Our Mission

The mission of the PhD Program in Health Policy and Management is to provide students with the skills to conduct innovative health services/health policy research that can be used to foster the most effective ways to organize, manage, finance, and deliver high quality health care; increase efficiency and improve patient safety. Housed in the top rated Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management, we offer a curriculum that provides students with the competencies, academic foundation, and research experience to become independent and creative health services/health policy researchers.

Information for Applicants

Our students get great jobs!
See the first and current employment positions of our PhD alumni since 2003 (link to PDF).
Visit our Job Market page for profiles of current students who are looking for jobs.

Why should I choose UNC?

There are many reasons to attend UNC, including our student-centered culture; emphasis on professional development; outstanding and engaged faculty; and our culture of collaboration. It is also a great place to live. Finally, our students get top jobs in academic settings, research organizations and government agencies after graduation.

  • Student-centered culture: HPM works hard to create a student-centered culture. There are many opportunities for informal interactions between students and faculty. Students also have a voice into decisions about the PhD program through the PhD Advisory Committee. This committee has four student members, one from each cohort and alumni representatives. This ensures that students have a cohort representative who can provide input into all aspects of the PhD program.
  • Emphasis on professional development: UNC’s PhD program in HPM provides students with rigorous training in research and analytical methods, as well as content knowledge in health services and health policy. We also emphasize professional development skills that are essential to our graduates’ long-term success, including: evidence-based research practices; conducting research in interdisciplinary teams; writing for diverse audiences; and teaching.
  • Faculty: Our faculty are recognized locally and nationally for their research and teaching. When students are admitted, they will have a commitment from a faculty member with overlapping interests who is excited to serve as the advisor and dissertation chair. This will help insure that the student has a faculty member who advocates for and supports them, even before they arrive at UNC. The faculty members who serve as advisors/dissertation chairs are listed below, along with links to information about them.
Faculty Advisors, HPM PhD Program 
Ethan BaschSandra GreeneChris Shea
Antonia Bennett(George) Mark HolmesPaula Song
Sarah BirkenJessica LeeSally Stearns
Alyssa Mansfield DamonKristen Hassmiller Lich Sean Sylvia
Peggye Dilworth-AndersonJonathan OberlanderJustin Trogdon
Marisa DominoGeorge PinkMorris Weinberger
Leah FrerichsKristin ReiterStephanie Wheeler
Bruce FriedCleo Samuel

Culture of collaboration: We have wonderful collegial relationships throughout the area. At UNC, these include:

We also have strong relationships with organizations external to UNC, including:

Non-academic organizations, including:

Great place to live: The Research Triangle area is one of the most desirable places in the country to live. Chapel Hill has been named one of the best small towns and cities in the US and one of the best cities for college basketball fans Durham, which borders Chapel Hill was rated by The New York Times as one of the top 41 places in the world to visit. We are also within easy driving distance of the beach or mountains. With two major colleges (UNC and Duke), there are many inexpensive things to do. For example:

Our graduates do extremely well on the job market: For students who have graduated since 2003, we post their first and current positions, as well as dissertation titles so you can learn about the research our students conduct.

What is the program like?

The PhD program is designed to provide students with the competencies, academic foundation, and research experience to become independent and creative health services/health policy researchers (see Guidelines and Procedures manual). The program is designed to be completed in four years. During the first two years, students take required courses in health services research, research design, quantitative and qualitative methods, and health policy (see typical course schedule).

In addition, students take courses that allow them to develop expertise in a minor area. Minors include Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research, Economics, Financial Management, Health Politics and Policy, Quality and Access, and Organization and Implementation Science. Students may take courses at Duke University or North Carolina State University at no additional cost. Students must pass written comprehensive examinations after completing course work, then present and defend a dissertation proposal and the final dissertation based on original research. Some helpful information follows:

PhD Guidelines and Procedures

Manual

The Guidelines and Procedures manual contains many of the rules, regulations, policies, and procedures of the PhD program.

