Applicants Flock to New Health Policy PhD Program

The new Health Policy PhD program being offered by the Department of Health Policy and Management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) has received a highly qualified and competitive pool of applicants, say the program’s directors. The first cohort of doctoral students accepted into the program will begin their studies at the only school of public health in the nation’s capital this fall.

The Department of Health Policy and Management is among the largest and most prominent departments at the George Washington University. The department’s faculty are known for their scholarship and advocacy on policy issues that impact the nation’s health. The department has long offered a Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) program, which is more oriented toward professional practice. The PhD program will be more research oriented.

“Our department is an ideal location for the scholarly study of health policy at the doctoral level,” said Avi Dor, PhD, the program’s director. The new program is an outgrowth of the decades-old and highly regarded health policy track previously offered through the university’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, where Dor holds a joint appointment. Health policy was the one of the most popular tracks in that school’s Public Policy PhD program, and Dor served as the director of that track since 2008.

“The Department of Health Policy and Management’s PhD in Health Policy is designed to develop scholars who are skilled at critically assessing the political, economic, legal and social aspects of health policy and management,” said Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, the program’s co-director. Ku is the director of the school’s Center for Health Policy Research and also holds a joint appointment at the Trachtenberg School. “We fully expect to continue collaborating with the Trachtenberg School’s faculty, and our students will be able to take some of their coursework at the school.”

Students in the new program will learn to apply innovative research tools to analyze processes and outcomes in health care delivery and public health settings to inform policy decision-making. Together with other faculty members, Dor and Ku are currently evaluating what they describe as a very strong pool of applicants with a diverse set of backgrounds, including public health, public administration, public policy, business administration, and various social sciences. To be eligible, students must either have a master’s degree or be about to finish one.

“Our new program will give students much more exposure to health policy studies than was possible when health policy was a track for public policy PhD students,” explained Dor, who also directs the Department of Health Policy and Management’s health economics program. “The training will enable our alumni to create policy solutions to public health challenges and help to transform the health care system of the future.”

The 48-credit program is based in Washington, DC and will immerse students in a multidisciplinary, scholarly environment. It places special emphasis on U.S. health policies, systems, and population health.

“Our PhD students will work with faculty in the Department of Health Policy and Management and other GW experts who are conducting research and policy analyses in pursuit of improvements in health access, equity, costs and outcomes,” Ku said. “During their studies, students will benefit from faculty mentorship as well as proximity to experts and agencies immersed in the most current topics of health policy and public health in the hub of health policy decision-making and debate. They will graduate fully prepared to shape the health and public health policy debate at national, state and other levels.”

The program’s research strengths include: 

  • Health Policy, Law, and Regulation
  • Medicaid and Medicare Policy
  • Health Economics and Financing
  • Health Reform
  • Public Health Policy
  • Workforce Policy
  • Cost-effectiveness of Health Interventions
  • Health Disparities
  • Health Services Research
  • Research Methods
  • Payment and Systems Transformation