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.

How to Get in

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 taken, are enrolled, or are registered for at least one class that meets certificate requirements

​Each year, the La Follette School invites students to declare the certificate in health policy. To declare 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
Health Impacts of Unmet Social Needs
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
Introduction to Health Communication
Economics and Health
Environmental Economics
Global Health: Economics, Natural Systems, and Policy
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
Global Food Production and Health
Introduction to Air Quality
Introduction to Environmental Health
Air Pollution and Human Health
Environment and Behavior Studio - Designing Health Promoting Environments
Social Policy, Human Services, Demography and Health
Inequality, Race and Public Policy
Policy, Privacy, and Personal Identity in the Postgenomics Era
Science, Medicine, and Race: A History
Race, American Medicine and Public Health
Introduction to Culture and Health
Immigrant Health and Wellbeing
Dimensions of Latin@ Mental Health Services
Prevention and Intervention in Mental Health Across the Lifespan
Human Trafficking: Global and Local Perspectives
The Human Rights of Children and Youth: Global and Local Perspectives
Framing Fatness: Gender, Size, Constructing Health
Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction: Public Health Perspectives
Women's Global Health and Human Rights
Special Topics in LGBTQ+ Health
International Migration, Health, and Human Rights
Families & Poverty
Health, Disease and Healing II
Health, Disease and Healing I
Disease, Medicine and Public Health in the History of Latin America and the Caribbean
Justice and Health Care
Psychology, Law, and Social Policy
Cognition in Health and Society
The Criminal Mind: Forensic and Psychobiological Perspectives
Sociology of Health and Medicine
Health Care Issues for Individuals, Families and Society
Sociological Perspectives on the Life Course and Aging
Poverty and Place
Population and Society
Introduction to Social Policy
Poverty and Social Welfare
Social Issues in Aging
Medical Care Systems
Health Systems Engineering
Ethical Issues in Health Care
Design Thinking for Transformation
Public Health
The Development of Public Health in America
Community Nutrition and Health Equity
Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities
Health Care Issues for Individuals, Families and Society
Public Health Ethics
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.

Learning Outcomes

  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.

Advising and 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 website. 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, contact Kelly Otto at klotto@wisc.edu.
  • If you're unable to get in touch with Kelly, contact Mary Michaud at mdmichaud@wisc.edu.
  • 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 marie.koko@wisc.edu.
  • If you have a technical question about your DARS report, enrollment, or other things administrative, connect with David Wright-Racette at  wrightracette@lafollette.wisc.edu.
  • 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, at mcoconnor@lafollette.wisc.edu.
  • 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 at skulig@lafollette.wisc.edu.


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

Kelly Otto, Academic Advisor, La Follette School of Public Affairs
2414 Sterling Hall

Mary Davis Michaud, Faculty Associate, La Follette School of Public Affairs
2408 Sterling Hall

Marie Koko, Senior Career Services Coordinator, La Follette School of Public Affairs
2406 Sterling Hall

Mo O’Connor, Graduate Program Manager, 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.

Wisconsin Experience

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.