Healthcare employees

Bachelor of Science in
Health Policy and Administration

Program summary

Gain the knowledge and skills you need to balance cost, access, and quality in policy-related health care positions. This online degree program includes an internship that can give you valuable real-world experience in the field.

Application deadline

Apply by October 31 to start January 8

Credits and costs

120 Credits $626/$671 per credit

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Our bachelor's degrees are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Online Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration (HPA)

The field of health care continues to expand in response to ever-evolving regulations, dynamic technology, rising costs, and a significant increase in the number of patients as the population ages. Health care professionals with the educational background to meet these challenges are in high demand. A bachelor’s degree in HPA can help you acquire the skills and knowledge you need to understand the issues involved in providing access to quality health care services at a reasonable cost.

Advantages of Penn State's Online Health Policy and Administration Degree Program

In our online program, you can learn from faculty in Penn State's highly respected Department of Health Policy and Administration, who have more than 50 years of experience in teaching undergraduates about health care. The HPA department is a full member of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA).

In addition, Penn State's nearly 4,000 HPA alumni are proof of our steadfast commitment to undergraduate education in health policy and administration.

As a complement to the high-caliber curriculum and access to the expansive professional alumni network, the online courses in our program provide you with the flexibility and convenience to study around your schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education — and prepare yourself for more challenging career opportunities without leaving the comfort of your home.

Your Online HPA Courses


The curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration is a blend of courses in liberal arts, business administration, and the health sciences that can help you develop the expertise you will need to contribute to improvements in the health care system.

You will also participate in a program internship that will give you the necessary practical experiences to help you stand out in the job market.


The Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration (HPA) is a 120-credit program that offers a solid foundation in the management, business, and policy aspects of health care.

Prescribed Courses (36 credits)

  • 3

    Methods of economic analysis and their use; price determination; theory of the firm; distribution.

    • GS

      This course can be used to satisfy the Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) requirement.

  • 3

    Examination of the social, political, historic, and scientific factors in the development and organization of health services.

  • 3

    This course covers basic concepts and issues related to health insurance and payment for health care providers.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102, HPA 101

  • 3

    An introduction to financial and economic information to make decisions in health care organizations.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 210

  • 3

    Analysis of major issues in health services delivery in hospitals, medical practice, public health, mental health, and health professional education.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102, HPA 101, PLSC 001

  • 3

    Health care from an individual, family, and community standpoint illustrated with specific diseases and health problems.

    • Prerequisite

      (BBH 101 or BISC 004 or BIOL 141) and HPA 101

  • 3

    This course covers fundamental theories, concepts, issues, and strategies related to a population health approach to health and health services.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 101

  • 3

    Introduction to and analysis of managerial roles and practices in health service organizations.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 101, HPA 211

  • 3

    Development of personal understanding and professional skills to prepare students for future employment or study in health policy and administration.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 101

  • 3

    Professional field experience providing opportunities to apply skills and knowledge in health care setting.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 301, HPA 310, HPA 332, HPA 390W

    • Full-Time Equivalent Course

      Full-time equivalent (FTE) classes have been approved to be offered as full time regardless of the number of credits the class is worth.

  • 3

    Introduction to principles and methods of strategic planning and marketing.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 395

  • 3

    This course examines the American democracy by looking at the dynamic interaction between the founding ideals of the United States government, the institutions established by the Constitution, and the ongoing contest for power within and through those institutions.

    • GS

      The credits earned in this course may be applied toward the Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) requirement.

Additional Courses (7 credits)

    • 3

      Fundamentals of computational thinking, including reasoning about problems at multiple levels of abstraction, and analyzing code for its behavior, efficiency, and correctness.

      • GQ

        This course can be used to satisfy the Quantification (GQ) requirement.

    • or:

      Provides an overview of the role of information systems in business process design; the current technologies used for obtaining, storing, securing, and communicating information in support of operations and decision-making within a business organization; as well as the concepts and principles for developing and using popular spreadsheet and database tools.

  • 4

    Descriptive Statistics, frequency distributions, probability and normal distributions, statistical inference, linear regression, and correlation.

    • Prerequisite

      Placement into MATH 021 or higher.

    • GQ

      This course can be used to satisfy the Quantification (GQ) requirement.

Additional HPA Courses (select 9 credits)

  • 3

    This course provides an opportunity to students to learn about the challenges of leadership in health care.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 301, HPA 311, HPA 332

  • 3

    This course examines the broad concept of diversity and its impact on health care, particularly on rendering services to patients from diverse groups and about the challenges health care professionals face serving diverse populations. Diversity includes many factors, such as age, ethnicity, race, religion, physical and mental disability, class, gender, and sexual orientation. To eradicate health disparities and improve health outcomes, students will explore effective and culturally appropriate strategies and interventions to deliver health care to diverse health care consumers.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 311

  • 3

    Theory of epidemiology and significant case studies. Potential application to health care.

