Health Policy and Economics

Training Students to Identify the Most Effective Ways of Delivering High-Quality Healthcare at Lower Cost

Stethoscope laid on top of papers.

Our Master's track in Health Policy and Economics provides a modern take on the traditional public health degree. Students learn to identify the most effective ways of delivering high-quality healthcare at lower cost through valuable real-world experience. This program track provides students with a strong understanding of healthcare organization and delivery within the context of the current policy environment with specialized training in health economics, health policy, and analytic methods. Each student is paired with a faculty member for hands-on research that culminates with a capstone/portfolio project.

About the Program

Unique Concentration

The Master’s track in Healthcare Policy and Economics offers a more specialized approach than a traditional MPH program. We emphasize a broader policy perspective to include payment policy, health insurance coverage and structural issues related to the healthcare delivery system. Our coursework is more practice-based than theoretical. We keep our class size low so that students can build close relationships with faculty mentors  who are nationally and internationally recognized experts. Our goal is to prepare professionals to work effectively in health-related policy positions with strong analytic skills. Our alumni hold positions in data and policy analysis, healthcare consulting, project management, quality improvement, and more. Many have also gone on to pursue doctoral studies at leading institutions, including Brown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Chicago.

Training

Our students learn innovative approaches to financing and delivering healthcare using cutting edge research methods.

During the Master’s track in Healthcare Policy and Economics, students will: 

  • Develop a deep understanding of current policy initiatives.
  • Gain hands-on experience in data analysis using computing packages, such as SAS, Stata, and R. 
  • Address real-world healthcare problems through a hands-on capstone project.
  • Understand factors that influence the quality and cost of healthcare.
  • Build connections under the mentorship of experts while collaborating with NYC institutions that will shape their careers.

The Master’s track in Health Policy and Economics has close ties to other departments within Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell University, Cornell Tech, and NewYork-Presbyterian. Students can complete the program in 11 months.

Faculty Research

Prerequisites for Admission

Information Sessions

Program Director

Mark Unruh, Ph.D.

HPE 1 Year Student - Recommended Curriculum Progression

Students are recommended to follow the schedule below in order to ensure eligibility for graduation. The Education Team will monitor progression, but it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to track their progression to ensure they meet graduation requirements. Course offerings and course availability are subject to change.

Fall Term

Typical course load is 11 credits

Introduction to Biostatistics with STATA Lab (HBDS 5001) OR Biostatistics I with R Lab (HBDS 5005) - Required

Introduction to Biostatistics with STATA Lab
Course Director: Arindam RoyChoudhury, PhD
4 credits

An introduction to the fundamentals of biostatistics with primary emphasis on understanding of statistical concepts behind data analytic principles. This course will be accompanied with a Stata lab to explore, visualize and perform statistical analysis with data. Lectures and discussions will focus on the following: exploratory data analysis; basic concepts of statistics; construction of hypothesis tests and confidence intervals; the development of statistical methods for analyzing data; and development of mathematical models used to relate a response variable to explanatory or descriptive variables.

Biostatistics I with R Lab
Course Director: Xi Kathy Zhou, PhD
4 credits

This course provides an introduction to important topics in biostatistical concepts and reasoning. Specific topics include tools for describing central tendency and variability in data, probability distributions, sampling distributions, estimation, and hypothesis testing. Assignments will involve computation using the R programming language.

Introduction to US Healthcare Policy & Delivery (HPEC 5001) - Required

Course Director: Arian Jung, PhD
3 credits

This course provides an introduction to basic economic concepts associated with health care and current policy issues facing the US health care system. Topics will include the historical foundations of the health care system, how the health care sector differs from other markets, financing of health care and the role of government, the structure and functions of public and private health insurance, economic components of the delivery system, and understanding the challenges of health care reform. These topics will be examined from the view of payers, providers, and regulators, and the interactions of these stakeholders. Students will also be introduced to international comparisons of health care systems.

Introduction to Health Services Research (HBDS 5002) - Required

Course Director: Jiani Yu, PhD
3 credits

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of health services research. Health services research is the discipline that measures the evaluations of interventions designed to improve healthcare. These interventions can include changes to the organization, delivery and financing of health care and various healthcare policies. Common outcome measures in health services research include (but are not limited to) patient safety, healthcare quality, healthcare utilization, and cost. Specific topics to be covered in this course include: refining your research question, identifying common research designs and their strengths and weaknesses, minimizing bias and confounding, selecting data sources, optimizing measurement, and more. There will also be a component of the course that explores how to present your 9 ideas and iteratively refine your work, based on feedback from peers and reviewers. This course includes both lectures and interactive group discussions. Students will be able to apply the methods learned in this course to their masters’ research projects.

Master’s Project 1 (HCPR 9010) - Required

Course Director: Faculty
1 credit

This is the culminating capstone course of all masters-level graduate education programs. It has two aims: (1) helping students to discover and develop new and effective ways of managing and working together with all the stakeholders within the healthcare field and (2) helping accelerate a student's development of 12 the context awareness, integrative management, and industry skills that are needed to lead in a rapidly changing healthcare sector. This capstone course puts students in a new organization, one they don’t already know well, and gives them the chance to practice hitting the ground running. This culminating course provides a deeper preparation for the next stages of a student's career. The capstone project will last the entire year: the first term involves matching students with the right project, the second term has students working with their client, and the third term consists of a detailed report and final presentation in front of the client as well as faculty and fellow classmates.

Healthcare in the US - Policymaking and Political Strategy (HINF 5014) - Elective

Course Director: Sam Solomon
3 credits

The US healthcare system is in the midst of transformational changes that have been catalyzed in part by the continued effects of the Affordable Care Act and the 2008 recession. This course will look at the major trends occurring in healthcare from a provider viewpoint, how leaders are both responding to and anticipating these changes, and how these changes will shape the healthcare system of the future. The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the nature and context of the changes happening in healthcare, while also offering real-world perspectives from industry leaders who will speak to how they are adapting to and even shaping these changes in their roles. Upon completing this course, both clinical and non-clinical students will have gained greater insight into the healthcare system, which they will be able to apply to their current and future roles.

Spring Term 

Typical Course load is 11 or 14 credits

Health Data for Research (SAS) (HPEC 5003) - Required

Course Director: Mark Unruh, PhD
3 credits

Addresses challenges in the use of electronic clinical data for research purposes, such as electronic health records, clinical data warehouses, electronic prescribing, clinical decision support systems and health information exchange. Students will learn how clinical processes generate data in these different systems, the tasks required to obtain data for research purposes and steps to prepare data for analysis. Examples of research uses of clinical data will be drawn from case studies in the literature. Students will acquire skills in data review, preparation and analysis through hands-on experience with clinical data.

Introduction to Applied Econometrics for Health Policy (HPEC 5004) - Required

Course Director: Angelica Meinhofer, PhD
3 credits

Prerequisites: Biostatistics I or Introduction to Biostatistics
With an emphasis on empirical applications, this course equips students with the tools necessary to empirically analyze non-experimental data at levels often required in professional environments. Applied Econometrics for Health Policy is designed with twin objectives in mind. The first is to provide students with the ability to critically analyze the empirical analysis done by others at a level sufficient to make intelligent decisions about how to use that analysis in the design of health policy. The second is to provide students with the skills necessary to perform empirical analysis on their own, or to participate on a team involved in such empirical analysis. Students will become proficient in using multiple regression analysis using cross-sectional and panel data, including in ways that provide causal interpretation.

Master’s Project 2 (HCPR 9020) - Required

Course Director: Faculty
2 credits

This is the culminating capstone course of all masters-level graduate education programs. It has two aims: (1) helping students to discover and develop new and effective ways of managing and working together with all the stakeholders within the healthcare field and (2) helping accelerate a student's development of the context awareness, integrative management, and industry skills that are needed to lead in a rapidly changing healthcare sector. This capstone course puts students in a new organization, one they don’t already know well, and gives them the chance to practice hitting the ground running. This culminating course provides a deeper preparation for the next stages of a student's career. The capstone project will last the entire year: the first term involves matching students with the right project, the second term has students working with their client, and the third term consists of a detailed report and final presentation.

