By Iris Stone
Welcome to our ranking of the best online health policy master’s degree programs.
The healthcare industry is growing more complex every day, and nowhere is that more evident than in the field of healthcare policy. Much like businesses hire accountants to help them decipher complicated tax codes, many businesses are now turning to health policy experts to help them interpret regulations like those outlined in the Affordable Care Act (a notoriously long bill that included thousands of pages of documentation!).
So if you want job security and a set of in-demand skills, earning a master’s degree in health law and/or policy will practically guarantee that you meet your goals. The only question now is: which program should you choose?
Ranking the 20 Best Masters in Health Policy Online
Although healthcare policy is a booming field, higher education is lagging slightly behind the times. It’s likely that many more colleges and universities will start to offer such specialized degrees in the years to come, but for now the selection – especially for online programs – is somewhat limited. Even so, after scouring the internet we were able to identify dozens of eligible degree programs, which we quickly narrowed down to the top 20 using the following criteria:
Focus on Law and Policy
Programs were awarded points based on the portion of the curriculum specifically devoted to topics in healthcare policy, law, ethics, economics, etc. This figure ranged from just a few classes to 100% of the curriculum.
Application of Knowledge
Programs earned points for providing some sort of synthesis/experiential requirement, such as a seminar or internship. For this ranking, we favored schools with intensive but flexible options (e.g. an online research project or a practicum that students can complete through their current employer).
We also awarded points for overall program flexibility. This included features like versatile scheduling (part-time/full-time as well as online/hybrid/weekend options), no or few on-campus commitments, and reasonable admissions standards (especially waiving the GRE requirement).
To a limited extent, we also considered overall tuition costs*. Although we did not directly award points based on affordability, we limited the ranking to programs with total costs below $50k. We also used affordability as a tie-breaker if two schools were otherwise equally matched.
*The “Total Costs” listed below were calculated by multiplying the per-credit charge by the total number of credits required for the degree. All tuition data came directly from each school’s website. Even so, exact costs may vary. Contact a program representative for more information.
20. Regent University
Virginia Beach, VA
Unlike most of the schools on this ranking, Regent University houses its online health policy graduate program not in a Department of Health Sciences or a Law School, but in a School of Government. In fact, students enrolled in this program actually earn an MA in Government, but with a concentration in Healthcare Policy and Ethics. As a result, they acquire a unique combination of skills in topics that range from American politics and political thought to healthcare finance, organizations, and ethics. Aside from the nontraditional curriculum, the other main highlight of Regent’s program is its flexibility, which lets you take classes online, on-campus, or a little of both.
Total Cost: $19,500/yr
19. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
University Park, PA
If you’re looking for a master’s degree that is completely focused on health law and policy, Penn State is probably not your best bet. But if you need a program that combines these niche topics with more general training in healthcare administration, this school could have exactly what you need. The 49-credit MHA curriculum focuses largely on managerial topics – like healthcare finance and marketing. However, coursework in health economics, law, and leadership ethics – not to mention an “Individual Studies” class and customizable capstone – give students plenty of leeway to turn this MHA into a convenient and affordable online health policy master’s degree.
Total Cost: $45,570/yr
18. Benedictine University
Just one of many online mph health policy degrees on this ranking, Benedictine University’s accredited program comes in a popular format. Ideal for students who want to work in the public health sector, this MPH covers essential topics like epidemiology, biostatistics, and community health analysis. However, the 54-credit core curriculum (each class is worth four credits) also touches on the legal aspect of healthcare through classes like “Ethical and Political Issues” and “Health Policy.” You can even earn an optional certificate in Health Management and Policy – and in doing so, pick up skills in advanced topics like grant writing – with just three additional courses.
Total Cost: $42,900/yr
17. Kent State University
From convenience to content, there is plenty to like about Kent State’s online MPH program. Designed with professionals in mind, the format allows program members to focus on just one class each seven-week term. You’ll start with fundamentals and discipline-specific courses – most of which are grounded strictly in public health topics – while picking up policy knowledge in classes like “Emerging Issues in Public Health Policy and Management” and “Public Health Policy, Law, and Ethics.” Finally, turn this MPH into one of the top masters in health policy online with electives (including a particularly relevant course in “Obamacare and National Health Reform”) and a six-credit practicum through an approved health policy organization.
Total Cost: $30,130/yr
16. Creighton University
Representing another great MPH option in our ranking of the best online health policy graduate programs, Creighton University offers a balanced curriculum that is ideal for students who want to keep their options open. While the core coursework is typical for an MPH degree, you’ll have an opportunity to customize your learning through a “service-oriented concentration” in Health Policy and Ethics. Interestingly, this concentration places a particularly strong emphasis on ethics and frequently intertwines conversations about law and policy with fundamental concerns about social justice and human rights. Finish strong with a “Practice Experience” (80 contact hours required) with a local organization and a reflective Capstone Project.
