Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions Questions

Are GRE scores required?

No, GRE scores are not required.

What are the prerequisite courses? Will a graduate level course in statistics, but not biostatistics, suffice? Where can I take these courses if I have not yet completed them?

Three (3) credits each of graduate level biostatistics and epidemiology must be successfully completed (B or better) prior to matriculation into the PhD program. A course in statistics, rather than biostatistics, will not suffice as a substitute. These courses can be taken at any accredited institution at which they are offered, and must be completed within the last five (5) years. Applicants may be able to complete one or both courses online through GW once admitted to the PhD program but prior to full matriculation. Early application submission is strongly encouraged. Please contact the program administrator for details.

How many students are going to be accepted for the fall program?

We admit 10-15 doctoral learners each Fall.

Program Questions

How are the courses graded (e.g., letter grade or pass/fail)? Is there a course associated with the pre-dissertation work and dissertation? How are these graded (e.g., letter grade or pass/fail)?

The curriculum includes a Dissertation Proposal Preparation course (3 credits) in the semester prior to the proposal defense. The dissertation phase is associated with 9 credits of seminar. Our expectation is that the courses related to the dissertation will be graded as complete/incomplete.

What type of assessments will be used within the courses?

Performance in the courses will be based on a wide range of assessments requiring written and oral communication. Some team-based assignments are also included. Participation at residency weekends and in online discussion forums contributes to a portion of each course grade.

Is it possible to take additional time to complete the coursework (e.g., take less than the full course load in a given semester)?

We are still exploring this potential as an option in the future, but currently there is not a part-time version of the curriculum.

Will there be a number of team-based projects?

Translational health science requires collaboration among many stakeholders so team-based projects will be an important part of the curriculum. The team projects will not always include other doctoral learners however; it is conceivable that you will be asked to engage relevant stakeholders from your community or professional network in selected projects. We recognize the added difficulty of conducting team-based projects for busy professionals, therefore we are committed to keeping team-based projects short-term (e.g., conducted during the residency weekends) with assessments based on products controlled individually (e.g., team analysis), when feasible.

Is the translational health sciences program accredited by any specific organizations (other than the university-based accreditation by Middle States)?

Currently there are no specialized accreditations that are relevant to this program. The George Washington University is regionally accredited by Middle States Commission.

How long does the program take to complete?

The didactic portion of the curriculum requires 5 semesters of full-time work, and four semesters of part-time work. The curriculum is designed so students can achieve doctoral candidacy after seven semesters. The timing of the dissertation defense is dependent on many individual factors, but we anticipate an additional 1-3 years following the proposal defense.

What is the anticipated time to completion?

The didactic portion of the program will take 5 sequential semesters, including summers, to complete and the dissertation proposal defense will occur following the 6th semester. Once your proposal is approved, you would move into the dissertation phase of the program, which typically may take 1-3 years depending on your research question, methodology, and data collection.

Can you talk more about the summer sessions? I was wondering if summer sessions include June, July, and August?

Summer sessions begin in late-May/early June and end in mid-August.

Is the dissertation research based? Would I be able to use data that I have access to in my current position for the dissertation?

The dissertation will be the typical 5 chapter format, which includes research methodology, which can be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed. We encourage students to identify dissertation topics that align with their current work, when possible, although not necessary. Students are not permitted to collect data to be used for dissertation before ALL program approvals have been obtained.

Can you speak to the difference in learning expectations between grad school and a PhD program? What will be the week to week type of workload that the program might require? For example are you anticipating that work will be done over one evening or do you think we will spend several evenings a week on coursework?

The translation health sciences courses are highly integrated with one another and cover both theoretical concepts and applications. There is a great deal of reading expected for each course to ensure that students are well-versed in the literature. Students should expect to dedicate 20 hours per week during the didactic portion of the program, in addition to the residency weekends. The time commitment for the dissertation phase will vary.

Are online courses 'live' and interactive, or are they posted and available to be completed at any time?

The online coursework will be conducted asynchronously, but there will be quite a bit of interactivity through the various learning tools, such discussion forums, voice thread, wikis, and blogs. On occasion, learning is enhanced through synchronous sessions that are not mandatory (but highly encouraged).

What are some examples of possible dissertation topics?

The type of projects we expect PhD students to pursue in their dissertations are ultimately designed to generate new knowledge about translation, implementation, and dissemination of evidence to practice and to population health. All dissertation work is translational in nature and must be grounded in collaboration science and implementation science perspectives. Please refer to the definition of translational science from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH.The types of research questions therefore that we would expect from learners include, but are not limited to the following:

For a given health issue with population-wide implications, how do

  • Evidence-based solutions compare in terms of effectiveness, acceptability, sustainability, uptake, and costs?
  • Implementation mechanisms of action affect outcomes?
  • Cultural systems interact with translation of evidence to health care practice and policy?
  • Key individual, team, organizational, and system-based factors contribute to successful adoption of evidence-based innovations in health care?

