About: Health Systems and Population Health M.S.

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  5. About: Health Systems and Population Health M.S.

The UW Health Systems and Population Health Master of Science (HSPop M.S.) program is an in-residence, two-year graduate degree program for full-time students that offers analytical and practical knowledge and skills in health services research.

Health Systems and Population Health M.S. Degree Options

There are two options for students in the program, either a general M.S. degree with a focus on research methods or a concentration in clinical and translational research (CTR). Students electing to pursue the clinical and translational research concentration must complete the required courses, as well as additional requirements specific to the concentration.

Program Mission and Goals


Prepare leaders to improve health in diverse populations by solving problems in rapidly changing societies and health systems.


  • Train practitioners to become highly competent researchers in health systems, health policy, and the social and behavioral sciences.
  • Educate students to work with diverse populations and organizations, applying the core functions of public health and other research-based approaches to solve problems.
  • Create and translate knowledge into effective strategies to improve population health and reduce health disparities in disadvantaged groups.
  • Educate students to be able to apply a large variety of qualitative and quantitative health services research methods.

Program and University Strengths

The Health Systems and Population Health M.S. program is part of the UW Department of Health Systems and Population Health withing the UW School of Public Health, which consistently ranks among the best in the nation. The Health Systems and Population Health M.S. offers exceptional curriculum, including our required and elective courses in evaluation, biostatistics, epidemiology, and health economics.

Student Research | Master’s Thesis

Health Systems and Population Health M.S. students must write a master’s thesis. The thesis is original research that generates new knowledge using rigorous methods appropriate to the research questions, while also applying concepts and methods from one or more branches of science relevant to public health.

Successful Graduates

Our alumni are leaders in academia, government agencies, and the private sector. Several alumni have pursued our Health Services Ph.D. program or advanced study in a related field. Our program, the UW School of Public Health, and the University of Washington provide careers services to support the success of Health Systems and Population Health M.S. graduates.

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Committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

As part of the UW Department of Health Systems and Population Health (HSPop) within the School of Public Health, our staff and faculty are committed to supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion in every aspect of our work.


Health Systems, Population Health, and Health Services Research

Within the UW Department of Health Systems and Population Health, several academic programs focus on and require research about health systems, population health, and/or health services.

What are health systems?

Health systems are all the public, private, and voluntary entities that contribute to the delivery of essential public health and health care services. Health systems include health departments, clinics, hospitals, and insurance companies.

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What is population health?

Population health examines the health of defined populations, rather than individuals. Population health acknowledges the impact of surroundings and social determinants. Public health practitioners use data to create interventions that improve population health and well-being. However, some major determinants of health, such as education and income, historically fell outside of the traditional public health scope. Population health brings together knowledge from many disciplines — such as the health sciences, social sciences, public policy, law, business, education, and so forth — to address factors that influence health.

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What is health services research?

Health services research, broadly defined, encompasses research into the social determinants of population health as well as research into cost, quality, and policy aspects of the provision of medical services, prevention, and health education.

  • Health services research is the process of generating new knowledge and understanding through development of new theory and empirical evidence, as well as the original synthesis of existing theory and evidence. Our general focus areas include delivery, financing, management, and organization of health services
  • Social and economic factors that contribute to population health and health disparities
  • Health promotion, prevention, and health education

Health services research is instrumental in advancing population health and improving policy, management, and practice within the health services domain.

UW, Seattle, and the Pacific Northwest

The University of Washington (UW) is considered one of the best universities in the world and is highly ranked by the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities rankings. UW is committed to excellence through diversity and provides health leadership across the Pacific Northwest, the United States, and the world.

The Space Needle lit purple at night for the Together UW campaign.

UW enrolls more than 60,000 students each year and thrives as a center for groundbreaking research in numerous fields, including public health, medicine, education, public affairs, aeronautics, and business. UW offers many areas of study, including more than 300 separate programs and over 600 degree options. A major research center, UW is one of the few universities in the U.S. with total research funding of more than one billion dollars. Since 1969, the University of Washington consistently places among the top for total sponsored research funding for all public and private universities in the country. It is home to seven Nobel Prize winners and 17 MacArthur Fellows, also known as “genius grant” recipients.

For working professionals in the Seattle area, opportunities abound. Some of the world’s top companies and institutions were started here and continue to have major operations in the region. The city is among the most innovative health care communities in the country with excellent hospitals, medical centers, and research institutions.

Beyond the excellent academics, the University of Washington is among the most beautiful college campuses in the world. The largest UW campus is located in the heart of Seattle, one of the most scenic and livable cities in the United States. The Seattle campus offers stunning views of snow-capped Mount Rainier and nearby Lake Washington. In the spring, the campus gardens bloom with color, while its Japanese cherry trees erupt in spectacular pink and white blossoms.

Seattle offers its residents the best of city and country living. Cultural attractions include world-class museums, an aquarium, a zoo, professional and college sports, a symphony, and large annual film and music festivals. For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, excellent running, biking, hiking, camping, boating, and skiing are abundant in the city or nearby.