Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety

Degree Types: MS, MD/MS

The Master's Program in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety is designed to meet educational goals while allowing students to continue their careers or medical education, making the program accessible to medical students, clinicians, and working healthcare professionals. This program is designed for both clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals who want to focus their career development on these important areas in health care. This is a 2-year, part-time, program which can be pursued by those living outside the Chicago area.  Students are required to travel to Northwestern University's Chicago Campus for the classroom-based intensive sessions and complete the independent study and capstone project remotely. 

The program focuses on the knowledge, skills, and methods required for improving healthcare delivery systems. The topics covered include: healthcare quality context and measurement, changing systems of care delivery, healthcare disparities, accountability and public policy, safety interventions and practices, health information technology, simulation and the science of teamwork, human factors, risk assessment methods, and leadership and governance. Additionally, students learn about the external environment that shapes health policy, particularly in regard to quality and safety.

The Master of Science degree program consists of ten courses, starting with an introductory 2-week immersion program in healthcare quality and patient safety. The immersion program begins with a reading period, followed by two weeks of classroom based instruction. This work is followed by courses on health management and fundamental methods for healthcare quality and patient safety, which are taught as three intensive sessions consisting of two weekend sessions and a one-week intensive. The following summer, there is another 2-week immersion program addressing advanced topics in healthcare quality and patient safety. The Master’s program concludes with a two-quarter mentored Capstone Project, in which students design, implement, and evaluate a quality or safety improvement project, in conjunction with a business course titled The Business of Quality and Safety Improvement which is taught by distinguished faculty from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

After completing this Master of Science degree, graduates will have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to be competitive for leadership positions in healthcare and research institutions, governmental and policy bodies, and careers in academia. Graduates will be well prepared to be leaders in the next generation of quality and safety specialists, designing and implementing quality and safety initiatives across health care plans, hospitals, state and federal agencies, and voluntary organizations throughout the country.

See Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety Degree Requirements for specific classes and procedures needed to complete this program.