Public Administration & Policy

5 Feel-Good Health Policy Jobs That Pay Over $100K Per Year

5 Feel-Good Health Policy Jobs That Pay Over $100K Per Year
A master's in health policy and management will set you up to run the healthcare facilities of today and plan the facilities of tomorrow. Image from Unsplash
Katherine Gustafson profile
Katherine Gustafson May 7, 2019

Hospitals need more than doctors and nurses: they need well-trained managers to keep things running smoothly so that medical professionals can focus on patients.

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More than 50 years ago, community health centers pioneered methods to better address the unique healthcare needs of those living in poverty. Preventative health interventions and chronic-illness management programs helped healthcare providers engage deeply with the community, greatly improving health outcomes.

Today, the largest community health center in Central Massachusetts is the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, where chief operating officer Leah Picardi Gallivan keeps things running smoothly. It takes a lot to ensure that the center can effectively service the 28,000+ patients it treats each year: In her 33 years at the center, Gallivan has been involved with managing clinical and support departments, overseeing quality improvement, developing and integrating new programs and services, and implementing departmental policies, procedures, and information systems.

Underlying her important work are skills and knowledge she learned as a student in the Master of Science in Health Policy and Management (MSHPM) program at Harvard School of Public Health. MSHPM programs teach a mix of policy knowledge and management skills to allow graduates to tackle some of the most complex challenges in healthcare.

Gallivan has been able to apply the theoretical and practical learning from that degree to managing the center’s “medical home” model of care, a comprehensive approach that incorporates everything from primary and specialty care to dentistry to nutrition counseling.

While becoming an executive management professional is one path MS in health policy and management graduates can pursue, the degree also opens doors to a large variety of other careers in health management and policy-making.

What can you do with a Master of Science in Health Policy and Management? The Basics.

What is an MS in Health Policy and Management degree? A Master of Science in Health Policy and Management is an interdisciplinary degree that covers topics such as public policy, political science, economics, healthcare management, and public health. Curricula are likely to include courses in biostatistics, data analytics, epidemiology, economic analysis, medical delivery and decision making, healthcare administration and management, health informatics, and public health policy. The degree can be completed in as little as nine months with accelerated programs, but typically take two years.

Who gets an MS in Health Policy and Management degree? Students with an undergraduate education in social sciences, business or management, or health and medicine are good candidates for the MSHPM. Professionals with clinical healthcare experience may pursue a master’s in health policy and management to move into the administration or policy side of healthcare.

What are the admissions requirements? Applicants to a master’s in health policy and management program are required to have a bachelor’s degree; most programs require a GRE score. Some programs require applicants to have completed college-level coursework in mathematics, statistics, and/or social science.


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Master of Science in Health Policy and Management jobs

Graduates enjoy a broad range of career choices. Jobs open to those holding a master’s in health policy and management include:

  • Hospital Administrator. Running a hospital takes high-level management chops as well as a comprehensive understanding of healthcare policy and regulation. These professionals oversee hundreds or even thousands of employees, set the institution’s vision and direction for growth and development, and ensure compliance with federal regulations and other guidelines. Graduates of MS in Health Policy and Management programs are well prepared to take on this complex and challenging role. A hospital administrator can expect an average salary of $88,500, with the potential to earn $170,000 or more. Even those lower on the totem pole can find solid earnings around $71,000.
  • Medical Services Manager. Like hospital administrators, medical and health services managers help healthcare institutions run smoothly. Working in nursing homes, medical practices, clinics, and other healthcare organizations, these health administration pros are in charge of all day-to-day management processes and long-term organizational progress. Medical services managers can expect to make a median salary of almost $100,000. Those who work in government tend to make the most, averaging $110,460/year. This profession is seeing strong growth; job numbers are likely to increase 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, a rate almost three times as fast as the average U.S. occupation.
  • Health Policy Analyst. Healthcare in the U.S. is a complex field; the institutions involved are large, important, and opaque, the policies that govern them are ever-changing, and the politics are super-charged. It takes someone with excellent training in all aspects of healthcare, especially business and policy, to astutely analyze this shifting landscape. A median salary for a health policy analyst is around $60,000, with pay ranging from $44,000 to $80,000. Those who work up to the executive levels of federal government service can earn upwards of $100,000.
  • Healthcare Consultant. With training in both the management and policy sides of healthcare, MS in Health Policy and Management graduates can excel as consultants who help clients navigate this unique corner of the business world. They may provide research, analysis, and recommendations to help clients confront administrative problems or shepherd organizational change. The median salary for health consultants is around $77,000, with pay on the high end reaching $122,000 plus bonuses, profit-sharing, and commissions.
  • Social and Community Services Manager or Director. Social services agencies, organizations, and programs need leaders with a solid grounding in management principles as well as a sense of how the healthcare system works—or doesn’t—to support various communities. These professionals may work with particular demographic groups, such as those experiencing homelessness or addiction, children, or older adults. Social service managers make a median annual salary of $64,100. Those at the director level in these organizations earn more. This field is seeing solid job growth, with prospects likely to increase 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, more than twice as fast as the average U.S. occupation.

Those with a strong interest in the administrative and policy sides of healthcare will find the MS in Health Policy and Management degree an on-target choice. Students get training that will help them understand, manage, and improve healthcare institutions and navigate providers’ positioning in the complex healthcare regulatory environment.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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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.

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