How Does HCP Differ from Existing Majors at Cornell

The HCP major’s focus on health care and policy provides a distinct educational experience from other CHE majors, filling a unique niche within the college. The HCP attracts scientifically literate students interested in health policy analysis. Here are the differences between the HCP major and other relevant CHE majors in more detail:

PAM Major. The current Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) major and the proposed HCP major provide distinct groups of students with distinct educational experiences. The PAM major prepares students for leadership roles as policy makers, analysts, and managers in both the public and private sectors. The curriculum focus of the PAM major is US public policy broadly across health policy, regulation policy, and social policy.

The HCP major will prepare students who plan careers specifically in health policy analysis or in clinical health care. Many HCP majors will pursue careers in health administration and policy that reward and require more advanced scientific literacy, for example careers in the pharmaceutical industry. While only a few PAM majors currently go on to medical school, we expect that this will be a common career path among HCP majors. A small number of PAM majors are accepted into the department’s Sloan Program prior to their senior undergraduate year and complete a joint BS/MHA in five years, pending state approval we hope this opportunity will also be available to HCP majors.

To summarize the curricular differences the basic comparison with the PAM major is that the HCP major requires more natural sciences but less economics; and of course, HCP is tightly focused on health care and health policy.


HBHS and GPHS Major. The HCP major provides a distinctly different educational experience than DNS majors in Human Biology, Health and Society (HBHS) and Global & Public Health Sciences (GPHS). The differences in these majors’ names accurately convey the core differences. HCP is a social science-based major that uses required and elective courses to build in-depth knowledge of health care and policy.

HBHS is a biology-based major where students are required to develop a robust background in human biology to understand the physiological and biochemical features of health issues. The GPHS major is based in public health with a global focus, teaching the tools of public health research and action, and their specific applications to population health issues in both the United States and the world. There are many specific differences in the curricula of these majors that reflect these core differences.


HD Major. The proposed HCP major and the Human Development (HD) major partly overlap in terms of students’ potential career paths. The HD department provides recommendations for how to tailor the HD major to prepare for 9 different career paths. Several of these paths partly overlap with the likely career paths of HCP majors: medical school; health administration; and PhD programs in Sociology, Public Policy, or Public Health. However, the HCP and HD curricula are quite different and so will provide distinctly different routes towards these careers. HCP courses focus on public policy analysis and emphasize quantitative data analysis especially econometrics and demographic methods.

The HD major provides an “exploration of the psychological, social, cultural, and biological development of humans from conception to old age, focusing on the processes and mechanisms of growth and change over the life course” and the training is based in developmental psychology and the sociology of the life course. HD students interested in medical school often concentrate in Human Neuroscience or in Aging & Health. The HD major’s training for a career in medicine and human neuroscience or aging is much different than the HCP major’s training for a career in medicine and health administration and policy.