How do team attributes, composition, and dynamics shape health care processes and outcomes?

What are the effects of integrated transdisciplinary curricula and dissemination products on learning and more distally, on practice?

What is the impact of an innovative teaching or evaluation method on learners and more distally, on the competencies of health professionals?

How does a given evidence-based approach (e.g., product, assessment tool, procedure) affect specific health outcomes, and what are the implications for translation to practice and policy?

How do the essential aspects of delivery strategies used affect naturally occurring knowledge diffusion in communities (e.g., practitioners, consumers, educators, researchers, policymakers)?

How do implementation and dissemination approaches affect adoption of evidence-based practices?

How do providers, consumers, policymakers, and other key stakeholders use data to shape decisions? To what extent does outcomes data inform and change health care practice?

How do fidelity strategies and measures affect translation of findings from clinical trials to generalized practices?

How is clinical decision-making shaped by the level of conceptual development underlying assessment instruments used in health care?

How do implementation processes and strategies affect outcomes at various levels of health care, including individual providers/consumers, groups or teams of providers/consumers, organizations, and systems level?

Given that the program is geared toward three broad groups of professionals (educators, practice leaders, and researchers) can the curriculum be tailored based on an applicant's background and goals? Given that translational science emphasizes collaboration between a variety of disciplines, students are allowed to take courses in other (closely related) departments? Are students able to identify dissertation committee members from other departments?

In terms of the dissertation committee, yes, students will be permitted and encouraged to identify members from other departments, schools and even external to GW. Since the PhD program is cohort-based with a fixed tuition price, there are limited opportunities for enrolling in electives outside of the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

What are some examples of different career trajectories for graduates given that the field is very broad and still emerging. Can you speak to the three different focuses of healthcare, educator, or researcher?

Career trajectories in the field of translational health sciences are numerous and expected to continue to grow as political, social, economic and other factors drive the need for a transdisciplinary and effective approach to complex health problems. Several areas we can anticipate at this time include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic career in health professional education programs, either entry level or post-professional.
  • Administrative leadership positions in a variety of public and private, for profit and nonprofit, domestic and international organizations which have a health-related mission. Graduates would be uniquely qualified to serve in leadership positions requiring them to enact system-level change.
  • Research positions in private industry (e.g., pharma), public agencies (e.g., NIH), academia, or research institutes.

PhD and Visa Eligibility

Does the PhD in Translational Health Sciences qualify for an F-1 student visa or a J-1 exchange visitor visa?

The PhD program does not qualify admitted students to any visa status in the United States. Given the low residency nature of the THS program, students only come to campus two weekends a semester (i.e., six times a year). International students traveling to the U.S. to attend PhD residency weekends should plan to do so on a tourist visa.

For additional questions, please contact GW's International Services Office (

Residency Weekend

When will the residency weekends be held?

Twice each semester during the first 5 semesters. As possible, these weekends are scheduled to occur from Friday through Saturday during approximately the 5th and 10th week of each semester. Actual dates for all 5 semesters are provided to each cohort upon matriculation. The weekends will be pre-determined and students will be notified far in advance of each semester and not based on student's availability per se. Attendance at each of the residency weekends is strictly requiredThe residency weekends are only during the didactic coursework portion of the program, not the dissertation phase.

View the Residency Weekend Dates and Program Academic Calendar

Is attendance to the residency weekends required?

All students are required to attend all residency weekends. Students will not be excused for required residency weekends and are expected to be present for the entire residency weekend.

Where do residency weekends take place?

Unless a special event is arranged, all weekend activities will be held in Exploration Hall on the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus (VSTC) in Ashburn VA. Our full address is 20101 Academic Way, Ashburn, VA 20147.

Does The George Washington University provide transportation, accommodations, and meals for residency weekends?

The program will not provide nor arrange for transportation, lodging or meals. Lunch on Saturday, food at receptions, some light snacks, water and coffee will be provided throughout the weekend, however students should be prepared to seek most meals on their own. As possible, special arrangements for discounted lodging at some of the area hotel will be provided.

I am coming from out of the area. What is the best way to arrive to campus?

The George Washington University Virginia Science and Technology Campus is in Loudoun County, inside the University Center complex in Ashburn, Virginia. The Campus is conveniently located off Route 7, one mile west of Route 28, and only five miles north of Dulles International Airport. For this reason, we highly recommend that you plan to fly into Dulles International Airport. GW does not provide transportation from the airport to campus, so students should plan their own methods of transportation from the airport.

