Healthcare in America is far more than medical and technical advances. The operation and administration of policies, business strategies, and organization requiring expertise are critical to providing quality care. One avenue to participating in the management and policy creation in healthcare is to earn a PhD (or Doctorate of Health Administration DHA) in Health Management and Policy
Obtaining a doctorate may be easier than you think as more schools and programs are offering doctoral programs in health management and administration, focusing on research and data analysis.
Our Method: Ranking the 25 Best Health Management and Policy PhD Degrees
To rank the 25 Best Health Management and Policy PhDs Degrees, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. University of Pennsylvania
This Ivy League university offers a PhD program in Health Care Management and Economics through it’s Wharton School of Business.
With professors who conduct research in an array of subjects from healthcare management, policy, and economics, you’ll be able to work with them through the Wharton Center for Health Management and Economics, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the University of Pennsylvania Health Care System.
The program is approximately four years in length (including dissertation) and provides courses in statistics, microeconomics, health care systems, and a major disciplinary cluster. Your first year of classes is spent on economics, quantitative methods, and courses in your disciplinary cluster. In the first year, you’ll also complete two health care systems courses. The second year includes the remaining health care systems courses. Your third and fourth year will be devoted to dissertation research.
Admission is competitive and is during the Fall semester only. According to the website, admitted PhD students receive a full fellowship. The stipend covers tuition and health insurance.
Fast Fact: Wharton ranks #1 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Business Schools
2. Duke University
Duke University offers a PhD in Public Policy that concentrates on health policy.
The program is interdisciplinary in design blends political science, psychology, sociology, and economics, to complement your specialization. You’ll interact with professors in the prestigious Duke Global Health Institute located in 33 countries.
This curriculum includes core coursework in Social Choice and the Political Economy of Policy Making, Political Economy of Public Policy, and Microeconomics. You’ll be required to complete a year long research seminar prior to your dissertation. The degree requires 48 credit hours of study.
You don’t need a master’s degree to apply for admission to this doctoral program. You do need to submit an application, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and official academic transcripts for admission consideration. The tuition cost for this PhD is $48,307 each year. Fellowships are available.
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks the Public Policy program #7 in its Health Policy and Management Programs
3. University of Michigan
Located in Ann Arbor, the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan has a Health Services Organization and Policy PhD Program that can lead to a career in teaching, research, and/or healthcare policy and services.
Key disciplines in this program include finance, political science, sociology, economics, and operations research. Some of the courses you’ll study include Population Health Informatics, Cost-Effective Analysis in Health, Health and the Public Policy Process, Data Analytics in Healthcare, Managed Care Administration, etc. You’ll also participate in the Workshop for Integrating and Discussing Topics in Healthcare (WIDTH) where you’ll discuss research ideas and dissertation topics with faculty and other students.
Only 5-7 students are admitted to this program each academic year from around 70 applicants. You don’t need a degree beyond a bachelor’s to apply for this program, as admission looks at a variety of academic factors such as GPA, letters of recommendation, and so on.
Fellowships, research positions, assistantships, and graduate teaching positions are available and include a stipend, paid tuition, and health insurance. Tuition ranges from $15,143-$25,014, depending on residency status.
Fast Fact: The School of Public Health ranks #1 in Public Research University in the U.S. by the National Science Foundation
4. Dartmouth College
Here’s another Ivy League school that offers a PhD in Health Policy and Clinical Practice and will prepare you for research or a health leadership role.
Multidisciplinary in nature, this program touches on disciplines in clinical medicine, public health, psychology, political science, epidemiology, decision science, sociology, and others. The curriculum involves Directed Readings, Directed Research, Supervised Teaching, electives in Decision and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis, Advanced Health Services Research, as well as seminars. These seminars cover advanced research methods, professional development, and statistics in medicine.
