HEALTH POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (H P A)

604 Ford Building, 814-863-2900, Fax: 814-863-2905

Diane Brannon, Interim Department Head, 604 Ford Building, f8z@psu.edu, 814-863-8514

Theresa Barry, Undergraduate Professor-In-Charge, 604M Ford Building, txb13@psu.edu, 814-863-6617

Caroline Condon-Lewis, Undergraduate Adviser, 604J Ford Building, cxc29@psu.edu, 814-863-8659

Joyce Hanscom, Undergraduate Program Staff Assistant, 604 Ford Building, 814-863-2900, jxg227@psu.edu

Home Page: http://www.hhdev.psu.edu/hpa

Curriculum
University Faculty Senate Approved Curriculum
Recommended Academic Plan(s)
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.

H P A Recommended Academic Plan (University Park) ◄ replace this file
H P A Recommended Academic Plan (Commonwealth Campuses)
Degree Audit
H P A Degree Audit

Penn State's undergraduate program in Health Policy and Administration seeks to meet the need for leaders who will help improve our health care system. Health Policy and Administration is a major for students interested in management (business) and policy aspects of health care. The specific mission of the baccalaureate program is to develop graduates with the knowledge, skills, and values appropriate for work in entry-level management or policy-related positions or for graduate education in the health care field.

H P A 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. H P A 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 H P A 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 consultants; (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.); and, (6) local, state, and federal health agencies (local health departments, state Department of Health, federal Department of Health and Human Services, etc.). H P A students also can 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.

CURRICULUM AND DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Degree Requirements

The H P A degree requirements consist of 120 credits, 45 credits in General Education and 75 credits in Major Degree Requirements. The Major Degree Requirements include 31 credits in Prescribed Courses, 18 to 20 credits in Additional Courses, and 36 credits (9 of these must be at the 400-level) in Supporting Courses and Related Areas. Finally, students may need to complete up to 2 credits in Electives, depending on their other course selections. Up to 17 credits in the major degree requirements may count for General Education. As part of these 120 credits students must complete a first year seminar, 6 credits in United States Cultures (US) & International Cultures (IL) courses, and 3 credits in a writing across the curriculum (M, W, X, or Y) course. H P A 301W fulfills this requirement for H P A students. In addition, all the Prescribed and Additional Courses in the major must be completed with a "C" grade or higher.

Supporting Courses and Related Areas

The H P A curriculum includes a 36-credit requirement called Supporting Courses and Related Areas. Students choose from a list of approved courses to fulfill that requirement. To make the most effective use of the Supporting Course and Related Areas requirement, students are encouraged to select an interest area, and then select courses that will help them build skills and knowledge in that area. A list of interest areas and related fields of study to help with course selection and possible consideration of a related minor is available from the department adviser. Select courses have been approved as supporting courses; only those that have been approved can be applied to this requirement. The complete list of approved courses is available at HPA Supporting Course List.

Field Experience Requirement

All students in the Health Policy and Administration program are required to participate in a field experience (sometimes called a practicum or internship) in a health care facility or related agency for a minimum of ten 40-hour weeks. The field experience should provide practical experience in the administration of health care organizations, health services planning and delivery and/or research in the health care field. The field experience includes a 2-course requirement: H P A 390, Professional Development in H P A, and H P A 395, Field Experience in H P A.

While the H P A Department assists students with looking for a field experience, the ultimate responsibility for securing a field experience with a health care facility or related agency lies with the student. It is our conviction that this approach is, in itself, good practical experience for students. The information students need is provided in the preparatory course, H P A 390. The Department provides several resources to assist students in finding internships in the Resource Center in 604 Ford Building. New internship opportunities are sent out through email, posted on ANGEL, and placed in files in Room 604 Ford Building.

The field experience can be scheduled only in the Summer. Prior to the field experience the student MUST have satisfactorily completed H P A 101, H P A 301W, H P A 310, H P A 332 and H P A 390 with a "C" or better grade. The H P A Department strongly recommends students complete H P A 390 in the fall or spring of their junior year. This will provide the maximum amount of time to search for a field experience. The H P A Department also strongly recommends that students complete CMPSC 101 or CMPSC 203, ECON 002, PL SC 001, ACCTG 211, STAT 200 or 250, and FIN 100 or INS 301 before a field experience.