Note: VSTC is located 35 miles Northwest of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Coming to campus from this location can take close to 1-2 hours in Friday rush hour traffic. For more specific directions to campus, we invite you to visit our website.

Do you have any recommended local lodgings / Are their discounts provided to GW students?

Hotels within close proximity to the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus include:

Courtyard Marriott (Dulles Town Center)
Cost: $159.00 Mon.–Wed. and $69.00 Thurs.–Sun.
Contact: 571-434-6400
Note: This hotel is walking distance to Dulles Town Center, the local mall featuring many restaurants and stores.

DoubleTree by Hilton—Washington Dulles Airport
Cost: $119.00 Mon.–Wed. and $69.00 Thurs.–Sun.
Contact: 703-230-0077
Note: Shuttle to campus buildings

Hampton Inn
Cost: $119.00 Mon.–Wed. and $69.00 Thurs.–Sun.
Contact: 703-230-0077

Lansdowne Resort
Cost: $108.00
Contact: 703-729-8400
Note: Shuttle to campus available.
Rate Code: GOVCON

Springhill Suites—Marriott
Cost: $119.00 Mon.–Wed. and $74.00 Thurs.–Sun.
Contact: 703-723-9300
Note: Walking distance to campus

Please note that all rates are subject to change at the discretion of the hotels. For specific information and nightly rates, contact the hotels directly.

What options for dining / entertainment are near campus?

VSTC does maintain a small cafeteria on campus in Enterprise Hall. Please note that the hours of operation are limited. 

In addition to our on-campus option, there are a number of local venues students can easily access from campus:

  • One Loudoun is a new development located only one mile from VSTC and which is home to a number of different shops, restaurants, and bars - 20626 Easthampton Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20147
  • Chick-fil-A - 44835 Lakeview Overlook Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20147
  • OPA Mezze Grill - 44110 AShburn Shopping Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20147
  • Delhi 6 - 43761 Parkhurst Plaza, Ashburn, VA 22011
  • Sushi Noshi - 44260 Ice Rink Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20147

There are a number of other local establishments in and around Ashburn, Virginia. I encourage you to explore the various options around campus!

Advising Questions

Who will be members of the dissertation committee? Is it possible to have a current mentor (e.g., supervisor or colleague at work) serve on the committee?

The 3-person dissertation committee will consist of the dissertation chair, a content expert, and a methodologist. You are encouraged to include one person from your current network of colleagues or mentors on the dissertation committee.

How is your faculty advisor assigned or do you get to choose a faculty member whose research interests aligns with your own?

Academic advisors consist of faculty who teach in the first year. Please refer to the relevant section of the Doctoral Handbook for a more extensive discussion of advisors and mentors.

Is the list of faculty posted on the website?

Yes, the Faculty tab on our website will bring you to a list of core PhD Program faculty. Additional information regarding each faculty member’s research interests is continually added to the website. Click on the faculty members name for more detailed information.

What is the best way to schedule an offline discussion with a program advisor?

Feel free to email any faculty member that you would like to contact, or let the program administrator know who you want to speak with to be connected. You can access contact information by clicking on the envelope icon for any faculty member listed on the Faculty page of the website.

Financial Aid and Tuition Questions

How is the flat tuition paid over the course of the program? Is it divided equally across semesters?

The PhD in Translational Health Sciences is a set-tuition program. The tuition is divided over nine semesters. Students are charged $2500 each semester for semesters 6-9. The remainder of the balance will be divided proportionally over semesters 1-5 (example, if tuition is $70,000, $10,000 is initially deducted to be spread over semesters 6-9. The remaining balance of $60,000 is divided over the first five semesters and students will be charged $12,000 each semester for five semesters).

Do we offer transfer credit?

The PhD in Translational Health Sciences is a fixed price, cohort-based program with a curriculum which integrates content from three foundational bodies of knowledge -- collaboration science, implementation science, and translational research. For these reasons, we cannot offer transfer credit for the required courses, although we will do so for up to 6 elective credits. However because this is a fixed price program, the transfer of elective credits would not reduce the overall tuition, although it would potentially eliminate one course towards completion of the degree.

Is the program eligible for tuition reimbursement through George Washington University?

Yes, the program is eligible for tuition benefits offered to GW faculty and staff. Please refer to GW’s Human Resources Department for further details.

Will this program be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans?

Yes, GW is a Yellow Ribbon school, and we have students using Yellow Ribbon benefits across our online and on-campus programs. Using benefits in the PhD will be no problem, provided the student is eligible through the VA. Eligible applicants are encouraged to visit GW’s Office of Military and Veteran Students Services for more information.