Wagner Health Policy and Management Program                                            Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why an MPA instead of an MPH, MHA, MBA, or other related degrees?
  2. Why the Wagner Health Policy and Management Program?
  3. What kind of job can I expect to get upon graduation?
  4. Can I keep my full-time job while I go to Wagner?
  5. Are there ever research assistant opportunities with Wagner faculty?
  6. What is the size of the program and composition of the student body?
  7. How big are classes?
  8. What courses am I required to take?
  9. Can I take courses elsewhere at NYU?
  10. Does Wagner offer dual degrees?
  11. Why doesn’t Wagner require the GRE or GMAT?
  12. Are scholarships or fellowships available to support study at Wagner?

 

 

1. Why an MPA instead of an MPH, MHA, MBA, or other related degrees?

 

The bottom line is that it generally doesn't really matter very much. For most jobs in the health field, all these degrees are usually listed as qualifying. We generally recommend that potential applicants look at the range of courses offered in a program and the profiles of students in the school, and think about whether these are the topics and issues that you are most interested in and the type of students that are likely to share or complement your interests.

That said, there are some differences. For example, historically MPH programs have placed greater emphasis on population health, epidemiology, and patterns of disease than MPA programs. MPA programs traditionally have offered more on organizational management, financial management, and public financing. The Wagner MPA is a professional degree that emphasizes managing and financing organizations, programs and institutions that affect health and disease, as well as understanding how policy affects these entities and public health. Our goal is to prepare our students to work effectively in organizations and in the related policy environment.

MPH programs also tend to be more theoretical/research oriented, while the MPA has a somewhat more applied, practice-based focus. We help our students to develop a broad toolkit that they will use in lifelong practice. Both include a substantial dose of health policy, although an MPA typically has a broader policy perspective to include payment policy, health insurance coverage, cost control, and structural issues related to how the health care delivery system is organized and care is delivered. The latter issues are particularly important as we struggle to find ways to improve health and deliver health care services more effectively and efficiently, and to respond to disparities in health outcomes.

The breadth of an MPA degree also facilitates movement across various jobs and positions within the health sector. We often tell prospective students that if you are sure you want work in a health department somewhere studying measles outbreaks, then an MPH is probably the thing for you. But if you are not sure where you want to end up in the health field or you are interested in what to do about the measles outbreak and work on efforts to finance and implement programs to prevent or respond to these kinds of problems, then an MPA might be the better choice for you.

As for MBA programs, there is a shared emphasis on building professional skills and knowledge on finance and management. Most MBA programs do not have much depth on health policy and health care delivery, but will offer much more on marketing, communications, and accounting. The Wagner MPA health curriculum prepares you for work in health in the for-profit, non-profit and governmental sectors, while MBA programs are likely to have more emphasis on the for-profit sector.

 

2. Why the Wagner Health Policy and Management Program?

 

There are several characteristics that make the NYU Wagner Health Policy and Management Program fairly unique. Not many health programs are located in a school of public administration or public service. In the Wagner core classes (policy, management, economics, etc), health students share the classroom with non-health MPA students and urban planning students. Most find this breadth of interests and experience stimulating and rewarding. Many of our health graduates move in and out of the health field at various points in their career, and the exposure to non-health policy and management issues can be helpful.

We also believe that many of the issues affecting the health of the population are not strictly health/clinically related. For example, high cost, high risk patients are often socially isolated, homeless, or lack skills to cope with problems of everyday life. Learning more about these problems and sharing classes with students whose focus is on these issues greatly strengthens the educational experience.

Wagner's location in New York City is a bonus. From leading tertiary medical centers to community based clinics and social programs, New York offers an incredibly broad laboratory for learning (and potential jobs upon graduation). The diverse population of the city can help prepare you to work most anywhere, and helps broaden awareness of cultural differences and how recognizing and responding to these differences is likely to be critical in a successful career. There are also many international health organizations based in the New York, helping to strengthen Wagner's global perspective. Professionals from these diverse organizations and settings are often brought into the classroom as guest lecturers and adjunct professors.

