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PhD in Health Systems and Policy

PhD in Health Systems and Policy

With a doctoral degree in Health Systems and Policy, you can help shape the health care institutions and health systems of the future. 

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health (SPH) has made a significant impact on the health systems and policies of Oregon, which is a national leader in health care reform. Our graduate degrees build on a decades-long tradition of innovation and groundbreaking research, equipping you for leadership careers in government administration, nonprofit advocacy, research, education, health services delivery, and related fields. 

By earning your graduate degree at the OHSU-PSU SPH, you will become part of a dynamic culture that fuses the energy of two institutions: a world-class academic health center (OHSU), and a community-engaged research university (PSU) with nationally renowned graduate programs in social work, public administration, urban affairs, and other disciplines. That combination yields creative, interdisciplinary partnerships that give rise to new models for health systems management and policy. It also allows you to get involved in major research projects and reform initiatives, while interacting with stakeholders from throughout the health system. 

Ph.D. in Health Systems and Policy

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health’s Ph.D in Health Systems and Policy program is distinguished by its:

  • Collaborative, whole-system orientation that draws on expertise from multiple academic disciplines and community stakeholders.
  • Deep community engagement, with an emphasis on solving real-world health system challenges.
  • Exceptional faculty who combine academic expertise with high-level achievements in designing, implementing, and evaluating health system reforms.
  • Commitment to equitable, socially just health systems that serve all populations.
  • Diverse community partnerships with consumer advocates, government administrators, health services practitioners, health system administrators, policy analysts, nonprofit activists, academicians, researchers, and other stakeholders.
  • Tight-knit culture that fosters supportive relationships among faculty and students.
  • High-profile contributions to health reform at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Direct access to OHSU’s medical health and scientific experts, and PSU’s leading scholars in public policy, urban affairs, and the social sciences.

The Health Systems and Policy doctoral program provides outstanding academic training to support careers in education and research, as university faculty or in applied policy positions. You can also apply your Health Systems and Policy Ph.D. to pursue executive leadership roles in government, nonprofit, and private-sector health organizations, including health systems and insurance companies. 

In addition to completing core coursework in health systems, policy, and health services research, you can concentrate your studies in one of four emphasis areas: 

  • Health systems organization, financing, and delivery
  • Health policy analysis and application
  • Health services access, quality, and cost
  • Community-based health and social services

All four concentrations in the Health Systems and Policy Ph.D. program integrate classroom theory with applied experience in community settings.

Accreditations and Rankings

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Schedule an Appointment with a Graduate Admissions Specialist

Core Competencies

Program Guide


Students graduating from this program will be able to:

  • Apply relevant theories and frameworks to issues pertaining to health systems and policies.
  • Select and apply appropriate qualitative and quantitative research techniques to identify strategies to improve health system effectiveness.
  • Formulate a testable research question and propose a relevant study design and analytic approach that has the potential to advance knowledge of health systems and policy.
  • Conduct an independent study that demonstrates synthesis of knowledge and application of research skills.
  • Apply principles of ethics and cultural competence when conducting health systems and policy research and education
  • Evaluate evidence-based public health policy and health systems transformation strategies to identify emerging issues in health systems and policy.
  • Create and deliver effective presentations of scholarly activities to academic and lay audiences.

The doctoral program in Health Systems and Policy requires the completion of 104-115 credits in the following areas:

  • Health Systems courses
  • Policy courses
  • Research Design and Methods courses
  • Public Health foundational courses
  • Dissertation seminar
  • Dissertation credits

Please refer to the Program Guide for an overview of degree requirements and a current program of study

Students may transfer in previously completed comparable graduate courses from an accredited university that fulfill course requirements.

Application questions – Josh Hodsden, MBA

Registration questions –

Program Director – Sherril Gelmon, DrPH