PhD in Health Policy

Impact population health at a systems level

Health policy is an interdisciplinary field that examines the organization and financing of health systems and services; the impact of health policies on population health; and the economic, social and behavioral determinants of health. It involves the investigation of all systems that affect population health, not just the medical care system. The purview of health policy is global.

The mission of our program is to prepare students for research careers in health policy and health services research; teaching; and public service in university, governmental and public policy settings. This program is distinguished by its interdisciplinary application of the social and behavioral science disciplines to real world health issues. Graduates are prepared to play lead scientific roles in addressing the many challenges facing health care and public health systems in the United States and countries around the world.


Students must successfully complete a health services research readings and methods seminar (two semesters), five specialty field courses, three quantitative research methods courses, and three additional graduate elective courses.

The program includes three specialty fields:

  1. The Health Economics specialty field draws on economics, epidemiology and statistics to understand the causal relationship between different aspects of health and the health care sector. With an emphasis on quantifying relationships, health economics covers a broad range of study areas including health production, demand and supply of health services, health care financing, behavioral responses to institutional or policy incentives, policy evaluations and other efficiency, and equity issues surrounding health.
  2. The Organizations & Management specialty field trains scholars in organizational behavior and political science in regards to health. Theories and methods in organizational sociology, political science and social psychology are central to the study of health organizations. Specialty field courses in macro-organizational theory, micro-organizational theory and organizational analysis of the health sector are required. This specialty field emphasizes the management of health care and public health organizations and systems, the implementation and dissemination of policies and practices within and across organizations, and the role of policy-making institutions as platforms for the creation and modification of health policies.
  3. The Population & Data Science specialty field trains students for research careers applying cutting-edge quantitative methods to pressing policy questions in health services research and population health. Students will learn and integrate methods from key disciplinary strengths at Berkeley: biostatistics, social science approaches such as econometrics and demography, and the rapidly evolving set of “big data” data science innovations advanced in UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing Data Science, and Society. The explosion of health sector data availability, along with Berkeley’s innovation hub positioning, make this an excellent track for students looking to become quantitative experts who can lead research across a wide variety of population health policy questions.

Students have access to all of UC Berkeley’s disciplines and professional schools, in addition to UCSF faculty and research programs. This is a full-time program geared for careers in academia and research and students typically complete it in four to five years. Our program is administered by Berkeley Public Health and the doctoral degree is granted by UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division.

Graduates can achieve and demonstrate expertise in the following major academic outcomes:

  • Develop domain expertise in core works in health policy and the selected specialty field.
  • Understand central social science theoretical frameworks and debates shaping health policy.
  • Demonstrate substantive knowledge of the specialty field sufficient to design and teach graduate-level courses in that field.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct rigorous quantitative research.
  • Plan and conduct independent research using advanced research methods.
  • Demonstrate the mastery of academia and grant writing, conference presentation, IRB procedures and ethics in research.
  • Foster cohesion and intellectual exchange among students and faculty across the university to enhance interdisciplinary research and training.


A master’s degree is not a requirement for this program, however, entering students should have completed introductory coursework in statistics, microeconomics and epidemiology. Students without master’s-level coursework in these areas are required to take relevant courses at UC Berkeley or otherwise demonstrate mastery of these areas.


Graduates are well-prepared to assume academic careers in research and teaching. Many of our graduates move directly to positions in academia, government or research organizations. Other graduates receive postdoctoral fellowships to continue specific training in their area of interest and research.


To apply to the Health Policy PhD program, please complete the UC Berkeley Graduate Division admissions application. This program does not participate in SOPHAS.

10% 2013-2020 5-year admission ratio
3.62 Average undergraduate GPA of admitted applicants
3.86 Average graduate GPA of admitted applicants
82% Average Verbal GRE scores of admitted applicants
88% Average Quantitative GRE scores of admitted applicants
85 Average annual applications
9 Average annual offers
4 Average annual accepts


Core Health Policy PhD Program Faculty

The core PhD program faculty members of the School of Public Health, the Haas School of Business, School of Social Welfare, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Departments of Economics, Sociology, and Political Science.

Emeriti Faculty

Emeritus faculty of the Health Policy Faculty Group are Professors of the Graduate School and may serve on dissertation committees as Chair, inside members, or as an Academic Senate Representative. Their availability to students, however, may be limited compared to core faculty group members.

