Master of Arts in Health Advocacy
at Sarah Lawrence College

Contact

Director of Graduate Admissions

E-mail Emanuel

914.395.2371

Enhance your existing career or transition to one where you can influence health policy, help individuals access an increasingly complex health care system, and improve the capacity of individuals and communities to effectively voice and advocate for their own concerns.

Established in 1980, the Sarah Lawrence College Health Advocacy Program is the nation’s first master’s degree program in the field, and continues to lead in defining this discipline and in preparing professionals to improve health and health care.

This 18-month accelerated low residency program is intellectually rigorous, but does not require one to give up professional or personal responsibilities.

Classes begin in January and May. Students come together for two one-week long onsite intensive sessions followed by online courses. At the same time, students complete a 12 month long capstone project where students engage in a professional advocacy affiliation with a partner organization of their choosing.

Academic Program

With the integration of scholarship and practical knowledge, the multidisciplinary curriculum guides students in their development as leaders in health advocacy who will serve individuals and their families, the communities in which they live, and the public as a whole.

Students develop core competencies in professionalism, collaboration, program development, research and evaluation, and communication. Courses allow students to analyze specific issues, articulate solutions, and counter arguments that could have negative effects on individuals and communities.

Students use the capstone project, based on fieldwork with a partner organization that can be the place of employment, to foster expertise in a health advocacy issue they wish to make central to their career, while demonstrating the ability to develop a program and lead its implementation.

Typical Course of Study

  • Models of Advocacy: Theory and Practice I

  • Physiology and Disease

  • History of Health Care in the US 

  • Illness and Disability Narratives

  • Research Methods for Advocacy

  • Program Design and Evaluation

  • Capstone Seminar

  • Health Care Policy

  • Health Law

  • Ethics and Advocacy

  • Economics of Health

  • Models of Advocacy: Theories and Practice II

The program begins with a one-week long in person intensive session. The second one-week long in person intensive takes place during the following summer. Certain courses require two weeks using the Sarah Lawrence College Learning Management System and one week of in-person meetings. All other courses meet using the Sarah Lawrence College Learning Management System.

Capstone Projects

The capstone project offers the student practical professional experience in their area of interest. The fieldwork associated with the project can take place in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community settings, nonprofit organizations, for-profit corporations, government, and other venues, including the student’s place of employment.

The role of the health advocate can be very different depending on the setting and the purpose of the organization or program. The capstone projects are designed to tackle a significant issue or problem, address the organization’s needs, and build on the student’s strengths and competencies.

The capstone project is completed under the guidance of the "Research Methods for Health Advocacy," "Program Design and Evaluation," and "Capstone Seminar" courses and a capstone committee.

Through this 12-month project, students engage deeply with the self-selected organization, and gain practical work and leadership experience while demonstrating the ability to:

  • work in partnership with an organization
  • conduct community based participatory research in order to assess a problem and identify potential solutions
  • collaboratively develop a program proposal, including an evaluation plan
  • lead the program implementation

Sites have included:

  • American Heart Association
  • Community Service Society of New York
  • Fannie E. Ripple Foundation, ReThink Health Project
  • Hospital for Special Surgery
  • Indiana University Health, Nutrition Services
  • Metro Health Care for All New York
  • Montefiore Medical Center
  • Mount Sinai Hospital
  • North Shore-LIJ Stern Family Center for Rehabilitation
  • Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute
  • Pride Center of New Jersey
  • Reproductive Health Access Program
  • Sanctuary for Families
  • Settlement Health
  • Westchester Department of Senior Programs and Services
  • Westchester Medical Center
  • YWCA Residence White Plains

Skills & Experience

The Health Advocacy Graduate Program includes mid-career professionals, career-changers, and recent college graduates—all of whom have a demonstrated commitment to making positive change related to health. Health advocates are strategists and organizers. They are able to understand systems, while keeping the wellbeing of the patient, individual, and community experiences as the focus of their work.

Students come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds in the arts, business, law, medicine, nursing, and social services. This diversity in personal experiences greatly enhances the shared learning that is a hallmark of a Sarah Lawrence education.

Students are expected to have proficiency in the use of computers including a mouse, video camera, and microphone enabled headsets with the ability to troubleshoot problems. An intermediate literacy level of commonly used software is required, including Internet search engines and Microsoft Office Suite programs.

MSW Dual Degree Program

Sarah Lawrence College and New York University Silver School of Social Work have partnered to offer a MA/MSW dual degree in Health Advocacy and Social Work. The dual degree is only offered for the May Health Advocacy Program start date.

Learn more