Credits and costs
Online Hospital and Health System Preparedness Graduate Certificate
This 15-credit online graduate certificate provides students with the knowledge and skills to protect the critical infrastructure of hospitals, medical facilities, and emergency management systems. The effective protection of this critical infrastructure will allow these systems to remain functional in the midst of natural disasters and intentional and unintentional events.
The Penn State Difference
Penn State's College of Medicine and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center offer this unique certificate as part of the online Homeland Security program. Based on a partnership of six colleges, the Penn State Homeland Security portfolio is one of the nation's most respected and comprehensive HLS programs, designed to educate professionals and prepare leaders to make societies more secure in a global era of evolving threats in an all-hazards spectrum.
The 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 master's in homeland security with an option in public health preparedness, if you apply and are accepted into the program.
Hospital and Health System Preparedness Curriculum
The program curriculum will emphasize a systems-based and all-hazards approach to preparedness. Graduates will be experienced in development and revision of an emergency operations plan, both at the facility and community levels, and be proficient in exercises that test and evaluate those plans. Graduates will be expected to understand and use an evidence-based approach in designing emergency operations plans and procedures.
This 15-credit certificate program consists of four required courses and one elective.
After completing this certificate, you may only need to take an additional six courses to obtain Penn State's 33-credit online Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security — Public Health Preparedness option, if you apply and are granted admission into the master's program.
Required Courses (12 credits)
Elective Courses (choose 3 credits)
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
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.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
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.
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.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Applications are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis. 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. You may check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 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.
- Summer Deadline: Apply by April 15 to start May 15
- Fall Deadline: Apply by July 15 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by November 15 to start January 8
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.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. 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.
GPA and Test Scores — Post-secondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required.
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.
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.
Start Your Application
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.
Begin the graduate school application
- Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
- Choose "Health System Preparedness" as the certificate
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the technical requirements for this program.
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.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?
Start or Advance Your Career
Start or Advance Your Career
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.
For questions related to the Graduate Certificate in Hospital and Health System Preparedness, offered in partnership with the Penn State Hershey Medical Center/College of Medicine, please contact:
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
Email: [email protected]
DegreeM.A., Security Studies, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Naval Postgraduate School
DegreeM.S., Emergency Health Services, University of Maryland Baltimore County
DegreeB.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.
DegreeD.O., Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, New York Institute of Technology
DegreeEmergency Medical Services Fellowship, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
DegreeEmergency 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.
DegreeV.M.D., Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
DegreeM.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.
DegreeM.Sc., Wild Animal Health, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Zoonotic Diseases, Royal Veterinary College, University of London
DegreeM.P.H., Epidemiology, International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
DegreeM.R.C.V.S., Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
DegreeB.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.
DegreeM.S., Emergency Management, Millersville University of Pennsylvania
DegreeB.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 health care 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.
DegreePh.D., Biodefense, George Mason University
DegreeM.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.
DegreePh.D., Exposure/Epidemiology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Rutgers University
DegreeM.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 RoyDegreeM.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.
DegreeDr.P.H., Public Health Sciences, Penn State
DegreeM.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.