Administration and policy overlap in healthcare at numerous junctures, which is why health policy and management as a discipline is so broad. Professionals who choose a health policy and management master's degree work across many functions. What they share in common is that they all tend to be interested in:
Leaders and administrators in healthcare need a thorough understanding of medicine, public policy, and healthcare management to navigate confidently in the public and private sectors. If you want to exert influence on the healthcare system, a Master of Science in Health Policy and Management or a similar master's degree will give you the skills and knowledge to tackle issues related to public health and to healthcare delivery and cost.
You're probably not researching this particular degree because you want to get rich quick. Even so, earning any master's degree involves a significant investment of time and money. It only makes sense to look into how much you will earn with a master's in health policy and management. We discuss that in this article, which covers the following questions:
The master's in health policy and management is an interdisciplinary degree that covers topics as varied as:
Professionals enroll in these programs after completing undergraduate degrees in:
Most master's in health policy and management programs take two years of full-time study to complete. However, some colleges and universities also offer accelerated one-year programs, as well as longer part-time programs for working professionals. Some require incoming students to have work experience in healthcare administration or public policy; others don't. Upon graduation, students are prepared to pursue careers that involve everything from managing healthcare networks to helping create government policy to expanding access to healthcare on a global scale.
Coursework in master's in health policy and management programs is designed to prepare students for a wide range of careers in public health and healthcare management, so you'll encounter a lot of variation among programs. Some are focused on the administrative side of healthcare and don't dive as deeply into health policy. Others devote more time to how policy and politics affect health administration, global health, and population health. In both cases, students may take classes like:
Exactly what you'll study in a health policy and management master's degree program depends on the type of degree you pursue (more on this below). You can earn a Master of Science in Health Policy and Management at some schools, but at others, you'll study health policy and management as the focus of a Master's in Public Health (MPH) or Master's in Health Administration (MHA) program. In the former, you'll probably spend more time studying how to develop public health programs, navigate the complicated political aspects of healthcare delivery, and formulate strategies for improving healthcare outcomes. In the latter, you might spend more time learning how to run healthcare organizations and focusing on the ins and outs of healthcare as a business.
Searching for schools that offer this degree can lead to some baffling results. That's because many colleges and universities treat health policy and management as a degree category, not a type of degree. For example, Columbia University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University all have departments of health policy and management through which various health policy and healthcare administration degrees are offered. None of the three, however, offers a master's in health policy and management.
Confusing matters further is the fact that students in the best health policy and management programs, as ranked by US News & World Report, can earn a wide variety of degrees:
Given how different these programs can be, choosing one can be tough. The best thing you can do is read program guides carefully. As you scroll through course descriptions, it will quickly become clear which programs align with your professional goals. That said, if your goal is to choose the degree path with the highest earning potential, look at MHA programs first.
Graduates of master's degree in health policy and management programs can pursue many careers in government, health policy consulting, lobbying, healthcare administration, and nonprofit management. Some of the highest-paying jobs open to professionals with master's degrees in health policy and management are:
These obviously aren't entry-level positions in the health policy and administration world, but they're the kinds of roles you can work your way into when you have a master's in health policy and management degree.
The answer is quite a bit, though you need to remember that your career trajectory will probably play a bigger role in how much you earn than your degree. A master's in health policy and management will prepare you to go into healthcare administration, where your earning potential will be relatively high early in your post-graduate career, or to enter the world of public health, where salaries tend to vary more but can be in the low six figures.
Simply put, if you go into healthcare administration, you'll probably earn more. In the public health sphere, you might earn less, but that will probably be okay; chances are you won't have chosen that path for the money, but rather because you want to do things like expand access to healthcare or improve the speed or quality of healthcare delivery.
Either way, this is a great time to get into health policy and management. The healthcare landscape is rapidly changing thanks to technology, disruptions in the insurance industry, and the actions of policymakers. Governments, providers, nonprofits, and corporations need more help than ever before keeping up. Getting a master's in health policy and management can put you in a position to shape how the healthcare landscape is changing—and earn plenty in the process.
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