Certificate in Health Policy Program


Why Meharry? | Admission RequirementsCertificate Requirements | Sample Courses | Tuition & Fees | APPLY

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College offers a Certificate in Health Policy designed for individuals with educational and research interests in health policy and social science research. As the only health policy certificate program in Middle Tennessee, we provide a rigorous curriculum taught by leading experts in the fields of health policy, health care and social science, that allow students to gain insight into topics such as: health law, health economics, health equity, social determinants of health, and 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.

The Certificate in Health Policy Program is an excellent way for medical, dental, doctoral and graduate students to enhance their academic experience. Evening classes also make the program ideal for recent graduates and working, health care professionals to advance their careers.

Our alumni continue on to pursue careers with top healthcare organizations, medical schools, and government agencies including: the Centers for Disease Control, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California-San Francisco, NAACP and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.


Be a part of a rich tradition at Meharry Medical College where we equip our students with the education and tools necessary to face the world's greatest health and healthcare challenges. The Certificate in Health Policy Program provides many attractive benefits that prove to be a worthwhile investment upon graduation. Not only are you receiving a quality education in the classroom but the RWJF Center for Health Policy ensures to provide an overall, well-rounded experience beyond the classroom.

Here are 10 reasons why you should enroll in the Certificate in Health Policy Program:

1. Convenient classes. The program's courses are only offered in the evenings on weekdays and during the summer to make it as convenient as possible for anyone to attend. Whether you are a full-time working professional or full-time student, there are courses available to accommodate your busy schedule and that are tailored to your educational and research interests.

2. Small class sizes. On average, each class has approximately 15 students enrolled. Students can expect to receive one-on-one attention from our faculty.

3. World-class faculty. One of our greatest assets is our faculty. Students gain access to the best scholars, researchers, and executives at the forefront of today's health policy landscape. Courses are taught by Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University faculty as well as notable visiting professors. Through our Scholars-in-Residence Visiting Professor Program, we invite nationally renowned practitioners, sociologists, economists, political scientists, and health policy experts to guest lecture for our courses and special events. Past lecturers have included: David Williams, Ph.D., of Harvard University, Thomas LaVeist, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University, Gail Christopher, D.N., of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Guy David, Ph.D., of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

4. Distance learning. With the help of today's technology, the RWJF Center for Health Policy is equipped with the latest videoconferencing software to offer distance learning options. Students can take classes from anywhere by logging into a virtual classroom to participate in live discussions taking place on campus.

5. Mentorship. All of our faculty members, visiting professors and guest lecturers are available to provide mentorship opportunities that will further one's career endeavors and research interests. Students have direct access to professors during office hours. We also connect students with practitioners during our Executive Roundtables, where senior executives serve as coaches and mentors to give one-on-one career advice and host group mentoring sessions.

6. Professional development. The RWJF Center for Health Policy's Professional Development Program provides a variety of training and development opportunities for affiliated faculty, fellows, and scholars. Throughout the academic year, we bring in consultants to teach workshops ranging from qualitative research training to academic writing and career development. During the summer months, we have sent students who wanted to enhance their research skills to attend training programs across the country. These programs include the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Summer Program in Quantitative Methods, Media Training Institute at the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, and the Workshop on Research Design for Causal Inference at Northwestern University.

7. Paid summer externships. Our Summer Externship Program is designed for students to augment the health policy studies taking place in the classroom with experiential, real-world, experience in a policy work environment. We have partnerships with some of the nation's largest and prominent health policy organizations, academic research institutions, and governmental agencies. Students are interviewed and competitively selected by the externship sites to spend 6-8 weeks doing health policy work. Learn more about the program here.

8. Conference travel funding. Based on available budgeted funds, we select students to attend various national conferences, mostly during the summer months, and cover their travel and conference registration expenses. Preference is given to students who are presenting their research at a conference or seminar. In recent years, the Center's students and staff have attended the following conferences and annual meetings:

AcademyHealth ARM
American Economic Association (AEA)
American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
American Political Science Association (APSA)
American Public Health Association (APHA)
American Sociological Association (ASA)
International Conference on Health in the African Diaspora (I-CHAD)
National Dental Association (NDA)
National Medical Association (NMA)
RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Annual Meeting

9. Networking events. The RWJF Center for Health Policy hosts a multitude of opportunities to network with fellow cohorts, faculty, visiting professors, and guest consultants. Health policy mixers, meet-and-greets, and socials create a casual environment to learn about each other's research and educational interests. In the fall we host the Meharry-Vanderbilt Health Policy Partnership Reception, where we bring together both institutions to celebrate the accomplishments of the Center. During the spring we host the National Scholars' Current Issues in Health Policy Lecture Series, which is a series of seminars aimed at creating a discussion around the latest health policy topics. Our Health Policy Writing Collaborative brings together students and faculty investigators for an opportunity to collaborate on research studies and manuscript submissions.

10. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Leadership Network and Human Capital Network. As a student affiliated with our Center, you will have access to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's broad network of physicians, practitioners, researchers, students, and programs. The RWJF Leadership Network is a place for people who are professionally connected to RWJF to engage in discussion, and to share information about topics related to improving the health and health care of all Americans. The RWJF Human Capital Network is a community for RWJF Human Capital grantees, scholars, and alumni to connect with each other and Foundation staff, and share ideas, news, and resources. Additionally, students can contribute to the online health policy discussion by publishing articles on the Human Capital Blog.


Applicants must:

  • Possess a bachelor's degree from a four-year, U.S. accredited institution
  • Have a minimum 3.00 GPA in all undergraduate and graduate coursework
  • Ensure they are in good academic standing with their current academic program
  • Enroll as a non-degree seeking student or in conjunction with their academic degree program.

Each year there are ten (10) slots available for Meharry students with full tuition remission towards completion of the health policy certificate. To qualify, current enrollment at Meharry Medical College as a medical, dental, Ph.D., or MSPH student, as well as medical residents, is required. Ph.D. students must have earned candidacy before applying. All requirements for the certificate must be met prior to completion of the regular degree program.

In addition to the above mentioned requirements, applicants must submit the following materials to apply:

1. Completed Application Form
2. Statement of Purpose
3. Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
4. Official Transcripts


All students who are accepted into the program are required to:

  • Complete a minimum of 12-credit hours in two years or less or by their anticipated graduation date
  • Maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher in the student's primary academic program
  • Maintain a 80% attendance rate in all classes 


Below are a list of courses we have offered in the past:

Comparative Analysis of U.S. & International Health Care Systems
(2 credit hours)

The course examines health systems from a global perspective. The primary goal of the course is to enable students entering or working within a health care system to describe the parts of systems and their interactions, the environment in which the systems exist, and the internal and external forces, and points of leverage that create opportunities for change. Although health systems vary widely in their structure and performance, there is substantial similarity in the issues they face. Differences between systems are often a matter of degree. The course addresses health systems from a system improvement perspective, and focuses on health systems analysis and evaluation, and health system reform. The course examines metrics used to evaluate health systems and the various components of health systems, including financing mechanisms, payment schemes, workforce, and the organization of health care organizations.

Introduction to Epidemiology/Biostatistics

Epidemiology: The overall purpose of this course is to introduce students to epidemiology so that they may understand how epidemiology contributes to: 1) identifying factors that cause diseases, 2) assessing the importance of diseases, 3) describing the natural history of diseases, and 4) evaluating procedures for preventing diseases. After completing this course, students should be able to understand the basic concepts, methods, and nomenclature of epidemiology, and the application of concepts and methods to current health problems. (1 credit hour)

Biostatistics: This course enables students to learn and apply basic principles and methodologies of statistical analysis. Students will gain insight into statistical reasoning, decision- making process, and scientific protocol applicable to the innovative health care delivery systems. Additionally, this course will apply descriptive techniques commonly used to summarize data; distinguish among the different measurement scales and the implications for selection of statistical methods to be used based on these distinctions; describe basic concepts of probability, random variation, and commonly used statistical probability distribution; and specify preferred methodological alternatives to commonly used statistical methods when assumptions are not met. (1 credit hour)

Health Policy and Law (1 credit hour)

The theme of this course will be to focus on the complex integration of legislation, politics, finance, ethics, international awareness, and current events; in relation to the impact that each element has on the development and implementation of health policy, the conduct of research, and the delivery of healthcare in the United States.

Health Economics (2 credit hours)

This course provides a basic understanding of economic principles and methodology; it explains how economic principles and methodology apply to health policy. It explains the fundamental problems of economics and the unique aspects of the healthcare economy, and discusses key policy issues that economics, particularly microeconomics, helps to analyze and explain.

Introduction to Social Epidemiology (1 credit hour)

This course provides a basic understanding of the socioeconomic and behavioral determinants of population and individual health and their distribution in the geo-space. It provides some history of the study of this relationship between population and individual health and place.

Environmental Health Policy (1 credit hour)

Environmental health policy occupies a prominent position on both local and global agendas as old and new challenges confront the human race. There is a continual requirement for policies that will deal effectively with a seemingly never-ending supply of hazards, which impinge on health and wellbeing. This course provides a multidisciplinary window into environmental policy and its formulation.

Health Care Policy in the Genome Era (1 credit hour)

Health Care Policy in the Genome Era is a seminar style course that will examine the policy issues that arise due to, or are influenced by, our increasing understanding of the content, complexity and applications of our human DNA sequence. Participants will get a broad grasp of health policy areas currently or potentially influenced by genetic technologies followed by more in- depth examination of particular areas as selected by the class. Discussions will include what we, as a society, have done in the past, what we are doing now, and where we may go next.

Contemporary Ethical Issues in Health Policy (1 credit hour)

Contemporary Ethical Issues in Health Policy/Bioethics in Health is a seminar style course that will examine ethical issues arising from implemented health policies, and the role of ethics in determining health policies.

Social Dynamics of Mental Health (3 credit hours)

This course will investigate the major sociological issues and research findings in mental health and illness. The objective will be to better understand the social factors that determine the onset of mental illness as well as societal attitudes, behaviors and norms regarding those who are mentally ill. The course will be a combination of lecture and discussion.

The Challenges in Measuring Health Disparities: Politics, Policy and Methods (2 credits hours)

This course will discuss methodological issues around measuring health disparities and the costs of disparities, as well as the policy implications of this research. The course will address questions such as what is a disparity, how do investigators measure it, what are the data collection challenges, how have researchers overcome data and measurement problems, what is the impact of disparities, what are the kinds of policy strategies that are needed to address them, and how can researchers, advocates, and policymakers collaborate to build support for policy implementation.

Race, Ethnicity and Health (2 credits hours)

Fundamental to this course is the recognition of race and ethnicity as primary social determinants of health in the United States. The primary aim then is to explore the myriad social and behavioral factors that might underlie the associations among race, ethnicity, and health status outcomes. Because research designed to address this issue remains in its formative stages, the focus of the class will be: 1) To investigate state-of-the- science conceptual and methodological approaches to understanding social and behavioral determinants of health disparities; 2) To critically examine the fundamental scientific assumptions underlying health disparities research in an effort to better design future empirical approaches; 3) To characterize the potential intervention, prevention, treatment, and policy implications resulting from findings in the health disparities literatures.

Comparative Analysis of U.S. and International Health Care Systems (2 credits hours)

This course examines health systems from a global perspective. The primary goal of this course is to enable students entering or working within a health care system to describe the parts of systems and their interactions, the environment in which the systems exist, and the internal and external forces, and points of leverage that create opportunities for change. Although health systems vary widely in their structure and performance, there is substantial similarity in the issues they face. This course addresses health systems from a system improvement perspective, and focuses on health systems analysis and evaluation, and health system reform. This course examines metrics used to evaluate health systems and the various components of health systems, including financing mechanisms, payment schemes, workforce, and the organization of health care organizations.

Achieving Health Equity: Frameworks, Data Tools, and Policy Interventions (3 credits hours)

This course equips students with frameworks, data tools, and policy interventions to name, measure, and address the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation. Lessons learned from understanding racism as a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value are generalized to provide understanding of other systems of structured inequity, including sexism, capitalism, nativism, and heterosexism.

Health Policy and Society (3 credit hours)

This course explores the intersection of societal change with health policy. The course incorporates numerous sociological theories (e.g., conflict, symbolic interaction, structural functionalism, etc.) to provide students with an introduction of health policy from societal standpoint. Students will become aware of the complexities of health policies and how it is oftentimes shaped by social change. This course is structured as a seminar. However, students will be actively engaged in discussions of relevant topics.

Health Policy & Society II (3 credit hours)

This course is a continuation of Health Policy & Society I. The course delves deeper into the intersection of societal changes in health policy incorporating sociological theories (e.g., conflict, symbolic interaction, structural functionalism, etc.) to provide students with a look at health policy from sociological perspectives. Students will study and explore the complexities of health policies and how they oftentimes shaped and influenced by social changes. This course is structured as a seminar. However, students will be actively engaged in discussions of relevant topics.

National Scholars' Current Issues in Health Policy Lecture Series (Required, but not offered for credit)

This course is designed to provide opportunities for students to be engaged by known health policy professionals and analysts. These renowned individuals will present seminars on contemporary health policy issues.

Health Disparities & Health Policy (3 credit hours)

This course will examine the challenges and methods in the implementation of health disparities research and interventions. It is intended to both complement and expand the knowledge gained in other courses by focusing specifically on minority/underserved populations. The course will explore readings and foster discussions that will include: ethics and research in minority/ underserved communities; issues, barriers and facilitators to engaging minority/underserved communities in health research; examining basic research questions in minority health; understanding the application of research findings to program development; how to integrate theory and research, and issues and challenges of program implementation. An overarching goal is to increase awareness and knowledge of research on minority health, as well as unique issues to consider when engaging in public health research and practice in these communities.

Summer Institute on Health Policy (2 credit hours)

The Summer Institute on Health Policy consists of two weeks of intensive, accelerated coursework on topics related to health policy and the social sciences taught by an impressive lineup of nationally-renowned health policy scholars within the disciplines of economics, political science, and sociology. It consists of two new course electives for the entire Meharry student community as well as for students of other institutions. Students will receive 2 credit hours per course toward the completion of their degree programs in the Medical, Dental, and Graduate Schools at MMC. The Summer Institute on Health Policy begins in June and lasts for two weeks. Each course meets for one week only. Registration is open to all students (and faculty) interested in health policy.


2014-2015 Tuition and Fees  
TUITION – Certificate in Health Policy $8,700
Recreation/Fitness Center
Immunization/Student Health $105
Proximity Card Access $27
Blanket Accident/Bloodborne Pathogen
Library $105
Registration $132
MCAT/DAT Exam Prep
Capital Maintenance
Criminal Background Check $75
Health Insurance
Disability Insurance
Liability Insurance
Life Insurance
Student Publications
Parking $275
MSPH Software
PhD Software
PhD Laboratory
Graduation $75

Payments can be made in installments.


Application Instructions

Application Form (PDF)

Application Form (Fillable PDF)


DEADLINE EXTENDED until Monday, July 7, 2014, 5:00 pm CDT 

For inquiries, please contact hpadmissions@mmc.edu.