Degrees in health policy prepare graduates for careers such as medical services managers, researchers, management consultants or professors. Degrees are offered at the undergraduate and graduate level. Undergraduate students build a foundation of knowledge with specialized coursework. Within graduate programs, students participate in fieldwork or an internship and conduct research or complete a dissertation.
For graduate programs, students will need to complete an interview and submit letters of recommendation. Doctoral programs generally will take 3-5 years to complete. Doctoral candidates might have the opportunity to choose a focus, such as economics or political science, as well as complete a teaching assistantship.
Bachelor's Degree in Health Policy
Students getting bachelor's degrees in health policy learn about subjects in health care technology and organizational behavior. Common course topics generally include:
- Health systems management
- Health services organization
- Finance and insurance
- Health care programming
- Managerial accounting
Master's Degrees in Health Policy
Candidates earning graduate health policy education learn about risk management, health policy analysis and evaluating community health programs. Along with typical courses, students earning master's degrees in health policy usually complete field work or internships of some kind. Courses are weighted toward statistics and analysis, with topics such as these studied:
- Community health education
- Financial management
- Public health promotion
- Statistical inference
- Behavioral sciences
Doctoral Degrees in Health Policy
A PhD in health policy offers students advanced education in an array of subjects such as sociology and health economics. Candidates can earn a doctoral degree in health policy in 3-5 years, depending on previous education. Some health policy doctoral programs require that candidates earning degrees teach undergraduate students. A doctoral seminar and a dissertation are also likely to be part of the doctoral degree process. In addition to normal courses, many doctoral candidates conduct and assist faculty members with research. Course topics for a doctoral degree might include:
- Health statistics
- Political theories
- Medical sociology
- Political economy
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Health policy degrees and education typically result in careers public policy or in the health care industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for medical and health services managers will increase 17% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported the median annual salary for medical and health service managers was $94,500 as of May 2015.
Health policy is a broad field of study that includes topics in management, statistics, and sociology. Bachelor's degrees in health policy provide a survey of important topics in the field, while graduate degrees emphasize specialized study, original research, and teaching.