Scores

    • GRE test scores are NOT required but highly encouraged for all applicants.
    • Applicants who are already holders of research or professional doctoral degrees do not need to submit GRE scores.
    • For international applicants: A TOEFL score above 90 or an IELTS score above 7.


Statement of Purpose

    • Description of previous research and professional experience (required)
    • Motivation for seeking PhD in Health Informatics, research interests and what type of
      research applicant hopes to pursue while in the program, as well as post-graduation
      career goals (required)
    • Additional information that would be helpful for application reviewers (optional)


Admission Application Supplemental Questions

In addition to the University’s required application materials outlined above, applicants are required to respond to the following graduate program supplemental questions in their admission application. Failure to respond to these specific prompts (located in the ‘Program Supplement’ section of the application) will result in the application not being reviewed by the PhD admission committee.

  1. Financial Award Interest and External Funding – answer all questions that apply to you
  2. Faculty Interest – Identify at least 2 faculty advisors you might like to work with and/or support your application
  3. Supplemental Document – upload an official WES or ECE GPA evaluation if available at the time the admission application is submitted


Ready to apply?

Visit the UNC Graduate Admission website to submit your application. Visit the UNC Graduate School's Instructions for Graduate Applicants website for detailed information about submitting an admission application.


Still have questions?

Visit the Health Informatics PhD Admissions Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

If you are interested in the PhD Program and would like to connect with a program representative, please fill out the following inquiry form.