3 Best MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs – 2024

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you a registered nurse interested in healthcare policy and the law? Have you considered earning a master’s degree in nursing and wish you could combine your interest of healthcare policy with an MSN degree? If so, an MSN in healthcare policy program could be the answer you have been looking for!

In this article, I will answer the question, “What are the best MSN in healthcare policy programs?” by sharing information about the 3 best MSN in healthcare policy programs for 2024. You will find information about how to get into the top programs, what they cost, and the curriculum, including practical training opportunities. I will also share some pros and cons of the programs and give you some insight into earning potential, job outlook, and possible careers.

What Exactly Is the Goal of an MSN in Healthcare Policy Program?

MSN in healthcare policy programs aim to prepare registered nurses with a master’s degree in nursing specializing in healthcare policy. The goal of the programs is to help students understand interactions between social determinants of health and healthcare and to improve the health of diverse populations. Healthcare policy MSN programs will help you expand your knowledge of nursing practices while developing specialty relevant skills to address healthcare issues and advocate for policy changes. The programs help you combine training in business, nursing, and government so you can apply those skills to positively impact your community and society.

When Do MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs Start?

The start dates for MSN in healthcare policy programs are determined by each school, usually based on the number of applicants and available staff to handle the student load. The following are the start dates for the top programs in the nation.

The University of California at San Francisco begins classes for its MSN in healthcare policy program in the fall of each year.

Classes at Regis College begin in the spring and fall semesters each year.

At Liberty University, classes begin three times each year in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

How Many Credits Are There in MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs?

The curriculum for MSN in healthcare policy programs varies somewhat. Most programs require students to complete between 36 and 55 credits. Depending on your previous degree and whether you have transferrable credits, you may need fewer credits.

At UCSF, you will complete 55 credits to earn the MSN in healthcare policy degree.

The curriculum for the MSN in healthcare policy program at Regis College requires completing 39 credits.

Liberty University’s healthcare policy MSN degree program features a 36-credit curriculum.

How Long Are MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs?

MSN in healthcare policy programs can typically be completed in 18 months or less. Some schools may offer a part-time study option, which could extend the time it takes you to graduate. The following are the estimated time requirements for our featured programs.

The program at the University of California at San Francisco takes 15 months or five quarters to complete. The schedule includes two fall quarters and one winter, spring, and summer quarter.

At Regis College, you can earn the MSN in healthcare policy degree in 18 months.

You can complete the program at Liberty University in one and a half years.

How Much Do MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs Cost?

MSN in healthcare policy programs cost between $20,000 and $78,000, on average. Your total out-of-pocket cost for earning your degree through one of these programs will be determined by a few factors. For example, if you have credits from a previous degree, you may be allowed to transfer some of them to your MSN in healthcare policy program. While some schools charge a flat rate for all students, regardless of residency status, others may have different rates for in-state and out-of-state students. Additionally, if you qualify for financial aid, grants, or scholarships, your costs could be reduced.

The University of California at San Francisco calculates student costs based on whether you live in the state or out of state. California residents pay an average of $64,894 for the program. Non-resident students pay approximately $77,139. These cost estimates include tuition, fees, cost of living, books & supplies, and commute costs.

At Regis College, the healthcare policy MSN program costs $1,235 per credit hour. The total tuition is $48,165.

Tuition at Liberty University costs $565 per credit hour. The program requires 36 credits, making the total tuition $20,340.

What Is the Minimum GPA Required to Get Into MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs?

One of the main criteria set by colleges and universities for admission is the minimum grade point average requirement. The nation’s top three MSN in healthcare policy programs featured in this article each require candidates for admission to have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 grading scale from their most recent bachelor’s degree program or a cumulative undergraduate average of 3.0. You may find that some schools use a holistic approach to admission and accept applicants with a lower GPA if other criteria are met, but this is at the school’s discretion.

What Are the Admission Requirements for MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs?

Admission to MSN in healthcare policy programs requires meeting each school's admission criteria. In addition to needing an active, unrestricted RN license, you must meet grade point average and work experience requirements. You will also be expected to submit supplemental materials or documents when applying. Below are the admission requirements for the top three programs in the nation.

Admission requirements for the Healthcare Policy MSN program at the University of California at San Francisco include the following. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree in nursing from a CCNE- or NLNAC-accredited BSN program or have an associate degree in nursing and a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing discipline. You must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average as reflected in official transcripts from your bachelor's degree program. You must have a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in California or your home state of residency. All candidates must provide a goal statement, personal history statement, professional resume or curriculum vitae, and three letters of professional recommendation.

