Doctoral Programs in Health Services: Info for PhD Students

Students who are interested in research related to healthcare politics may choose to enroll in a Ph.D. program in health services and policy. Learn more about prerequisites, the curriculum, and future prospects for graduates.

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Essential Information

The most common doctoral degree in the field of health services is a Ph.D. in Health Services and Policy. In this program, students apply the fundamental concepts of policy planning to real-world issues in healthcare. Students are expected to choose a specialization, such as economic realities in healthcare, political science in health services, health services ethics, organizational management in healthcare, or health sciences administration. They conduct intensive research in this particular area of interest, leading to a final dissertation. They must also pass a field examination prior to graduation. Usually, it takes about five years to complete the program.

Applicants usually need to hold a master's degree in a relevant field, such as health policy, epidemiology, health administration, or economics. However, some programs accept students who only hold a bachelor's degree if they have professional experience in the field.

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Doctoral Degree in Health Services

In addition to independent research, students must attend basic seminar courses. Common topics include:

  • Economics of health care policy
  • Industrial organization in health care
  • Public policy analysis
  • Advanced health care politics
  • Administration development
  • Social epidemiology
  • Organizational management

Popular Career Options

Graduates are prepared to pursue a wide variety of careers related to healthcare. Possible job titles include:

  • Director of policy for a health care facility
  • Researcher at a health studies center
  • Health care research analyst
  • Professor of health sciences or health administration
  • Health studies department chair
  • Health policy research investigator
  • Senior health outcomes scientist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment for medical and health services managers would increase 17% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. As of May 2015, the BLS reported, these managers earned a median annual salary of $94,500. Epidemiologists, including research epidemiologists, can expect job growth of 6% from 2014-2024, and their median annual salary was $69,450 as of May 2015.

Postsecondary teachers in the health specialties can expect job growth of 19%, which is faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $90,840 for postsecondary teachers in the health specialties as of May 2015.

In summary, Ph.D. programs in health services and policy provide advanced instruction in social and political issues related to healthcare. Upon graduation, students can pursue academic careers in research or executive positions in the field.

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