PhD in Health Economics

The USC PhD program in Health Economics is housed at the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, one of the leading health policy centers in the nation. The program integrates curricula from the Department of Economics, Department of Preventive Medicine and Department of Pharmaceutical and Health Economics. Students receive training in microeconomics, econometrics, cost effectiveness analysis, welfare economics, public finance, epidemiology and health status measurement.  USC graduates are highly sought for their solid interdisciplinary background in theoretical and empirical research, and often assume teaching and research positions at universities, in industry and elsewhere. Competitive fellowships and teaching and research assistantships are available to several students.

USC offers two distinct PhD tracks: (1) Microeconomics; (2) Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy.


Students in microeconomics complete the mircroeconomic theory and econometric sequence and take two advanced courses in health economics. They receive focused training and mentoring in health economics through collaboration on research projects led by distinguished health economists at the Schaeffer Center. Upon completion of the PhD, students will be well prepared for a research career in academia, think tanks and other research organizations.

Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy

Students in pharmaceutical economics and policy specialize in areas such as cost-effectiveness, comparative effectiveness and health outcomes research. They collaborate on projects with notable faculty with expertise in pharmaceutical economics  and policy.

The demand for skilled analysts in health economics and comparative effectiveness research currently far exceeds the supply, and this situation is expected to continue into the forseeable future. Employment opportunities are particularly favorable in health care organizations, such as insurers, managed-care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, professional health-care associations, hospital administration departments, health-care consulting organizations and international organizations. The starting base salaries for graduates of the class of 2011 range from $115,000 to $125,000.