Decorative image

The Certificate in Health Policy offered through the La Follette School of Public Affairs prepares undergraduate students to navigate and shape health policy in Wisconsin and in the United States. Coursework covers key concepts and contemporary issues relevant to work within the complex world of U.S. health policy. Courses also build familiarity with analytic methods and approaches used to foster evidence-based health policy, focusing especially on policy levers that influence health equity.

UW-Madison graduates occupy a wide range of professional roles in the health sector, such as health care providers, accountants, IT professionals, small business owners, researchers, human resources specialists, engineers, and advocates. Across these roles, a foundational understanding of health policy has emerged as a key professional competency. Recognizing that leaders in this realm must engage diverse perspectives to successfully address complex issues, required courses are designed to foster interdisciplinary discussion and analysis, and a fieldwork experience will deepen learning in a professional setting.

To declare the Certificate in Health Policy through the La Follette School of Public Affairs, students must:

  • Hold UW-Madison sophomore standing or above, and be in good academic standing, according to the rules of your school or college

  • Have completed at least one class that meets Certificate in Health Policy Program requirements, or be enrolled in at least one class in the current or upcoming semester that meets Certificate in Health Policy Program requirements

​The La Follette School accepts Certificate in Health Policy applications from May 1 - May 31 and November 1 - November 30 each year. To apply for the Certificate:

  • Review Certificate requirements so that you are familiar with the program
  • Write a statement of interest explaining how you envision applying the Certificate in Health Policy to the context of your major program and in your future career

  • Submit your application through the application portal, found on this page, in May or November

  • Reach out to the La Follette School Undergraduate Advisor if you have questions

Requirements for the Certificate

Students must complete a minimum of four courses, one from each area listed below, and a minimum of 12 total credits.

Introductory Course (complete one):3
Introduction to Health Policy in the United States
Analytic Tools for Health Policy (complete one):3
Foundations of Data Analysis for Health Policy
Discovering What Works in Health Policy
Internship/Fieldwork Experience (complete one):3
Administrative Internship
Washington DC Semester in International Affairs Internship Seminar
Wisconsin in Washington Internship Course
Policy Specialization (complete one course from any one area below):3
Life Sciences Communication
Science, Media and Society
Health Communication in the Information Age
Economics and Health
Environmental Economics
The Economics of Health Care
Human Resources and Economic Growth
Insuring Life's Risks: Health, Aging, and Policy
Health Analytics
Risk Analytics and Behavioral Science
Environment and Health
Introduction to Environmental Health
Air Pollution and Human Health
Social Policy, Human Services, Demography and Health
Prevention and Intervention in Mental Health Across the Lifespan
Introduction to Social Policy
Poverty and Social Welfare
Psychology, Law, and Social Policy
Social Issues in Aging
Families & Poverty
Justice and Health Care
Inequality, Race and Public Policy
Policy, Privacy, and Personal Identity in the Postgenomics Era
Race, American Medicine and Public Health
Dimensions of Latin@ Mental Health Services
The Criminal Mind: Forensic and Psychobiological Perspectives
Sociological Perspectives on the Life Course and Aging
Poverty and Place
Population and Society
Medical Care Systems
Health Care Issues for Individuals, Families and Society
Design Thinking for Transformation
Public Health
The Development of Public Health in America
Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities
Total Credits12

 Residence and Quality of Work

  • At least 6 certificate credits must be completed in residence.
  • Minimum 2.000 GPA on all certificate courses.

Certificate Completion Requirement

This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

  1. Students will demonstrate understanding of major underpinnings and challenges of contemporary U.S. health policy, and how to approach issues using a public policy lens.
  2. Students will gain knowledge and demonstrate application of analytical and methodological tools used in the health sector (e.g., policy writing, analysis, familiarity with data used in health policy and clinical research, and quantitative and qualitative methods used in social policy).
  3. Students will demonstrate understanding and application of knowledge regarding a substantive health policy interest of their choice, such as health care policy and innovation, social determinants of health, reproductive health policy, social policy, analysis of health behaviors, and others.
  4. Students will gain applied experience in a setting relevant for navigating, interpreting, and contributing to effective health policy throughout their careers.

