Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Health Policy and Administration

The mission of the Bachelor of Science Program (B.S.) in HPA is to develop graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to understand the difficulties of providing access to quality health care at reasonable cost. Penn State's HPA department, with more than thirty years of experience teaching undergraduates about health care, is one of the top undergraduate programs in the nation. Our alumni, nearly 4,000 strong, are a testament to our dedication to undergraduate education in HPA.

What is HPA?

HPA is a blend of courses in liberal arts, business administration, and the health sciences, designed to prepare students for careers or further study in health care.

HPA and the health care industry offer students a vast array of opportunities. Since the health care industry represents nearly one-seventh of the entire U.S. economy and is still growing, job opportunities are excellent. The breadth of the industry means that almost every type of work environment can be found. HPA graduates work in all types of health care organizations from major teaching hospitals with over 1,000 beds to rural solo practice physician offices. Jobs can be found in small, not-for-profit service oriented agencies or in major, for-profit corporations.

In general HPA students are prepared to work in six types of health care organizations including: (1) health care providers (hospitals, physician practices, nursing facilities, home health agencies, etc.); (2) health insurers (nonprofit and commercial insurers, health maintenance organizations, etc.); (3) health care consulting firms; (4) health care supply companies (pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, etc.); (5) health services research and policy organizations (health policy research groups, industry trade groups, etc.); (6) local, state, and federal health agencies (local health departments, state Department of Health, federal Department of Health and Human Services, etc.). HPA students can also use the degree to prepare for graduate study in business, law, medicine or allied health fields, health administration, health services research or policy, and public health.

The HPA major gives students a lot of flexibility to select courses that fit their personal and professional goals. However, the flexibility means you bear a major responsibility—together with your faculty mentor and academic adviser—for designing a curriculum (a set of courses) that fits your goals.

The key to successful completion of this major is to plan a curriculum that establishes a foundation for your future in health care. This plan will guide your choice of HPA courses, supporting courses from other departments, elective courses, selection of a minor (if any), and internship site.

Recommended Academic Plans

Semester-by-semester academic plans recommend in table form the courses students might schedule each semester as they pursue a particular degree. These tables serve several University purposes and assist multiple constituencies: students, advisers, departments, deans, registrars, admissions officers, and family members. The plans:

  • Identify normal academic progress, course offerings, and recommended course sequencing;
  • Assist students and advisers in planning academic schedules, registrars and departments in planning course offerings, and registrars and deans in determining when students should change campus;
  • Help students to anticipate the academic workload and courses needed to earn a degree, and to schedule appropriate prerequisites;
  • Serve as tools to help advisers learn the curriculum.

Semester scheduling recommendations for all baccalaureate majors can also be found in the University Bulletin.