The Health Policy Concentration provides an overview of health care systems and in-depth understanding of economic, sociological and political forces that shape health care systems in the U.S. and other countries. This concentration prepares MPP graduates to assume stimulating and substantive positions in all levels of government, in private sector companies, and in not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations as well as foundations.



Alumni hold key positions in state and federal Medicaid offices and health and human services departments. Alumni are policy analysts in major national and international consulting firms that analyze the effects of public policies, such as the expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act or the cost-effectiveness of new pharmaceuticals.



You can choose from courses that focus on policies and issues related to health care outcomes and the financing, organization and delivery of health care. Courses that fulfill the health policy concentration augment MPP core courses.



Choose from Sanford courses, or courses from Duke's Margolis Center for Health Policy, the Fuqua School of Business, Duke Law and the College of Arts and Sciences. Tailor your courses to match you interests.

Students can benefit from

Experts include nationally recognized leaders in the health sector – such as the Margolis Center for Health Policy, the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, Fuqua School of Business, Duke Law School, the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke Global Health Institute, Nicholas School of the Environment, the Social Science Research Institute, and Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Faculty includes professors of the practice with years of experience engaged in health policy and research professors with years of experience in health services research and health policy research.

Visitors include those at the national and state levels of government as well as policymakers from international organizations such as the World Bank, and leaders of health-focused foundations and NGOs.

Dr. Jim Yong Kim looking into the camera outside of the Sanford School
Former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the Sanford School.

New Knowledge and Skills

  • Understanding of health and healthcare policy stakeholders
  • Analysis of the history and contemporary application of enduring principles and values, such as roles and oversight of hospitals and healthcare providers
  • Economic and political impacts of public health and health promotion, economic prosperity, regulation/deregulation, and social care
  • Understanding of factors related to sickness and death.
  • Knowledge of public health insurance programs
  • Connections between health and the environment
  • Core courses in health economics, ethics, policy analysis, statistics
  • Projects with real-world clients
  • Practical skills in research methods, data analyses and more

Heath Policy Issues students might focus on

  • Markets within the U.S. health care sector (e.g., hospitals, insurance) and how they interact with private payers
  • Social factors that underlie racial-ethnic and economic disparities in health outcomes and access to health care
  • Political factors involved in achieving changes in American health policies
  • Medical decision making involving interactions among payers (public and private), providers, and producers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices
  • Health care in developing economies 
  • The role of government in a time of great uncertainty (like a pandemic)

The health policy concentration provides opportunities for students to work in small groups to conduct policy analyses of a variety of health issues confronting real clients.    

Policy Concentration Advisor

Nathan Adam Boucher

Nathan Adam Boucher

Associate Research Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy

I am a Research Health Scientist at Durham VA Health System’s Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) and Duke University faculty at Sanford School of Public Policy, the Medical School, and the Nursing School. I am also a Senior Fellow at the Duke Center for the Study of Aging & Human Development as well as Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy Core Faculty. 

I have extensive experience in clinical medicine (licensed physician assistant in critical care and emergency medicine), health care administration, health professions education, hospice and palliative care quality improvement, and community-based research. Challenges and opportunities at the intersection of social care and health care inform my research agenda. My collaborations across disciplines at VA and Duke and with community organizations have afforded me deep insights into the lives and challenges of community members and family/friend care partners.

My research has been funded by Veterans Administration, NIH, Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services, several foundations, and Duke University. Recent research includes 1) describing care partners’ social and health needs related to caring for older adults re-entering the community from prison; 2) designing and testing community health worker programs focused on older adults; 3) characterizing concerns care partners and people living with dementia have regarding the quality of care settings as well as emerging technologies; 4) systems approaches to homelessness among Veterans, and 5) defining and realigning training and employment for NC direct care workers serving in home- and community-based services.

Let's collaborate:

Policy Concentration Advisor

Donald H. Taylor

Donald H. Taylor

Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy

Don Taylor is a health policy scholar who has studied rural health, identification of underserved areas, and the economics of smoking and cessation. For the past 20 years his work has focused on how society cares for the elderly and to what effect on individuals, families, public programs and inter-generational wealth. More recently he has focused on archival research methods that help to illustrate the role of Race in our history—individual, institutional, national. An emerging interest is consideration of how visual art and fiction might be more effective at making inequality of various types unacceptable culturally in a way that is more effective than data based and more traditional public policy-based appeals. All three of his degrees (Ph.D., Public Health, Health Policy and Management, 1995) are from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Taylor serves as the Director of the Social Science Research Institute (since 2019) and served two years as the elected leader of the Duke Faculty in the role of the Chair of the Academic Council (2017-19).


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Student Story

Ari Panzer MPP'23 had an early interest in healthcare after interacting with the system growing up.  Throughout his undergraduate studies, Ari became interested in understanding gaps in the U.S. healthcare system and how the system perpetuates health inequities. He hopes to use his graduate degree (MPP with a focus on health policy) to improve individuals’ experiences with healthcare. 

Read Ari's story

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