Health Services Organization and Policy PhD Program

2019 HSOP cohort

The Health Services Organization and Policy (HSOP) Program is the HMP doctoral program leading to a PhD and prepares students for careers in research, teaching, and policy analysis in health services and policy.

The program's primary objective is to provide students with the conceptual and analytic skills to address a broad spectrum of health services and policy issues. These issues range from the balance between equity, efficiency, and political feasibility in forming social policy to technical considerations in the organization, financing, use, and evaluation of health services. The scope of our programs includes not only personal health services ("healthcare") but also the broader context of factors that influence health ("public health").

While strongly oriented toward applied research, the program is firmly based in scientific theory and methods. Understanding and analysis of technical problems and policy issues in health services and policy require a commitment to scientific inquiry within a rigorous framework. The program considers the key bodies of theory for HSOP study to be the social sciences including economics, sociology, organizational studies (in Ross Business School) (in College of Literature, Science, and the Arts), political science, finance, and operations research/decision science. The application of such theory requires the use of advanced methods in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data. The HSOP Program, therefore, is designed to integrate a thorough knowledge of health services and policy, a sound understanding of a theoretical discipline, and a mastery of advanced research methods.



The HSOP program draws on the expertise of the HMP faculty and the university at large. With backgrounds in public health, medicine, operations research, law, and finance, among other disciplines, our department faculty have national and global reputations. Faculty experts are teaching and researching in areas such as health insurance, healthcare finance, nursing home care, and home healthcare, organizational analysis of hospitals, the physician workforce, HMOs and managed care, quality of care, legal issues in a managed care world, tobacco policy, and women's health. Please visit the HMP faculty profiles to learn more about individual research areas.


Guided research is an important component of the HSOP program. Students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on a variety of cutting-edge health services research, and health policy projects including tobacco policy, managed care, women's health, and long-term care.

Students also participate in WIDTH (Workshop for Integrating and Discussing Topics in Healthcare), an interdisciplinary forum for doctoral students to discuss their dissertation topics, research ideas, and results with other students and faculty with similar interests in health services research but different cognate training/perspectives.


About two-thirds of all HSOP graduates find careers in academic institutions, either as faculty or as researchers.
Those not in academia generally work in federal and state government agencies or in the private sector in nonprofit research organizations, healthcare delivery organizations, and consulting groups. Recent HSOP alumni currently include:

  • Faculty and researchers at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, University of North Carolina, Cornell University, Duke, Penn State, University of Washington, University of Illinois at Chicago, Trinity University, University of Kentucky, University of Iowa, University of Florida, and Taiwan University.
  • Researchers in organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, the Henry Ford Healthcare System, the VA, and other professional organizations.
  • Policy analysts in federal and state governments.
  • Researchers in contract research firms such as RAND, Medstat, Mathematica, and Abt Associates, Inc.

In short, the market for University of Michigan HSOP graduates has historically been strong, and current evidence indicates a continued high demand for graduates of the program.

Program History

The Doctoral Program in Health Services Organization and Policy 1919-2019: Executive Summary


We will only be able to review completed applications. You must also be sure to indicate the intended cognate you are applying for on your application. Since transcripts and test scores may take several weeks to arrive, it is highly recommended that you apply early. Admitted applicants are typically notified about their admission in February. Admitted applicants will be invited to come to a visit day in March, where they will have an opportunity to meet with faculty and students.

Funding and Financial Aid Information

Funding directly through the HSOP doctoral program is available, and there are also many funding opportunities for PhD students with the Rackham Graduate School and throughout the university. The majority of our PhD students have one (or more) of these funding packages, and nearly all of our students have full funding throughout the course of their PhD career.

  • Fellowships: The Rackham Fellowship Office has information about fellowships available through the Graduate School as well as information on many fellowships funded by external sources.
  • Research Positions: Research assistantships on funded projects within HMP and affiliated projects are often available. Students typically seek out such opportunities with faculty mentors, and can find assistantships working on projects related to their own research interests.
  • Graduate Student Instructor (GSI): GSI positions (also known as TA or teaching assistantship positions) are typically available in a wide variety of departments with undergraduate programs.
  • Traineeship and Assistantship programs: There are various traineeship and assistantship programs available through both HMP and the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Examples of such programs are:

Most of these funding opportunities cover full tuition and health insurance, and provide a stipend. The HSOP admissions committee attempts to arrange funding for as many incoming students as possible. Decisions are generally announced in late March.

For information on federal financial aid student loan programs please contact The University of Michigan Office of Financial Aid. Non-U.S. citizen applicants are not eligible for most university-based awards including fellowships; such students should seek support from their own governments and agencies. HSOP students both U.S. and international are eligible for GSI and research positions, though these positions are usually attained only after the first year of study.

Questions about the HSOP Program?
Edward Norton
Director of HSOP. Program

Kaitlin Taylor
Program Coordinator