This program is extremely competitive (only 1-2 students admitted each year). Application documents will include an application, cv/resume, and statement of interest describing why you’re applying. Due to COVID-19, GRE scores are optional for the Fall 2021 admission period. Fellowships are available. Tuition cost is $76,362 for an academic year.
Fast Fact: Dartmouth College was established in 1769 in Hanover, New Hampshire
5. University of Wisconsin-Madison
You have a choice between a PhD in population health or a PhD in epidemiology degree from the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Described as innovative, this research-oriented program is designed for those wanting to contribute to health policy, health economics, public health, environmental health, epidemiology, and more. With the Public Health concentration, you’ll study subjects such as public health leadership, policy, and politics, health sciences regression, evidence-based decision making, health statistics, etc.
All doctoral students must complete a 10 credit hour minor. Fellowships and assistantships are available, as are traineeships with agencies such as the NSF or NIH.
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report rates this program at #10 in its Best Health Policy and Management ranking
6. Cornell University
You can receive a PhD in Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) from Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.
A multidisciplinary program, you’ll study areas such as public health policy, empirical methodology, social science (economics, sociology, etc.). Courses may include Applied Economics, Theoretical Economics, and you’ll be expected to complete an empirical paper suitable for publication in academic journals. You’ll be required to conduct an oral defense of the research proposal as well as a defense of the dissertation. This doctorate will prepare you to develop public policy programs, and public health programs.
Minimum admission requirements include GRE/GMAT test scores, academic transcripts, a personal statement of purpose, as well as two or three letters of reference. Tuition, per academic year, ranges from $20,800-$29,500. Teaching Assistant (TA), Graduate Assistant (GA) Research Assistant (RA), and Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) are available depending on your field. Fellowships are also possible.
Fast Fact: This program is ranked #9 in Health Care Management by U.S. News and World Report
7. University of Minnesota
The School of Public Health at this Minneapolis university offers a Health Services Research, Policy and Administration doctoral program.
Using a quantitative curriculum which investigates systems analysis and design, the program also provides core studies in public health concepts. Classes will include Fundamentals of Biostatistical Inference, Econometric Analysis, Health Services Policy Analysis, Principles of Health Policy, etc. There are six areas of concentration from which to choose: Multidisciplinary Social Science, Health Economics, Health Decision, Health Policy, Multidisciplinary Social Science, Sociology of Health and Illness.
Tuition cost for this PhD degree is calculated at $1,465 (resident) and $2,267 (non resident) per part time credit hour. As a PhD student, you’ll automatically be considered for fellowships and traineeships.
Fast Fact: The school advertises national rankings of #9 School of Public Health and #2 Master of Healthcare Administration program
8. University of Southern California
Through its Sol Price School of Public Policy, USC provides a PhD in Public Policy and Management.
The program is built around policy, institutional, management theory, and methodology theory. You’ll engage in The Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, one of the school’s renowned interdisciplinary research centers. You’ll collaborate with faculty mentors in research to improve private and public sector engagement, utilizing evidence-based policies and research.
USC prefers you request admission information through its website. PhD students are fully supported by fellowship funding which includes tuition, a stipend, and health and dental insurance.
Fast Fact: This Health Management program ranks #7 in Best Colleges for Public Health in America by Niche
9. Johns Hopkins University
This university’s name is synonymous with U.S. health and the PhD in Bioethics and Health Policy offered by its Bloomberg School of Public Health is as highly ranked as the university.
The primary focus of this program is the ethical development of public health and health policy. In addition, the concentration includes quantitive and qualitative empirical research. You’ll work with faculty to develop policies in such areas as ethics and emergency preparedness, genetic screening, infectious diseases, obesity screening, and more. Courses will include seminars and lectures by faculty of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, as well as a collaboration with the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. Your conferred degree will qualify you to conduct empirical research in a variety of public health policy concerns.
As a full-time PhD student, you’ll receive full tuition, health, vision and dental insurance. Additionally, the department offers a NIH-level stipend for the first three years and a half-stipend for the fourth year. Other funding sources are available and you should check with the department to determine your eligibility.
Fast Fact: Johns Hopkins ranks #1 in Public Health and #9 in Health Management programs by U.S. News and World Report
10. Brown University
You can earn your PhD in Health Services, Policy, and Practice from the Ivy League, Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
You’ll be expected to choose a specialty track from Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, Healthcare Economics, or Comparative Effectiveness Research and Evidence-based Medicine. Among the required coursework, you’ll study Principles of Biostatistics and Data Analysis, Foundations in Epidemiologic Research Methods, The US Health Care System: Case Studies in Financing, Delivery, Regulation and Public Health, Health Services Research Methods, Graduate Independent Student and Thesis Research, as well as Development of a Research Proposal in Public Health. Additional coursework may be required depending on your chosen concentration.
Admission to Brown University no longer requires the GRE for the 2020-21 academic year, but you’ll be expected to provide letters of recommendation, official academic transcripts, as well as a personal statement and resume. As a PhD student, you’ll benefit from Brown’s Five-Year Guarantee, which includes a stipend, tuition, and health insurance.
Fast Fact: Founded in 1764, today’s Brown University is ranked #7 in America’s Top Colleges by Forbes
11. Boston University
This is a Doctor of Public Health (DrPh) Leadership, Management, and Policy offered by Boston University.
Using an interdisciplinary approach, this program’s goal is to develop leadership and practice roles in public health. You’ll study public health issues and develop skills to identify, implement, and analyze public health programs and policies. The program emphasizes core studies in research and design, needs assessment, law and ethics, communication, strategic planning, health economics, etc. You’ll also be required to participate in a public health practicum.
A MPH degree is not required for admission (but prerequisites will be required). PhD students in good standing will qualify for up to five years of stipend and insurance support. Additional financial support may be offered by the department, so you’ll want to explore that option as well.
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report rates Boston University’s School of Public Health at #8
12. University of Rochester
You’ll want to explore this Health Services Research and Policy PhD at this New York university.
Offered through the Department of Public Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, this degree is interdisciplinary in design and in cooperation with the Goergen Institute for Data Science and College of Arts and Sciences. A sampling of the curriculum shows the program includes studies in health sciences research, ethics, economics, data management, epidemiology, policy analysis, system theories, and more.
As a doctoral student, you’ll be eligible for a stipend, tuition grants, as well as training and travel expenses reimbursement. This is a full-time program. You’ll need to submit GRE scores, official academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, as well as an admission application through SOPHAS.
Fast Fact: The School of Medicine and Dentistry is in the top 26th percentile of U.S. medical centers in research funding from the federal government
13. University of Iowa
Here’s a PhD in Health Services and Policy which will prepare you for a career in research, health management, or policy analysis.
There are three focus areas for this degree in health management, health economics and organization, or health policy. Core and foundation coursework is required in topics such as Essentials of Public Health, Health Insurance and Managed Care, Introduction to Healthcare Organization and Policy, Medicare and Medicaid Policy, Cost Effectiveness and Decision Analysis, and more. Additionally, you’ll take design and analysis courses in areas such as regression modeling, biostatistics, design in health services research, etc. You’ll also take courses pertinent to your focus area.
UI offers financial assistance in the form of graduate research assistantships, which provide a stipend, resident tuition rate, and some tuition assistance. Tuition and fees for graduate students is reported at $11,890 per academic year.
Fast Fact: Ranks #19 in Public by U.S. News and World Report
14. University of Massachusetts Amherst
Typically referred to as UMass, the flagship campus at Amherst offers a PhD in Health Policy and Management degree through its School of Public Health.
Your primary focus will be on Health Policy and Management and you’ll be expected to choose a minor in either a methodology or content discipline. Some of your studies will include Comparative Healthcare Systems, Communication Theory, Ethical Issues in Public Health, Application of Social and Behavioral Theories in Public Health Interventions, Research Methods, Financial Management of Health Institutions, and more. A practicum experience is also required and a dissertation is required for degree completion.
Admission considerations include undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, reference letters, a personal statement, and previous work experience. Assistantships are available in teaching, projects, research, and traineeships. The Dean’s Office offers five, one-year, renewable, non-working fellowships. Fellows receive up to $10,000 per academic year and you must maintain academic excellence. Part-time tuition cost ranges from $11,183-$21,920, depending on residency.
Fast Fact: Founded in 1863, UMass Amherst is considered a Best Value School by the Princeton Review
15. Tulane University
You’ll want to check out the PhD in Health Policy and Management program at New Orleans’ Tulane University.
This doctoral program requires a minimum of 72 post-baccalaureate credits, with at least 30 of those credits from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The curriculum covers studies in analysis methodology and health systems research, management strategies, as well as health policy analysis and development. Classes involve Organization Theory and Assessment, Biostatistics, Policy Analysis, Cost-Benefit Analysis, etc. You’ll be able to work in academia, healthcare policy analysis, and/or health systems research.
Tuition ranges from $34,128-$38,014 per academic year. You’ll automatically be considered for any scholarships, fellowships, or stipends with your admission. Admission at Tulane University utilizes the SOPHAS application.
Fast Fact: This School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was founded in 1912 and ranks in the top 15 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Public Health Schools
16. Pennsylvania State University
If you’re looking for a doctoral program in Health Policy, you may want to investigate Penn State’s program. But, be warned. This program is extremely competitive, admitting only 3-6 students a year.
The curriculum concentrates on healthcare organization and financing, health economics, health policy, statistics, healthcare management, health administration, as well as research and more. You’re also able to minot in gerontology or demography. A dual-title, PhD degree is available in Demography. The department reports its faculty’s interest are in areas such as financing and insurance, health disparities based on race, ethnicity, and income, etc.
Admission to the PhD program requires GRE scores, letters of reference, unofficial academic transcripts, and a personal statement of purpose. Entering PhD students of the program receive Graduate Assistantship stipend ($22,000), tuition waiver, and health insurance.
Fast Fact: PennState dates to 1865 and is a Best Value School according to U.S. News and World Report
17. University of South Carolina
The Arnold School of Public Health offers a PhD in Health Services Policy and Management which will help you find positions in university teaching, research, or government agencies.
This curriculum includes core public health courses, in addition to topics such as health policy and management, data management, health services research, and research methods. You’ll also participate in doctoral seminars which will prepare you for your dissertation. There are also departmental teaching and research requirements. You may complete the research component by publishing in peer review journal or an oral presentation at an approved conference. You can review the curriculum and degree requirements in the department handbook.
Tuition ranges from $6,867-$14,880 per academic year, dependent on residency. If you receive an assistantship, you’ll pay in-state tuition regardless of residency status and the department may award you a tuition supplement. You’ll need to complete a SOPHAS application, submit GRE/GMAT scores, and other documents.
Fast Fact: Niche rates USC at #30 of 222 schools in Best Colleges for Public Health in America
18. George Mason University
If you’re looking for a doctoral program that is multidisciplinary in nature, you may want to examine this degree from George Mason University, located in Fairfax, Virginia.
The program is 72 credit hours in length and offers two concentrations: Knowledge Discovery and Health Informatics and Health Systems and Policy. Both curricula require core courses in Health Policy Development, Data Mining in Health Care, Advanced Health Economics, Health Services Research Seminar, and more. Depending on your chosen concentration, you’ll complete 30 credit hours of subject matter coursework. Working toward your doctorate, you’ll complete a dissertation proposal and, of course, write your dissertation.
You must have a master’s degree to make an application and provide unofficial academic transcripts, GRE/GMAT scores, recommendation letters, as well as a goals statement.
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report rates George Mason University #65 in Top Public Schools
19. New York University Wagner
This PhD in Health Policy is offered through NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and concentrates on health policy research.
