Health Policy Certificate
Health care is at once a critical part of people’s lives and a highly consequential part of the U.S. economy. Health policy works at the intersection of how health care is delivered to consumers and communities, and its effect on the economy, society, governments, and the private sector. Health policy researchers seek evidence-based solutions to the leading issues and problems confronting our health system.
Duke-Margolis and the Sanford School of Public Policy jointly educate students in evidence-based health policy analysis, development, and implementation so they are prepared to address complex challenges in health and health care at local, state, national, and global levels.
Why Pursue the Health Policy Certificate?
- Learn about the intersection of many different disciplines, such as medicine, ethics, economics, global health, and public policy
- Explore a health policy pathway through directed, hands-on learning experiences
- Apply classroom learning and experiences to real-world problems
Your Certificate Pathway
To earn the Health Policy Certificate, you must take four courses, complete two experiential learning activities, and create a public facing e-Portfolio that details your health policy work and scholarship.
The Health Policy Certificate is open to second-semester first-year students, sophomores, and first-semester juniors, regardless of field of study. Students should apply when they feel ready to pursue such an interdisciplinary track of study.
The only requirement is a genuine interest in the field of health policy. Applying early to the Certificate program benefits students by giving them a longer period to complete the requirements and access the experiential learning opportunities.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
For More Information
Contact Dr. Gabriele Wurmitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty Director, Health Policy Undergraduate Certificate
Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Associate Research Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Margolis Core Faculty
Program Coordinator - Academic Programs, Postdoctoral Scholars, DUSA, DGSA
Director of Undergraduate & Graduate Studies Assistant
Certificate Requirements, Application, & FAQs
- Complete four health policy courses in the following sequence:
- Complete two health policy-related experiential learning activities:
One 150-hour learning experience
One 300-hour learning experience
- Create a public-facing e-Portfolio about your health policy work and scholarship
Introduction to the United States Health Care System (PUBPOL/HLTHPOL 165) is typically offered during both fall and spring semesters. You must take the Introductory Course prior to enrolling in either your electives or the Capstone Course.
This course provides an overview of key health policy issues in the United States. Topics include:
• sources of morbidity and mortality;
• access to health care;
• health care financing, including an overview of how health insurance works, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and why there are uninsured persons and to what effect;
• health care quality;
• end-of-life issues and care in advanced stage illness;
• role of non-profit versus for-profit ownership of health care facilities and to what effect; long-term care and care-giving issues; and
• impact of social phenomenon such as income inequality, social class and culture on health care.
Electives are an opportunity for you to explore your health policy interests further. You may choose from the electives list or talk to the Faculty Director for consideration of another relevant course.
In place of one elective course, you may apply to participate in a Health Policy & Innovation Theme Bass Connections project starting in fall 2023 for academic credit. If you have met your elective needs, but would like your Bass experience to be counted towards your 150 experiential learning requirement, contact the Faculty Director for approval. Note: Bass Connections courses can count as learning experience only if they are NOT taken for credit.
Key Notes on Electives
- Electives taken before the Introductory Course will not count towards the Certificate.
- Only one elective course may be taken outside of Duke.
- Acceptance into the Certificate does not guarantee enrollment in electives.
- You may double count no more than one (1) elective course that is used also to satisfy the requirements of any major, minor, or other certificate program.
- The selection of electives undergoes regular updating.
If you have questions about electives, please send an email to email@example.com
The Capstone Seminar for Certificate in Health Policy (HLTHPOL 480) is a culminating seminar with a group project to integrate the academic and experiential learning components of the Certificate, normally taken in the spring of the senior year. The Capstone must be taken after all other course requirements are completed.
Designed to be a culminating course that integrates what students have learned from their coursework and their experiential learning activities into a final product (research paper, policy memo, TedTalk, or some other medium approved by the course instructor). Students meet in a formal course setting to discuss their academic journey into health policy, what they have learned, and relevant research and health policy developments, culminating in a final project.