Joan BloomStephen Shortell
Ralph CatalanoLonnie Snowden
Thomas RundallLaura Stoker
Richard Scheffler

UCSF Affiliated Faculty

Affiliated UCSF health policy faculty can serve as co-chairs and as additional members of dissertation committees.

Julia Alder-MilsteinMargot Kushel
Andrew AuerbachCourtney Lyles
Naomi BardachKathryn Phillips
Claire BrindisJoanne Spetz
Janet CoffmanUrmimala Sarkar
Daniel DohanJustin White
Emily Finlayson

Affiliated Faculty

Faculty who are affiliated with the doctoral program play a contributing role for PhD students. Many of the affiliated faculty teach courses that are part of the core curriculum and serve as graders of specialty field exams. Most importantly, they serve as Academic Senate Representatives of qualifying exam and dissertation committees.

Jennifer AhernJonah Levy
Amani AllenCassondra Marshall
Michael AndersonEdward Miguel
Sarah AnziaArmando Lara-Millan
Christopher AnsellG. Cristina Mora
Jack ColfordMahasin Mujahid
Jason CorburnMalcom Potts
Mathijs De VaanSophia Rabe-Kesketh
Cybelle FoxSteven Raphael
Bruce FullerJasjeet Sekhon
Anu Manchikanti GómezValarie Shapiro
Hilary HoynesToby Stuart
Alan HubbardAnn Swidler
Barbara LaraiaReed Walker
David Levine

Current Health Policy PhD Students

Claire BooneChristopher Lownstein
Calvin ChiuAlexa Magyari
David Contreras LoyaChris Miller-Rosales
Maria DieciNicholas Otis
Lakshmi GopalakrishnanNicole Perales
Emily HagueRobert Schell
Alein HaroPooja Suri
Nianyi HongAaron Tierney
Margae Knox

Recent Health Policy PhD Graduates

Drew CameronJennifer Frehn
Ada KwanAryn Phillips


Graduates of the UC Berkeley Ph.D. Program in Health Policy (formerly “Health Services and Policy Analysis”) hold leading research and teaching positions at academic and research institutions both within the United States and internationally. Many of our alumni hold tenured or tenure-track positions at respected universities and colleges such as Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University, UCSF, and Dartmouth College. Our recent alumni have also successfully obtained post-doctoral appointments at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Yale University, and Stanford University.

The following is a partial listing of PhD program alumni, their dissertation titles, and their current employment.

Jonathan Agnew PhD
Cost and Utilization of Outpatient Prescription Drugs Among the Elderly: Implications for a Medicare Benefit
Assistant Director of Policy
British Columbia Medical Association, Vancouver, BC

Sangeeta C. Ahluwalia PhD
Professionalism among Physicians: Factors Associated with Outpatient Palliative Care Referral in a Managed Care Organization
Senior Policy Researcher
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA

Jim Bellows PhD
Use of Worker’s Compensation Medical Care:Health Insurance Matters
Senior Director, Evaluation and Analytics
Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute, Oakland CA

Aman Bhandari PhD
National Estimates and Predictors of Pharmacy Utilization and Out-of-Pocket Prescription Drug Expenditures in Underserved Populations
Vice President, Data Strategy and Solutions, Vertex Pharmaceuticals , Boston, MA

Timothy T. Brown PhD
Three Essays on the Labor Market for Nonphysician Clinicians
Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management
Associate Director of Research
Berkeley Center for Health Technology
University of California Berkeley, School of Public Health, Berkeley CA

Sahai Burrowes PhD
Essays on the Political Impact of Development Assistance Allocation in Malawi
Assistant Professor
Touro University, Public Health Program, Vallejo CA

Lawrence Casalino, M.D. PhD
Medical Groups and Physician Organization; Physician-Hospital and Physician-Health Plan Relationships; Physician Organization and Quality
Livingston Farrand Professor of Health Care Policy and Research
Weill Cornell Medical College

Aaron Caughey, M.D. PhD
Applications from Behavioral Economics to Decision Making in the Setting of Prenatal Diagnosis
Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR

Paulette Cha PhD
Essays on Health Economics and Immigration
Public Policy Institute of California

Susan Chapman PhD
The Experience of Returning to Work for Employed Women with Breast Cancer
Professor, UCSF School of Nursing
San Francisco, CA

Ann Chou PhD.
Shared decision making: The selection process of treatment options and resulting quality of life implications for women with breast cancer
Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Health Sciences Center
University of Oklahoma

