Online Health Policy Degree Program Information

Find out about online health policy courses and in which programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Public health master's degree programs are available in an online format and culminate in a thesis or capstone project. Programs with a capstone requirement expect some on-campus attendance so students can present their projects.

Master's Degree in Health Policy

Online programs in health policy typically result in a Master of Public Health or a Master of Science in either health policy or health policy and management. Designed for healthcare professionals, these courses help students develop the leadership skills needed to analyze and develop policies for improving the safety, quality, cost and access of healthcare. Students study research methods, data collection and data interpretation with the objective of producing relevant information that can be used to support policy change and development. Graduates are qualified to assume advocate and leadership roles in a variety of healthcare organizations, including government agencies, healthcare delivery facilities and community-based agencies.

Program Information and Requirements

A master's degree program in health policy consists of approximately 32-44 credit hours and takes two years of full-time study to complete. Program requirements include a core group of health policy courses accompanied by elective courses that allow student to advance their knowledge of specific areas of interest. Most programs include a final thesis or capstone project component; many programs let candidates choose between the two.

The majority of health policy programs can be completed entirely online. However, programs that include a capstone project typically require students to visit campus prior to program completion to present their project. At a minimum, a computer with reliable Internet connectivity is required to access the school's course management system and participate in class. Additional software requirements may vary by school and individual course.

Common Courses for a Master's Degree in Health Policy

Online courses cover key aspects of the healthcare industry, including health management, fiscal management and biostatistics. These topics help prepare students analyze and address healthcare policy problems.

Health Informatics

Students learn how research data and healthcare information can be used to create relevant intelligence that can assist in the development and justification of health policies. Topics covered include data collection, storage and assembly.

Healthcare Organization and Delivery

This course examines how the U.S. healthcare system is organized, delivered and financed. Topics include U.S. healthcare history and health insurance's role in the industry. Students review some of the major policy changes that have shaped the healthcare industry.

Healthcare Law

Course content covers medical error liability, regulatory issues and risk management laws. Assignments require students to analyze and discuss the impact of healthcare laws on healthcare delivery, payment and policy decisions.

Career Information

Graduates of health policy master's programs can pursue management-level positions in a variety of healthcare organizations, including government agencies, public health organizations, managed care facilities and hospitals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management-level careers within the health services industry are projected to grow by 17%, much faster than the average for all occupations, during the 2014-2024 decade ( As of 2015, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $94,500 for medical and health services managers.

A master's degree in public health is a great option for those who want career and leadership growth in the healthcare field. It is important to remember there are a lot of options for fully online programs in public health, but some will require a capstone or thesis that must be presented on campus.

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