Cost Effectiveness Analysis (HPEC 5005) - Elective

Course Director: Sean Murphy, PhD
3 credits

Prerequisites: Biostatistics I or Introduction to Biostatistics
The cost effectiveness analysis course is a 2 part course. The first part provides an overview of techniques used to understand medical decision making under uncertainty. Participants will learn how to structure decision analysis questions, construct decision trees, and analyze outcomes using probability. The second part provides an in-depth exposure to techniques used to conduct economic evaluations of health care technologies and programs. Participants learn how to critique economic evaluations using costeffectiveness approaches and are introduced to tools they can use to apply these techniques in their own research projects.

Incentives in the US Healthcare System (HPEC 5007) - Elective

Course Director: Yuhua Bao, PhD
3 credits

Economic incentives embedded in the health care system shape the behaviors of key stakeholders. This course provides an overview and analysis of incentives in the current US health care system for consumers/patients, health care providers, payers and insurers, and other stakeholders such as pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Discussion centers around how the medical care market differs from markets for other goods and services and how incentives interact to affect health care delivery and outcomes. We then use the lens of incentives to examine the rationale and consequences – both intended and unintended – of major reform models designed to align incentives with improving the quality and experience of care while containing the growth of health care costs.

Summer Term

Typical course load is 9 or 12 credits

Application in Econometrics and Data Analysis (HPEC 5010) - Required

Course Director: Amelia Bond, PhD
3 credits

This course has two aims. First, to introduce students to fundamental health economic topics The course is designed is accomplish these two aims using a three-pronged approached. (1) Lectures: The first half of the course will introduce a health economic topic that will provide context for the class (2) Course readings: The second half of the course will focus on one or two class readings that both relate to the (3) Course assignments: There will be a small number of course assignments that will require students to use Stata.

Master’s Project 3 (HCPR 9030) - Required

Course Director: Faculty
3 credits

This is the culminating capstone course of all masters-level graduate education programs. It has two aims: (1) helping students to discover and develop new and effective ways of managing and working together with all the stakeholders within the healthcare field and (2) helping accelerate a student's development of the context awareness, integrative management, and industry skills that are needed to lead in a rapidly changing healthcare sector. This capstone course puts students in a new organization, one they don’t already know well, and gives them the chance to practice hitting the ground running. This culminating course provides a deeper preparation for the next stages of a student's career. The capstone project will last the entire year: the first term involves matching students with the right project, the second term has students working with their client, and the third term consists of a detailed report and final presentation in front of the client as well as faculty and fellow classmates.

Study Designs and Comparative Effectiveness (HPEC 5006) - Elective

Course Director: Alvin Mushlin M.D., Sc.M.
3 credits

This course will cover the conceptual underpinnings, the policy context, and the methods for comparative effectiveness research (CER) highlighting key issues and controversies. It will provide students with an understanding of the analytic methods and data resources used to conduct comparative effectiveness research. Topics that will be discussed include, observational studies, risk adjustment, propensity score matching, instrumental variables, meta-analysis/systematic reviews and the use of clinical registries and electronic health record data. Students will learn why comparative research has come to prominence, what constitutes good comparative effectiveness research, the main methods used and the advantages and disadvantages of each without being a statistics course. Sessions will consist of lectures from the instructors and experts on selected topics, as well as student discussions and presentations.

Survey Research Methods (HPEC 5008) - Elective

Course Director: Sze Yan Liu, PhD, MPH
3 credits

This course is intended to familiarize students with the theory and application of survey research methods, with an emphasis on application. It will lead students through the process of developing their own survey. Topics will include survey populations and sampling, development of survey instruments, survey administration, post-survey processing and data analysis. Recurring themes throughout these topics are common errors in surveys, their consequences for findings and strategies to minimize these errors in survey design. Students will learn to develop an original research proposal featuring a survey questionnaire as well as critically evaluate existing surveys. The course will be tailored to the specific needs and problems of participants to the extent possible.