Note that the actual field experience places important demands on students. H P A 395 is a 3-credit course. This means the student will have to pay tuition and fees for these credits. Students should expect to receive a bill for this in April. The money from these credits is used to pay for phone and mailing costs associated with the field experience, field experience coordinator costs, and other personnel and material costs required for H P A 395.

Furthermore, note that the field experience is just like a full-time job. Because of the demands of the field experience, a student may not be able to earn much income during that summer. Students should plan accordingly. Finally, while completing H P A 395, students are only allowed to take 3 additional credits, so they should not plan on taking many extra credits during the field experience.

Honors Study

Outstanding H P A students may be eligible to enter the Schreyer Honors College and participate in Penn State's outstanding honors education. The Schreyer Honors College program offers students the opportunity to participate in small, discussion-oriented classes led by leading scholars, international travel and study, and research opportunities, among other benefits. There are 2 gates for entry to the program, one as an incoming freshman and one between the sophomore and junior year. For more information on entering the Schreyer Honors College as a freshman, see their web site at www.shc.psu.edu/. For more information about entering the scholars program through the junior gate, students should contact Rhonda BeLue, the Schreyer Honors adviser for H P A rzb10@psu.edu, 814-865-6898.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: May H P A/ECON 445 (Health Economics) count twice-for both the H P A 400-level requirement and the 6 credit PL SC and/or ECON requirement?
A: No. It can only count for 1 of these 2 requirements.

Q: May ECON 002 and PL SC 001 count twice-for both the six credit PL SC and/or ECON requirement and in the Prescribed Courses requirement?
A: No, ECON 002 and PL SC 001 do not count toward the major requirement of 6 credits in PL SC and/or ECON, although they can count toward the General Education requirements and the H P A major requirements. In addition to ECON 002 and PL SC 001, a student must take 6 credits in either ECON, PL SC or 3 credits in each as Supporting Courses and Related Areas. The courses a student can choose from to meet this requirement are listed in the department-approved list of courses for Supporting Courses and Related Areas, but they should be sure they have the appropriate prerequisites.

Q: What minors are best for H P A students?
A: Approximately one-third of H P A students complete a minor. The best minor depends on the student's career goals, but the ones we find to be most highly recommended include Information Systems Management, Information Systems and Statistical Analysis, Legal Environment of Business, Business Logistics, Gerontology, Human Development and Family Studies, Economics, Political Science, and Labor Studies and Employment Relations.

Q: How do minor credits count?
A: Credits for minor courses that are listed on the H P A approved list of courses may be used to fulfill the 36 credits needed in Supporting Courses and Related Areas. Courses taken for a minor which are not listed on the Department approved list may be petitioned as course substitutions for Supporting Courses and Related Areas (petitions are not always approved), or may meet General Education credit requirements.

Q: Which writing and speaking courses are best for H P A students?
A: H P A students should take CAS 100 and ENGL 015 or ENGL 030. ENGL 202D is recommended, too, since it is the most business oriented of the Effective Writing courses, although 202A and 202C are also appropriate.

Q: Which computer course is best for H P A students?
A: CMPSC 203 is usually the best course for H P A students since it covers business applications and meets the General Education quantification (GQ) requirement. CMPSC 101 is a programming course that might be more appropriate for a student interested in health care information systems. There are 3 minors listed below that deal with computers: the Information Systems Management minor, the Information Systems and Statistical Analysis minor, and Technology in H P A minor.

Q: Should I take STAT 200 or STAT 250?
A: Either course is acceptable. STAT 250 is probably better suited for those students who might be interested in medicine, epidemiology, or public health.

Q: Is BIOL 141 or BI SC 004 required for graduation?
A: No, but H P A 310 has 3 credits in biology as a prerequisite. BIOL 141, BI SC 004 and BB H 101 are the courses recommended to meet this prerequisite and may count toward the General Education requirements.

