A master's degree in health policy prepares individuals to critically analyze the country's current healthcare system and develop the skills needed to plan, implement and evaluate health policy. Graduates are awarded either a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Public Health (MPH) in the field.
In online master's degree programs in health policy, coursework can be completed online, but programs usually include some in-person requirements, such as practica with public health agencies and a capstone experience, as well. The capstone project typically allows students to demonstrate what they have learned and may require students to meet with a project mentor weekly.
Master's Program in Health Policy
Typically offered as a Master of Science or a Master of Public Health, an online graduate degree in health policy is usually designed for professionals already working within the healthcare industry. Students develop leadership and management skills that allow them to develop policies with the purpose of improving the quality, access, cost and safety of healthcare. Students learn how to conduct research and extract relevant information to support policy development and change. Graduates are prepared to become decision makers and advocates in a variety of healthcare settings, including community-based organizations, healthcare delivery systems and government offices.
Information and Requirements
Depending on the program, master's degree programs in public policy can require 32-44 credit hours. Students enrolled on a full-time basis can expect to complete this degree in approximately two years. Online health policy programs are usually composed of core curricula accompanied by elective courses and a final capstone project or thesis. Although the required coursework can usually be completed entirely online, some programs require students to visit campus to present their capstone projects in front of a panel of faculty and fellow students.
Online courses of a master's degree program in health policy cover a wide range of healthcare topics, such as health management, biostatistics and fiscal management in healthcare. These courses are designed to prepare students to analyze and address policy issues within a healthcare environment.
Healthcare Organization and Delivery in the U.S.
This online course provides an overview of how healthcare is financed, organized and delivered within the United States. Students examine the historical evolution of today's healthcare system, the roles of public and private health insurance and the major policy changes that have impacted healthcare delivery.
Topics covered include risk management laws, malpractice liability and other regulatory issues. Students examine and analyze the impact of law on policy decisions, healthcare delivery and payment.
Focus is placed on the collection, assembly, storage and presentation of information and data used in the healthcare industry. Students learn how data and information can be translated into intelligence that can be used in health policy decision making.
Graduates of a master's degree program in health policy often find leadership roles in policy analysis and implementation in healthcare organizations, such as public health agencies, government entities, hospitals or managed care facilities. As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median yearly wage for medical and health services managers was $94,500. According to the BLS, California has the highest percentage of professionals employed within the field when compared to other states. As the healthcare industry continues to expand and diversify, management-level positions within the area of health services were projected by the BLS to grow 17% between 2014 and 2024.
Due to the complexity of the modern U.S. healthcare system, online MS and MPH programs in the field are highly interdisciplinary, covering the historical, legal and political nuances that lawmakers and advocates must consider as they seek to develop policy in this area. Graduates are prepared for leadership positions within medical facilities, government bodies and public health organizations.