Health Policy at Heller

Extending health care globally.
Stemming the spread of HIV.
Investigating ways to provide affordable care.

Inefficiencies and disparities in global health care systems are rampant—they wait for knowledgeable minds and skilled professionals to tackle the challenges—whether in Port-au-Prince or Chicago, Cape Town or Biloxi. The Heller School's preeminent health care faculty and advanced students provide the perfect learning environment to not only tackle and reform health care services and payment systems, but also to tackle health care disparities.

In the 21st century, U.S. health care alone is a $2.8 trillion dollar industry and is expected to grow. Health care persists as a top concern domestically and globally and there is a continual need for top health care policy and management experts. 

The next generation of leaders in health

As a top ten school of social policy (U.S. News and World Report), the Heller School provides access to the nation’s leading policy analysts and top research institutes. Heller’s Schneider Institutes for Health Policy include the Institute on Healthcare Systems, the Institute for Behavioral Health, and the Institute for Global Health and Development. Never before have the opportunities to shape health policy—from financing management and delivery to care and quality—been so urgent or plentiful.

Core values drive scholarship

Since Heller became the first graduate school at Brandeis University in 1959, it has reflected the University’s core values: rigorous scholarship, interdisciplinary research and strong public engagement. Heller’s interdisciplinary faculty includes economists, political scientists, anthropologists, sociologists, and leaders in management. 

Health at Heller

Health policy and management is one of the Heller School’s major strengths. The scholarly approach to social justice and the value of collaboration allow you to develop your research skills to be a successful researcher, academic or policy expert. Heller’s twenty-one million dollar research portfolio is a reflection of the varied interests of the faculty as well as the scholarly respect from government and private funders. The lion’s share of the research being accomplished at the Heller School is within four broad areas:

  • Health care financing, delivery and technology
  • Behavioral health
  • Health care policy and management
  • Global health and development

But that is only a portion of what is available for students. Within the Schneider Institutes, the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, and the Health Industry Forum all provide robust opportunities for students working arm-in-arm with top health care leaders inside and outside Heller. Opportunities exist externally to work with numerous organizations and issues beyond Brandeis University.

Opportunities for engagement beyond the classroom

The Heller School forums and lectures expand the intellectual offerings well beyond the classroom. At Heller, the Tuesday Talks Series exposes Heller students and faculty to the work of other Heller faculty and researchers outside of one's own area. Each year the series includes six presentations; the Celebrate Heller Authors Series includes faculty and students talking about their recent publications; and a rich array of health care leaders in the field, such as Kimberle Crenshaw, visit the Heller School to discuss groundbreaking approaches such as using an intersectionality lens to eliminate flaws of racial and gender bias; legal scholars discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling on health care and advocates and policy experts debate legislation such as the Affordable Care Act. Beyond the usual array of visiting scholars and public intellectuals, the Heller School is home to organizations such as the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum. The Forum sponsors programs including:

  • Impact of the Presidential Election on Health Policy 2012
  • Overweight and Obesity in Massachusetts: A Focus on Physical Activity
  • Beyond Parity: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care under Payment and Delivery System Reform
  • Healthy Aging in Massachusetts

The opportunities for students to engage and network with leading scholars in their field, whether they are Heller faculty or experts in government, law, hospitals, or community health centers, are numerous.

Careers for those concentrating in health

What kinds of career choices really make a difference? What skills do you need to succeed? Students enroll at Heller for an interdisciplinary education that aligns scholarship, research and organizational skills that can be applied to influencing policy and practice. The interdisciplinary applied approach has always been the hallmark of the Heller School. Heller faculty are not only dedicated teachers, but also researchers and scholars deeply involved in shaping local, national and international health policy and programs. From our faculty and alumni, a vibrant insider perspective awaits you—and those connections become your lifelong connections.

Students come to Heller because of our collaborative and interdisciplinary style, the personal attention by faculty, our huge research enterprise, all of which promote leading careers in health services research, health care delivery and management, academia, government and foundations. Students concentrating in health leave with a global alumni network, a lifelong network and a skill base that makes them sought after by employers.  The Heller School’s strength translates into reputation and the skills acquired boost our graduates’ ability to lead and innovate in today’s complex health care settings…and to make lasting change.

