Health Care Policy

Program Overview

The B.A. in Health Care Policy is an innovative, multidisciplinary program that examines both the science and politics of health care at the local, national and global levels. Offered through Rider’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, it offers students broad training in the theoretical and applied nature of health policy.

Health Care Policy majors will develop an in-depth and critical understanding of the health care sector and learn the skills needed to successfully develop and implement care policy. 

Curriculum Overview

Faculty from multiple Rider University programs — including political science, global studies, sociology, psychology, and environmental and health sciences — collaborated to develop unique courses designed to help students study and critically evaluate the central cultural, political, legislative, environmental, economic, global, social and ethical considerations involved in health care policy. 

Health Care Policy students will gain real- world experience through learning co-ops, internships and independent field research. Opportunities will be available to engage and network with policymakers and leaders in the field. 

An undergraduate degree in health care policy will prepare students for continued graduate study in health care policy, administration and other related fields. It also is the foundation for a career as a health administrator, policy analyst, project or program manager, lobbyist, a not-for-profit administrator, or legislative aide and/or researcher. Upon completion of the program graduates will be prepared for a career in health care policy positions in government, or private and non-profit sectors. 

Honors Program in Political Science (Health Care Policy)

Health Care Policy majors interested in participating in the Honors Program must write an Honor’s thesis with a faculty member in the Political Science Department.

Degree Offered

  • B.A. in Health Care Policy


Dr. Roberta Fiske-Rusciano 
Fine Arts 273 

Program Website: Health Care Policy
Associated Department: Political Science

Related Programs

Health Care Policy Major Requirements

(42 credits)

CLAS General Education Curriculum
Health Care Policy Required Foundation Courses
POL 100Introduction to American Politics3
POL 205Introduction to Public Policy3
POL 206Healthcare Regulation and Governance3
GLS 325Global Perspectives on Health and Illness3
PHL 304Medical Ethics3
Required Dimension Areas
Choose one course from each dimension area
Health Policy and Administration3
Introduction to Health Care
Health Psychology
Intro to Health Communication
Economics of Health Care System
Public Administration
Policy Issues, Advocacy, and Budgeting
Community Based and Primary Health Care Policy
Global Health Care Policy3
Global Health Care Systems
Global Health and Human Rights
Environmental Epidemiology, Pandemics and Globalization
Comparative Political Systems
Policy Inquiry3
Methods of Political Analysis
Population Study
Population Health Care Management
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Environmental Health & Human Health
National Health Care Policy3
Contemporary Issues in American Public Policy
Interest Groups and Lobbying
Health Care and Society
Economics of the Public Sector
Courts, Judges and Politics
Congressional Politics
Health and the Environment3-4
Environmental Health & Human Health
Environmental Politics
Comparative Environmental Policy
Introduction to Sustainability Studies
Introduction to Environmental Sciences
Weather and Climate Change
Choose any three additional courses from the Dimension Areas listed above
Health Care Policy Internship
Seminar in Health Care Policy
Cooperative Experience - Washington Semester Program
Total Credits42-43

4 Year Academic Plan of Study

The following educational plan is provided as a sample only.  Rider students who do not declare a major during their freshman year; who change their major; or those who transfer to Rider may follow a different plan to ensure a timely graduation.  Each student, with guidance from his or her academic advisor, will develop a personalized educational plan.

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
Fall SemesterCredits
CMP 120 Expository Writing 1 3
MTH 102 Finite Mathematics 3
POL 100 Introduction to American Politics 3
HIS 150 World History to 1500 3
Foreign Language 1 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
CMP 125 Research Writing 3
POL 206 Healthcare Regulation and Governance 3
PHL 304
Medical Ethics
or Ethics
Foreign Language 1 3
Scientific Perspectives 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Year 2
Fall Semester
POL 205 Introduction to Public Policy 3
POL 216 Comparative Political Systems 3
Aesthetic Perspectives: Fine Arts 3
Aesthetic Perspectives: Literature 3
Scientific Perspectives 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
GLS 325 Global Perspectives on Health and Illness 3
POL 230 Methods of Political Analysis 3
POL 206 Healthcare Regulation and Governance 3
HTH 215 Population Health Care Management 3
Social Perspectives 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Year 3
Fall Semester
HSC 200 Environmental Health & Human Health 3
HCP 304 Community Based and Primary Health Care Policy 3
POL 216 Comparative Political Systems 3
HTH 205 Introduction to Health Care 3
Elective Course 2 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
HCP 301 Global Health Care Systems 3
SOC 225 Population Study 3
POL 327 Contemporary Issues in American Public Policy 3
Elective Courses 6
 Semester Credit Hours15
Year 4
Fall Semester
HCP 491 Health Care Policy Internship 1-3
Elective Courses 12
 Semester Credit Hours13-15
Spring Semester
Elective Courses 15
 Semester Credit Hours15
 Total Credit Hours for Graduation118-120

Courses and Descriptions

HCP 301 Global Health Care Systems 3 Credits

Global Health Care Systems is an introduction to visions of global health care, drawing upon the fields of medical anthropology, global public health, and public policy. The course focuses upon different understandings of health care, reflected in the actual health systems in place around the world. Because responsible health-giving health systems respond to societies’ changing needs and situations, students will learn about the skills needed for this kind of problem-solving, but also come to understand that there is an urgent and vital global need for the exchange of ideas in global health care systems.

HCP 302 Environmental Epidemiology, Pandemics and Globalization 3 Credits

This course is intended to provide basic knowledge of principles and methods of environmental epidemiology for students whose career interests in a health-related field may include using epidemiologic information. The course presents a holistic view of global health by crossing several disciplines, including medical anthropology and disease history, focusing upon the social processes by which groups are stigmatized during disease outbreaks, and public health policies for confronting outbreaks of epidemics and pandemics. The course emphasizes the conceptual aspects of epidemiologic investigation and application of these concepts in global health policy and related professions. Topics include: disease surveillance; population screening; interpreting epidemiologic associations, and the health risks and benefits of globalization. Salient foci will be: the evaluation of the role of health diplomacy in addressing shared global health problems among countries, and the evaluation of cultural, ethical, social, systemic, and anthropological determinants of global health problems.

HCP 303 Global Health and Human Rights 3 Credits

This course introduces students to the basic concepts of human rights and their links to national/global health, as well as to issues where human rights and health collide. Students will become familiar with global efforts for developing practical and effective responses to global health challenges with a human rights framework.

HCP 304 Community Based and Primary Health Care Policy 3 Credits

Community Based and Primary Health Care Policy explores the politics of health care policy at the local level. The course identifies and evaluates various measures of the health and function of populations, organizations, partnerships, systems, and communities. The course provides students with an overview of the realities, challenges, and requirements of practicing community oriented primary health care.

HCP 450 Seminar in Health Care Policy 3 Credits

Rider University is uniquely positioned through Global Studies to have access to the nongovernmental organization United Front against River Blindness (UFAR). It is an Africaninspired, U.S.-based nonprofit and tax exempt organization. Its primary mission has been to participate in partnerships with other global health organizations in the elimination of onchocerciasis (river blindness), as a major public health problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). UFAR was founded and registered in the U.S. in 2004 by Dr. Daniel Shungu, a former Merck & Co. Inc. employee, who is a Congolese by birth and a naturalized U.S. citizen. The U.S. office is in Lawrenceville, N.J. and the Congo office is in Kinshasa, DRC. Dr. Roberta Fiske-Rusciano of Rider University’s Global Studies faculty is a founding UFAR board member and has hosted Dr. Shungu several times in her course Global Perspectives on Health and Illness. For the past eleven years UFAR in partnership with several organizations (World Health Organization, Sightsavers Itl., Merck, DRC coalition group for onchocerciasis, and the DRC Health Minister, have successfully treated three million (as of 2015) Congolese with Ivermectin (Mectizan), donated by Merck and Co., Inc. Taken once a year for approximately ten years prevents infection of river blindness, by interrupting the cycle of the parasite. Because of UFAR’s continued success in its mission, it has been asked to expand its work to include more neglected tropical diseases, using the same method of health delivery system: communitydirected treatment with the appropriate medicament, e.g. Ivermectin. Now that treatments of other diseases have been added to UFAR’s mission (trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, shistosomiasis, guinea worm and helminthes infestations), additional medical treatments are scheduled to be added once these conditions are thoroughly mapped in the population.

