FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the advantage of earning a certificate?
Certificates typically require less time and coursework than a degree, making them appealing both to current Meharry degree students desiring specialization in particular topic areas and to individuals seeking to learn more about specific areas of health and health care. Certificates provide focused academic training with fewer course requirements than the typical degree program. Perhaps you aren’t ready to undertake a degree program or need/want health policy knowledge outside your primary area of interest. A health policy certificate can fill these needs. Luckily as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Scholar, you have less requirements without sacrificing prestige.

I’ve never taken a health policy course. Should I apply?
Yes! The Health Policy Scholars Program is designed to introduce Scholars to the broad topic and only require a genuine interest in health policy. This is not an ordinary academic program. Health Policy Scholars earn a Certificate in Health Policy from Meharry Medical College, while boosting their academic, research and career aspirations through hands-on training opportunities and a variety of benefits. As the only health policy certificate program in Middle Tennessee, we provide a curriculum taught by leading experts in the fields of health policy, health care, social science and higher education, which allow students to gain insight into topics such as: health economics, health equity, social determinants of health, and racial/ethnic health disparities. We integrate opportunities to participate in seminars, research activities, networking events and professional development workshops all aimed at training the nation’s best and brightest health policy leaders.

Are the Health Policy Scholars Program and Certificate in Health Policy Program the same thing?
Yes. Students enrolled in the Certificate in Health Policy Program are considered Health Policy Scholars.

Who is eligible to apply to a certificate program?
The RWJF Center for Health Policy accepts two types of applicants: 1) medical, dental, doctoral, and graduate students currently enrolled at Meharry Medical College, whose tuition costs are covered by the Center (up to 10 slots available); and 2) external applicants from the general public, which includes working health care professionals, medical residents, executives, faculty, and recent graduates from other institutions. Those not currently enrolled in a Meharry degree program are called external applicants. External applicants are accepted on a rolling basis, while Meharry students may enter during the fall semester.

To be eligible, applicants must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. accredited college or university and have a strong academic record.

How long does it take to earn a certificate?
The Certificate in Health Policy requires a minimum of 12 credit hours. Some courses are offered for 2 credit hours, while most are offered for 3 credit hours. At least 6 credit hours are offered each Fall and Spring, and 4 credits hours are offered in the summer. Meharry Scholars are required to finish the courses concurrently with their primary degree/training program and usually take two years to complete the courses; however, Scholars must complete the program by their anticipated graduation date. External Scholars may complete the certificate part-time and at their own pace. The program is designed to complete as early as 12 months but no later than three years.

Can certificates be earned part-time? Can I be enrolled at another institution and in the certificate program concurrent?
Yes, non-degree students may earn certificates part-time and at their own pace. Degree students and post-doctoral trainees earn the certificate concurrently with their degree or training program and must complete the program by their anticipated graduation date.

Can I be a Scholar while enrolled in my primary academic program?
Yes. Meharry Scholars are required to finish the courses concurrently with their primary degree/training program and usually take two years to complete the courses; however, Scholars must complete the program by their anticipated graduation date. As of Fall 2015, because of the rigors of adjusting to the professional school environment, we will not accept applications from first-year medical and dental students enrolled at Meharry.

What is the workload like?
The workload in the courses vary but are typically designed to introduce students to the topic and provide a framework for understanding rather than mastery level. Our Scholars usually find the additional Certificate class manageable with their primary course work or full-time work schedule. As of Fall 2015, because of the rigors of adjusting to the professional school environment, we will not accept applications from first-year medical and dental students enrolled at Meharry.

If I am sending an official transcript to the Office of Admissions, how do I attach it to my application?
Many of our applicants are able to obtain official transcripts attached to their applications through the Admissions office since that office already has the transcript on file. Other students will either have their official transcripts faxed or emailed directly to us from the school or mailed. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment will compile all required application materials until the packet is complete.

Do I need to provide transcripts from Meharry if I’m currently enrolled?
The application guidelines require transcripts from every institution where you have been a student. Many of our applicants are able to obtain official transcripts through the Meharry admissions office since that office already has the transcript on file.

Where do I send my application?
Email, mail, fax or deliver your application packet to the Office of Admissions & Recruitment, 1005 Dr. D.B. Todd, Jr. Boulevard, Nashville, Tennessee 37208. Email your application to hpadmissions@mmc.edu or fax to 615-327-6228. Do not send any applications to the RWJF Center for Health Policy.

When will I find out if I’ve been accepted to the program?
Meharry students will be notified by May 15th. External applicants will be notified at least two weeks before the start of the semester.

How do I register for courses if I am a non-degree student?
The RWJF Center for Health Policy will inform each applicant of its admission decision. The student will also receive email instructions for registering.

Who teaches the health policy courses?
Faculty from Meharry and Vanderbilt University typically teach courses. Additionally, the Scholar-in-Residence – a nationally renowned health policy expert – teaches one class per semester. For the past five years, Dr. Thomas LaVeist has served as the Scholar-in-Residence and is a vital part of the academic experience we provide to our Scholars. 

When are courses taught?
The Center follows the academic calendar of the college—fall, spring, and summer. Most on-campus health policy courses are taught during the work week (Monday-Friday) between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., in the Clay Simpson building where the Center is housed. Hybrid and online courses are conducted through Blackboard. Planned events, such as lectures, seminars, workshops, or networking mixers, we are hosted at various locations on campus.

Can certificate courses be taken pass/fail?
All health policy certificate courses are pass/fail unless a letter grade is required for individual students. Certificate courses cannot be audited.

Can courses offered during the Summer Institute on Health Policy be counted toward the certificate program?
Yes. Up to 2 credit hours per course may be applied to the Certificate in Health Policy. Scholars who take summer courses typically complete the program sooner.

Can certificate courses be counted toward a Meharry degree?
No.

Am I required to do a summer externship?
No. Scholars are not required to participate in a summer externship, although many do. The number of externships offered each year will vary depending on available funding.

Will being a Health Policy Scholar increase my chances of getting into medical school?
No, not necessarily. The Health Policy Scholars Program will certainly increase your understanding of policy and its implication on health and health care as well as demonstrate your potential for success in a more strenuous academic program. However, entrance into Meharry’s Medical, Dental, and Graduate Schools are not guaranteed. 

What is the cost of the program? Can I pay in installments? Is financial aid available?
Because Scholars carry the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation name on their CV/resume, we believe that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Each 3-credit hour course is $795, which includes one-time payment of fees. We find that our program is well worth the cost and lower than similar programs in the country. Financial aid is not available to external applicants at this time; however, you may arrange a payment plan with the accounting office.

Is the certificate included on the transcript?
The RWJF Center for Health Policy will notify the Office of the Registrar that the student has completed the course for inclusion on the student’s transcript.