Q: May courses taken at other colleges count for General Education or Major Requirements?
A: It depends. Courses taken at any Penn State location which are relevant to the H P A degree may count for degree requirements. Courses taken at other colleges and universities must meet several requirements which are outlined on the Undergraduate Admissions website. Transfer credits to be used for Major Requirements also have to be approved by the H P A department. Students are strongly advised to see the H P A Department adviser before taking courses at another institution.

Q: Does H P A have a study abroad opportunity?
A: H P A does not have a formal program for study abroad, but we are willing to work with any student planning to do this while at Penn State. Any student interested in studying abroad should first visit with the University Office of Global Programs , 410 Boucke Building, 814-865-7681 and discuss the opportunities at Penn State. Then the student should meet with the H P A adviser to discuss how the courses fit into his/her major.

Q: What does "supporting courses and related areas" mean?
A: Health care is a very broad and diverse field and H P A's curriculum tries to permit students to tailor their education to their interests and career plans. This is done through a set of courses —called supporting courses and related areas—that you choose, with guidance from our list of approved courses, the staff adviser, and your faculty mentor. Each H P A student is required to take 36 credits of these supporting courses. Six of these 36 credits must be in approved courses in economics and/or political science. Nine of these 36 credits must be 400-level courses. Other than that, the only requirement is that the courses come from our approved list or be approved as a substitute by advisers. We encourage students to use these 36 credits in 2 ways. First, explore the things you might be interested in with some lower level courses. If you wonder whether long-term care is for you, take a few 100- or 200-level courses that focus on aging and see if you like them. Second, once you think you have identified 1 or 2 areas (e.g., aging, marketing, finance, human resources) where you might like to work after graduation, use your remaining credits in supporting courses and related areas to complete a minor or take some upper-level courses that give you a strong depth of knowledge and skill in that area. In summary, use those 36 credits to explore your interests and then become skilled in a few key areas of health care.

Q: Do I have to take a 400-level class in Economics or Political Science?
A: No, you do not, unless you have used all of your other Supporting Courses and Related Areas to take lower division courses. Most H P A students will take ECON 102, PL SC 001, and then 2 additional lower-level courses in economics or political science that are on the approved list of courses. Then, they use some of their remaining credits in supporting courses to take 9 credits in 400-level courses in a minor or area that is their main interest. Those students that have an interest in health economics or health politics, of course, can take one or more of the approved 400-level courses in economics or political science as part of their supporting courses.

AFTER GRADUATION

A job matrix (Figure 1) outlines job/graduate school plans by looking at some common organizations and common job tracks in which a student may seek employment/education after graduation. While the organizations and tracks in the matrix are not the only ones where students will find employment, they illustrate some opportunities for H P A students.

The columns of the matrix show four broad areas of functional specialization. The rows of the matrix show several important types of settings where students might find employment.

Functional Areas

  • OPERATIONS refers to positions involved in the daily running of a health care facility, insurer, or government agency. Many organizations require substantial coordination of the departments to insure that patients are admitted and receive food, drugs, therapy, and other services.
  • FINANCE refers to positions involved in the financial operations of a company, billing insurers, counseling patients about insurance coverage, and other financial aspects of health care.
  • HUMAN RESOURCES refers to positions involved in providing services to employees. Graduates might work in a benefits office for an employer or in a health care setting developing personnel policies or negotiating with unions.
  • MARKETING refers to positions involved in the planning and sale of health care services, including strategic planning, advertising, visiting employers to explain new insurance products, demonstrating medical equipment, or other such tasks.