Elizabeth Ciemins PhD
The Effect of Mental Health Parity on Children’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service Utilization in Massachusetts
Director of Research and Analytics
American Medical Group Association Foundation, Alexandria, VA

Janet Coffman PhD
All Capitated Systems are not Alike: Effects of Organizational Structure, Culture, and Climate on Medicaid Recipients Use of Inpatient Psychiatric Care
Professor of Health Policy
Institute for Health Policy Studies, UC San Francisco

Carrie Hoverman Colla PhD.
Effects of the San Francisco Employer Health Spending Mandate
Associate Professor of Health Economics
Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover NH

Jan Cooper PhD
Money, Sex, and Power – An Analysis of Relationship Power in the Context of Conditional Cash Transfer Interventions to Reduce Risky Sex in Tanzania
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cash Transfers for Child Health Initiative
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

Alison Evans Cuellar PhD
Changing Markets and Hospital: Managed Care, Horizontal Integration and Vertical Alignment
Professor of Health Administration and Policy
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Julie Dang PhD
Two Shots to Cancer Prevention: Improving the Uptake of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine among Preadolescent Patients of a Primary Care Network
Director of Community Engagement and Outreach
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Ebbin Dotson PhD
The Business Case for Leadership Diversity in Health Care
Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Janelle Downing, PhD, MS
Foreclosures and Health
Assistant Professor of Health Services Policy & Management
Arnold School of Public Health
University of South Carolina

April Falconi PhD, MPH
Perimenopause as a Sensitive Period for Women’s Health and Aging: A Review of the Chronic Disease Literature and Two Empirical Tests of Significance
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Stanford University School of Medicine

Kevin Feeney PhD
Essays on Cash Transfers and Health
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dept of Economics, University of Southern California

Sara Fernandes-Taylor PhD
Provider Communication, Self-Reported Health, and Post-Treatment Regret among Young Breast Cancer Survivors
Associate Scientist
Department of Surgery
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine

Robin Flagg PhD
Governor Decision Making: Expansion of Medicaid Under the Affordable Care Act
Lecturer, Division of Health Policy and Management
University of California, Berkeley

Vicki Fung PhD
The Effects of Losing Brand-Name Drug Coverage: Changes in Use of Inhaled Steroids and Clinical Outcomes Among Medicare Beneficiaries with Asthma
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mongan Institute for Health Policy
Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA

Daniel Gentry PhD
Organizational Bureacracy, Legitimacy, and “Thrival”: A Study of the Response by AIDS Service Organizations in Twenty California Counties to the Ryan White CARE Act of 1990
Clinical Professor and Director, Master of Health Administration (MHA) Program
Department of Health Management and Policy
University of Iowa College of Public Health

Mita Giacomini PhD
The Equity of ‘Implicit Rationing’ for Medical High Technology: A Study of Access to Inpatient Procedures in California
Professor Emeritus
Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis
McMaster University, Ontario, Canada

Gabrielle Goldstein, J.D. PhD
A Market for Ethics
Nixon Peabody LLP
San Francisco, CA

Julia Goodman PhD, MPH
Three Essays on Maternity Leave Policies, Utilization and Consequences
Assistant Professor of Public Administration
Mark O. Hatfield School of Government
Portland State University

Ilana Graetz PhD
The Impact of EHR and Teamwork on Care Transitions and Patient Outcomes
Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management
Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Chaoran Guo PhD
Social Learning in Health Insurance Choices: Evidence from Employer-Sponsored Health Plans
Assistant Professor of Economics
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Courtnee Hamity PhD
Social Influence and Innovation Adoption in the Clinical Setting
Principal Evaluation Consultant
Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute

Zoë K. Harris PhD
Private Health Insurance Sponsored Wellness Programs:  Examining Participation in the Healthy Lifestyle Rewards Financial Incentives Program on Health Care Costs, Utilization, and Risk Behaviors
Group Product Manager – Hematology Marketing, Genentech BioOncology
Genentech, So San Francisco, CA

Thomas Huber PhD
The Role of Micro and Macro Level Organizational Coordination in Accountable Care Organizations
Assistant Professor of Health Services Management and Policy
The Ohio State University

Dorothy Hung PhD
Behavioral Preventive Service Delivery, Productivity, and Staff Turnover in Primary Care Practices: The Role of Participation in Decision Making and the Chronic Care Model
Associate Scientist, Health Policy Research
Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute

Vanessa Hurley PhD
Collaborative Learning among Health Care Practice and Systems to Improve Patient-Centered Care
Assistant Professor of Health Systems Administration
Georgetown University

Jenny Hyun PhD
Person-Centered Care Program Philosophy in Capitated Community Mental Health Centers in Colorado
Senior Program Manager, Business Intelligence
MedAmerica, Emeryville, CA

Jennifer K. Ibrahim PhD
State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Dependence Treatments: Implications for a Federal Mandate
Associate Professor
Temple University, Philadelphia PA

Jae Kennedy PhD
Americans Needing Assistance with Activities of Daily Living: Current Estimates and Policy Implications
Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy and Administration
Washington State University, Spokane WA

Heather Knauer, PhD
Post Doctoral Fellow and LEO Adjunct Assistant Professor
School of Social Work
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Susan Lehrman PhD
Hospitals’ Participation in the Nursing Home Market
Dean, Rohrer College of Business
Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey

Jing Li PhD
Altruism and Efficiency Preferences of U.S Medical Students and their Expected Specialty Choice
Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Economics
Weill Cornell Medicine
Cornell University

Rui Li PhD
Effect of Financial Incentives on Physician Productivity in Medical Groups
Senior Economist, Division of Reproductive Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta GA

Michael Lin PhD
Nursing Home Quality: Structure and Strategy
Chief Scientific Officer, Providigm

Jenny Liu PhD
Healthy Time, Home Production, and Labor Supply: The Effect of Health Shocks on Time Use within Chinese Households during Economic Transition
Assistant Professor of Health Economics
School of Nursing
University of California, San Francisco

Martin Marciniak PhD
Too Good to Be True? The Effect of Nicotine Replacement Therapy on an Individual’s Ability to Quit Smoking
Vice President, US Health Outcomes
GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle NC

Soledad Martinez PhD
Income, Health Insurance Type and the Quality of Primary Care Systems in Chile: Effects on Health Outcomes and Utilization of Services
Assistant Professor
School of Public Health at Universidad de Chile, Santiago Chile

Jill Marsteller PhD
The Relationship between Non-Racial Diversity in Team Composition and Performance and Creativity in a Chronic Illness Care Quality Improvement Intervention
Professor, Health Policy and Management
Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University, Baltimore MD

Peter Martelli PhD
An Argument for Knowledge Variety in Evidence-Based Management
Assistant Professor of Healthcare Administration
Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University, Boston, MA

Sean McClellan PhD
When does Adoption of Health Information Technology by Physician Practices Lead to Use by Physicians within the Practice?
Health Policy Researcher
Abt and Associates, Boston, MA

Rodney K. McCurdy PhD, MHA
Network Influence on Chronic Illness Care in Large Physician Organization:  A Study of the California Managed Care Network in 2001 and 2006
Assistant Professor of Health Administration
School of Health Sciences
Eastern Michigan University

Kathryn McDonald PhD, MBA
Ambulatory Care Organizations: Improving Diagnosis
Director, Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research
Stanford University

Sara McMenamin PhD
Organizational Support for Smoking Cessation Interventions in Physician Organizations
Assistant Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of California, San Diego

Angela Merrill PhD
Subjective Expectations of Nursing Home Use, Medicaid, and Economic Behavior by Older Americans
Senior Researcher
Mathematica Policy Research, Cambridge MA

Eric Nauenberg PhD
Air Pollution and Hospitalization for Asthma in Los Angeles County: Economic and Policy Implications
Senior Health Economics Coordinator/Associate Professor of Health Economics
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care/Dept of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Canada

Michael Ong, M.D. PhD
The Effects of Regulatory Change on the Safety of Pharmaceutical Innovations
Professor in Residence, Division of GIM & HSR
Department of Medicine, UCLA and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles CA

Laura Packel PhD.
Who Changes How: Strategies and Motivation for Risk Reduction Behaviors in the Context of an Economic-based HIV Prevention Intervention in Tanzania
Epidemiology and Clinical Sciences Program Officer, HIV/AIDS & Tobacco-Related Research Programs
University of California Office of the President

Mary Paterson PhD
Financial Status of Retiree Caregivers: An Analysis of the Asset Structure of the Retiree Caregiver
Professor Emeritus, School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America, Washington DC

Krista Perreira PhD
Exits, Recidivism, and Caseload Growth: The Effect of Private Health Insurance Markets on the Demand for Medicaid
Professor of Health Economics
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine

Dana Petersen PhD
Social Capital, Social Support, and Quality of Life among Long-Term Breast Cancer Survivors
Senior Researcher
Mathematic Policy Research, Oakland CA

Kathryn Phillips PhD
Public Policy and Screening: The Influence of State Policies on Utilization of Human Autoimmunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Screening
Professor of Health Economics and Health Services Research
UCSF School of Pharmacy, San Francisco CA

Alexis Pozen PhD
Price Variation for Colonoscopy in a Commercially Insured Population
Assistant Professor
City University of New York School of Public Health, New York NY

Brian Quinn PhD
The Effect of Community-Level Unemployment On Preventive Oral Health Care Utilization
Assistant Vice President, Research-Evaluation-Learning
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton NJ

Julie Schmittdiel PhD
The Effect on Primary Health Care Orientation on Chronic Care Management
Research Scientist
Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland CA

John Schneider PhD
Regulation and Regulatory Reform in the U.S. Hospital Industry, 1980-1996
CEO and Founder
Avalon Health Economics, Morristown NJ

Neil J. Sehgal PhD, MPH
Social Influences on Healthcare Outcomes in a Major Academic Medical Center
Assistant Professor of Health Services Administration
University of Maryland, College Park

Tetine Sentell PhD
Literacy, Health, and Health Services Use in a Nationally Representative Sample
Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management
University of Hawaii, Manoa

Gordon Shen PhD, S.M.
Global Mental Health Policy Diffusion, Institutionalization, and Innovation
Independent Consultant

Patsi Sinnott PhD
Administrative Delay and Secondary Disability Following Acute Occupational Low Back Injury
VP Clinical Operations and Account Management
Cave Consulting Group
San Mateo, CA

Timothy Snail PhD
The Effects of Hospital Contracting for Physician Services on Hospital Performance
Vice President, Charles River Associates
Boston, MA

Sean Sullivan PhD
The Demand for Prescription Drugs in Elderly Americans
Dean and Professor of Health Economics
School of Pharmacy, University of Washington

John Troidl PhD
Effects of Capitated Reimbursement on Costs, Productivity, and Staffing at Community Health Centers
Consultant, Health Services Management

Yi-Wen Tsai PhD
Cigarette Taxation, National Health Insurance
Associate Professor, Institute of Health and Welfare Policy
National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan

Lauren van der Walt PhD
Increasing Women’s Access to Information about Safe Abortion Methods through Local and Global Hotlines
Vice President, Women’s Health
Venture Strategies for Health and Development
Berkeley, CA

Megan Vanneman PhD
Consequences of Devolution: Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Equity in California’s County-based Public Mental Health Care System
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Population Health Sciences
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Todd Wagner PhD
The Economics of Consumer Health Information
Health Economist and Associate Director
Health Economics Resource Center
Department of Veterans Affairs, Menlo Park CA

Zach Wagner-Rubin PhD
Community Health Workers to Increase Use of ORS and Zinc to Treat Child Diarrhea in Uganda: A Cluster Randomized Trial
Associate Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation
Santa Monica, CA

Neal Wallace PhD
A Production Function Approach to Mental Health Service Coordination in California’s Publicly Financed Mental Health System
Professor of Public Administration
Mark O. Hatfield School of Government
Portland State University

Jessica Watterson PhD
Influences on the Effectiveness of Health Information Technology Innovations in Primary Health Care
Senior Design Researcher
IDEO, Palo Alto, CA

Christopher M. Whaley PhD
The Effects of Consumer Information and Cost-Sharing on Healthcare Prices
Associate Policy Researcher
RAND Corporation
Assistant Adjunct Professor of Health Policy and Management
University of California, Berkeley

Justin White PhD
A Team-Based Behavioral Economics Experiment on Smoking Cessation
Assistant Professor of Health Economics
UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF School of Medicine

Frances Wu PhD
The Role of Health Information Technology in Early Accountable Care Organizations in the U.S.
Joint Postdoctoral Fellow, Health Services Research, VA Palo Alto &
Center for Primary Care Outcomes Research, Stanford CA

Jill Yegian PhD
Politics, Economics, and Organizational Innovation in the Small Group Market for Health Insurance
Independent Consultant, Yegian Consulting

Myoungsoon You PhD
Determinants of Risk Perception among Women With a Family History of Breast Cancer
Assistant Professor
Seoul National University, Korea