Wagner pioneered the concept of giving students real world experience as part of professional training. The Capstone Program replaces the more traditional thesis end-event, and involves a year-long project in a student's last year at Wagner working with a team of Wagner students for an actual client (usually based in New York, but some international capstone projects involve foreign clients and travel abroad). Capstone projects require students to get up-to-speed quickly on a specific content or issue area, enhance key process skills (such as project management and teamwork), and develop competency in gathering, analyzing, and reporting out on data. It's an opportunity for Wagner students to interweave their learning in all these areas and to do so in real time, in an unpredictable, complex, real-world environment. To learn more about the Capstone Program, click here – to see some recent Capstone projects, click here.

3. What kind of job can I expect to get upon graduation?

Wagner Health Policy and Management Program graduates land positions in a variety of settings. The type of job is usually related to the area of specialization in the program (management, finance, policy, international.- see FAQ 8 below). Management students often get operational positions in health service delivery organizations, including hospitals, insurance companies, community health centers, and other community base organizations. Finance students typically obtain financial management or analysis positions for health care delivery organizations, government, insurers, or consulting firms. Policy students often land in planning/policy departments of large health care delivery systems, government agencies, and research/consulting firms. International students often take positions abroad, but a surprising large number take positions in international organizations based in New York or elsewhere in the U.S. For some examples of jobs of recent graduates, click here.

The Wagner Office of Career Services is highly praised by current students and alumni for its help in career planning and counseling. The office produces "how to" guides for a variety of topics including interviewing, resume preparation, and negotiating offers (click here for examples). The Office also maintains a website listing current job openings that is available to all enrolled students, as well as Wagner alumni.

 

4. Can I keep my full-time job while I go to Wagner?

 

Yes, definitely. About 40% of entering Wagner students are "part-time" students, working full- or part-time while attending Wagner. These numbers actually go up during a student's time at Wagner, with many students finding jobs (often through help from career services, Wagner alumni, or faculty), and changing from full-time student status to part-time. For required classes at Wagner, there are evening classes offered every semester. Most events at Wagner are in the evening, with some also offered as breakfast or lunch sessions. Of course, part-time students take longer to complete the program, typically taking 3-4 years (as opposed to 2 years for a full time student). To learn more about whether full- or part-time study makes sense for you, come to a Wagner Open House where you can learn more about the program and talk to current students about how they have negotiated being a student and working at the same time – click here for a schedule of upcoming Open Houses.

 

5. Are there ever research assistant opportunities with Wagner faculty?

 

Yes, many Wagner faculty are involved with large research and program evaluation projects. Many of these include positions for full- or part-time research assistants, and Wagner students are strongly encouraged to apply for these positions. There are also often research assistant opportunities at the NYU School of Medicine and other research centers at NYU and across the city, and Wagner faculty are often contacted to help find students interested in these jobs.

 

6. What is the size of the program and composition of the student body?

 

We typically admit about 50 students each fall and 10-12 each spring. At any point in time there about 175 full- and part-time health program students enrolled. Our students are a very diverse group coming from all parts of the country, with about 15% from outside the U.S. On average, students have been out of college about 4 years at the time of enrollment, but 12-15% come directly from college.

 

7. How big are classes?

 

With a few exceptions (e.g., the school wide core Introduction to Public Policy), classes typically have 40 or fewer students. Most upper level courses are smaller, with an average class size of about 20. If you would like to sit-in on a class, click here for further information.

