USC School of Pharmacy Launches Master’s in Healthcare Decision Analysis

June 11, 2013

Contact: Kukla Vera at (323) 442-3497 or

LOS ANGELES – The University of Southern California School of Pharmacy has launched a new Master of Science in Healthcare Decision Analysis (HCDA) offering both clinical and business professionals the skills needed for the new discipline emerging at the intersection of business intelligence, healthcare analytics and applied health policy, as well as the ability to better navigate an industry made ever more challenging by changing regulations, global competition and technological advances.

“This program is definitely unique and needed,” says Cyrus Arman, principal and head of West Coast operations for Deallus Consulting. “I am not aware of any other school that has combined these particular areas.”

The intensive, interdisciplinary program is the first of its kind to unite such areas as healthcare economics, data analysis, international market access, product pricing, reimbursement, insurance operations and competitive business practices. Graduates will be experts in this emerging field, with the preparation necessary to meet the needs of pharmaceutical, biotech, specialty pharmacy, diagnostics, manufacturing and related industries nationally and globally.

For a video about the new Master of Science in Healthcare Decision Analysis, visit

“Having knowledge of access and reimbursement is just a requirement now,” notes Mike Ryan, vice president and general manager for U.S. Value and Access, a new division at Amgen created to address these major shifts within the industry. “Comparative effectiveness research has bloomed as a science in Europe and Australia, and now we’re starting to see it here in the U.S. in a big way. At the same time, the U.S. is exporting things like patient cost sharing and co-pays, never heard of in Europe until the last few years. The curriculum of USC’s new master’s program is right on track with these changes in the industry.”

The highly flexible, four-semester program — available to full or part-time students — can be completed in as little as 15 months. Housed in the USC School of Pharmacy, HCDA courses are designed to meet the needs of busy professionals and can be taken in any combination — on campus and/or online in either real time or on demand. Students also have the option of enrolling in just one or two courses, which could count toward their degree if they later choose to pursue it. The first courses — Competitive Intelligence and Pricing and Comparative International Healthcare Systems — will be offered in Spring 2014.

“Students will gain practical skills they can use at work the next morning,” says Grant Lawless, director of the program and a former Amgen executive. “The program is designed to help mid-career professionals jump to a leadership role or transition to a new area, and it will help new graduates gain a strategic advantage over other young professionals.”

All graduates will gain the technical skills and insights required for advancement into new and emerging levels of leadership responsibility as payers place a far greater emphasis on value, data validation and patient outcomes, notes Lawless.

“It’s difficult to place any executive in the industry today who doesn’t have extensive value and access experience,” adds Ryan. “And those who do have that experience are deeply sought out.”

Mariam Eghbal-Ahmadi, director of market analytics and business intelligence for xIQ Group, says she wishes the program had been around when she was making the transition from the research side to the business side.

“It usually takes years and years of working in the pharmaceutical industry to learn all the different areas within decision analysis in the pharmaceutical world,” she says. “It’s ambitious to say any academic program can give you a working knowledge of all areas, but this program comes close.”

USC School of Pharmacy Dean R. Pete Vanderveen notes, “This new degree offering is yet another example of the USC School of Pharmacy’s longstanding innovation in foreseeing and addressing the needs of both the profession and tomorrow’s leaders.”

Faculty will come from the USC School of Pharmacy, the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and the International Center for Regulatory Science, with sessions featuring current leaders from both the public and private sectors who will offer students vital real world information and perspectives. The curriculum will focus on practical education, emphasizing team projects and case studies.

For admission and other information on this new program, email, call (323) 442-1276 or visit

About the USC School of Pharmacy
Ranked among the top-10 pharmacy schools nationwide, the USC School of Pharmacy continues its century-old progressive reputation through innovative programming, practice and collaborations. The School pioneered the doctor of pharmacy degree, established the nation’s first clinical pharmacy program, launched the first doctorate in regulatory science and remains an innovator in pharmacy education, research and patient care. The School houses the International Center for Regulatory Science at USC and is a partner in the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and the USC Center for Drug Discovery and Development. A focus on clinical pharmacy, community outreach, regulatory science, drug discovery and development and health economics and policy positions, the USC School of Pharmacy is a leader in the safe, efficient and optimal use of medication therapy that can save lives and improve the human condition.