Future Students

The Health Policy PhD program is delivered within a unique interdisciplinary environment that integrates education, research, and policy service resources from a wide range of University departments, research centres and programs throughout McMaster. The educational experience features:

  • Quality supervision and mentorship by internationally distinguished faculty members, with active programs in health policy research and engagement with a broad range of health system leaders and organizations to inform policy making;
  • Diverse, interdisciplinary students who share a common focus on addressing current health policy problems from a variety of perspectives, with opportunities for interaction, mutual learning, and network building; and,
  • Rich intellectual hubs of activity in the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis (CHEPA), the McMaster Health Forum, and Health Economics at McMaster (HEAM) including seminars, workshops, student funding support, and many other resources for collaboration and learning.

Through learning opportunities, both in and out of the classroom, students gain the skills and experience needed to effectively engage with individuals and organizations to identify, understand and address health policy challenges at the local, national or global level. The curriculum provides theory and empirical methods for framing, investigating, and answering crucial questions about health policy. 

Specialty Fields

The Health Policy PhD program is unique in that students gain knowledge in three distinct fields - health economics, political studies and health systems & society. All students specialize in one field, and achieve breadth knowledge in the other two fields. The three fields are described below.

Health Economics

The economics field addresses the economic analysis of health policies and health systems, as well as the economic analysis of responses to health policies. Topics may include, for example, health resource allocation, configuration of health human resources, economic evaluation of policy options, public and private financing of health care, societal investments in health production, etc. The dominant disciplinary perspective is that of microeconomics, but insight into economic behaviour may also be provided by perspectives such as business, psychology, and others.



Political Studies

The political studies field emphasizes the political aspects of health policy including the influences by political institutions, actors, values, and ideas operating within state and global jurisdictions. Topics of interest may include the role of historical institutional arrangements in shaping health governance reforms, the impact of global trade agreements on domestic home care and pharmaceutical policy, the role of the public, stakeholders, and prevailing values on policy agendas, etc. Political science is the dominant disciplinary perspective, with related areas including, for example, public policy analysis and administration, comparative public policy, law, ethics, political theory and philosophy.


Health Systems & Society

The health systems & society field emphasizes the analysis of the social influences that shape the production of health (and illness), the organization of health services and systems, and their associated policies. Topics of interest, for example, may include the generation and use of information to inform policy, political economies of health and its production, policies to address the social determinants of health and professional roles and behaviour, etc. Relevant disciplinary perspectives include anthropology, business administration or management, health systems, history, ethics, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology.




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