    • Prerequisite

      BBH 101 or BIOL 110 or HPA 310; STAT 200 or STAT 250

  • 3

    Management and policy issues for institutional, community, and home settings for chronic care services.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 332

  • 3

    Foundations of human resource management applied to health care organizations, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community health organizations.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 332

  • 3

    This course introduces information systems terminology, data structures, software applications, and their management functions in health services organizations.

    • Prerequisite

      CMPSC 203, HPA 332, IST 210, IST 220

  • 3

    This course covers the basic principles and techniques of quality management in health care, including the definition, measurement, and uses of data for improving the quality of health and health services.

    • Prerequisite

      HPA 332

Supporting Courses and Related Areas (30 credits)

At least 9 credits must be at the 400 level.

Select from University-wide offerings in consultation with adviser. View the full department list

Please note that not all supporting courses on the department's list are available to online learners. Students can choose electives in consultation with their adviser.

General Education (45 credits)

12 credits are included in the requirements for the major.

General Education Requirements

Some General Education requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GWS courses.
  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GQ courses.
  • Integrative Studies: 6 credits
    This requirement only applies to students starting in summer 2018 or later. Learn more about the Integrative Studies options and consult your academic adviser when choosing courses to fulfill these requirements. Integrative Studies credits may be completed within the thirty Knowledge Domain credits and must be completed with either Inter-domain or Linked courses, not a combination of both.

Electives (select 4–6 credits)

Students can choose electives in consultation with their adviser.

Please note: Among the above degree requirements, you must incorporate at least 3 credits in U.S. cultures, 3 credits in international (IL) cultures, and 3 credits in Writing Across the Curriculum courses. The above course list includes only courses offered by World Campus. An official degree audit or the recommended academic plan for this program may include additional course options and detailed requirements. All students are expected to complete at least 36 Penn State credits to earn this degree. Please consult an academic adviser for details.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $626 per credit $671 per credit
12–19 $7,602 per semester $8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $632 per credit $678 per credit
12–19 $7,678 per semester $8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 31 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 15 to start May 13
  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30, 2024, to start August 26, 2024

New students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by March 1. Please visit the Office of Student Aid website for more information about applying for financial aid and recommended deadlines.

Admissions Help

Thank you for your interest in applying to this program. Contact an admissions counselor to discuss your educational goals, financial aid options, and application deadlines.

Admission Requirements 

To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate or have completed your GED. 

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need the following items to complete your application:

High school transcripts or GED transcript — First-year applicants are required to submit Self-Reported Academic Records (SRAR). Official high school transcripts will only be required at the time a student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State.

Official college or university transcripts, if you attended another institution, and/or official military transcripts (if applicable) — All college or university transcripts are required regardless of the length of time that has passed, the grades earned, or the accreditation of the institutions attended. Acceptance of transfer credit toward your degree is subject to final approval by the academic department. For detailed information, see the Transfer Students page.

Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Please send your transcripts by mail or electronically through Parchment, eScrip-Safe, or the National Student Clearinghouse directly to Penn State from the college/university where course work was attempted.

Submit official documents by mail to:

Undergraduate Admissions Office
The Pennsylvania State University
201 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Language Proficiency section on the Undergraduate Admissions International Requirements page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions. 

If this is your first time applying to Penn State, you'll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Review the application instructions before beginning.
  2. Complete the online application and submit all official documents.
  3. Pay the application fee.

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form and choosing "MyPennState — Check Application Status." Your decision letter (confirming your acceptance or denial) will be mailed four to six weeks after receipt of all application materials. An admissions counselor will contact you if additional information is required.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State bachelor's degree?

Apply by October 31 to start January 8. How to Apply

Start or Advance Your Career

A group of health care professionals and administrators in a business meeting

The breadth of the course work in this bachelor’s degree program can prepare you for almost any type of health care work environment. As an HPA graduate, you can join the vast network of HPA alumni who work in a wide range of health services organizations from major teaching hospitals to rural solo-practices.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Health Care Analyst
  • Health Care Consultant
  • Health Information Manager
  • Hospital Unit Coordinator
  • Medical Practice Manager
  • Mental Health Program Manager
  • Patient Services Director

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Medical and Health Services Managers

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 


An administrative internship, which will provide practical, hands-on experience and problem-solving skills needed to tackle some of the most challenging issues in the health care industry and can be completed in your community, is required for this degree.

The administrative internship, typically completed near the end of the program, is a 320-hour full-time or part-time work experience, which can be fulfilled over one or two consecutive semesters. Both in-person and virtual administrative internships qualify, provided they are within a health care organization or governmental agency.

Internship Course Work

The internship, HPA 395, is a full-time equivalent course, meaning students qualify for financial aid while enrolled. The Department of Health Policy and Administration views the workload for this course as if you were completing 12 credit hours. Because of this, we recommend students take no more than two additional courses with their internship.

