programs and Degrees

MPH Concentration in Health Policy

The MPH in Health Policy will provide students with an understanding and foundation in health policy processes, concepts and issues as well as analytical skills to help develop and evaluate health policies.  Students in this concentration may be interested in health policy in the United States or in other countries, and can tailor their program accordingly by selecting courses in domestic or international health policy and economics.  The Health Policy concentration offers students' opportunities in both domestic and international health policy, with courses focused on foundations, methods and a topical area of expertise.

Employment Opportunities for Graduates

The Health Policy concentration prepares students for careers in government, research institutes, international health organizations, consulting firms, and other organizations geared toward affecting health policy. The concentration provides advanced coursework to support students who are interested in pursuing the PhD degree in health policy.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the school's general admission requirements, the department requires the following:

  • Combined verbal and quantitative GRE scores above the 40th percentile.
  • GPA of at least 3.2. Applicants with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.2 will be considered for admission by a panel of three faculty members if the career statement, recommendation letters, and experience merit further consideration.
  • A career statement that shows a summary knowledge of the field of global health systems and development or a specific focus area within the department, and clearly stated objectives and rationale for applying to the department.
  • Letters of recommendation that attest to the applicant's ability to do graduate work and dedication to the field.
  • Experience (paid or voluntary) in cross-cultural or healthcare/delivery settings is desirable but not required.

Program Requirements

Graduates of the program must complete a minimum of 45 credits including school core requirements (18 credits) and program course requirements encompassing both programs and methods (17 credits), along a culminating experience and a practicum (see below for more details).

Program Competencies

  • Describe the history, structure, and financing of the United States healthcare system. (GHSD 6030, GHSD 6010, GHSD 6210, GHSD 6450)
  • Describe the legal and ethical basis for public health and healthcare services. (GHSD 6030, GHSD 6210, GHSD 6450)
  • Explain the workings of policy mechanisms, such as insurance systems, quality monitoring, provider payment methods, definition of benefit packages, and methods of funding health services. (GHSD 6030, GHSD 6450)
  • Describe the frameworks for understanding health systems, health systems performance, and the determinants of health systems performance. (GHSD 6030, GHSD 6010)
  • Explain and analyze the issues of quality, access,and efficiency of healthcare service delivery. (GHSD 6030, GHSD 6010, GHSD 6210, GHSD 6450, GHSD 7660)
  • Apply economic concepts and theories tot he analysis of healthcare policy and management issues and to inform decision-making and policy development.(GHSD 6030, GHSD 6010, GHSD 6450, GHSD 7660)
  • Apply fundamental research methods including quantitative methods, data management, and analysis to problems in health policy and management.(GHSD 6010, GHSD 6450, GHSD 7660, Methods Courses)
  • Analyze and critique literature on health policy, health management, and health services research. (GHSD 6010, GHSD 6450, GHSD 7660, Methods Courses)
  • Apply theories of health policy and management to real world problems and communicate health policy and management issues using a variety of channels, modes and technologies. (GHSD 6010, GHSD 7660, Methods Courses)
  • Incorporate knowledge of the public health core areas of epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, health systems management, and the biological, behavioral, social, and cultural aspects of health and disease in addressing and solving problems. (BIOS 6030, EPID 6030, GCHB 6030, GEHS 6030, GHSD 6030, TRMD 6010)

School Required Core Courses (18 credits)

BIOS 6030 Introduction to Biostatistics (3)
EPID 6030 Epidemiologic Methods I (3)
GEHS 6030 Survey of Environmental Health (3)
TRMD 6010 Biological Basis of Disease (3)
GCHB 6030 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Global Health (3)
GHSD 6030 Principles of Health Systems Administration and Management (3)

Program Course Requirements (11 credits)

GHSD 6010 Comparative Health Systems (2)
GHSD 6210 Health Law & Regulation (3)
GHSD 6450 Health Economics (3)
GHSD 7660 Health Policy Analysis (3)

Methods Courses (minimum of two of the following courses) (6 credits)

BIOS 6040 Intermediate Biostatistics (3)
GCHB 6180 Formal Qualitative Methods (3)
GHSD 7740 Economic Evaluation and Modeling (3)
EPID 7120 Epidemiologic Methods II (3)
GCHB 8250 Advanced Research Methods for Global Health (3)


Model Course Schedule

Culminating Experience 

The Department of Global Health Systems and Development requires students to successfully pass a culminating exam, the public health analysis, or thesis in order to complete the culminating experience graduation requirement. 

  1. Comprehensive Exam: The comprehensive exam is developed by the school (Part A: which will test the student's knowledge of the core course material) and the department (Part B: which will test the student's knowledge in the major areas represented by the concentration core courses). Part B of the exam will be prepared by faculty representing each concentration, so that students will only sit for their concentration's exam. This exam will be given only three times each year and it is the student's responsibility to be present in New Orleans to take the exam on the given day. Students must arrange their schedules accordingly.

  2. Public Health Analysis: The public health analysis (PHA) will demonstrate the student's capacity for quality writing and should provide evidence of a thorough understanding of a specific field of study within public health. The PHA is a substantive review and discussion of the body of knowledge in a selected field of public health. The PHA should demonstrate a comprehensive awareness of the literature in a specific field. The report should thoroughly and completely address the project undertaken. The final report should be presented to the faculty advisor by the appropriate deadline. Examples of acceptable PHAs are as follows: comprehensive or systematic literature reviews, meta-analysis, or secondary data analysis. The PHA should cover a broad topic and not be too focused on a specific case study.

  3. Thesis: Among the options to fulfill the culminating experience requirement in GHSD, the master's level thesis requires the highest level of commitment from the student. The thesis will demonstrate the student's capacity for quality research and should provide evidence of mastery of a specific field of study within public health. Potential topics should be framed in terms of a question to be asked, a problem to explore, or a set of hypotheses to be tested. The thesis should also demonstrate a comprehensive awareness of the literature in a specific field. As such, the thesis should only be considered by the most advanced masters-level students, and requires the advance approval of a faculty thesis committee, which must certify that the student is perceived to be capable of successfully completing it.

Learn more about the Culminating Experience by downloading the Culminating Experience Handbook, which includes information about student options and required forms.


The Department of Global Health Systems and Development requires a period of practical training (the Practicum) of a minimum of 250 hours, usually in the summer between the second and third semesters (for those enrolling in fall). The practicum provides students with experience in an actual health delivery or development setting, program or project, in which students apply the knowledge and skills acquired in their coursework to practical settings. The specific outline and reporting requirements of the practicum are detailed in the SPHTM fieldpracticum handbook.

Health Policy Faculty

Valerie Yaeger, DrPH - Program Lead

Charles Stoecker, PhD
Mollye Demosthenidy, JD, MHA
Hugh Long, PhD
Joni Steinberg, PhD
Lizheng Shi, PhD

For more information contact:

Alison Rinehart
Program Coordinator
Phone: 504-988-5895
Location: Tidewater Bldg., 19th Floor



1440 Canal Street | Suite 1900 | #8346 | New Orleans, LA 70112 | 504-988-5428