What to Expect

The PhD curriculum immerses you in opportunities to learn the information science and technologies and soft skills to support the evolving patterns of care in the new paradigm of team-based, patient-centric quality health care, where decision-making is grounded in data.

Today’s information systems are expected to reflect health care occurring across multiple health care delivery systems, across the lifespan, across urban and rural locations.

The PhD in Biomedical and Health Informatics is a recognized STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Degree Program.

Under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, international students who graduate from colleges and universities in the United States may be authorized to remain in the country and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months upon receiving employment authorization from the United States Citizenship Immigration Service (USCIS). Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program may apply to USCIS for an additional 17 months of work authorization as part of the OPT STEM extension process.

Year 1 provides a general foundation covering the major biomedical and health informatics theories and methodologies.

Required courses

BHIS 499 Information Sources in Biomedical & Health Information Sciences 1 hour
BHIS 501 Methods in Biomedical and Health Informatics I 4 hours
BHIS 510 Health Care Information Systems 3 hours
KN 503 Responsible Conduct of and Ethical Decision Making in Research 2 hours


Make sure you’ve completed all your prerequisite courses before enrolling!

HIM 486 Foundations of Health Information Management
May be waived for those with previous coursework or U.S.-based clinical experience
BHIS 406 Medical Terminology for Health Information Management
May be waived for those with previous coursework, U.S.-based clinical experience, or passing grade on proficiency exam
Computer programming course, preferably Phython
Requires documented evidence of previous coursework or may be fulfilled (with permission of the DGS) through documented completion (a signed course certificate) of a nationally recognized MOOC

Required courses

BHIS 502 Methods in Biomedical and Health Informatics II 4 hours
BHIS 507 Literature Reviews and Evidence Synthesis in Health Informatics 3 hours
BHIS 592 Colloquium in Biomedical and Health Informatics 1 hour

Year 1 concludes with additional required courses covering the major biomedical and health informatics theories and methodologies. You’ll begin to rotate through research labs of UIC faculty to help you determine the direction of your research.

Required courses

BHIS 505 Ethics and Legal Issues in Health Informatics 3 hours
BHIS 591 Research Rotations in Biomedical and Health Informatics 2 hours

Once you’ve completed the core courses that develop basic discipline competencies, you’ll get the opportunity to focus your scholarship in one of two tracks: Systems Science in BHI or Social and Organizational Science in BHI.

Year 2 is the time for you to choose and take courses in your track.

Required courses

BHIS 503 Communication Skills in Health Informatics 3 hours
BHIS 531 Health Information Technology and Informatics in Interprofessional Collaborative Practice 3 hours
BHIS 592 Colloquium in BHIS 1 hour
BHIS 595 Seminar in BHIS 2 hour
AHS 511 Biostatistics I 4 hours


Choose your electives during these two semesters, and complete credits focusing on your specialty in consultation with your advisor.

Preliminary exam prep

Before you begin full-time dissertation research, you’ll need to complete your coursework and a comprehensive preliminary examination. Start preparing for that exam now!

Our curriculum immerses you in opportunities to learn within the framework of advanced scholarship in biomedical and health informatics.

Preliminary exam

You must pass a preliminary examination to advance to candidacy before you start your full-time dissertation research. After that, you’re able to enroll in BHIS 599 PhD Thesis Research.

Once you pass your preliminary exam, the rest of your time is based upon your progress in your dissertation proposal write up and defense, research, and oral defense of your dissertation.

Once you’re in the third year of your studies, you’ll be totally focused on research.


Prepare and defend your dissertation proposal.

Spring and Summer

Continue in BHIS 599 PhD Thesis Research and work towards the completion of your research and your defense.

Hurrah—you could be done as early as Fall of this year!

You’ll need to complete a written dissertation with oral defense at a public session before the dissertation committee and other members of the academic community.

Once this is done, you’re officially finished.