If you are interested in the MSN in Healthcare Policy program at Regis College, you must have a BSN, a current RN license, and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. You must complete an online application and all prerequisites and submit transcripts from all undergraduate degree programs. Applicants must provide a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose and participate in an admissions interview.

Admission to Liberty University’s program is contingent upon meeting the following criteria. Applicants must have a current RN license and one year of experience as a registered nurse. With your admission application, you must provide contact information for one professional recommender, a Statement of Essential Attributes, and official college transcripts.

What Are the Best MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs in the Nation?

(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 3 Best Online and Campus-Based MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs in the nation for the year 2024.)

1. University of California San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

2. Regis College - Weston, MA

3. Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA


What Kind of Courses Will You Take in MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs?

MSN in healthcare policy programs offer curriculum plans that include core MSN coursework and specialty healthcare policy courses. You will study topics focused on healthcare law and ethics, policy analysis, American government, and population health, to name a few. The following are examples of classes offered at each of the nation's top programs.

At the University of California at San Francisco, you will study in classes, including Race & Class Factors in Healthcare Delivery, Communications & Policy Leadership, Principles & Methods of Epidemiology, Essentials of Human Genomics, Foundations of Research, Data Analytics & Analysis, and Climate Change, Health, & Social Justice.

The curriculum at Regis College includes classes such as Issues in Health Policy, Politics, & Perspectives, Regulatory Issues in Nursing Leadership, Health Ethics & Law, National Health Policy, Approaches to Political & Organizational Analysis, and Economics of Healthcare.

Liberty University’s MSN in healthcare policy program features classes, including Leadership, Policy, & Ethics, Managing Population Health, Health Policy & Ethics, Domestic Policy, Public Policy Analysis, and Fundamentals of American Governance: An Introduction to Public Policy.

What Kind of Practical Training Will You Undergo in MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs?

Students in MSN in healthcare policy programs complete various forms of practical training. Some programs include practicum experiences involving research, mentorship assignments, and internships. The hours required and practical training sites are determined by each school and may differ based on state and federal guidelines.

At UCSF, you will earn a minimum of 300 practical training hours. You will complete 60 hours in a Health Policy Research Practicum and a 240-hour Health Policy Residency. The residency may involve working in policy settings, including advocacy organizations, legislative and regulatory offices, community organizations, professional associations, or foundations that work to set agendas for research and programs associated with policy funding.

Practical training for the MSN in healthcare policy program at Regis College includes a required internship. You will learn from professionals in the healthcare policy field while expanding your professional network. Some practical training sites include Partners Healthcare-Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center, and Faulkner Hospital. All students in the program must participate in a mentorship requirement, as well.

At Liberty University, you will complete three Health Policy Leadership Practicums. The first practicum includes 200 hours of clinical experience. Additionally, you will complete a research project focused on health disparity and a dissemination project focused on a single health policy topic that you were engaged in while in the program.

5 Most Important Skills and Abilities You Will Gain in an MSN in Healthcare Policy Program

MSN in healthcare policy programs will prepare you with several skills to help you succeed in a healthcare policy career. The following are five main skills and abilities you will develop in these specialized programs.

1. You will learn to analyze health policies.

As a health policy nurse, you will analyze existing health policies and identify missing components, inaccuracies, or inefficiencies. Your findings can help improve the delivery of healthcare services.

2. You will learn to use a systems thinking approach to healthcare policy:

Systems thinking in healthcare policy involves using an integrated perspective and proven methodologies and concepts to understand issues within healthcare policy. When you learn to implement this approach, you can identify issues and help design and implement policies that promote positive outcomes.

3. You will develop an understanding of how socioeconomic factors impact health policy decisions and use that knowledge to lobby for health policies that benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged populations:

Some socioeconomic factors that affect patient populations include education and employment opportunities, income, social and family support, and crime rates in communities and populations. MSN in healthcare policy programs will teach you to recognize social and economic factors and consider their impact on populations to develop health policies that improve the health and well-being of specific populations.

4. You will learn to apply critical thinking to healthcare issues affecting communities daily:

As a registered nurse, you know the importance of applying critical thinking in practice. When you earn an MSN specializing in healthcare policy, you will hone your critical thinking skills and use them to analyze policies, laws, and regulations and create strategies to advocate for changes in healthcare policies.

5. You will learn how laws affect the development and implementation of healthcare policies:

Health policy nurses must understand healthcare laws. When you get your MSN in healthcare policy degree, you will learn about healthcare laws and how to navigate the legal system ethically to advocate for changes in current policies or the development of new policies.

4 Main Advantages of MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs

There are many advantages to earning your degree through MSN in healthcare policy programs. Whether you work for a large healthcare corporation, in a government office, or in a community-based facility, you can have a significant impact. The following are four main advantages of earning an MSN specializing in healthcare policy.