8. What courses am I required to take?

All Wagner students are required to take five "core" classes:

  • Introduction to Public Policy
  • Managing Public Service Organizations
  • Financial Management for Public, Nonprofit & Health Organizations
  • Statistical Methods
  • Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning & Policy Analysis

We encourage students to take these courses as early-on as possible since many are prerequisites for other courses and for the Capstone (which is also required for all students). After that, course requirements for Health Policy and Management students depend on which "specialization" is selected. Health specializations include:

  • Health Services Management
  • Health Policy Analysis
  • Health Finance (with emphasis on financial management or public finance)
  • International Health
  • Customized (developed by a student and his/her faculty advisor, such as health information technology, long term care, public health, etc)

Each of these specializations has a different set of required courses, although many courses are required for several specializations – click here to learn more about the requirements of each specialization. Most courses are four credit courses that meet 14 times during the semester, but we have recently redesigned the health curriculum to break some of these into two 2-credit courses (meeting 7 times during the semester), with only the first half often required. Our goal has been to reduce the number of required credits to give students more flexibility to take elective courses.

For any required course, if you have had a comparable course at the undergraduate or graduate level, the requirement can be waived. In some instances, a student can take an exam to qualify for a waiver. We encourage students to waive classes where they feel comfortable that they already have strong knowledge and competencies since it allows more flexibility to take elective courses. However some students welcome the chance to "brush-up" on a topic, and forego the waiver. To learn more about waivers, click here.

9. Can I take courses elsewhere at NYU?

Yes, Wagner students often take graduate level courses in the business school, public health program, law school, or elsewhere in the University. Click here to learn more about taking courses outside of Wagner and view the list of pre-approved courses.

10. Does Wagner offer dual degrees?

Yes, Wagner offers a number of dual degrees in conjunction with other NYU schools. Programming and academic resources can include exclusive speaker events, tailored orientations, and designated faculty and administrative advisors. These include:

  • JD-MPA with the NYU School of Law
  • MBA-MPA with the NYU Stern School of Business
  • MD-MPA with the NYU School of Medicine
  • MPH in Global Health Leadership-MPA with the NYU Global Institute of Public Health
  • MSW-Executive MPA with the NYU Silver School Social Work

There is also a BA-MPA program with the NYU College of Arts and Sciences offering students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Public Administration in five years. For all of these dual degrees, generally an applicant must simultaneously apply to each NYU school. For more information on dual degrees at Wagner, click here.

 

11. Why doesn't Wagner require the GRE or GMAT?

 

While moderately predictive of academic performance (which is important to us), we believe these standardized tests are less useful in helping identify individuals who will be successful in a career of public service and a potential leader in the health field. Many schools are moving away from these tests, relying more on undergraduate performance, work experience, recommendations, and the applicant's personal statement.

For students with lower undergraduate GPAs, or who have not taken or performed poorly in quantitative courses, or who have no prior background in social science or other relevant courses, GRE or GMAT is strongly recommended to strengthen your application. Other applicants may also submit scores which will be considered, as appropriate, in the admission decision process.

12. Are scholarships or fellowships available to support study at Wagner?

Yes. Merit-based scholarships are available for outstanding applicants and continuing students who show exceptional professional promise, strong academic preparation, and a deep commitment to public service. All merit-based scholarship awards are applied only towards tuition and not toward registration fees, health insurance or other expenses. Scholarships can be given as either credit awards or specific dollar amounts. While Wagner admissions review is conducted on a rolling basis, merit-based scholarships decision-making is not. Applicants seeking a merit-based scholarship should complete the application process as early as possible. No separate application is required for merit-based scholarships. As long as all required materials are received and an application package is deemed complete by the corresponding fellowship/scholarship deadline, then the applicant will be considered for all available merit-based scholarships. Students whose applications are completed after the scholarship deadline will not be considered for merit-based aid. Click here to learn more.

There are also several named fellowships available to qualifying students. Fellowships are different from scholarships due to their specific programmatic requirements and funding levels. Fellowships are merit-based, and corresponding selection committees look to identify fellows that best fit the intent of each award. Due to the competitive nature of fellowship selection, fellowship finalists are required to reply to NYU Wagner's offer within five business days of notification. To learn more about these fellowships and deadlines for application, click here.

 

If you have other questions or would like further information about the Wagner Health Policy and Management Program, contact Diana Beck (diana.beck@nyu.edu)