HCP 491 Health Care Policy Internship 1-3 Credits

Students will complete an internship that will build on prior work in the HCP major.

COM 254 Intro to Health Communication 3 Credits

Health communication has been shown to have a positive impact on a number of facets of the medical visit, including patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, and job performance and satisfaction. This course will provide students with tools to implement health communication practices in a healthcare setting in order to improve these areas. In addition, health communication is particularly useful in cross-cultural situations, both in regard to the patient-provider relationship, when the ethnicities of the two parties may be different, and when cultural beliefs may impact a patient’s medical wishes. Part of the tools for implementing health communication into the practice setting includes an understanding of the role that culture can play in healthcare and the development of strategies to provide optimal medical care while also respecting cultural intricacies.

ECO 335 Economics of the Public Sector 3 Credits

Analyzes the economic roles of government: allocation; distribution; and stabilization. The course examines the tools used by governments, especially the federal government, such as taxation, expenditures, regulations and laws in order to achieve economic goals. The course will give special attention to social regulation.

Prerequisite(s): ECO 200 and ECO 201.

ENV 100 Introduction to Environmental Sciences 4 Credits

Examines how ecosystems function, with emphasis on the interactions between biological organisms and their physical environment, and the chemical processes that govern these interactions. The impact of human populations on natural ecosystems is investigated in detail using case studies from history and current events. The laboratory provides for hands-on experiences and/or short field trips to local sites for a better understanding of many of the concepts discussed. Weekday and weekend field trips may be required. Three hours of lecture and one three-hour lab per week. This course counts towards the fulfillment of the Disciplinary Perspectives element of the CLAS general education curriculum.

Corequisite(s): ENV 100L.

ENV 205 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 3 Credits

This course introduces the computer-based concepts and skills of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It covers the basic GIS concepts, such as map characteristics and projections, spatial data models and analysis, and relational databases. It explores data sources, data quality, and metadata, as well as implementation and management of specific GIS projects. Hands-on experience with ArcGIS software is provided through a series of student exercises completed throughout the semester. Students will also be taught how to process both vector and raster data using ArcGIS software. The course is relevant for students from numerous disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences, and business, which require the analysis and graphical representation of spatial data. Three hours of lecture per week. Note: This course is cross-listed as GLS 205. Students may not receive credit for both ENV 205 and GLS 205.

ENV 220 Weather and Climate Change 3 Credits

This course introduces students to the concepts of weather and climate change. These concepts frame a continuum from short-term or daily changes in the atmosphere (meteorology) to those changes averaged over much longer periods of time (climatology). Students will learn the fundamentals of weather forecasting, the causes of natural variation in the Earth’s climate, and the impact of human actions on the Earth’s climate. Connections will be drawn to other current issues in the Earth system, including land use change, biodiversity, and pollution. Three hours of lecture per week.

Prerequisite(s): GEO 100 or permission of instructor.

GLS 325 Global Perspectives on Health and Illness 3 Credits

Explores the different international perspectives on health and illness. Themes include how men, women, and children in respective civilizations are treated and viewed within their communities or nations, as they become ill. Particular attention is given to the contrast between various types of traditional healing and Western medical practices, and their interactions. Discussions will also compare the usefulness of national versus international health agencies in dealing with global health problems.

HTH 205 Introduction to Health Care 3 Credits

This course is an introduction to the components of the health care industry in the United States and to the interactions of these components in producing and supplying health care. We examine the nature of health, and the various institutions and personnel which seek to provide health services; we explore the means by which we pay for these services; we assess the relationship of technology to provision of health care services; we study the various ways that our government interacts with the providers of health care services; we investigate the ethical implications of issues in health care; and we explore health care sectors from an international perspective.

HTH 215 Population Health Care Management 3 Credits

In this course, we study how disease is distributed in populations and of the factors that influence or determine this distribution. This course introduces the basic methods and tools epidemiologists use to study the origin and control of non-communicable and communicable diseases so that policies and mechanisms to enhance the health of populations can be developed.

Prerequisite(s): MSD 201 or MTH 120 or ENV 200 or PSY 201.

HTH 336 Economics of Health Care System 3 Credits

This course presents ways in which economic analysis can be used to explain issues in the health care industry. Microeconomics tools will be used to describe the behavior of consumers, producers, and third parties of the health care sector. The course also investigates the role of government in regulating the health care sector, and in providing services to the poor and elderly. Finally, we will use this foundation to examine some recent changes in this industry, and to analyze the most recent proposals for further changes.

HSC 200 Environmental Health & Human Health 3 Credits

The health of any individual is a function of both our genetics and environmental factors. Environmental factors most broadly defined include the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. This course will focus on numerous examples of how bacteria, viruses, and exposure to environmental chemicals result in human diseases. Examples range from failures in public health infrastructure (cholera, diphtheria, river blindness, etc), failures to vaccinate (polio, measles, hepatitis, etc) and chemical exposures (birth defects, cancer, etc). There is also much known about how diet and nutrition can prevent diseases.

Prerequisite(s): BIO 10X Life Science course or any biology laboratory course (BIO 115, 116 or 117).

POL 100 Introduction to American Politics 3 Credits

An examination of basic principles of the U.S. constitutional system; the operation of the democratic process; the organization, powers and procedures of Congress, the presidency and the federal judiciary; and the functions, services, and financing of the national government. Emphasis is on public issues, national priorities, and civil liberties. This course counts towards the fulfillment of the Disciplinary Perspectives element of the CLAS general education curriculum. Note: This course is cross-listed as HLS 100. Students may not get credit for boh POL 100 and HLS 100.

POL 201 Policy Issues, Advocacy, and Budgeting 3 Credits

Surveys various domestic economic and social policy issues, the government budgeting process, and how citizens and groups advocate their interest through organizing, coalition-building and lobbying. Emphasis on developing practical skills in issue analysis, lobbying, legislative tracking, and public budgeting.

POL 205 Introduction to Public Policy 3 Credits

The course provides students with an introduction to the study of public policy by linking the theoretical with the practical. The course focuses on three areas of analysis: 1) descriptive 2) evaluative and 3) prescriptive. Students will develop skills required to define and critically examine policy problems, articulate relevant decision-making criteria and assess alternative policy options. Last the course provides examples of public policy problems through the substantive policy areas of health, environment and education.

POL 206 Healthcare Regulation and Governance 3 Credits

Health Regulation and Governance explores the institutions, processes and actors involved in governing and regulating the healthcare system in the US. The course engages the topic through the lens of federalism by examining the role of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government in regulating and governing healthcare at the national level as well as the role of the states in this policy area. Students will not only be introduced to the structure of regulation and governance of healthcare in the US, but will also be able to contextualize contemporary issues in healthcare in order to not simply addresses problems in the sector, but to also begin to identify solutions to issues that impact the population.

POL 216 Comparative Political Systems 3 Credits

A general introduction to types of government and political regimes of the world as they try to cope with the dual challenge of ethnic micropolitics and transnational globalization. Major prototypes of democracy: the British parliamentary system, the American separation of powers system, and various combinations of these two. Traditional autocracy, totalitarian dictatorships, and late 20th-century authoritarian regimes. Students are expected to acquire in-depth knowledge of comparative political systems, and to develop a basic understanding and appreciation of the major concepts and themes in comparative political systems studies.

POL 230 Methods of Political Analysis 3 Credits

An overview of the various qualitative and quantitative methods that political scientists use to study their discipline. Themes include analyses of political participation and support, methods of studying elections, measures of political tolerance and liberalism.

POL 270 Interest Groups and Lobbying 3 Credits

The course will introduce students to the area of interest groups and lobbying. Topics to be covered include theoretical developments, methodological approaches of group formation, organizational maintenance, and strategies used to influence public policy in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.

POL 325 Public Administration 3 Credits

Public administration in modern society, emphasizing the administrative formulation of public policy and its implementation. Attention on who gets what, when, and how from the decisions of administrative units; the role administrators have in policy-making compared to elected legislators, chief executives and judges; the effect administrators have on the benefits citizens receive from government; and the effect administrators have on citizens’ behavior. Note: This course is cross-listed as HLS 325. Students may not get credit for both HLS 325 and POL 325.

