Frequently Asked Questions
HPA General Information
You can also find detailed answers to most questions in our Policies and Procedures Manual.
Why study health policy and administration?
With our nation’s health care system in a state of flux, the need for competent leaders who are well versed in the business of health care is greater than ever. The master of health policy and administration program at Washington State University prepares you to take a leadership role in the dynamic field of health care management. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an increasing need for health services managers and top executives.
Why study HPA at WSU in Spokane?
The program has been accredited since 2000 by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the only accrediting agency in the field of health services administration. Accreditation by CAHME is the most important assurance that a graduate program meets the quality standards developed by the profession and the health services industry. Benefits of accreditation include: access to scholarship and special project grants funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; availability of certain residency positions; fees and dues reductions for recent graduates from professional organizations such as the American College of Healthcare Executives.
What distinguishes HPA from other programs?
First, as our name implies we place equal emphasis on both the theoretical and practical aspects of healthcare administration. Students receive instruction and direction that lead to further education, research, or careers in healthcare.
Additionally, the HPA program at WSU is nationally ranked and recognized; is accommodating to both full-time and part-time students; emphasizes professional development as a component of its curriculum; and actively facilitates networking opportunities for its students and alumni. WSU’s HPA program was ranked #46 of the top Healthcare Management Schools according to the U.S. News & World Report 2011.
What careers are available?
- Provider segment: leadership roles in hospitals, physician group practices, nursing homes, and home health agencies.
- Insurance segment: insurance companies and HMOs are experiencing tremendous growth.
- Supplier segment: with companies that make disposable supplies and equipment, pharmaceutical companies and consulting firms.
- Federal, state, or local agencies or associations shaping health care policy: state health departments, private foundations, federal programs, or national associations, such as the Red Cross or the American Hospital Association.
What kind of salary can I expect to earn?
WSU HPA graduates enjoy average annual starting salaries of $65,000 and a 90 percent placement rate within three months of graduation.
What is the WICHE Western Regional Graduate Program?
WSU’s HPA program had to meet criteria of distinctiveness and demonstrated quality to be admitted to the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). According to WICHE, "The WRGP consists of very high quality master’s and doctoral degree programs which tend not to be widely available throughout the West … WRGP is particularly strong in two areas: programs targeted to the emerging social, environmental, and resource development needs of the West, and innovative interdisciplinary programs."
Admission to WICHE means that residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming are eligible to enroll at WSU for resident rates of tuition.
What preparation do I need to study health policy and administration at WSU?
Students enter the program with a variety of undergraduate degrees, ranging from business and public administration, public policy studies, pre-law, or communications to biology, pre-medicine, or health service administration. Some of our students use the MHPA degree to enhance their credentials for successful application to law school or medical school.
Are there any prerequisite courses required?
Before students may enroll in the program, they must have taken a basic financial accounting course, microeconomics, and have computer skills (word processing, spreadsheet competence). Prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment in any Health Policy and Administration courses. In order to complete the economics prerequisite, you may take an exam for a waiver. The department recommends that you study “Principles of Microeconomics” by N. Gregory Mankiw. When you are ready, you take the exam (at home, open-book) and send it to the department where it is scored.
A similar test for waiver is available for the financial accounting prerequisite. To do this, the department recommends that you study “Essentials of Accounting, 10th Edition” by Anthony and Breitner. When you are ready, you take the exam (at home, open-book) and send it back to us here where it is scored and entered into your student file. If you pass, your accounting requirement is waived. If not, you can try again up to two more times, but you must have it completed before you enroll.
What are the admission requirements?
Admission standards conform to the requirements of the Washington State University Graduate School. An undergraduate Grade Point Average of 3.0 or better is expected. See the list of requirements on the Admissions Information web page.
Are there additional requirements for international students?
Yes. International students must submit an official TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB score. See the Admissions Information web page for more details. WSU’s HPA program is popular with international students and at times they comprise up to 30 percent of a class.
How long will it take to complete my degree and when can I start?
Full-time students may complete the program in two years taking 12 to 18 credit hours per semester. Part-time students have up to six years to complete the 50-semester hour program. The majority of the courses are offered in the evenings, Monday–Thursday nights, 4 - 6:30 p.m.
Students may start in the fall or spring semester, however full time students who wish to complete within two years should start in the fall semester.
Is the internship required?
Yes. The program requires 3 credits – 192 hours of work experience – and allows up to 5 credits of internship experience. The internship is done in a health care setting under the supervision of a core faculty member and a community preceptor with advanced qualifications and experience in health care. The internship is tailored to individual student needs and may be modified for students with extensive administrative experience in a health care setting.
What are the options for my graduate project?
There are two options for completion of the MHPA degree requirement. One is the graduate project – which consists of a poster or journal submission – and the other is a thesis. The graduate project or thesis (3 credits each in the last semester) will consist of a unique investigation selected by the student and faculty advisors. Graduate project or thesis data may be collected as part of the internship if the student is able to clearly demonstrate an appropriate combination of investigative and administrative activities.
The primary objectives of the Graduate Project or thesis are to provide:
- experience with first-hand application of health administration theory,
- hands-on experience with research methods and statistics, and
- an opportunity to demonstrate the ability to communicate theory, methods, and results.
What kinds of financial aid or scholarships are available?
HPA financial aid information is available on this web page.
WSU’s main campus is in Pullman. What is on the Spokane campus?
Spokane has WSU’s official health sciences campus. In additional to biomedical research, about 1,400 WSU students pursue degrees in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, speech and hearing sciences, nutrition and exercise physiology and health policy and administration. The campus is located in Spokane’s University District along with Gongaza University and Whitworth University as well as health sciences programs from Eastern Washington University in physical therapy, occupational therapy, dental hygiene and communication disorders. The University of Washington also has partnership programs there for educating medical doctors and dentists.
Spokane has a population of 410,700 and excellent cultural amenities. It is adjacent to the mountain ranges, lakes, and rivers of eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana, providing excellent skiing, boating, rafting, fishing, camping, hiking, tennis, and golfing opportunities. Depending on your driving, Spokane is four to five hours from Seattle, four to five hours from Glacier National Park, and six to seven hours from Yellowstone National Park.
Housing and other costs of living are significantly lower than the East and West Coasts, and the HPA program offers very competitive public, rather than private, university tuition rates.
Phase I Classroom Building 133
Joseph Coyne, Dr.P.H.
Chair and Professor