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PhD in Health Policy and Management

Offering Department: 
Program Description: 

The PhD in Health Policy and Management trains students to assume the highest level of professional responsibilities. The PhD is an academic research degree emphasizing the in-depth expertise necessary for a research career. It emphasizes the integration of theory and research in a focused substantive area (cognate). This includes classroom instruction, non-credit seminars, independent study, research projects, academic apprenticeships, and interaction with faculty, fellow students, and other professionals within and outside the UCLA campus.

Program Requirements

Because each student has unique and specific interests, doctoral training is individualized to the needs and interests of the particular student.

The doctoral program encompasses the following major elements and stages:

  • Course work in the major and cognate/minor fields
  • Written qualifying examination
  • Proposal for the dissertation
  • Oral qualifying examination on the proposal for the dissertation (advancement to candidacy)
  • Dissertation
  • Oral defense of the dissertation

Course Work

Students must have a minimum of 17 courses (72 units). All students are required to specialize in a particular area of study, a cognate, which requires additional coursework. Of these, 12-13 courses (48-52 units) are required, 5 courses (20 units) are electives, and remaining units may be fulfilled with additional electives or from the cognate coursework.

REQUIRED COURSES (12-13 courses/48-52 units)

  • HLT POL 200A: Health Systems Organization and Financing, I
  • HLT POL 200B: Health Systems Organization and Financing, II
  • HLT POL 226A: Readings in Health Service Research (2 Units)
  • HLT POL 226B: Readings in Health Service Research (2 Units)
  • HLT POL 227B: Special Topics in Health Services
  • HLT POL 225A: Health Services Research Design (6 Units)
  • HLT POL 225B: Health Services Research Design (6 Units)
  • HLT POL 423 Practices of Evaluation in Health Services
  • HLT POL 237C: Health Services Research Methodology (6 Units)
  • BIOSTATS 201A: Applied Regression
  • BIOSTATS 201B: Applied Regression
  • EPIDEM 100 or an equivalent introductory survey course or show proof of an equivalent graduate-level introductory epidemiology course that meets the requirements for an MPH, MS, PhD, or MD program
  • One (or more) additional statistics course (200-level or above) ONLY this additional statistics course may be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis. All other courses MUST be graded.

ELECTIVE COURSES (5 courses/20 units)

  • Students select four or more elective courses

Cognate Requirements

Cognate studies give students a depth of knowledge in a field that is complementary to Health Policy and Management. Students are required to take PhD level coursework that satisfies the requirements of at least one cognate. Students choose a cognate from areas such as economics, epidemiology, health care outcomes research, organizational behavior, and public policy studies, or may design their own cognate with a faculty member.

Qualifying Exam

Students generally take the qualifying exam after the completion of all course work, usually in the beginning of their third year of doctoral studies. The purpose of the Written Qualifying Exam is to prepare and evaluate students’ knowledge and application of a number of areas, and to assess students’ readiness to undertake independent research.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal describes the student’s desired area of research, the methods that will be used to examine relevant data and how it will support the dissertation findings, and explain the dissertation’s contribution to the field.

Dissertation Proposal Defense (Oral Qualifying Examination)

The purpose of the dissertation proposal defense (also known as the oral qualifying examination) is twofold: 1) to evaluate the research being proposed for the dissertation and 2) to assess the student’s ability to conduct this research. The defense focuses on the proposal for the dissertation.


The dissertation reports the results of the research conducted based on the proposal. The dissertation should demonstrate the scientific merit of the work itself and the student’s mastery over its substance and methods. It must demonstrate that the student is qualified to conduct independent research.

Dissertation Defense

The final oral examination is a defense of the dissertation. The purpose of this examination is twofold: 1) to evaluate the research conducted for the dissertation 2) to assess the student’s ability to conduct independent research. The exam focuses on the dissertation.

Time To Degree

The PhD is generally obtained in 4 or 5 years.


Desired Qualifications

In addition to meeting the University’s Minimum Requirements, the department of Health Policy and Management recommends a master’s degree in public health or other appropriate graduate degree in a related field with a grade-point average of at least 3.5 for graduate studies. In addition, although not required for admission, research experience in the field is viewed favorably when competing applications are judged. Students do not need to identify a faculty mentor in order to apply for the program.

Admissions Process

Applicants are only admitted in the Fall.  Applicants who wish to be considered for all financial aid considerations should have their applications, letters, transcripts and official GRE scores here at the School of Public Health by December 1 of the year preceding the desired entrance year.

The application process has three steps. You must:

  1. Submit an on-line application and pay the application fee at SOPHAS,
  2. Submit an online application and pay the application fee at UCLA Graduate Admissions, and
  3. Mail required academic documents and test scores to SOPHAS and to UCLA's School of Public Health.

For complete application instructions and the list of required materials, review the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Admission Application Check List and Submission Instructions.

As we receive many more qualified applicants for the program than there are available spaces, meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission to the program.

Tuition and Fees

Total new student mandatory fees for 2015-16 for residents are $15,929.74. For new student non-residents, total mandatory fees are $31,031.74. Fees are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.

Please see FSPH Financial Opportunities page for information on awards, scholarships, training opportunities, employment, summer internship funding, and need-based aid. Please note that opportunities listed under 'Summer Internship Funding' are only applicable to MPH students.


Many graduates of the program pursue research and teaching careers in health care management and health policy analysis.

Faculty in this Department

Faculty in the Department of Health Policy and Management have expertise in health policy, organizational theory and behavior, management, economics and pharmacoeconomics, medicine, law, sociology, political science and statistics.

For a list of faculty in this department, please click here.

To search all School of Public Health faculty members by name, department or area of expertise, click here.

Helpful Links

Who to Contact for More Information

For more information or questions, please contact Anna Lim at or 310.825.7863.


*This information is intended as an overview, and should be used as a guide only. Requirements, course offerings and other elements may change, and this overview may not list all details of the program. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the registrar’s office


* Admission requirements listed are Departmental requirements, and are in addition to the University's minimum requirements. Many programs receive more applicants than can be admitted, so meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission. Every effort is made to ensure minimum admissions requirements are up to date - for the most up-to-date information on the University's minimum requirements, please visit the UCLA Graduate Division.

** Fees are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.