If you have a passion for social justice—and it’s in your DNA, too—and you would enjoy working alongside a dedicated and influential faculty and you want to be part of a diverse and intellectual learning community committed to actionable ideas, consider joining us for one of our many degrees with a health care concentration or focus:

PhD in Social Policy



MS in International Health Policy and Management

Health Careers of Heller Alumni

  • Health Policy Analysts, Abt Associates
  • CEO of the Red Cross, Puerto Rico Chapter
  • Professor, Department of Health Management, Ben Gurion University
  • Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boston, MA
  • Boston Dialysis Center, Clinical Manager
  • Manager, Business Development, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis
  • Boston Public Health Commission, Director
  • Executive Director, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Investigator, Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research, Brown University, RI
  • Administrator, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
  • Global Health Research Center of Central Asia, Columbia University, NY
  • Researcher,  Competitive Health Analytics, Inc., Louisville, KY
  • Director, Office of Minority Health, DHHS, Rockville, MD
  • Regional Administrator, DHHS, San Francisco, CA
  • Director of Research, Detroit (MI) Department of Health and Wellness Promotion
  • Professional Geriatric Care Manager, Elder Care Connection, Bloomington, IN
  • Associate Consultant, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN
  • Futures Group International, Data Demand and Use Specialist, Washington, DC
  • Director, Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Principal and Vice President, Health Data & Management Solutions, Chicago, IL
  • President and CEO, Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Policy Advocacy, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, New Delhi, India
  • Associate Director, John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition
  • Executive Director, Lana’I Community Health Center, HI
  • Project Coordinator, Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Director of Government Affairs, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Public Health Policy Analyst, National Governors Association
  • Chief Operating Officer, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professions
  • Mayoral Advisor, Health and Human Services, Boston, MA
  • National Genome Research Institute, Program Director
  • National Institute on Minority Health, Legislative Liaison, Bethesda, MD
  • COO, Partners Health Care, Boston, MA
  • Director, Prevention of Mental Retardation, New Jersey Dept. of Human Services
  • Field Coordinator, Health and Life Sciences Network of STEM Schools, Durham, NC
  • Pew Charitable Trust, Pew Children’s Dental Campaign, Manager, Washington, DC
  • Dean, School of Nursing and Health Professions, Regis College, Weston, MA
  • Sangre de Cristo Community Health Partnership, Executive Director, Santa Fe, NM
  • United States Air Force, Hospital Administration, Lackland AFB, TX
  • UNICEF, Philippines, Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation
  • University of Colorado School of Medicine, Director and Professor, Center for Advancing Professional Excellence, Aurora, CO
  • University of Central Florida, Dean, Health and Public Affairs, Orlando, FL
  • USAID Pakistan, Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Deputy Director
  • Worcester Healthy Start Initiative, Program Director, Worcester, MA
  • Brickwork Ratings, Health Care Research, Research Analyst, Bangalore

Institute on Healthcare Systems

The Institute on Healthcare Systems (IHS) is dedicated to bringing greater knowledge to both private and public policy makers.  This is accomplished through state and national forums, short-term policy studies and research using advanced study designs and analytics.  Our broad expertise on payment options, delivery systems, patient care practices, and quality has allowed us to develop real world organizational solutions, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Institute for Behavioral Health

The Institute for Behavioral Health (IBH) focuses on the intersection of health, behavior, and systems of care, with an emphasis on their linkages.  Its underlying premise is that these systems can be better used to promote healthier lifestyles and assist individuals to engage in behaviors which lead to better health.

Institute for Global Health and Development

The Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD) seeks to bring the best research to leaders and policy makers to achieve results at scale with a focus on the poor and social justice.  IGHD does direct government advising, policy-relevant research and evaluation, and advocacy to impact policy making in partnership with like-minded institutions in the U.S., the international community and the developing world.

Stuart Altman

Heller faculty and research staff have been intensely involved in formulating government policy to expand coverage and improve the quality and efficiency of the U.S. health care system since the late 1970s. We have trained scores of students who have been in the forefront of implementing new programs to improve our health and mental health systems.

Altman was recently appointed to head up the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission.