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Master of Science in HQPS

This program focuses on the theoretical and practical skills necessary for improving healthcare delivery systems as well as changing the policy landscape of our healthcare system.

It is designed for clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals who want to focus their career development on improving healthcare delivery systems, particularly in regard to quality and safety.

This executive-style program incorporates distance-learning components to allow students to meet their educational goals while continuing their careers or medical education. Chicago residency is not required.

Please see below for an overview of our curriculum and session dates. For the class admitted for summer 2023, Capstone Colloquium and Convocation will be held in June of 2025.

Five-Day Immersion Sessions

The program consists of five-day immersion sessions held four times at our Chicago or Evanston campuses. In addition to these high-contact sessions, six distance-learning sessions enrich the immersion coursework. Distance-learning sessions for each applicable course will typically be held one evening per week following the immersion sessions.

Session 1: July 10-14, 2023

  • HQS 401: Introduction to Healthcare Quality
  • HQS 402: Introduction to Patient Safety
  • Distance-learning sessions follow

Session 2: October 9-13, 2023

  • HQS 420: Introduction to U.S. Health Systems
  • HQS 440: Fundamental Methods for HQPS
  • Distance-learning sessions follow

Session 3: February 5-9, 2024

  • HQS 510: Business of Quality & Safety Improvement
  • No distance-learning sessions
  • Sessions held on the Evanston campus

Session 4: July 15-19, 2024

  • HQS 501: Advanced Healthcare Quality
  • HQS 502: Advanced Patient Safety
  • Distance-learning sessions follow

Capstone Remote Group Mentoring Sessions

Across both years of study, students focus on developing and implementing their Capstone Project (HQS 430 & 435). Remote group mentoring sessions are held starting in April of the first year and throughout the second year of study, allowing students to provide updates on their projects and receive feedback from faculty and peers. The Capstone courses culminate in a final colloquium held the day before graduation.

Session 1: April 18, 2024

Capstone Final Proposal Presentation

Session 2: October 17, 2024

Capstone Status Report Presentation

Session 3: January 9, 2025

Capstone Status Report Presentation

Session 4: March 20, 2025

Capstone Final Presentation


Learn more about the Master of Science courses below.  

 HQS 401: Introduction to Healthcare Quality

National leaders in healthcare quality will introduce students to the history of healthcare quality and measurement of healthcare quality. Students will achieve a familiarity with definition and measurement of quality of healthcare in a variety of healthcare settings and the public policy drivers of quality improvement. Interactive exercises and discussion will engage students in the challenges of behavior change and quality improvement and the role of public policy as a driver of improvement including financial incentives in public reporting.

 HQS 402: Introduction to Patient Safety

Leading national patient safety scientists and policymakers will introduce students to relevant theory, content, tools and methods in the field of patient safety. Faculty will engage students through selected readings, presentations, interactive exercises and discussions. Students will be introduced to patient safety problems and high-risk contexts for error occurrence. Students will learn error theory and systems thinking as well as methods for risk assessment and patient safety improvement. Students will be challenged to consider the roles of varied healthcare stakeholders in building a safer healthcare system.

 HQS 420: Introduction to U.S. Health System

This course analyzes the important stakeholders in the health industry, how they interact with one another and how managers can successfully create and deliver value to key stakeholders. It presents and integrates analyses of patients (and those who advocate for them), providers, product companies, government and payers. 

"Students of American health care’s history, structure, organization, management, regulation, and financing face a daunting challenge, confounded by the complexity and scale of that industry.  Until now, a modern comprehensive source book covering all of that terrain and more has been missing. 

The wait is over.  In The U.S. Healthcare System: Origins, Organization, and Opportunities, Professor Joel Shalowitz has provided a stunningly ambitious compendium with an unequaled combination of both scope and detail.  It covers both the current shape and the historical background of payment, classical and emerging organizational forms, professional roles, regulation, technology, efforts to measure, control, and improve the quality of care, and more.  It takes deep dives into the epidemiology of both disease and the utilization of care — important scientific foundations for proper health care policy and management.  Throughout it makes generous use of helpful figures and tables, as well as copious citations that mark this as a work of authentic scholarship.

Professor Shalowitz’s book is a must-have resource for the library of any health care scholar who wants to have ready and efficient access to the fundamental facts that shape American health care today."

— Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP
President Emeritus and Senior Fellow
Institute for Healthcare Improvement
Boston, Massachusetts

 HQS 440: Fundamental Methods for Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety

Students will gain working knowledge of basic data collection and analytical techniques that are common in the implementation, evaluation and study of healthcare quality and safety. Through sessions focused on fundamental concepts of data collection, organization and analyses, students will learn to create and use data to answer empirical questions. The lecture series will provide a thorough understanding of course concepts and the laboratory series will provide opportunity for hands-on application. Basic statistical tools for data analyses, interpretation and presentation will prepare students to critically evaluate published scientific literature as well as quality improvement policies, reports and measures of clinical performance, efficiency, healthcare quality and patient safety.

 HQS 501: Advanced Healthcare Quality

Classroom exercises and discussions will engage students in critical thinking about healthcare quality and leadership. Focus will be directed toward advancing public policy, quality improvement strategies and medical delivery models that improve the quality of healthcare. Through this course, students will learn of techniques for effective improvement science, define quality and select/develop meaningful metrics reflecting quality for an organization, demonstrate understanding of how to implement major quality improvement strategies based on proven methodologies for effective teamwork, solid process and measurement and achieve improved and sustained outcomes.

 HQS 502: Advanced Patient Safety

Dynamic interaction with leading national patient safety scientists and policy makers will engage students in learning advanced theory, content and skills for patient safety leadership and practice. The course readings, presentations, hand-on exercises and discussions are designed to develop students to a level of mastery in the field of patient safety. Sessions will focus on developing safety leadership, safety culture, the legal and policy context for patient safety at the state and federal levels. Safety theory, methods and skills will be applied across varied healthcare contexts: ambulatory care, hospital-based care, labor and delivery, long-term care, special concerns in pediatrics and in the context of communication across transitions. The impact of health information technology on safe medical care within and across institutions will be explored and principles of effective implementation will be demonstrated and discussed. Students will have the opportunity to work with simulation tools to develop and run simulation scenarios. Students will be introduced to what is currently known about effective methods for error disclosure. Students will develop proficiency with patient safety risk assessment and improvement methods, principles of safe system design and key patient safety priorities.

 HQS 510: The Business of Quality & Safety Improvement

This course is taught by distinguished faculty from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and is offered as a series of three weekend sessions. The topical content areas covered by this course include leadership, culture, negotiations, organizational behavior, leading effective teams and change management. This course is designed to complement the capstone project experience.