Typical course schedule   
Fall, Year 1Spring, Year 1Fall, Year 2Spring, Year 2Fall, Year 3
HPM 880HPM 881HPM 882HPM 883HPM 994
HPM 884HPM 885HPM 886HPM 874
HPM 873HPM 873HPM 874 Minor
Minor MinorMinor
  • HPM 754 (Health Care in the United States: Structure and Policy), EPID 600 (Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health) or EPID 710 (Fundamentals of Epidemiology), and SPHG 600 (Introduction to Public Health) are prerequisites that can be completed during the first year of the PhD program, for students who do not place out based on prior coursework or experience.
  • HPM 873 and HPM 874 are core Departmental seminars. All students take HPM 873 during the fall and spring semesters of their first year (total of 2 credit hours) and HPM 874 during the fall and spring semesters for their first two years (total of 4 credit hours).
  • HPM 871 (Seminar in Teaching Health Policy and Management) will be taken in the semester the student is a Teaching Assistant.

What are the options for minors?

All students must select a minor area that may be either disciplinary or interdisciplinary. They must take at least 15 credit hours in their minor area (typically five 3-credit courses). Students must also take one (or more) 3-hour course in health policy . Current minors are Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research, Economics, Financial Management, Health Politics and Policy, Quality and Access, and Organization and Implementation Science.

  • Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research

The minor in Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research is an interdisciplinary program that prepares PhD students to focus on (1) methods for analyzing potential benefits/harms and costs of health technologies and interventions and (2) how to measure, analyze, and apply patient-reported outcomes to important health conditions.

All minor students are required to take HPM 772 (Techniques for the Economic Evaluation of Healthcare); and HPM 794 (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement and Application in Healthcare Research and Practice). Additional required courses will depend upon whether students choose the modeling or outcomes research emphasis for a total of 15 credit hours; these courses will be selected in consultation with the student’s minor advisor.

Students without prior spreadsheet modeling experience are required to take HPM 770 (Introduction to Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis Tools for Improving Health Care Management and Policy Decision Making) as a pre-requisite, which does not count toward the 15 total credit hours.

Faculty Advisors, Decision Sciences and Outcomes Research
Stephanie Wheeler*Alyssa Mansfield DamonSally Stearns
Ethan BaschLeah FrerichsJustin Trogdon
Antonia BennettKristen Hassmiller Lich *denotes lead contact for this minor
  • Economics

Students in the economics track have the flexibility to take field courses in a number of areas of microeconomics for a total of 15 units.

Students are required to take core courses either from the Department of Economics (Econ 700 and 710) or the Department of Public Policy (PLCY 700, 788, and 789). Health Economics (Econ 850) is also a required course. For the remaining electives, students can chose from courses at UNC or Duke in advanced microeconomics, labor economics, public finance, economics and population, econometrics, or other advanced topics in microeconomics.

In addition, all health economics students are expected to attend the Triangle Health Economics Workshop. Students may receive one unit of credit for participating in the Triangle Health Economics seminars each semester by enrolling in HPM815, for up to 3 units of credit towards the minor.

Faculty Advisors, Economics 
Justin Trogdon*(George) Mark HolmesSean Sylvia
Marisa DominoSally Stearns*denotes lead contact for this minor

  • Financial Management

The financial management minor has three required courses and two electives. Required courses include PLCY 700 Math Camp (3 hours); PLCY 788 Advanced Economic Analysis for Public Policy I (3 hours); and BUSI 881 Theory of Financial Management II (3 hours).

In addition, students must select two or more accounting and/or finance courses offered by the Kenan-Flagler School of Business or the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. In order to assure adequate preparation for these courses, students admitted to the healthcare financial management minor usually have completed courses in finance, microeconomics, and calculus.

Faculty Advisors, Financial Management
George Pink*Kristin Reiter Paula Song
*denotes lead contact for this minor
  • Health Politics and Policy

The health politics and policy minor introduces students to theories and practices of policymaking, policy analysis, and political science, with the goal of understanding how and why governments and private institutions make and change health policy.

Students explore a wide range of issues in health politics and policy, including health care reform, Medicare and Medicaid, program evaluation, and developments in private insurance.

Students may also concentrate their coursework on public opinion, agenda setting, political institutions, interest groups or other aspects of political science relevant to health policy.

Students take two required classes, HPM 757 (Health Reform: Political Dynamics and Policy Dilemmas) and HPM 758 (Underserved Population and Health Reform). Students take additional courses from other departments (including political science and public policy) and health policy and management to complete the minor requirements.