The course will draw on the expertise of health policy faculty and researchers across the university. Guest speakers will be chosen based on student project topics and the interdisciplinary nature of health policy. Speakers from different disciplines such as law, business, engineering, environmental science, and ethics will discuss how their academic field of study intersects with and influences the design, adoption, and implementation of health policy, as well as highlight cutting-edge issues in their policy topic area(s). Lessons from both previous and ongoing efforts as well as future opportunities for interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration and partnerships to advance health, health equity, and health care delivery will be highlighted.
Experiential Learning Activities
You must complete two health policy-related learning experiences to earn the Health Policy Certificate. Both are opportunities for you to gain hands-on experience beyond the classroom. One learning experience must be at least 300 hours and the second learning experience must be at least 150 hours. These experiential learning components are an essential part of health policy education and training, and you will be immersed in a dynamic and collaborative community that is passionate about improving health, health equity, and the value of health care. By working with and learning from experts in the field, you will to gain skills and abilities invaluable for a career in health policy.
To fulfill both experiences, you can be involved in an internship in health policy, conduct service learning with a health policy organization to develop practical skills necessary for impacting policy, or participate in established experiences facilitated by the Duke-Margolis Center and Sanford School of Public Policy.
Example experiences extending from the Duke-Margolis and Sanford programs include:
• Internships in health policy
• Health policy-related Data+ projects. For more information, please visit the Data+ website.
• Health policy-related Duke Engage project. For more information, please visit the DukeEngage website.
• Research assistantships in health policy
• Leading the conceptualization, development, and implementation of a health policy-related case competition
• Joining a Bass Connections Health Policy & Innovation theme project or any health policy-related Bass Connections project (counts only if not for credit). For more information about upcoming Bass Connections project, please visit the Bass Connections website.
Key Notes on Learning Experiences
• All experiences must go through a pre-approval process.
• The Faculty Director and the Certificate coordinator will provide you with more information about how to get approval for an experiential learning activity.
• Experiences may be completed at any time during the Certificate, either during the academic year or in the summer but before the Capstone Course.
• Students must apply for retroactive approval for experiences taken prior to the Introductory Course.
E-Portfolio on Health Policy
The e-Portfolio is a creative space to showcase what you have accomplished throughout your Health Policy Certificate experience. Your e-Portfolio will be public-facing therefore, accessible to prospective employers or future academic programs.
Your e-Portfolio will consist of health policy-related papers, presentations, reflections on conferences and Margolis Seminars attended (minimum of six), program reflections, and projects completed to provide evidence that you have attained the learning outcomes targeted by the program. Final e-Portfolios will be reviewed by the Faculty Director the semester you take the Capstone Course (HLTHPOL 480).
More information about the e-Portfolio will be provided by the Faculty Director or Certificate Program Coordinator upon admission to the Certificate program.
Your application is your opportunity to demonstrate a good fit with the program and detail your cohesive, thoughtful pathway through the Certificate.
If you are ready to apply, please download and complete the Certificate application as a Word document first to understand what is required before you complete the online form. Once ready, please submit your complete application here.
If you have questions while preparing your application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is eligible to apply?
Second-semester first-year students, sophomores, and first-semester juniors are encouraged to apply. The only requirement is a genuine interest in the field of health policy.
When should I apply?
You are encouraged to apply as soon as you are eligible and feel ready to pursue such an interdisciplinary track of study. The benefits of applying earlier are that you will have a longer period of time to complete the requirements and access to the advising and enrichment opportunities that accompany the program. No applications will be accepted from students after the first-semester of their junior year.
Do I need to know what my specific learning experiences will be when I apply?
No, although you should be able to broadly identify the type of experiences you want to undertake as part of the Certificate and justify why they are a good fit for your overall pathway through the program.
May I change my plan for my courses and learning experiences after I am accepted into the program?
Yes, you may change the selection and timing of your courses and experiences after you are accepted. We understand that your plan may evolve as you progress through your undergraduate career and accumulate more experience.
Who approves my application?
An advisory committee will vet student applications. It is comprised of Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and Sanford School of Public Policy faculty and staff and chaired by the Faculty Director.
What information is requested in the application?
