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Graduate Certificate inHospital and Health System Preparedness

Program summary

Learn valuable skills needed to protect the critical infrastructure of hospitals, medical facilities, and emergency management systems in this online hospital preparedness graduate certificate program.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by July 15 to start August 26

Credits and costs

15 Credits$1,017 per credit

Gain Skills to Help Protect Health Systems from Threats

  • Apply basic epidemiologic principles and methods to public health preparedness.

  • Identify and evaluate hospital vulnerabilities and develop hospital emergency response plans.

  • Plan, implement, and evaluate exercises for public health preparedness. 

  • Enable hospital, medical, and emergency systems to remain functional in the midst of natural disasters and intentional and unintentional events.

Hospital and Health System Preparedness Courses

Courses emphasize a systems-based and all-hazards approach to preparedness, including:  

  • development of emergency operations plans 
  • proficiency in exercises that test and evaluate those plans 
  • understanding of an evidence-based approach to designing emergency operations plans and procedures

This 15-credit certificate program consists of four required courses and one elective.

Required Courses (12 credits)

  • 3

    Analyzes the history of terrorism and explores the preparation and response to specific terrorist threats, natural disasters, and conventional catastrophes.

  • 3

    A public health perspective on the preparation necessary to develop a coordinated response to a disaster or terrorist emergency.

  • 3

    Investigates the impact that terrorist incidents may have on health care facilities or their ability to deliver health care services.

  • 3

    Teaches fundamentals of emergency preparedness exercises (i.e., orientation, tabletop, drill, functional, and full-scale exercises).

Elective Courses (choose 3 credits)

  • 3

    Introduces students to the design of exposure assessment and health effect studies applicable to disasters and terrorism.

  • 3

    This course covers the principles, methods, and competencies for developing, improving, and evaluating a biorisk management system.

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.

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

Graduates may be employed by hospitals and health care facilities, military and law enforcement, public health, and emergency management services. The certificate is intended for students who seek to further a career in:

  • facility management and services
  • health care administration and management
  • emergency management and services
  • health care quality and safety
  • infection control and response

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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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 

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Learn more about this program

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by July 15 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. 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?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

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?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

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.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Degree Program Related to This Certificate

This certificate may serve as an avenue into Penn State's online master's in homeland security program. You can apply the 15 credits you earn in the certificate toward the following option, if you apply and are accepted into the program:

Learn to respond to natural and man-made disasters with appropriate emergency management strategies for public health preparedness. This online master's degree program is the only homeland security program in the country using curriculum from a medical school, the Penn State College of Medicine.

Learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security - Public Health Preparedness Option

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each semester


Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

Penn State students wearing caps and gowns at their commencement ceremony

Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Information for Military and Veterans

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Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by July 15 to start August 26

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 15 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 15 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by April 15, 2025, to start May 19, 2025

Applications are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis. Admission decisions are typically made and returned to the student within 30 days of our receipt of your completed application, which includes all transcripts and letters of reference.

Steps to Apply

  1. For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

  2. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

    Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

    Test Scores — GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required for admission. 

    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 Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

    References (3) — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.  

    Program-Specific Questions/Materials

    Résumé  — Upload your résumé (one-to two-pages) to the online application.

    Statement of Purpose — A statement of no more than 500 words explaining to the admissions committee how your professional experience and goals relate to the program to which you are applying. Your statement could include aspects such as the following: Your reasons for pursuing the degree; why you feel you are a good candidate for the program; and any information you would like the admissions committee to know about you personally and/or professionally.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

    • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

    Checking Your Status 
    You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 

    Technical Requirements  
    Review the technical requirements for this program.

  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

Customer service representative wearing a headset

Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

For questions related to the Graduate Certificate in Hospital and Health System Preparedness, please contact:

Rachel Reager
Academic Support Coordinator
Penn State College of Medicine
Office of Graduate Education
500 University Drive, MC H170
Hershey, PA 17033
Phone: 717-531-0003 (ext. 285655)
Email: [email protected]

For general questions about Penn State World Campus, please contact:

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

Learn from the Best

Designed by Penn State's College of Medicine and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the Penn State Homeland Security portfolio educates professionals and prepares leaders to make societies more secure in a global era of evolving threats in an all-hazards spectrum.