Total Cost: $40,764/yr
15. University of Maryland
The University of Maryland School of Public Health makes it clear that its goal is to offer you a high-quality education while “minimally disrupting” your work and personal life. And this concern is evident in every aspect of the program’s design, from the blended learning format (online classes plus a few on-campus residencies) to the compact curriculum. Indeed, the program has earned its stripes as a top online mph health policy degree by masterfully cramming 42 credits of coursework into an 18-month timeline – including an internship and capstone. UMD also deserves praise for the disproportionate (for an MPH degree) focus its puts on health policy; classes in health law, ethics, economics, and politics all come standard with your degree plan.
Total Cost: $45,213/yr
14. University of Missouri-Columbia
At the University of Missouri – Columbia, you’ll enjoy the convenience of online classes with part- and full-time scheduling options. But that doesn’t mean you should expect earning your degree to be a walk in the (virtual) park; this MPH program closely mirrors its on-campus counterpart, and students should expect to log in for occasional synchronous sessions. What’s more, all degree candidates must complete a 360-hour supervised internship at a public health agency prior to graduating. But the commitment is well worth the effort to earn one of the best online mph health policy degrees, which includes the chance to take electives in intriguing topics like “Mental Health Policy,” “Public Policy Processes and Strategies,” and “Domestic Violence.”
Total Cost: $15,867/yr
13. University of Denver
Following a slew of MPH programs on this ranking, the University of Denver breaks the pattern with its unique MS in Healthcare Leadership with a concentration in Policy/Regulatory Leadership. And this 48-credit curriculum is not just unusual in name; it also features an atypical balance of courses in that the concentration sequence (16 credits) nearly equals the size of the core (20 credits). This feature more than qualifies Denver’s program as one of the top online health policy master’s degrees. But for further evidence, simply look at the quality of the classes themselves, which examine high-impact topics like the evaluation of healthcare public policy, the legislative process, and regulatory environments.
Total Cost: $30,144/yr
12. University of California-Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley returns to the typical mold of MPH programs with its concentration in Health Policy and Management. But while its structure might be fairly standard, this CEPH accredited online health policy master’s degree is definitely not “business as usual.” Most notably, the concentration courses comprise a larger portion of the degree that the MPH core sequence, meaning you’ll spend relative little time on general topics – and plenty on career-boosters like “Health Policy,” “Health Economics,” and “Economics of Population Health.” And instead of a thesis or internship, you’ll synthesize your knowledge through an online/on-campus seminar that addresses topical issues such as public advocacy and healthcare ethics.
Total Cost: $49,000/yr
11. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Los Angeles, CA
What is an MPH degree doing in a school of “Professional Psychology” you ask? While it’s true that most of The Chicago School’s programs focus on mental health, there are a few outliers – including an online Master of Public Health: Public Policy Development and Advocacy. And with no psychology courses to speak of but a curriculum jam-packed with lessons in public health law and regulation, policy development and communication, and international healthcare policy, there’s little doubt that The Chicago School has one of the best masters in health policy online.
Total Cost: $29,295/yr
10. Thomas Jefferson University
If a degree in public health just isn’t specialized enough to suit your needs, take a look at Thomas Jefferson University’s MS in Health Policy instead. The 39-credit program is entirely devoted to policy, ethics, and law in healthcare, and highly-specialized classes like “Advanced Health Policy and Advocacy” and “Health Law and Regulatory Issues” dominate the curriculum. And of all the best online health policy master’s degrees, Thomas Jefferson’s is especially well-suited for working professionals. Not only does the flexible format allow you to take anywhere from two to four years to earn your degree, but you’ll only have to visit campus once to present the results of your capstone research.
Total Cost: $44,140/yr
9. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Representing the last and perhaps best online mph health policy degree on this ranking, IUPUI’s program has plenty to brag about. From CEPH accreditation to flexible scheduling that provides part- and full-time schedules as well as daytime, evening, online, and blended coursework, this MPH in Health Policy and Management has just about everything you could possibly need. And the curriculum is no less accommodating; topics range from public health ethics and policy design to policy and program evaluation for the US healthcare system. But perhaps most enticing are the elective options, which include such in-depth courses as “Law, Poverty, and Population Health” and “Cost-Effectiveness.”