1. You will impact healthcare and health policy on a broad scale:

With the knowledge and skills you gain in one of the top MSN in healthcare policy programs, you can advocate for changes or lobby for new legislative policies that impact healthcare and the delivery of services on a broad scale. The work you do will influence individuals, families, communities, and populations.

2. You can improve the well-being and health outcomes of society:

Using your background of clinical nursing experience, you can transition to an active role in creating, implementing, and communicating public health policies designed to bring about positive change and improve the health outcomes of members of society.

3. You can help ensure that policies within healthcare facilities align with local, state, and federal laws and professional standards and regulations:

Graduates of MSN in healthcare policy programs have the knowledge needed to assess policies within healthcare facilities and organizations to help promote compliance with laws and professional standards. Your understanding of the law gives you an advantage over some.

4. You can be instrumental in helping reduce healthcare costs:

As a healthcare policy nurse, you can navigate through legal and governmental environments and help put policies in place which guide the cost and delivery of vital healthcare services.

2 Main Disadvantages of MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs

While earning your degree through MSN in healthcare policy programs has its advantages, there are also some disadvantages worth considering. As you research programs, think about what you want from your career and compare the pros and cons to determine if this is the right career path for you.

1. Implementing policy changes can be a long, drawn-out process:

No matter how good your ideas are or who backs them up, the actual process of implementing vital changes takes time. If you want a job that offers quick results, you may feel at a disadvantage with one of these degrees.

2. You must stay aware of constant changes in the law:

Students in MSN in healthcare policy programs learn about laws related to healthcare and health policy, but you must remain a lifelong learner to be effective. Because laws, policies, and healthcare regulations change so frequently, failing to study and be aware of changes could make performing your job within the legal and ethical bounds of healthcare policy difficult.

3 Best Jobs for Graduates of MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs

Graduates of MSN in healthcare policy programs can choose from a variety of jobs, many of which involve some type of administrative or supervisory role. The following are three of the best jobs for graduates.

1. Community Wellness Director:

Government and social services programs often hire community wellness directors to oversee efforts to maintain the health and wellness of the populations or communities they serve. In this role, you will be responsible for creating and maintaining policies targeted at helping promote positive health outcomes in your community.

2. Healthcare Administrator:

Another excellent job for graduates of MSN in healthcare policy programs is the role of a healthcare administrator. The knowledge and skills you gain in this program, including the ability to shape policies and apply administrative skills, will help you as you take on the responsibility of promoting practices within legal and ethical standards, employee training and retention, and implementation of policies and procedures.

3. Health Equity Coordinator:

As a health equity coordinator, you will assess internal policies to ensure equitable healthcare practices. Your role will require you to complete organizational assessments and may involve adding or eliminating policies within your organization or suggesting changes to existing policies.

What Starting Salary Can New Graduates of This Program Expect?

New graduates of MSN in healthcare policy programs earn excellent incomes. According to ZipRecruiter, the starting salary for graduates is $40.52 per hour, which equals $1,621 per week, $7,020 per month, or $84,290 annually.

(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)

What Average Salary Can Graduates of MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs Expect?

Graduates of MSN in healthcare policy programs with experience earn an average annual salary of $120,333. This wage is equal to $57.85 per hour, $2,314 per week, or $10,030 per month.

(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)

10-Year Job Outlook for Graduates of MSN in Healthcare Policy Programs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an excellent ten-year job outlook for graduates of MSN in healthcare policy programs. According to their data, graduates should see an increase in jobs of at least 45.68% between 2021 and 2031.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Bonus! Is the Cost of an MSN in Healthcare Policy Program Worth the Return on Investment (ROI)?

If you are looking for a nursing career with good earning potential and a good return on your investment, pursuing your degree through MSN in healthcare policy programs is an excellent option. The nation’s top three programs cost between $20,340 and $77,139. Graduates of the programs typically begin their careers making more than $84,000 annually. With experience, the average earnings increase by nearly $40,000. What is even better is the average income for program graduates is not capped. Depending on where you work and your job responsibilities, you could earn a much higher income! Therefore, when you compare the cost of MSN in healthcare policy programs to your earning potential, it is easy to see the cost is well worth the return on investment.

My Final Thoughts

In this article, you found the answer to the question, “What are the best MSN in healthcare policy programs?” If your desire is to earn a Master of Science in Nursing and specialize in healthcare policy, the 3 best MSN in healthcare policy programs for 2024 featured in this article can help you achieve that goal! With excellent income potential, diverse job opportunities, and an outstanding job outlook, there is no time like the present to pursue your degree and start the career you truly desire!

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).