  • William Dunne

    • Degree
      M.A., Security Studies, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Naval Postgraduate School
    • Degree
      M.S., Emergency Health Services, University of Maryland Baltimore County
    • Degree
      B.S., Emergency Health Services, University of Maryland Baltimore County

    William Dunne is a senior instructor in public health sciences and the director of emergency management and business continuity at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine, which includes Highly Infectious Disease (HID) preparedness. He mentors students on independent projects and research. He has more than 25 years of experience in leadership, clinical care, education, and research in emergency preparedness and public safety. He spent 14 years at UCLA Health in emergency management, safety, and security, and 8 years as the program director of the paramedic program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He has experience as a chief officer in EMS and a paramedic/firefighter and critical care paramedic, and he has taught undergraduate clinical and management classes. He also worked on health system disaster preparedness research at the Charles McC. Mathias, Jr. National Study Center for Trauma and Emergency Medical Services and contributed to the revision of the U.S. DOT Paramedic and Intermediate National Standard Curriculum. His professional interests include improving collaboration and situational awareness across the local, state, federal, and international levels; creation of surge capacity in disasters; and community outreach, including personal preparedness to improve resilience.

  • Avram Flamm

    • Degree
      D.O., Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, New York Institute of Technology
    • Degree
      Emergency Medical Services Fellowship, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
    • Degree
      Emergency Medicine Residency, WellSpan York Hospital

    Dr. Avram Flamm is an assistant professor of emergency medicine and public health sciences. He teaches courses on health system critical infrastructure and mentors students in independent research. Dr. Flamm is an emergency medicine and emergency medical services (EMS) physician and the medical director of Life Lion Critical Care Transport at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He serves as core faculty for both the residency program and EMS fellowship. He is also a medical team manager with FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Pennsylvania Task Force 1 and a member of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Mass Casualty Incident Core Planning Team. His research interests include emergency medical services and community preparedness.

  • Eugene Lengerich

    • Degree
      V.M.D., Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      M.S., Agricultural Economics and Operations Research, Penn State

    Dr. Eugene Lengerich is a professor of public health sciences and faculty director of the public health preparedness option. He teaches courses on epidemiology, community preparedness and resilience, and the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. He also mentors students in independent research. He has led health assessments for medical and public health students in domestic and international settings. Prior to joining Penn State, he conducted outbreak investigations as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer and preventive medicine resident at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following his experience at the federal level, he led health investigations for the state of North Carolina. His research interests are in outbreak detection and investigation, community and public preparedness, and preparedness education.

  • Gavin Macgregor-Skinner

    • Degree
      M.Sc., Wild Animal Health, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Zoonotic Diseases, Royal Veterinary College, University of London
    • Degree
      M.P.H., Epidemiology, International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
    • Degree
      M.R.C.V.S., Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    • Degree
      B.V.Sc., Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, University of Queensland

    Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner is an associate professor in public health sciences and teaches courses on public health emergencies, biologic risk management, and training exercises. He is a co-investigator on the Penn State COVID-19 for Nursing Homes funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, and C-SPAN to discuss his research in disaster medicine, preparedness, and health security. Prior to joining Penn State, he served 12 years as an officer in the Australian and British militaries, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a global health Fellow for USAID. He is the senior director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a Division of ISSA, a not-for-profit that helps organizations and businesses prepare for, respond to, and recover from biological threats, biohazard situations, and real-time crises.