Total Cost: $37,846/yr
8. Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Perhaps health policy is still too general of a topic for you. Then to really dive in deep into the nitty gritty details of healthcare legislation, look for a curriculum with the razor-sharp focus of Nova Southeastern’s affordable master of health law online program. Degree candidates spend the bulk of their time “understanding…how the field of healthcare intersects with the law” and acquiring “the legal knowledge needed to communicate effectively [about] health law.” Need more convincing? How about this: NSU’s program has no GRE or LSAT requirement for admission, takes just two years to complete, and is available entirely online.
Total Cost: $26,650/yr
7. Wake Forest University
In just 30 credits (nine classes and a 6-credit capstone) you could earn one of the top masters in health policy online through Wake Forest University. The school’s Master of Studies in Law: Health Law and Policy is designed specifically for current healthcare professionals, and program members take all classes with other MSL degree candidates – not JD students. Convenience is also a big part of this program’s appeal; not only is all coursework online and asynchronous, but you can complete the final capstone class in your current workplace (just don’t forget to check in with a faculty advisor).
Total Cost: $27,000/yr
6. MCPHS University
MCPHS University, also known as the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is home to one of the more unique degrees on this top online health policy graduate programs ranking. The two-year MS in Regulatory Affairs and Health Policy forgoes any emphasis on public health or management in favor of tightly-focused classes like “Laws and Regulations Governing Human Research” and “Data Analysis and Presentation Capabilities in Regulatory Affairs.” Other topics of study include health policy of drugs and devices, the FDA, and international regulations, plus a gamut of unique electives like “Global Pharmaceutical Policy” and “Development and Production of Medical Devices.”
Total Cost: $33,750/yr
5. Loyola University Chicago
Unlike many of the other options on this top online health policy master’s degrees ranking, Loyola’s program leans more toward law than healthcare – but just barely. Other than a few intro courses in legal writing and research, the curriculum sits squarely in the realm of healthcare regulation and policy. Rounding out the program is a four-course elective requirement, which you might consider applying toward an optional concentration in Compliance. This unique area of specialization provides highly specific knowledge and could even lead to industry certification from the Compliance Certification Board (CCB) or International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPPP). But no matter their career interests, all MJ Health Law students at Loyola must attend two “Education Immersion Weekends” in Chicago and complete a Master’s thesis project.
Total Cost: $32,664/yr
4. Widener University Delaware Law School
One of just three MJ degrees on this ranking, Widener University’s Master of Jurisprudence in Health Law offers a rare combination of legal training and healthcare lessons. But this degree even stands apart from other top Master of Health Law online programs, thanks to an equally unique concentration in Regulatory Analysis and Compliance. The curriculum provides “intensive preparation” in everything from risk management to healthcare fraud, thereby providing graduates with all the skills they need to work in medical regulatory affairs, records management, privacy compliance, or a similar field. And although the program prefers applicants with professional experience in healthcare, at least you don’t have to worry about taking the GRE!
Total Cost: $31,842/yr
3. Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ
Few schools are as well-equipped as Seton Hall to provide education in health law. And you’d expect nothing less from a university that’s home to the Center for Health and Pharmaceutical Law and Policy, an institute exclusively dedicated to supporting academics, research, and scholarship in this unique field. Seton Hall’s expertise also lends itself to one of the nation’s best masters in health policy online. The robust MSJ curriculum offers concentrations in fields like Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Law and Health and Hospital Law, or you can combine both into a joint specialty. Plus, the massive elective course list lets you create a completely customized degree, selecting your favorites from class options like “Genetics: Law, Policy, and Bioethics,” and “FDA Regulation and Liability.”
Total Cost: $13,260/yr
2. Hofstra University
It’s hard to imagine a school better suited to teaching health law and policy than Hofstra University. First, the school actually offers two programs: a Master of Arts and an accredited Master of Health Law online. Both degrees, which are part of Hofstra’s ABA-accredited law school) are available 100% online and, neither require LSAT or GRE scores. The MA program, however, is more suited for current health professionals, while the ML program is geared toward practicing lawyers and paralegals. In addition, the MA takes slightly longer to complete (11 courses over 24 months) while you could earn your ML through just 9 courses in 18 months.
Total Cost: $34,200/yr
1. University of California-San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
When it comes to healthcare policy and law, the University of California San Francisco hits the nail right on the head. The school’s one to two year MS in Health Policy and Law boasts a curriculum nearly unparalleled in strength and relevance, with classes like “How to Evaluate Policy-Relevant Research” and “U.S. Healthcare System and The Law.” As a student, you’ll even be able to choose between separate Policy and Law Tracks, depending on whether you’re more interested in advanced policy analysis, program evaluation, and econometrics or advanced legal research and institutional compliance. One added bonus? Submitting your GRE scores to this top masters in health policy online program is completely optional!
Total Cost: $41,400/yr
Now that you’ve read all about the top masters in health policy online, all that’s left to do is pick your favorite and apply.
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