You must submit:
- a written 300-500 word essay outlining why you would like to pursue a Certificate in Health Policy and how it will complement your academic interests at Duke
- identify your proposed two electives
- describe two proposed learning experiences
See How to Apply to download the Certificate application.
How long does it take to complete the Certificate?
The time to complete varies, depending on when you start the program. You have until the time you graduate from Duke to complete the Certificate requirements.
Does the Introductory Course (PUBPOL 165) count even if I took it prior to applying?
Yes. If you have completed the required Introductory Course before you are accepted into the program, it will count towards fulfilling the Certificate requirements.
How do I know if an experience will count towards the Certificate?
After you are admitted into the program, you will meet with an advisor to discuss whether the learning experience you would like to pursue meets the criteria for the Certificate. You will then submit a pre-approval form to get formal approval for the experience from the Faculty Director.
I have already completed one relevant learning experience prior to applying. Will it count towards fulfilling the Certificate requirements?
Yes, it could. One experience may predate your application and completion of the Introductory Course. The Faculty Director must be contacted and an approval form submitted to confirm that the experience meets the Health Policy Certificate requirements.
Do the experiences have to be completed over the summer?
No. The experiences are not time-bound. You may choose to do them at any time and over any period of time, as long as they meet the minimum hour requirements and are both completed prior to the Capstone Course.
I have already taken one of the electives prior to applying. Will it count towards my Certificate requirements?
No, electives will not count toward completion of the Certificate if they were taken prior to the Introductory Course HLTHPOL 165. Electives may be taken concurrently with the Introductory Course, however.
The recommended sequence of courses is:
- Introductory Course (PUBPOL/HLTHPOL 165)
- Capstone Course (HLTHPOL 480)
I have found a course I want to take as elective for the Certificate, but it is not on the approved list. Will it count towards the Certificate?
If you have already been accepted into the Certificate, contact your advisor to discuss the appropriateness of the course. Be prepared to give a rationale for why you believe this course fits your pathway and should count towards fulfilling the requirements of the Certificate. If you are in the process of applying to the program, feel free to suggest any elective that you believe to be an appropriate addition to the Health Policy Certificate electives list and our faculty will review the requested course.
Will courses, internships, or independent studies I have taken to fulfill requirements of my major/minor/other certificate also count towards the Health Policy Certificate?
No more than one course taken for the Certificate may be used to satisfy the requirements of a major, minor, or other certificate programs.
Do I have to take the Capstone Course during the spring semester of my senior year?
No. You are not required to take the Capstone Course during the second semester of your senior year, although this is likely when most people will take it, and seniors will be given priority for the course. You may take the Capstone any spring semester after you have completed the Introductory Course, two electives, and both, the 150- and 300-hour learning experiences. The Capstone Course is offered only in the spring semester.
What are the requirements of the e-Portfolio?
The e-Portfolio is a creative space to showcase what you’ve accomplished throughout your Health Policy Certificate experience. Your e-Portfolio will be public facing therefore, accessible to prospective employers or future academic programs.
Your e-Portfolio will consist of health-policy related papers, presentations, conferences and Margolis seminars attended (minimum of 6), program reflections, and projects completed to provide evidence that you have attained the learning outcomes targeted by the program. Final e-Portfolios will be reviewed by the Faculty Director the semester you take the Capstone Course (HLTHPOL 480). More information about the e-Portfolio will be provided by the Faculty Director or Certificate Program Coordinator upon admission to the Certificate program.
Does my independent study count as the 150-hour experiential component?
Does my honors seminar count as elective if my thesis has a health policy focus?
Does my honors thesis count as Capstone project?
No. An honors thesis does not count as your Capstone project. Your Capstone project may build off your existing research but does not take the form of a formal paper. Rather, the Capstone project is focused on translating health policy research into a product for different audiences, such as a podcast, a lightning talk, a policy brief, or some other representation of your work and its relevance in the real world.
What are further resources or opportunities available to me if I join the program?
As a member of the Health Policy Certificate program, you will become part of a community of Duke students dedicated to learning about health policy. Certificate students also will have individual advising as well as special access to Duke-Margolis and Sanford events, workshops, speakers, and career planning advice and networking opportunities.