The La Follette School of Public Affairs welcomes you to reach out to our student services team. Here are some quick steps toward getting what you need. Before getting in touch, be sure to check our web site. It is updated regularly and just may hold the answers you seek!

  • If you’re interested in learning more about the Certificate or would like guidance as a current Certificate student, make an appointment via Starfish or send an email to Mary Michaud (, the Undergraduate Advisor for the Certificate Program.
  • If you’re already a Certificate student, you can connect with Marie Koko, our Career Services Coordinator, about careers and internships: Send her an email at: 
  • If you have a technical question about your DARS report, enrollment, or other things administrative, connect with David Wright-Racette at
  • If you’re interested in learning more about La Follette’s graduate programs in public and international affairs, or joint graduate degree programs (e.g., MPH/MPA, JD/MPA, PhD/MPA in neuroscience), contact Mo O’Connor, our graduate advisor:
  • If you’re an alumnus, parent, or student who is curious about how to get involved or contribute to the mission of the La Follette School, please contact Associate Director Steve Kulig:


Please take a few minutes to review La Follette School’s list of faculty in Public Affairs and our research and work in health policy.

Staff contact information

Mary Davis Michaud, Faculty Associate, La Follette School of Public Affairs
110A Observatory Hill Office Building

Marie Koko, Senior Career Services Coordinator, La Follette School of Public Affairs
204 Observatory Hill Office Building

David Wright-Racette, Senior Student Status Examiner, La Follette School of Public Affairs
110A Observatory Hill Office Building

Mo O’Connor, Senior Student Services Coordinator, La Follette School of Public Affairs
107 Observatory Hill Office Building

Steve Kulig, Associate Director, La Follette School of Public Affairs
103 Observatory Hill Office Building


Health policy issues affect every resident and community in the United States. Because of its complexity, people working in the health sector benefit from understanding specific terminology, issues, and systems involved in policymaking. Through the Certificate in Health Policy, students will build the knowledge base for this work while also gaining skills in quantitative analysis, communication, writing, critical thinking, and problem solving. More and more, employers across the health sector value this combination of skills and insights.

Students interested in health care, advocacy, business, or research will earn a credential highlighting highly sought-after skills that, through the fieldwork component of the certificate, they have applied in the context of real-world practice. Focused on evidence-based health policy and practice, courses help students hone skills to gather data and information from a variety of sources, analyze and synthesize the findings, and communicate key insights using clear, concise communication strategies.

Career development is an integral part of the La Follette School experience, with staff members and alumni eager to support and mentor students with diverse interests. Students benefit from networking opportunities, employer visits, professional development seminars, and other services.

L&S career resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.

Empathy and humility. The effects of health policy reach into every corner of life, including access to health care and the rising costs of health benefits. To address complex issues, students in health policy learn to value and engage diverse perspectives and question their own biases and assumptions.

Relentless curiosity. Like peeling an onion, the study of health policy invites learners to uncover layers of data and history to explore root causes of poor health outcomes. Why does a person’s zip code predict so much about their health outcomes? Why is U.S. health insurance largely tied to a person’s employment status? What drives the high cost of health care, and what are options for reform? For those with an insatiable curiosity, health policy offers endless discoveries and an ever-changing landscape.

Intellectual confidence. In many cases, great leadership emerges when leaders themselves have the confidence to say “I don’t know.” Public policy studies include deep analysis of the stakeholders in systems, the relationships among those actors, and the incentives that drive behavior. Because of this, students learn to define problems in new ways, ask better questions, and use data to drive insight.

Purposeful action. Health policy has broad implications for the distribution of resources across the public and private sectors. As we learn more about addressing the “upstream” factors that influence health, students gain insights about how to build more prevention-oriented health policy.