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MPH Concentration: Health Policy and Management

Official CEPH accreditation badgeHealth administrators manage an array of human, capital, and material resources and provide leadership within a guiding framework of established organizational goals to achieve positive outcomes related to health. A major focus of the health policy and management (HPM) concentration is to improve the graduate’s capability for population-based program management, especially in community-oriented health settings.

Formerly known as health planning and administration (HPA), the HPM concentration has been available as a distinct MPH concentration of study at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville since fall 1972.

The HPM program’s strengths include learning to manage and coordinate resources in the complex and political arena of health care, with new challenges frequently arising. The aspiring health administrator develops wide-ranging skills in team leadership, financial management, human resources management, communications, program planning and administration, and the facilitation of change. In addition, health policy formulation and policy impacts must be understood by managers and policy planners seeking to address such important issues as: access to care, quality improvement and assurance, cost containment, specialized needs of population groups, and partnerships with others to improve the health of the public. The UT-Knox County Academic Health Department is one of several practice-based settings for students to develop competencies.

Consider a career in health administration if you view yourself as organized, skilled in setting objectives and coordinating activities to achieve those objectives, comfortable with the dynamics of a changing field, and capable of facilitating the work performance of others. The MPH degree with a concentration of study in health policy and management offers an educational route to acquiring values, knowledge and skills associated with the practice of health administration. Various undergraduate degrees offer appropriate educational preparation for graduate study in HPM, because health administrators use theories and techniques from many different disciplines. Introductory undergraduate courses in accounting, statistics and public health are standard prerequisites for degree admission at UT. Competitiveness for admission may be increased for those with prior work experience in the health field. Work settings for HPM graduates include: federal, state and local public health or other government agencies, voluntary health agencies, social services organizations, and healthcare facilities. Administrative roles in other health settings also may be of interest, especially for HPM students with clinical credentials or prior experience in the health care field.

Points of Pride:

HPM Graduates are Prepared for Career Success

HPM faculty and the APE coordinator counsel individual students regarding possible career paths and design course experiences and internships which increase opportunities for employment in various health settings. Strengths of the MPH graduates are the breadth of perspective and the ability to function professionally in the health field on a multidisciplinary basis. Effective and efficient health care program delivery requires competent health administrators. Graduates of the HPM concentration are experiencing success and professional satisfaction in a multitude of health organizations and facilities. Several HPM alumni have advanced to the top CEO positions within their organizations.

A health policy and management student develops the following competencies:

  • Apply the policy-making process to improve population health.
  • Apply the principles of evidence-based public health in practice or policy formulation.
  • Apply appropriate strategic management approaches to improve the performance of healthcare organizations.
  • Apply quality improvement or performance management concepts to organizational planning and management.
  • Assess the value of existing or proposed programs, services or policies using financial management measures.


Placement of HPM students in administrative internships (also called the photograph depicting a hand holding a graphic of a familyApplied Practice Experience) for a total of 240 hours an essential component of the MPH degree program. The Applied Practice Experience (APE)  site is selected by each individual HPM student in consultation with the APE coordinator and a major professor. The intern typically functions as a staff assistant with a practicing health administrator serving as mentor. Although rotating through several units of an organization provides opportunity for gaining orientation and general experience, the intern is assigned a specific project or two for in-depth problem-solving. APEis guided by a set of learning objectives related to public health competencies. Learning objectives are mutually developed by student and supervising preceptor during the first week of the internship. Read more about the Applied Practice Experience here.

Become Certified in Public Health (CPH)

Students completing UT’s MPH degree with a concentration in health policy and management are well-prepared to take the CPH exam. Some of the most interesting jobs in public health are filled by individuals who are Certified in Public Health (CPH). A person with CPH is credentialed by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) after demonstrating competency in the five core areas of public health.