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Explore Health and Human Development

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

Marianne Hillemeier, Department Head, 604E Ford Building,, 814-863-0873

Mark Sciegaj, Undergraduate Professor-In-Charge, 601F Ford Building,, 814-863-2861

Caroline Condon-Lewis, Undergraduate Adviser, 604J Ford Building,, 814-863-2900

Joyce Hanscom, Undergraduate Program Staff Assistant, 604G Ford Building, 814-863-2900,

Home Page: /hpa

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 and World Campus)
H P A Recommended Academic Plan (Commonwealth Campuses)
Degree Audit
H P A Degree Audit

The HPA major prepares students for management and policy positions or graduate study in the
field of health care. Students in the major develop the skills and knowledge needed to understand
the complex societal problem of providing access to quality health care at a reasonable cost. All
Health Policy and Administration students complete an internship in a health-care-related setting,
giving them valuable experience and contacts in the industry. HPA students study a
multidisciplinary curriculum that prepares them to work as health services managers or health
analysts. Health services managers, also called health care executives or health care
administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical, health, and/or long-term care services. They
might manage an entire facility or specialize in managing a specific clinical area or department,
administrate a program, or manage a practice for a group of providers. Health analysts are
employed throughout the health care industry gathering, compiling, modeling, validating, and
analyzing data needed by different organizations of providers, payers, and policy makers.
Analysts help these organizations understand the current trends in the health care system and to
make well-informed decisions. Both health services managers and analysts must be able to adapt
to changes in health care laws, regulations, and technology. HPA students have also used 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.
In addition to our undergraduate degree, HPA offers three graduate degree programs, a Master of
Health Administration (M.H.A), a Master of Science in Health Policy and Administration
(M.S.), and a Ph.D. in Health Policy and Administration. We also offer a 5-year integrated
B.S./M.H.A. degree. For more information on our graduate programs, see our website
The HPA is certified by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration
(AUPHA), a national consortium of similar programs. AUPHA has many resources available
for students interested in health administration on its website


Degree Requirements

To meet HPA Undergraduate Program goals, your graduation requirements include courses in three areas: general education, major degree requirements, and electives. Your degree requirements consist of 45 credits in general education. The major degree requirements for a B.S. in Health Policy and Administration 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, you may need to complete up to 2 credits in electives, depending on your other course selections. Since ECON 102, PLSC 001 or SOC 023, STAT 200 or 250 and CMPSC 101 or 203 count for both General Education and Major Degree Requirements this makes a total of 120 credits. As part of these 120 credits students must complete a first-year seminar, 3 credits in United State cultures (US), 3 credits in International culture (IL), and 3 credits in a writing across the curriculum (W) course. HPA 301W fulfills this requirement for HPA 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 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 ourse 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 or 390W, 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 or 390W. The Department provides several resources to assist students in finding internships. Contact the HPA department adviser or the Professional Development instructor for more information. New internship opportunities are sent out through email or posted on the internship website.

The field experience can only be scheduled in the Summer. Prior to the field experience the student MUST have satisfactorily completed H P A 101, H P A 301 or 301W, H P A 310, H P A 332 and H P A 390 or 390W 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 102, PL SC 001, ACCTG 211 or H P A 297A, 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 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, 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 102 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 102 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 102 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.


There are many career opportunities in health care. Many HPA graduates work in finance, human resources, marketing and other management fields in a wide variety of health care settings, including health systems, long-term care organizations, physician group practices, and managed care companies. HPA graduates with interests in policy find positions in state health, welfare, and insurance departments, federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, and private trade and research organizations. Other HPA graduates pursue graduate education in medicine, health law, public health, business or health administration, or the rapidly growing field of health services research and policy. Federal and state experts predict continued rapid growth in employment and income in the fields of health policy and health administration.

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