Progressive MS in Health Economics (Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy Emphasis)

A Program for Current Undergraduates

The goal of this progressive degree program is to give USC’s most promising undergraduate economics majors the opportunity to obtain an accelerated master’s of science degree in health with an emphasis in pharmaceutical economics and policy while they are also working toward a bachelor’s degree. Students in the program complete all requirements for both the BA in Economics and or BS in Economics/Mathematics as well as for an MS in Health Economics (Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy emphasis) within 10 to 12 semesters.

Graduates of the program will have developed a skill set that prepares them for employment in pharmaceutical and health economic units within pharmaceutical companies and managed-care organizations, where their advanced training in economic methods will place them in high demand in the evaluation of the economic value and market use of pharmaceutical products.


Students may apply for admission to this program after completing 64 units at USC but not later than the end of junior year (the completion of 96 units), and after completing Econ 317 (Introduction to Statistics for Economists), Econ 303 (Intermediate Microeconomic Theory) and Econ 414 (Introduction to Econometrics). The program requires a minimum overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.5 for consideration for admission.

Application for Admission (PDF)

The program is being offered jointly by the Department of Economics at the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy at the School of Pharmacy.

Send application to:
Morgan Ponder
Student Services Advisor II
Department of Economics
College of Letters Arts and Sciences
University of Southern California
KAP 300
Mail Code: 0253
Los Angeles, California
Telephone: +1 213 740 8335
Fax: +1 213 740 8543

Requirements for Degree Completion

Undergraduate Prerequisites

The following undergraduate prerequisites are necessary to apply for the program: MATH 118 (or MATH 125), ECON 203, ECON 303, ECON 317, ECON 414.

Grade Requirements

A grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0) must have been achieved on all graduate work, as required by the USC Graduate School.

Courses required

The following courses are required for completion of the MS in Health Economics (Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy emphasis). In order to satisfy the econometrics requirement, students can choose either ECON 414 or a more advanced econometrics course, depending on their background in econometrics.


  • ECON 500 Microeconomics Analysis of Policy OR (4 units)


  • PM 512 (elective) Introduction to Epidemiology and Demographic Methods (4 units)

Research and Methods Policy Analysis:

  • PMEP 509 Research Design (4 units)
  • PM 511A Data Analysis (4 units)

Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy:

  • PMEP 519 Survey Research and Quality of Life (4 units)
  • PMEP 529 Probability and Preferences (4 units)
  • PMEP 538 Pharmaceutical Economics (4 units)
  • PMEP 539 Economic Assessment of Medical Care (4 units)

Total Credits Required: 36

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can the master’s program be used as stepping stone for the PhD program?
A: The master’s program can be used to start the PhD process; however if you have an interest in the PhD program, it is recommended that you apply for it directly. The master’s program is oriented toward the application of pharmacoeconomic analytic methods, while the PhD program is oriented toward the development of new theory an empirical research in the field.

Q: What are the job prospects after graduation?
A: Most alumni work in either the pharmacy industry or managed care.

Q: May I begin the program in the spring?
A: Students are not admitted in the spring semester.

Q: Do you have an extension program where I can just take one or two classes before taking my GRE to see if I really like the program?
A: Although the School does not have an extension program, students are welcome to take a couple of classes before officially enrolling. You would be able to transfer the credits (up to 12) into the MS program (as well as the PhD program). Contact Professor McCombs to arrange for the necessary department clearances to enroll in classes.

Q: Would it be possible to use any of the MS classes toward a PhD?
A: Twenty courses in the MS program are transferable to the PhD in Pharmaceutical Economics.

Q: What is the difference between your MS and PhD programs?
A: The MS is more applied, while the PhD is more theoretical in orientation. The PhD takes four to six years to complete while the MS takes two years to complete as a full-time student.

Q: Do you have minors in the MS program (e.g., epidemiology, biostatistics?)
A: The program does not include any minors, but most students take additional coursework in biostatistics, which is taught in the same building.

Q: Where can I find out more about progressive degree programs at USC?
A: More information on progressive degree programs may be found here.