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Master of Science in HQPS

This executive-style Master's program is designed to impart both the theoretical and practical skills necessary for improving healthcare delivery systems as well as changing the policy landscape of healthcare. Both clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals who want to focus their career development in quality and safety will benefit from the robust coursework, which culminates in a mentored capstone practicum to start making an immediate difference. 

Chicago residency is not required for the program. There will be 2 in-person residencies of 5 days each complemented by additional distance learning components as well as courses held entirely remotely. Below you will find an overview of the courses required for the degree as well as details about the residency sessions. 

Immersion Sessions

The program consists of five-day immersion sessions held twice at our Chicago or Evanston campuses. In addition to these high-contact sessions, distance-learning sessions follow to enrich the immersion coursework.

Session 1

July of the first year, beginning the program

Session 2

July of the second year, leading into the Capstone portion


Learn more about the Master of Science courses below.  

 HQS 401 & 402: Introduction to Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety

Leaders in healthcare quality along with patient safety scientists and policymakers will introduce students to the history, theory, and methodology of quality and safety in healthcare settings. Through readings, interactive exercises, and discussion, students will learn about the challenges of behavior change, public policy drivers of quality improvement, high-risk contexts for error occurrence, methods for risk assessment, and other key areas in improving quality and safety. Students will also analyze 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 United States 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, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, government, and payers. Under instruction by Joel Shalowitz, MD, MBA, the author of The U.S. Healthcare System: Origins, Organization, and Opportunities, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry as it stands today and how it came to be. 

 HQS 440: Fundamental Methods for Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety

This hands-on course will give students working knowledge of basic data collection and analytical techniques common to the implementation, evaluation, and study of healthcare quality and safety. Students will learn to create and use data to answer empirical questions, with both lecture and laboratory components to develop deeper understanding. Upon completion, students will be equipped to critically evaluate published scientific literature as well as policies, reports, and measures of clinical performance and efficiency.

 HQS 501 & 502: Advanced Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety

Students will engage in critical thinking focused on advancing public policy, quality improvement strategies, and medical delivery models that improve the quality of healthcare. Leading national patient safety scientists will offer instruction in advanced theory, content, and skills to develop a level of mastery in the field of patient safety. Course readings and discussions will reflect a deep understanding of metrics for quality and safety and how to implement major improvement strategies. Students will be able to work with simulation tools to develop and run scenarios with safety theory and skills in various healthcare settings and within the context of communication across transitions.

 HQS 510: The Business of Quality and Safety Improvement

Led by faculty from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, students will delve into the principles of leadership and culture in organizations. Discussions will center around organizational behavior, leading effective teams, and change management in preparation for the launch of students' capstone projects. This partnership with one of the preeminent business schools in the nation allows HQPS students access to premier leadership education within a degree focused on eaffecting concrete change. 

 HQS 430 & 435: Capstone

The culmination of the HQPS degree is the Capstone project, which stretches across two courses. After students have identified a specific quality or safety improvement to implement in their workplace, remote mentorship helps guide the process of development and measurement. This real-world experience lays the groundwork for future projects students pursue after graduation.