Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy

PhD Social Policy Concentrations

Tatjana Meschede teaching

All Heller PhD students are required to select a policy concentration that enables them to develop a deeper expertise in a particular arena: Health; Behavioral Health; Economic and Racial Equity; or Children, Youth, and Families. In each of these, faculty resources and research centers of the Heller School are used to enrich the academic environment and also provide opportunities for students to work on research, outside practical training (funded or not), and broaden their career network. Policy is becoming increasingly complex and understanding the language, research, organizations and leaders in a particular area is essential to maximizing one's impact.

PhD in Social Policy - Health Policy

The Heller School, ranked #11 for health policy and management, offers a top-tier health policy PhD preparing graduates for impactful careers in research and policies that shape healthcare quality, accessibility, and delivery globally. PhD in Health Policy Concentration students are equipped with analytical skills to navigate the complexities of the U.S. healthcare system, addressing challenges such as disparities, unsustainable spending growth, and fragmented delivery systems. 

PhD in Social Policy - Behavioral Health

The Behavioral Health Policy Concentration at the Heller School prepares graduates for research and policy careers, focusing on the intersection of health, behavior, and care systems, with an emphasis on alcohol, drugs, and mental health issues. The PhD in Behavioral Health Policy Concentration delves into health services research, aiming to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of services related to substance use, mental health, and other behaviors. The goal is to inform real-world practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders, with a focus on improving systems, quality, and outcomes, especially for marginalized populations.

PhD in Social Policy - Economic and Racial Equity

The Economic and Racial Equity policy concentration at the Heller School equips students with a theoretical and empirical understanding of social and economic inequities, preparing them for careers in research and policy aimed at addressing and eliminating these disparities. Focused on issues related to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, social class, age, and their impact on various policy domains, graduates assume roles as policy analysts, researchers, educators, program planners, and advocates.

PhD in Social Policy - Children, Youth and Families

The Children, Youth, and Families Policy (CYF) concentration at the Heller School, prepares PhD students for impactful careers in policy development and research focused on maximizing the potential of young people. Addressing changes in family and community dynamics, the concentration emphasizes understanding human development fundamentals, social, political, and economic changes, and innovative system and program design. The CYF concentration supports students through mentoring, formal courses, colloquia, research responsibilities, and faculty interaction.