This degree concentrates on several policy frameworks, such as health disparities, health assessment and improvement, health services research, and public health policies. You’ll focus on, at minimum, on health care financing and economics, public and population health, healthcare organization, and provider-patient roles. This doctorate reviews a wide range of issues concerning the access, quality, finance/economics, organization and management of healthcare.
Although the program prefers a master’s degree, you can apply with a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, you’ll need to submit academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, provide letters of recommendation, GRE/GMAT scores, etc. According to the website, “PhD students who do not come with their own funding receive a four-year research apprenticeship (or equivalent), which carries full tuition remission, a stipend, student health insurance and a $1,000 start-up grant.” Teaching opportunities are also available.
Fast Fact: NYC Wagner ranks #2 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best health Policy and Management Programs
20. University of Pittsburgh
Here’s a PhD in Health Policy and Management degree program from one of the nation’s oldest universities.
Among the topics you’ll study are statistical methods, epidemiology, health policy analysis, IRB ethics (online), health economics, healthcare organizations, Grand Rounds, etc. You’ll also be required to complete a teaching experience as a Teaching Assistant, a doctoral research and development seminar. Elective studies are available in areas such as health economics, quantitative methods, gerontology, patient safety, etc.
Tuition is estimated at $27,590 per academic term. Teaching assistantships pay a reduced tuition fee and monthly stipend. Fellowships are also available and you’re urged to contact the department to determine the requirements. Admission requires, among other things, graduate or bachelor’s degree, prior courses in social sciences, math, and biology.
Fast Fact: Niche considers the University of Pittsburgh as one of its Best Value Colleges in America
21. Oregon State University
Located in Corvallis, Oregon, OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Services awards a PhD with a concentration in Health Management and Policy.
Focusing on analytical and critical thinking skills, you’ll develop expertise in theory, public health principles, professional abilities, as well as research methods. The core curriculum is comprised of courses that cover public health knowledge, methodology and statistics. Your concentration studies could include courses in Public Health Surveillance, Epidemiologic Methods, Survey Methods, Public and Private Health Insurance, Health Policy Analysis, etc. A doctoral seminar is required and you’ll complete a written comprehensive exam and complete a publishable dissertation.
Graduate tuition costs are published as (for 12 credit hours) $5,223-$9,963 per semester. Research and teaching assistantships are available and you can apply for fellowships.
Fast Fact: Oregon State University was the first accredited College of Public Health and Human Sciences
22. University of Louisville
The School of Public Health and Information Sciences at UL has a PhD program in Public Health Science with a Health Management concentration.
This program prepares you to teach or conduct research in the promotion of improved health in communities. There are 51 credit hours required for this degree which includes required core courses in Health Management, Health Management Research Methods, Theoretical Foundations, and seminars. The Health Policy concentration includes studies in Policy to Advance Health Equity, Urban Policy and Administration, Health Policy and Analysis, etc. These courses will prepare you to sit for the qualifying exam prior to candidacy acceptance and the dissertation proposal and acceptance.
A MPH (or other relevant health profession master’s degree), official academic transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and other documents. There are limited fellowships and assistantships are offered in teaching, service, and research. Both fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend, tuition waiver, and health insurance.
Fast Fact: The University of Louisville was founded in 1798 and the graduate Public Health program ranks #54 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Public Health schools
23. Brandeis University
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Massachusetts’ Brandeis University has a PhD with a Health concentration.
The Health concentration allows you to focus on U.S. or Global Health. You’ll study three areas in the concentration area, theory, and research methods. There are core studies required in topics such as Research Methods, Introduction to Stata Programming and Data Management, Applied Regression Analysis, etc. Electives are offered in a wide range of topics. You’ll complete a comprehensive paper at the end of your coursework. At Heller, you have the option of writing three-publishable papers on related topics or the more traditional monograph-style dissertation.