Faculty Advisors, Health Politics and Policy 
(George) Mark Holmes*Jonathan Oberlander *denotes lead contact for this minor
  • Quality and Access

Access to, and the quality of, health care in the United States are often the focus of important health policy discussions at the local, state, and national levels.

The minor in Quality and Access is an interdisciplinary program that prepares PhD students to obtain the substantive, methodological and statistical skills required to conduct research in this area. HPM 762 (Quality of Care) is required of all students who minor in quality and access.

In addition, students must take courses from at least three departments (including Health Policy and Management).

Faculty Advisors, Quality and Access 
Peggye Dilworth-Anderson*Sandra GreeneCleo Samuel
Ethan Basch (George) Mark HolmesPaula Song
Antonia Bennett George PinkMorris Weinberger
Bruce Fried Kristin Reiter Stephanie Wheeler
*denotes lead contact for this minor.
  • Organization and Implementation Science

Implementation science is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of study, with multiple federal agencies and Institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) assigning scientific priority and research funding to this area of research.

The NIH defines implementation science as “the use of strategies to adopt and integrate evidence-based health interventions and change practice patterns in specific settings.” Organization science has much to contribute to implementation science since the implementation of evidence-based health interventions typically occurs in organizational settings and efforts to change practice patterns typically focus on organizational members.

The Organization and Implementation Science minor equips doctoral students with the knowledge and skills to conduct implementation research, while preserving their marketability for faculty positions in health care organization and management.

Faculty Advisors, Organization and Implementation Science 
Chris Shea*Leah FrerichsStephanie Wheeler
Ethan BaschBruce Fried*denotes lead contact for this minor
Sarah BirkenAngela Stover

Students in this minor are required to take:

  • HPM 930/NURS 928 (Doctoral Seminar in Organizational Theory and Health Care Organizations) OR BUSI 853 (Macro Organizational Behavior)
  • HPM 767 (Implementation Science in Health)

Students also must take at least three other minor courses approved by their advisor, such as:

  • HBHE 730 (Theoretical Foundations of Social and Behavioral Science)
  • DPOP 803 (Social and Behavioral Aspects of Pharmaceutical Use)
  • BUSI 851 (Individual Behavior in Organizations)

What is the curriculum?

There are three prerequisites for our PhD students, which can be taken preferably during the first year of the program: HPM 754 (Health Care in the United States); EPID 600 (Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health) or EPID 710 (Foundations of Epidemiology); SPHG 600 (Introduction to Public Health Concepts). Many students, especially those with master’s degrees in public health or a related field, may have taken these courses (or their equivalents) at the graduate level prior to matriculation into our PhD program.

Students who wish to be exempted from any prerequisite must receive permission from the instructor and complete an exemption application form. A core competency of the PhD Program is to prepare students to be effective classroom teachers. To fulfill this competency, students must complete HPM 871 and be a paid teaching assistant (TA) at some point during their training. HPM 871 is a 1-credit hour seminar that PhD students take during their first semester as a TA. The seminar is designed to: (1) facilitate the development of a contract identifying mutual expectations for the TA and course instructor; (2) help prepare students to develop and deliver a lecture (or equivalent activity) in the course for which they are a TA; (3) identify and resolve common TA issues using a key incidents/discussion approach; and (4) identify resources on campus (e.g., Center for Faculty Excellence) or the Internet to support students.

Students who wish to teach their own course may be encouraged by their advisor to take EDUC 757, which is designed specifically to provide graduate students with the skills to plan all aspects of a course of their choosing.

MSPH-to-PhD Track

UNC offers an MSPH-to-PhD track within the PhD Program. The MSPH-to PhD option complements our existing PhD program by allowing us to admit students with great potential for doctoral studies, but who lack either a Master’s degree or work experience. This program adds an additional year of coursework on to the PhD curriculum, but students receive both an MSPH and a PhD upon completion of the program.

Do students receive funding?

Doctoral students receive funding from a variety of sources. HPM provides PhD students financial support (including stipend, tuition, and health insurance) for the first two years of study through department research and teaching assistantships, federal traineeships, and Graduate School awards. After their first two years, our students have been extremely successful in obtaining funding through:

What kinds of research do our students conduct for their dissertation?

How can I apply to UNC?

We only accept online applications. Information about the application process, including deadlines, can be found here.

Tips for a strong application can be found here.