  • Scott Mickalonis

    • Degree
      M.S., Emergency Management, Millersville University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      B.S., Exercise and Sport Science, Penn State

    Scott Mickalonis is a senior instructor in public health sciences and the system director of emergency management and business continuity for Penn State Health, including the medical centers and medical group. Scott holds certification in emergency management (CEM) and business continuity (CBCP) and is a certified hospital emergency coordinator (CHEC) and EMT-Paramedic. Scott has been a leader, educator, and practitioner in emergency management for more than 20 years, serving in both the public and private sectors. He spent 15 years with the Montgomery County (PA) Department of Public Safety in emergency medical services and emergency management, serving as the deputy director for emergency management and hazardous materials response. In 2014, he joined the Hershey Medical Center as the manager for emergency preparedness, establishing the emergency management program amidst the Ebola outbreak and helping establish the Ebola Treatment Center. His experience allowed him to take on a leadership role with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, managing the regional healthcare coalition in central Pennsylvania. Scott joined Penn State Health in January 2021, initiating a comprehensive approach to emergency management and business continuity. His interests include planning, training, and exercises and growing the profession of emergency management through experiential student learning opportunities.

  • Jennifer Osetek

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Biodefense, George Mason University
    • Degree
      M.H.S., Public Health Preparedness, Penn State

    Dr. Jennifer Osetek is an assistant professor of public health sciences. She teaches courses on natural and terrorist threat assessments and non-medical obstacles in public health preparedness. She also mentors students in independent research. She is a 2008 alum of the program and led the development of a framework to examine non-medical obstacles in public health responses, utilizing case studies of smallpox eradication in India and Central/Western Africa and the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and a CBRNE research analyst focusing on biological and chemical defense. Her research interests include terrorist threats, public health, and preparedness education.

  • Zhengmin Qian

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Exposure/Epidemiology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Rutgers University
    • Degree
      M.D., Tongji Medical University, China

    Dr. Zhengmin Qian is a professor of public health sciences at Penn State and professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at St. Louis University. He teaches courses in epidemiology, exposure assessment, and public health evaluation. For more than 15 years, he has been a key investigator in Health Effects of Long-Term Air Pollution on Lung Function and Respiratory Health in Children and Adults in Four Chinese Cities, sponsored by the EPA. Dr. Qian has published more than 170 peer-reviewed papers and reviews research proposals for federal agencies. His research interests are in environmental epidemiology, global health, and the medical and public health impact of air pollution.

  • Charlotte Roy

    M.H.S., Homeland Security, Penn State

    Ms. Charlotte Roy is a teaching assistant in public health sciences and has been an evaluator for Harvard School of Public Health Center for Public Health Preparedness. For Penn State, Ms. Roy is an assistant instructor for critical hospital and health system infrastructure protection. She has recently retired as hospital safety officer and emergency management coordinator for Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts. Ms. Roy is a certified IAEM emergency manager and FEMA Certified Trainer in Hospital Emergency Response to WMD. During COVID-19, she has served as coordinator of hospital preparedness and response for the state of Massachusetts.

  • Anna Ssentongo

    • Degree
      Dr.P.H., Public Health Sciences, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.P.H., Public Health Sciences, Penn State

    Dr. Anna Ssentongo is an assistant professor of trauma surgery and public health sciences. She teaches courses in epidemiology and public health research, and she mentors students in independent research. Dr. Ssentongo’s research guides public health preparedness and planning efforts for future pandemics. Her work has been nationally recognized and cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Dr. Ssentongo serves on the Trauma-Informed and Anti-Oppressive Care Committee and the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault/Human Trafficking Task Force. She is the founder of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Dr. Ssentongo conducts research in the areas of infectious disease and critical care epidemiology while emphasizing the importance of public health preparedness. She has particular interest in understanding the susceptibility to, risk factors for, and natural history of recovery from coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2.


Shelley Haffner stands in front of a sign that says Student Health Center, which is in front of the University Health Services building on Penn State's campus
This grad helped Penn State mitigate infectious disease hazards,
Old Main building at Penn State's University Park campus
New online course engages middle, high school students in 'The Science of COVID', Penn State News
An aerial view of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Public health preparedness master's students take on COVID-related projects,
The building that houses the Penn State's College of Medicine is shown at dusk.
This student’s job: Get PPE to agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic,

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by July 15 to start August 26. How to Apply