PhD-IBM-HSSR Programme


The PhD Programme in Integrated Biology and Medicine at Duke-NUS has a thriving track on Health Services and Systems Research (PhD-IBM-HSSR). We seek motivated applicants.

The PhD-IBM-HSSR programme is for students with an undergraduate or a master’s degree in social sciences, epidemiology, public health, economics, psychology, sociology or quantitative methods including data science applications (or any related field) who want to advance their understanding of health services research. Students in our PhD programme focus on the creation of new and innovative knowledge in the field of health services research.

Graduates of the programme use their acquired substantive and methodological skills in a wide range of work settings, including academic institutions, non-profit organizations and government bodies to shape health services research.

Research Areas in HSSR are:

  • Implementation Science
  • Health Economics
  • Decision Science
  • Survey/Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Medicine
  • Epidemiology
  • Data Science

We encourage students to participate in one of the major research programs within HSSR. The research programs are listed below:

  • Aging and Long-Term Care
  • Palliative Care
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Chronic Disease Epidemiology
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Precision Medicine
  • Nutrition
  • Ocular Epidemiology
  • Health Behaviours
  • Medical Decision Making
  • Genetic Epidemiology
  • Quality of Life and Health Utility Studies

 Pre-requisites for the program:

Students have to meet all the pre-requisites for the PhD-IBM programme.

PhD scholarship:

PhD students will receive:

  • A scholarship covering 100% of tuition and miscellaneous fees payable for the 4-year duration.
  • A monthly stipend for the 4-year duration of the programme.


The PhD programme entails one to two years of coursework and at least two years of full-time independent research.

Year 1

PhD students who opt for HSSR track at the beginning of their PhD are exempted from the course “Molecules to Medicine”. These students can instead take our core course on Health Services and Systems Research (GMS6950) in their Semester 1. PhD students who opt for HSSR track in Semester 2 or later will take GMS6950 in their Year 2.

PhD students will conduct three 6-week rotations with HSSR faculty mentors in Semester 1. Mentors for these rotations are regular-ranked HSSR faculty who are approved PhD mentors. These rotations are structured to provide students with first-hand exposure to specific disciplines and research programs within HSSR in which they may choose to conduct their research. At the end of these rotations, students commit to a thesis mentor.

During the second semester, students continue with their coursework and/or begin primary research under the supervision of their thesis mentor.

Year 2

At the start of the second year, students work towards developing their thesis projects. Students may or may not continue with their formal coursework.

In the first semester of their Year 2, all PhD students take a qualifying examination or preliminary exam. Students defend a mock proposal and are evaluated on their knowledge in the given HSSR discipline and their ability to pursue hypothesis-based research.

Years 3 & 4 – Research and Thesis

After the qualifying exam, remainder of the PhD training consists of the execution of the thesis project and participation in seminars. The thesis mentor will guide the student and act as chair of the student’s thesis advisory committee. Success of the thesis is judged by publication or anticipated publication of two first authored papers, emphasis being on quality rather than quantity.  

Curriculum Requirement


Year 1

Semester 1

GMS6950 - “Health Services & Systems Research”


HSSR Laboratory Rotation 1


HSSR Laboratory Rotation 2


HSSR Laboratory Rotation 3




Semester 2 onwards

GMS6900 – “Student Research Seminars” (6 semesters)


(Optional) PhD-QBM seminars




Elective Courses (Decided by student & mentor and approved by Course Coordinator)


Additional modular credits of 6000 level


Additional modular credits of 5000 level or higher



Thesis & Research






If you are interested in the PhD Programme, please feel free to contact the following faculty:


  1. Prof Nicholas Graves (
  2. Asst Prof Chetna Malhotra (