Interdisciplinary curriculum

HILS Cycle

The HILS program emphasizes the role of learning in health care environments and the tools needed to facilitate systems change. HILS introduces distinct models of adaptive change, and students apply their skills immediately to existing problems.

Defining characteristics include:

  • nature of health information
  • role of information technology and informatics
  • translation of biomedical research knowledge into clinical practice or consumer advice
  • complex organizational, social, and regulatory environment in which learning in the health sciences takes place


Master of Science

MS students will complete a minimum of 27 credits. The MS program is intentionally designed to be less than two full years of study, to appeal to professional students (both clinicians and engineers, among others) who wish to gain new knowledge and skills in a short, intensive program.

Doctor of Philosophy

PhD students will complete a minimum of 36 credits of coursework. Doctoral students will begin the dissertation proposal during winter term of their second year. Working closely with their advisor and planning committee, they will draft a proposal for their dissertation and a public proposal defense will be conducted. The dissertation research phase of the program is likely to be variable across candidates. On average, we expect students to complete their research within three years of the proposal defense. Students will defend their dissertations through a public examination by their PhD committees. 



Four types of courses are required for all students in the MS and PhD programs:

    • research methods courses,
    • courses in the components of the learning cycle,
    • courses in health infrastructures, as well as
    • at least one cognate and one elective course suited to the student’s area of scholarship.

The cognate requirement is intended to foster intellectual breadth, which, due to the highly interdisciplinary nature of the HILS program, will be inherent in the courses required of and elected by students. Students are thoroughly grounded in each of the phases of the learning cycle and to the infrastructure required to enable the learning cycles to function in a learning health system. The health infrastructures courses bookmark the learning cycle sequence, ensuring that students gain an initial understanding of the concepts and approaches to building and maintaining health infrastructure, with opportunities to apply and experience actual creation and maintenance activities.

Initial MS and PhD courses in HILS are open to admitted degree-seeking students and others with an interest. Students who are not in the HILS program should consult with the program advisor in their home department to determine how HILS courses might suit their program of study and degree requirements.

For more information, read the course descriptions

Core Courses within Learning Health Sciences

  • Research Methods for Learning Systems, LHS 660, (3 credits)
  • Health Infrastructures 1, LHS 650, (3 credits)
  • Health Infrastructures 2, LHS 750, (3 credits)
  • Implementation Sciences in Health 1, LHS 621, (3 credits)
  • Implementation Sciences in Health 2, LHS 721, (3 credits)
  • Exploratory Data Analysis for Health, LHS 610, (3 credits)
  • Knowledge Representation and Knowledge Management in Health, LHS 611, (3 credits)
  • Ethics and Policy Issues for Learning Health Systems, LHS 671, (3 credits)

Core Courses in Coordination with Other Departments

  • Advanced/Applied Research Methods
  • Quantitative Analysis/Statistics 

Electives and Cognates

Electives and cognates will be determined individually by students together with their advisors. One elective and one cognate suited to the student’s area of scholarship is required. A current elective offered by HILS faculty is Natural Language Processing on Health Data. Other electives are being planned for the future.

In addition, the HILS program faculty have identified more than 75 potential cognate and elective courses across a wide range of research areas at the Univeristy of Michigan: biostatistics, public health and policy, ethics, health management, women's studies, nursing, industrial and organizational engineering, epidemiology, social work, and more. 

Applied Practice and In-Depth Research

An implementation project, completed the summer following the first year of the program, provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills. Most students will work with faculty on projects related to their focal area. A student interested in learning implementation and behavior change skills may work with a faculty member involved in implementing guideline-concordant care for low-income patients with diabetes in community settings. Doctoral students begin the dissertation proposal early on. Working closely with their advisor and planning committee, they draft a proposal for their dissertation, following guidelines for nationally-funded research applications.


Plan of Study

Plan of Study

View course descriptions