POL 328 Environmental Politics 3 Credits

Environmental Politics examines how policymakers deal with the political challenges of unsustainable resource consumption, which is a primary determinant of environmental problems such as climate change, adverse health effects, and biodiversity loss. The course introduces students to environmental politics and policies at the local, state, national, and international levels. The course is designed to provide students with a framework for understanding how varied interests compete within political institutions in order to transform contending ideas into public policy. With that in mind, students will not only become more informed consumers of political information, but will also become more effective at analyzing and advocating for policies as it relates to the environment.

POL 329 Comparative Environmental Policy 3 Credits

Comparative Environmental Policy analyzes cross-national approaches in developing, implementing, and evaluating policy responses to environmental problems. The course analyzes the political factors, actors, and tools that help and explain why some societies have been more likely to develop effective responses to environmental threats. Note: This course is cross-listed as GLS 329. Students may not get credit for both GLS 329 and POL 329.

POL 312 Congressional Politics 3 Credits

An intensive analysis of the legislative process in the United States, considering both the internal organization and operation of Congress, and Congress’ role in the broader American political system. Fundamental issues include the theory and practice of representation; the committee system, seniority and expertise; executive and legislative interaction; and the politics of congressional reform.

POL 327 Contemporary Issues in American Public Policy 3 Credits

An in-depth examination of current issues in American politics. Drunk driving, political corruption, drug policy, education, and poverty are among the issues to be considered. Emphasis on analyzing policy problems and on developing and evaluating proposed solutions.

POL 361 Courts, Judges and Politics 3 Credits

In-depth examination of the nature of judicial decision-making and the impact that judicial decisions have on society. Considers the sources of judicial authority, judicial fact-finding, statutory and constitutional interpretation, individual and collective processes of judicial decision-making, relations between judges and other government officials, and the political consequences of judicial decisions with particular emphasis on federal courts and judges. Note: This course is cross-listed as HLS 361. Students may not get credit for both POL 361 and HLS 361.

PHL 304 Medical Ethics 3 Credits

Introduces the student to ethical problems associated with the practice of medicine, the pursuit of biomedical research, and health care social policy. The course will explore such issues as: Is a physician morally obligated to tell a terminally ill patient that he or she is dying? Is society ever justified in enacting laws that would commit an individual, against his or her will, to a mental institution? Does society have a moral obligation to ensure that all its members have access to health care? To what extent, if at all, is it ethically acceptable to clone a human being? Under what conditions is human experimentation ethically acceptable?.

PSY 345 Health Psychology 3 Credits

This course focuses on the biopsychosocial model of health in which biological, psychological and social factors contribute to health and wellbeing, as well as illness and disease. After a brief introduction to systems of the body, i.e. nervous, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, this course will examine health enhancing behaviors such as exercise and nutrition, as well as health compromising behaviors such as drug abuse and other reckless behaviors, along with models that explain behavior maintenance and change. Additionally, attention is devoted to a discussion of how health psychology can function in shaping health care policy.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 100.

SOC 225 Population Study 3 Credits

Demography; its definition, historical emergence, and growth; population as a social problem in developing and developed nations; population theories, sources and methods of demographic data, population composition, and distribution; demographic processes including fertility, mortality, and migration.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 346 Health Care and Society 3 Credits

Application and contributions of sociology to medicine; the strategy and methods of sociomedical research; sociology of illness, addictive and mental disorder; medical institutions; health services and medical care; and current status of medical sociology.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SUS 100 Introduction to Sustainability Studies 4 Credits

Sustainability is an idea that will shape the lives of all in the 21st century. Students will explore how we arrived at our current precarious environmental situation and investigate cutting-edge methods that support human development and protect the natural ecosystems on which we will depend. By exploring principles of sustainability (whole-systems approaches, resource limitations, stewardship) through many different lenses, students will appreciate the interdisciplinarity of the sustainability enterprise. This course counts towards the fulfillment of the Disciplinary Perspectives element of the CLAS general education curriculum.

Corequisite(s): SUS 100L.