PhD in Health Policy

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PhD in Health Policy

Health Economics & Decision Sciences

To Our Prospective Students and Trainees:

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent police killings of Black individuals have once again shone a light on the deep-rooted social and racial injustices in our society. Stanford Health Policy is committed to doing our part to contribute to a more equitable and just society. We recognize that both the unequal health impacts of the pandemic and the trauma of racism and racial violence constitute significant public health problems, and we hope prospective students from diverse backgrounds consider joining  our program to help us continue to make important contributions in health policy to address these and many other problems of our day. 

To this end, Stanford Health Policy reaffirms its commitment to perform individualized, holistic review of each applicant to its graduate programs. We recognize that students may have faced significant challenges during the period of disruption caused by the pandemic, racial violence, and police brutality. We will take individual circumstances into account during application review. Importantly, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Credit/No Credit and other grading options during this unprecedented time, whether they are made by institutions or by individual students. Our goal remains to form graduate student cohorts that are excellent and encompass a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences that enrich the graduate educational experience.  The application requirements for the Academic Year 2021-22 will be finalized later this summer and the application will open in September 2020.

Additionally, as a program linked with the Stanford Biosciences Programs, we support the Biosciences Commitment to Justice and Action and, where appropriate, will connect and participate in the activities offered in the statement.


Stanford Health Policy offers a PhD program which promises to educate students who will be scholarly leaders in the field of health policy, and will be highly knowledgeable about the theoretical and empirical approaches that can be applied in the development of improvements in health policy and the health care system. The curriculum offers courses across a wide range of health policy areas including health economics, health insurance and government program operation, health financing, international health policy and economic development, cost-effectiveness analysis and the evaluation of new technologies, relevant statistical and methodological approaches, and health policy issues related to public health concerns like obesity and chronic disease. In addition to taking a set of core courses, students are expected to complete coursework in one of two tracks:

1. Health Economics - including the economic behavior of individuals, providers, insurers, and governments and how their actions affect health and medical care,
2. Decision Sciences - with quantitative techniques to assess the effectiveness and value of medical treatments and for decision making about medical care at the individual and/or collective level.



Academic advising by our faculty is a critical component of our graduate students' education.

All matriculating students will be assigned a faculty advisor from the group of CORE FACULTY to help them design their academic program. Students will remain with this advisor until the time that they have developed other arrangements for advising.

Advisors will meet with students within the first quarter of each year to discuss students' Individual Development Plan(s) (IDPs).  Additionally, students will meet with their advisor(s) on a regular basis throughout each year to discuss course selection, development of research projects, and career plans.

Academic progress and student completion of program requirements and milestones are monitored by the program staff and directors and discussed at quarterly meetings of all PhD advisors.

Students are expected to identify a group of normally 3 thesis advisors before or, at the latest, shortly after the time that they advance to candidacy for the degree. This group will consist of one primary and two secondary advisors, who may or may not be the same as the initially assigned faculty advisor. The primary advisor must be from the group of core faculty, unless specific approval of the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE is obtained. Such approval would not be routinely granted. However, in rare cases, it may be optimal for a student’s progress to implement a co-primary mentor arrangement, in which a core faculty member from health policy and another faculty member from outside the core faculty jointly serve as primary mentors. This arrangement might occur in rare circumstances with students seeking to integrate areas of science into their policy training that are outside the expertise of the core faculty.

Secondary advisors will normally be expected to come from the core faculty, but could include faculty from outside the core group upon approval of the executive committee. Students will be encouraged to seek advisors with complementary expertise as needed, and the Director of Graduate Studies and executive committee will monitor advising arrangements to ensure that students receive adequate supervision.


Though circumstances may be different from one student to another, we anticipate being able to provide and/or help students obtain financial support for the first four years of the program. However, non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. Permanent Residents are ineligible for our largest pool of funds, and prospects for funding their studies through our program are therefore significantly more limited. Applicants who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents are strongly encouraged to apply for other funding, such as the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program (see below) and external fellowships.

Full funding to Stanford graduate students from all disciplines, including the PhD in Health Policy, is also available through the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. Apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 14, 2020.


Commitment to Diversity

The Stanford University School of Medicine and the Health Policy Program are committed to fostering a diverse community in which all individuals are welcomed, respected, and supported to achieve their full potential.  While race and ethnicity are commonly cited in relation to diversity, we recognize that there are many different aspects to identity, including culture socioeconomic and educational background, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, life experiences, hobbies, and interests.  We value diversity because we believe that interaction with people with unique backgrounds and life experiences allows us to reach a greater level of innovation in education, research and clinical care.

The program works with multiple groups and offices across campus to facilitate student access, support, and connectivity.  These include, but are not limited to:

Stanford Biosciences:

Stanford Diversity and Access Office: 

Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education:

Stanford Office of Accessible Education:

Stanford Graduate Life Office:

Stanford Student Affairs: