Why Earn a Health Policy & Management Degree

The health policy field is a very exciting one, and many people are choosing to work in this rapidly growing part of the economy.

When you earn a degree in health policy or public health, you can expect to work in many health-related or public health-related organizations, including public health offices, health systems, long term care facilities, doctors’ offices, managed care companies, state and local insurance, health and welfare departments and more.

Those who choose a health policy career will often find that they will be working a great deal in the public health policy space. People who earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in health policy often will enjoy a career as a public health analyst, health policy analyst or healthcare researcher among other fields.

Professionals often choose to work in health policy and public health policy because they want to have a major impact on the lives of individuals and groups in many communities across the country. Working in health policy or public health policy ensures that everyone in our society has access to the health care and clean environment that they deserve.

Earning a health policy degree will encompass most areas of public health education, including:

Also, you will learn about health education and how to design and implement effective health promotion materials.

Career Paths in Health Policy

Earning a degree in health policy or public health policy is a good choice because there are many rewarding career paths that you can consider.

Medical and Health Services Manager

One of the most popular career paths in health policy is that of medical and health service managers. They are responsible for planning, directing and coordinating medical health services for all types of health care organizations and public health organizations.

People who work as medical and health services managers could be in charge of a health policy or public health department, an entire agency, or a large group of doctors or public health professionals. As a medical and health services manager, you also must be an expert in adapting to changing healthcare laws, technology and regulations.

This field is growing quickly, with a 17% growth rate anticipated by 2024.

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Another very popular career field for the health policy or public health policy professional today is that of a health educator and community health worker. This is a rapidly growing profession as well, and you will be responsible for developing and implementing strategies to improve the health of communities and individuals.

A community health worker can have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and is a vital link between the community and many healthcare professionals. If your position is more as a health educator, you will be responsible for developing health programs that teach people how to live healthier lives.

This job field also is growing, with 13% increase of demand anticipated by 2024.

Different Types of Health Policy Degrees

Depending upon your career goals and education level, you can consider these types of degrees in the general health policy space:

Bachelor’s Level Degree Options

This type of program is often a degree in Health Policy and Management and will prepare you to work in many types of health care and public health entry level positions.

You may cover courses related to business, business planning, health care legal issues, health care leadership and management and public health topics, including public health policy.

A good online bachelor’s program to consider is Penn State Online where you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration.

This is a four year, online program that will give you the fantastic opportunity to learn from the best health policy and administration faculty in the US.

Required coursework includes:

  • Microeconomics Analysis and Policy
  • Health Care Payment
  • Health Services Organization
  • Financial Decisions in Health Care Organizations
  • Health Services Policy Issues
  • Health Care and Medical Needs
  • Population Health and Healthcare
  • Health Systems Management

Master’s Level Degree Options

Earning a master’s degree in Health Policy and Management or in Public Health will provide you with advanced skills to make a major difference in many areas of health policy and public health. Many master’s degrees in this area will help you to hone your skills in public health research, writing, analysis and advocacy.

Common courses in these master’s level programs are:

  • Statistics
  • Ethics
  • Biostatistics
  • US health care system overview
  • Health policy communication
  • Health policy analysis
  • Global health

For a truly innovative master’s degree, you should think about the University of California San Francisco, which offers a Master of Science, Health Policy and Law degree. This is a three year program that features exciting classes in both health policy and legal education.

The program is made for working professionals and will help you to increase your understanding of policy making, legal research, writing, health care economics, public health and much more.

Required courses include:

  • Health Policy
  • Health Economics
  • US Healthcare System and the Law
  • Advanced Policy Analysis
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Organization and System Change
  • Health Care Reform Legal Aspects

Another excellent option is the Master of Science in Public Health and Health Policy that is offered by Johns Hopkins University. This is a very highly thought of program that may be completed online, and combines challenging classes in health policy, along with nine full months of health policy work experience in the field.

This program requires you to take these courses among others:

  • Academic and Research Ethics
  • Statistical Methods in Public Health
  • Epidemiologic Inference in Public Health
  • Introduction to the Health Care System in the US
  • State Healthcare Policy
  • Public Health and the Law
  • Research and Evaluation Methods in Health Policy
  • Public Health Agencies: Law, Policy and Practice

Ph.D. Degree Level Options

At this level, there usually are two major types of doctoral degree to consider in health policy and public health:

  • Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management
  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

The Ph.D. is usually an academic and researched based degree that has courses in health promotion, prevention of diseases, social analysis and management of health systems. You also will likely be taking management and leadership skills as they pertain to leading health policy organizations.

If you think that you want to dedicate your career to health policy and public health, you should look at the Doctor of Public Health Program that is offered by the University of San Francisco.

This is a four year, online program that stresses public health education and training that will prepare you leadership positions in health departments, nonprofit organizations, health policy services, many international agencies and community based public health organizations.

This is a program that is designed for a practicing health policy or public health professional that usually already has an MPH or a related degree.

This is a tough and rigorous curriculum in health policy and public health that includes courses in these three areas:

  • Advocacy, Leadership, Communication and Community
  • Management, Professionalism and Ethics
  • Critical Analysis

The DrPH program also includes a focus area that you can make a specialization from an earlier degree, or you can develop a new focus area during the doctoral program with your supervisor and mentor.

Accreditation

Choosing a healthcare policy program is important, and you can make the selection easier by checking that your university has been accredited by one of these regional accreditation agencies that are approved by the US Department of Education:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Also, if you are considering a public health degree at the master’s or Ph.D. level, you should ensure that the program has been accredited by the CEPH, which is tahe Council on Education for Public Health.

Having a regional accreditation for the university tells you and future employers that your public health related degree is rigorous and will provide you with what you need to succeed in this field.

Summary

Earning a health policy or public health degree can be a great choice. Depending upon your career goals and how long you want to continue your education, the sky is truly the limit in health policy and public health today.

Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

More posts from Robert Sanchez