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Health Care Policy Major

Focused on the intersection of health care delivery and policy

Why is studying health care policy important?

The interdisciplinary Health Care Policy curriculum allows you to examine health care from behavioral, cross-cultural, policy, and social perspectives.

Woman sitting in class, blurred classmates in the forefront

Through the Health Care Policy major, you will apply economic, sociological, and demographic theories to understand and explain the development of government policies addressing health care delivery, social determinants of health, and health equity. As professionals and practitioners, leaders and managers, the Health Care Policy major will prepare you to navigate the economic, political, and social landscape of the industry and make smart policy decisions to improve people’s health using evidence and data.


Sample Courses

Economics of Risky Health Behaviors

Economics of Risky Health Behaviors uses an economic approach to study risky health behaviors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, drug use, poor diet, physical inactivity, and self-harm. This course has recently been offered as part of our Cornell in Washington program. 

Health Disparities

Health Disparities examines how health disparities are defined and measured, sources of health disparities, and strategies to reduce health disparities. Students learn the complex factors that influence patterns of disease and health at multiple levels by analyzing studies of health outcomes, the social conditions that are related to the health of populations, and some of the mechanisms through which these patterns are produced.

Pharmaceutical Management and Policy

Pharmaceutical Management and Policy provides an overview of the management and policy issues facing the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. This course perspective is global, with an emphasis on the U.S. as the largest and most profitable market.

The US Health Care System

The US Health Care System studies the stakeholders of the US health care system and how they interact. The course examines the role of medical care in improving health and the costs and benefits of new medical technologies. Also addressed: the objectives and behavior of key stakeholders: patients, employers, and taxpayers who pay for health care; private and public (i.e., Medicare and Medicaid) health insurers who manage the funds; hospitals, physicians, and other health care professionals who provide medical care; and pharmaceutical and medical device firms that supply products used by providers.


With the options to serve as a research assistant, or conduct your own independent research, as a health care policy student,  you have access to a breadth of research opportunities within the Brooks School and across campus. 


Tripathi student photo

My experience as a policy analyst for the Healthcare Center of the Cornell Roosevelt Institute has allowed me to use the skills I learned in my policy courses to develop solutions to real world policy issues.

– Vidushi Tripathi

Student Research Examples

  • Economic and policy analysis as part of a biomedical engineering team studying the development of an at home pancreatic cancer test
  • A Roosevelt Institute policy analysis on the case for over-the counter oral contraceptives 
  • An original honors thesis entitled “The Association of Socioeconomic Status With COVID-19 Health Outcomes among Disadvantaged Populations in the Bronx, NY”
  • A demographic analysis of racial disparities in maternal health care and mortality rates

Professional Pathways

The major prepares students to lead in careers in health care and health policy analysis. Many health care policy graduates go on to pursue graduate education through medical school or professional masters programs in health administration or public health, while others accept employment in the field of health policy and management.


Internship Examples

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • New York-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Novartis’ Ethics, Risk, and Compliance Policy Internship Program
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Weill Cornell Medicine COVID-19 Education and Empowerment Internship Program

Early-Career Paths Have Included

  • Clinical Administration Analyst, University of California, San Francisco
  • Clinical Research Coordinator, Mount Sinai Health System
  • Finance and Operations Management Associate, Northwell Health
  • Fulbright Researcher in Lusaka Zambia
  • Health Care Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Research Assistant, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission