Students interested in pursuing a career in health care policy may follow one of several paths. After graduating from PC, students may work as legislative staffers or aides for individual legislators or legislative committees at the state or national level, exploring policy issues and assisting constituents. Graduates may also find positions as legislative liaisons or lobbyists for state agencies or providers. In addition, many opportunities to engage in health policy research are available in national or regional “thinktanks” that specialize in health policy issues.
Nonpartisan organizations such as the National Academy of Social Insurance, the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Alpha Center, and the Families USA Foundation conduct independent research on topics such as the uninsured, Medicare and Medicaid reform, health insurance market reforms, and patients’ rights. The research conducted by such groups often defines the health policy agenda at both the state and national level. State hospital associations and other provider groups also routinely conduct and publish studies to measure the impact of federal and state laws and regulations on their members.
A graduate degree is not required to obtain an entry level position in the field of public policy, but graduate study provides a competitive edge for students and affords more opportunities for advancement. Students interested in graduate study in public policy will typically enroll in Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Public Administration (MPA), or PhD programs that offer a specialization in health care policy. Interested students should see Professor Hackey to discuss opportunities for internships and careers. In addition to the required courses in HPM, students interested in policy careers are strongly encouraged to consider additional courses in political science and economics. In particular, coursework in micro- and macroeconomics, statistics, public administration, public policy, and program evaluation provide a strong foundation for graduate study in the field.
Teaching and research
In addition, students may elect to pursue graduate studies in HPM to teach at the college level or conduct independent research. More than 100 undergraduate and graduate health policy and management degree programs exist in the United States, providing opportunities for students interested in an academic career to teach and conduct research in the field. A Ph.D. has now become a virtual necessity to secure a tenure-track faculty position at a college or university; interested students are eligible to apply for Ph.D. programs without first completing a master’s degree (this is typically awarded after the student has completed the required coursework for the degree program and passed general exams in the field). The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for admission to Ph.D. programs and should be taken early in the student’s senior year.