Employment Settings

  • HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS Health care providers include for-profit, not-for-profit, and public hospitals, skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes), physician group and solo practice offices, home health agencies, specialty hospitals (facilities for psychiatric care or physical therapy and rehabilitation), for example, military and Veteran's Administration hospitals, free-standing diagnostic imaging and radiology centers, outpatient surgery centers, and other such facilities.
  • HEALTH INSURERS Health insurers work with individuals and employers to develop health benefit plans to provide access to and pay for health care for individuals and groups. In addition, they must have contracts with health care providers to deliver services to people who purchase health benefits from the company. These employers include organizations such as nonprofit organizations, commercial for-profit insurers, and managed care companies.
  • HEALTH CARE CONSULTING COMPANIES Consulting firms work with a wide variety of health care providers, insurers and others to provide independent advice on all sorts of activities, including mergers and acquisitions, information technology, changes in care processes, and so on. Graduates working in these areas often travel to many different sites, getting to work with a hospital one month, and a nursing home or home health agency the next. Major consulting firms have significant divisions focused on health care.
  • HEALTH CARE SUPPLY COMPANIES These companies supply resources to the health care providers or directly to consumers, making sure that the drugs, pacemakers, bandages, and other supplies needed to provide care are available. Graduates working in these companies work closely with these providers to deliver the supplies needed, as well as develop new products for improving health care.
  • HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH AND POLICY ORGANIZATIONS H P A graduates can find entry-level jobs with trade associations for the medical, hospital, insurance and other industries doing research, writing reports, and working with legislators on policy and regulation toward the industry. Other opportunities include working for research organizations that study the impact of health policy.
  • GOVERNMENT H P A graduates can find jobs with federal, state, and local health agencies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to their local health department. Many of these jobs involve developing new and enforcing existing policies and regulations for all aspects of the health care industry.
  • GRADUATE SCHOOL H P A can be used to enter professional programs such as medicine or law. Many H P A students who work in a health care setting eventually return to school for an MHA or MBA. Health services research, health policy, and public health are also growing fields, with an increasing number of graduate schools offering degrees in these areas.

Figure 1: Examples of Job Titles for which H P A Prepares Undergraduates by Employment Category and Setting.

Functional Areas
Employment Settings Operations Finance Human Resources Marketing

HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

Community Hospital Assistant, Department of Admissions Collections Assistant Benefits Office Trainee Planning Associate
Medical Group Practice Assistant Business Manager Assistant Billing Department Physician Recruiter Patient Contact Assistant
Nursing Facility Assistant Administrator Budget Director Volunteer Coordinator Director, Planning Department
Specialty Hospital Quality Control Assistant Corporate Account Aide Nurse Recruiter Market Analyst
Military or VA Hospital Administrator Trainee Trainee, Budget Office Human Resources
Staff
Planning Analyst
Imaging Center Scheduling Coordinator Assistant Account Manager Human Resources Manager Account Representative


HEALTH INSURERS

Health Maintenance Organization Claims Examiner Account Agent, Finance Department Physician Recruiter Group Sales Representative
Employee Benefits Benefits Assurer Coordinator, Human Resources
Commercial Insurer or Blue Cross/Blue Shield Assistant Public Affairs Claims Analyst Group Benefits Assistant Customer Supporter

HEALTH CARE CONSULTING COMPANIES

Major Accounting and Consulting Firms
Health Benefits Consulting Groups

HEALTH CARE SUPPLY COMPANIES

Pharmaceutical Companies Data Base Administrator Assistant Personnel Administrator Sales Agent
Medical Device Manufacturers Assistant Product Manager Field Manager
Healthcare Support Services
Medical Supply Firms
Consumer Health Product Components

HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH AND POLICY ORGANIZATIONS

Health Services Research Firm
Private Foundation Grants Manager Allocations Assistant Human Resources Associate Planning Aide
Trade Association Policy Specialist Project Assistant, Labor Relations Planning Associate

GOVERNMENT

State Medicaid Department Caseworker Budget Analyst Planner
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services
State Department of Health Data Analyst Fiscal Technician Assistant for Training Programs Contact Planner
National Institutes of Health
County/Local Public Health Department Environmental Health Agent Client Advocate Health Planner

GRADUATE SCHOOL

MHA or MBA Similar to above, but entry level positions have greater responsibility
Ph D, MA, MS, MPH, MPA, MPP (Health Policy, Health Services Research, Public Administration, Public Policy Teaching at college or university level; research in private companies; government administration positions
Law School Private law firm, corporate counsel, legal aid offices
Medical School Residency, internship, private/group practice or academic medical care