Professional Development Courses
Course Number and Name Description Credits
HPA 395: Field Experience in HPA

During this course, you will gain administrative training and experience through an internship for a minimum of 320 hours with a health service organization, either over one semester or two consecutive semesters. As part of the field experience, you will complete:

  • an internship Work Plan
  • a weekly log of your assigned activities and tasks
  • a presentation highlighting your internship experience
  • a post-internship evaluation
3 credits (320 hours)

Benefits to Completing an HPA Internship

One of the strengths of Penn State's Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration is the emphasis on professional development. Designed to enhance your overall learning, this internship will provide you with an opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge you are acquiring in your online course work within a health care setting. The internship experience can uniquely prepare you by introducing you to other professionals in the field and to the work environment in a way that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.

While other students could graduate with similar educational experiences, an internship will help you stand out in the job market with transferable skills that employers are seeking.

Internship Objectives

The flexible internship experience serves as a critical component of your overall academic process by focusing on various personalized objectives, including:

  • gaining practical experience in administration/management, research, or policy
  • interacting with other health care professionals and providing guidance in the establishment of your professional identity
  • applying the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom setting
  • introducing you to real-life situations and experiencing first-hand how those issues impact the organization
  • developing awareness of special career interests, abilities, and areas of potential improvement in order to select appropriate relevant course work and training during your final year of academic study
  • establishing a professional network in which you can grow as you further pursue your career goals

Examples of Appropriate Internship Experiences

You will work closely with your internship coordinator and your preceptor to plan the path most appropriate for you. Your individual internship experience will be based on your own needs and goals. Some possible internship experiences to consider include:

  1. Attending key leadership meetings
  2. Shadowing your preceptor throughout the course of a day
  3. Being assigned to various projects within an organization
  4. Presenting a defined internship project to senior management
  5. Performing a wide variety other tasks assigned by your preceptor

For additional details about our internship, please view our Student Internship Website.

Professional Licensure / Certification


Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map for more information.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of Health and Human Development, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]


  • Christina Daley

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Nonprofit Administration and Leadership Studies, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      Master of Library Science, Clarion University
    • Degree
      Master of Management in Healthcare Administration, Penn State

    Dr. Christina Daley is an associate teaching professor. Her research interests include aging, long-term supports and services, long-term care administration, strategic planning, and marketing.

  • Maria L. Dawson

    • Degree
      M.H.A., Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Health Planning and Administration, Penn State

    Maria L. Dawson is an assistant teaching professor. Her teaching interests include health care management, health care ethics, health care quality, and electronic medical records.

  • Jennifer L. Deutsch

    • Degree
      M.S., Health Care Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Degree
      B.S., Health Policy and Administration, Penn State

    Jennifer L. Deutsch serves as program director and assistant teaching professor of the World Campus Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration. Her teaching interests include United States health policy, current health care policy issues, consumer choices in health care, and health services organization and delivery.

  • Francis J. King

    Master of Public Management, Carnegie Mellon University

    Francis J. King teaches undergraduate courses in health administration, including acute care and post-acute care. His interests also include the reality of the intersection of health policy with health care systems and operations, and he is developing a course in nursing home administration.

  • Mark Sciegaj

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Social Policy, Brandeis University
    • Degree
      M.P.H., Health Management, Emory University

    Dr. Mark Sciegaj is a professor of health policy and administration. His research focuses on the area of health services research and aging, with extensive experience in policy implementation and evaluation studies. His recent publications include "Three Emerging Themes from Implementing Self-Directed Long-Term Service and Support Programs Under Managed Care"; "Theories that Guide Consumer-Directed/Person-Centered Initiatives in Policy and Practice"; and "An Inventory of Publicly Funded Participant-Directed Long-Term Services and Supports Programs in the United States."

  • Diane Spokus

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Workforce Education Training and Development, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.Ed., Lifelong Learning and Adult Education, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State
    • Degree
      Minor, Gerontology, Penn State
    • Degree
      MCHES, Health Educator

    Dr. Diane Spokus is teaching professor and associate director of HPA Undergraduate Professional Development and Outreach. She teaches courses in health policy, human resource management in health care, and health services organization. She has also served as faculty adviser and health educator, as well as a hospital board chair for the PA Rural Health Board of Directors. She was an internship coordinator for nine years. Dr. Spokus holds a Personal Care Home Certificate, and her research interests include aging, health care workforce shortages, job satisfaction and design, retention, recruitment, and quality of work-life.

  • Amy Thul

    • Degree
      D.Ed., Adult Education, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.Ed., Counselor Education, Bloomsburg University
    • Degree
      B.A., Writing, Susquehanna University

    Dr. Amy Thul is an associate teaching professor and associate director of professional development of health policy and administration, teaching in both the residential and online instruction programs. She develops and maintains the internship website, supports students with their career trajectory, and develops relationships with employers and organizations.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State bachelor's degree?

Apply by October 31 to start January 8. How to Apply