Public Health

Here’s How Much You’ll Earn With a Master’s in Health Policy and Management

Here’s How Much You’ll Earn With a Master’s in Health Policy and Management
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. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry February 6, 2020

Health policy and management is a multidisciplinary field, which means students in health policy and management master's programs earn very different degrees with vastly different salaries. In this field of study, your career trajectory will determine your earning potential, not your diploma.

Related Programs You Should Consider

Advertisement
Article continues here

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:

  • Improving healthcare delivery
  • Ensuring quality health service
  • Expanding access to care
  • Improving patient outcomes
  • Managing costs
  • Simplifying the processes patients must deal with
  • Complying with state and federal rules and regulations

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:

  • What is a master’s in health policy and management?
  • What will you study in a health policy and management master’s degree?
  • Where can you earn a master’s in health policy and management?
  • What can you do with a master’s degree in health policy and management?
  • What will you earn with a master’s in health policy and management?
Advertisement

What is a master’s in health policy and management?

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:

  • Business administration
  • Health policy and administration
  • Health science
  • Medicine
  • Social science

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.

Advertisement

“I’m Interested in Public Health!”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that there are more than 170 public health job categories, and a Master of Public Health prepares students for employment in all of them. This degree can open doors to excellent career opportunities in the private and public sectors. (source)

An MPH in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Services Administration, or Health Policy and Management will provide a much more marketable set of skills and help you qualify for some of the highest-paying public health jobs. One of the best things you can do to maximize your earning potential after graduating with an MPH is to enroll in a program that has strong post-graduation job placement rates and high alumni salaries. If you don’t see either of these metrics on a school’s website, reach out to the admissions office directly to ask for more information. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

What will you study in a health policy and management master’s degree?

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:

  • Statistical Methods for Public, Nonprofit, and Health Management
  • Health Systems and Development
  • Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis
  • Financial Management for Public, Nonprofit, and Health Organizations
  • Management of Healthcare Organizations
  • Policy Design, Implementation, and Management
  • Program Implementation Analysis
  • Evaluating Programs and Policies
  • Leading Public Health Service Organizations
  • Principles of Health Economics
  • Health Policy Formation and Policy Analysis
  • Healthcare Information Systems

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.

Where can you earn a master’s in health policy and management?

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.

What can you do with a master’s degree in health policy and management?

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:

  • Program manager: Large NGOs and major intergovernmental organizations concerned with promoting beneficial health policies or providing on-the-ground healthcare need administrators to manage their many projects. In this role, you’ll work with epidemiologists, medical officers, and health policy analysts to set standards of care or aid, ensure aid workers and volunteers are properly trained, meet local regulations and ethical standards, develop new policies and programs, and assess policy program effectiveness. You’ll make between $80,465 and $96,438, according to Salary.com.
  • Health services manager: Also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, health services managers coordinate and oversee health services in settings like hospitals, medical networks, and clinical practices. In this role, you’ll have a hand in staffing and training, billing, medical records keeping, improving patient outcomes, and ensuring regulatory compliance. It’s a big and complex job that involves keeping track of lots of moving parts. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual income for health services managers is $99,730.
  • Hospital administrator: Hospital administrators need a thorough understanding of how current healthcare policies and regulations impact patient outcomes and a facility’s Joint Accreditation status. In this role, you’ll manage (directly and indirectly) thousands of employees in numerous departments while also creating a plan for growth and development and making sure your hospital doesn’t run afoul of federal regulations and other guidelines. The average hospital administrator salary is $86,789, and the top 10 percent make $163,000. It’s worth noting that this role can put you on the path to becoming a hospital CEO—an extremely well-paying gig.
  • Health policy analyst: These professionals can be found in nonprofit and community organizations, government agencies, think tanks, medical networks, hospitals, insurance companies, and anywhere people try to find practical solutions to health delivery issues. Some health policy analysts create legislation that will improve government healthcare policies, while others work in the private sector to make healthcare better, easier to access, or cheaper. The best-paying positions for health policy analysts can be found in the federal government, where analysts at the GS-15 pay grade can earn $100,000 or more.
  • Healthcare consultant: Large public healthcare institutions and private networks hire healthcare consultants to assess processes and outcomes, analyze problematic operational areas, and provide solutions that address issues and result in smoother, more cost-effective operations. Having training in the management and policy sides of healthcare can be an asset when you become a healthcare consultant because you’ll see how government and internal policies help or hinder operations. In this role, you’ll probably make around $77,000, but you can potentially make over $120,000.
  • Director of operations: Nonprofit and private companies need people who can oversee logistics and provide strategic direction. As director of operations, you’ll be responsible for making sure productivity and financial goals are reached, overseeing awareness campaigns, orchestrating research and development initiatives, driving growth, and other high-impact responsibilities. The average director of operations salary is about $91,000, but the highest-paid 10 percent can make $150,000 or more.

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.

Advertisement

What will you earn with a master’s in health policy and management?

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.

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


Share

Related Programs You Should Consider

Advertisement