As a full-time PhD student, you receive a tuition waiver, health insurance, and stipend for the first four years of study. You’ll need to supply GRE scores, official or nonofficial transcripts, along with the standard letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and resume or CV.
Fast Fact: The Heller School ranks in the top 20 health policy and management programs of U.S. News and World Report
24. Emory University
This famed Georgia university has a PhD health services research and health policy through the Laney Graduate School and offered by the Rollins School of Public Health.
Only three students are admitted each year and there are only 15 to 18 students in the PhD program at a time. This doctorate focuses on interdisciplinary and public health policy. Courses are offered in Financial Management for Health Care Organizations, Public Financing in the Health Care System, Qualitative Methods for Health Services Research, Doctoral Seminar in Health Policy, Theory-Based Research Design Seminar, Doctoral Seminar in Health Economics, How Health Policymakers Think About Making Policy: Insights from Political Science and Organizational Behavior.
A master’s degree isn’t required, but you’ll need a baccalaureate degree, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, etc. All PhD students are given an annual stipend during the first 24 months for teaching or research assistantships.
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks the Rollins School of Public Health #5 in the nation.
25. Colorado School of Public Health
This PhD in Health Services Research degree is a result of a collaboration between Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Colorado.
The program is located at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver and requires 69-72 credit hours. Courses include studies in Biostatistical Methods, SAS Database Design and Management, Clinical Science Research Seminar, Grant Writing, Health Care Economics, Epidemiology, Foundations in Public Health, etc. Of course, a dissertation is required which will follow the school’s pursuit of scientific studies predict disease and develop interventions. This ranges from hospital finances to emergency disaster preparedness.
Depending on residency status, tuition cost for this program ranges from $34,914-$82,110 per academic year. There is financial support available. General admission requirements are fairly standard with GRE scores, official transcripts, personal statement, supportive letters of recommendation, and more. The school encourages you to contact them for additional information.
Fast Fact: This school ranks in the top 25 of Public Health schools by U.S. News and World Report
Why Should I Get a PhD in Health Management and Policy?
Obtaining a PhD does several things for you and your career.
Healthcare is a fluid industry with new technologies, information, and regulations occurring frequently that have a direct impact on the care of patients. A PhD in Health Management and Policy allows you to understand and use tools to problem solve, anticipate issues, and conduct research in methods to better provide quality healthcare. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an 18% job growth for high level, health care professionals between 2018-2028.
If you’re a mid-level administrator, having a PhD or Doctorate of Health Administration (DHA) demonstrates to your organization that you have the knowledge, skills, and the ability to address organizational structure and strategy. Additionally, an advanced, terminal degree allows you to develop mentorships and relationships with other healthcare management professionals which will benefit your organization.
Professionals with a PhD or DHA could be the head of a particular department or facility, conduct research and development, as well as management of patient information. Healthcare managers and policy developers responsibilities can include finance and economics, strategic development, health informatics, etc.
A terminal degree can allow you to become a university or college professor, conduct healthcare related research and development, director of a hospital, healthcare system, outpatient clinic, or physician group office.
How Do I Choose a Health Management Doctoral Program?
One consideration for choosing a doctoral, or any health education, program is accreditation. Be sure the school you end up choosing holds, at least, regional accreditation from Department of Education approved agencies such as Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCC), etc.
You may also want to determine if your program holds degree-specific accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).
Typically, PhD programs can take up to 8-10 years for completion, including coursework, qualifying exams, dissertation proposals, dissertation writing, and defense. Some programs are shorter, accepting transfer credits, professional work experience, etc. Online degree programs frequently can be completed in 3-5 years.
You’ll want to consider programs that offer classes in health informatics, health economics and finance, research design, methods and analysis, strategic planning, healthcare law, regulations, and ethics, and more.
The cost of a doctoral program is always a concern, but there’s good news. Most doctoral programs offer tuition waivers, fellowships, graduate teaching assistantships, stipends, and health insurance. Be sure to check with your school to see what your financial options may be.