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Health Systems Studies BS

About The Program

The Health Systems Studies program provides individuals holding a health-related associate degree the opportunity to complete a baccalaureate degree — the Bachelor of Science in Health Systems (BSHS), a popular option for nursing health systems management professionals.

The growing and complex healthcare environment creates exciting opportunities within the health care industry. Our innovative baccalaureate degree completion program prepares individuals for positions of increasing responsibility and greater opportunities in clinical practice, management and leadership, community health, program development, education, and product sales. Several current trends support the need for baccalaureate preparation by those working in health related fields including:

  • Health care reforms and increasing access to care
  • Complex delivery and payment systems
  • Technological advances in health care
  • Emerging discoveries and evidence-based best practices
  • A well informed and health conscious public
  • Changing demographic including an aging population with more complex health needs
  • Increased diversity of our communities

The Health Systems Studies program is multi-disciplinary, helping students build careers in health promotion and disease prevention within complex health systems located within diverse communities. Building on foundations of the liberal arts, behavioral and life sciences, students in this program learn to effectively lead people and projects.

Health Systems Studies Program Overview

This Health Systems educational program is based on academic excellence, and the values of community involvement, service, and health equity. Completion of a baccalaureate degree provides new and relevant knowledge and skills to healthcare professionals. An important benefit of getting a bachelor’s degree emphasizing health systems management is its overview approach broadens employment prospects in traditional and/or non-traditional work settings. Contemporary non-traditional work settings and roles may include:

  • Product development or sales
  • School or community-based health programs
  • Local, state or federal health programs
  • Health care related project management
  • Health care management or leadership roles
  • Health care insurers or payers
  • Educational roles
  • Research

The health systems baccalaureate completion program is designed to meet the professional and educational goals of individuals involved in some aspect of the health care field. Students determine the pace of their education, allowing flexibility in advancing the education while maintaining employment. The curriculum, in establishing content domain areas, provides opportunities for students to individualize the degree program. Students work with their academic advisor to select courses appropriate to meet the focus area requirements.

The Health Systems Studies program focuses on:

  • Expanding project management knowledge and skills
  • Deepening professional growth in the role as a community minded health professional
  • Preparing students to work within diverse communities and teams
  • Expanding team collaboration and communication skills
  • Preparing for greater leadership opportunities.

Student outcomes

Graduates of the Health Systems Studies program should be able to:

  • Effectively communicate with culturally diverse individuals, groups, and communities
  • Collaborate across disciplines to address complex health care issues
  • Evaluate and apply relevant scientific evidence to advance health
  • Analyze dynamic situations within complex health care systems and make evidence-based, theory-informed decisions
  • Effectively lead people and manage organizational resources to accomplish goals
  • Design effective, stakeholder-informed prevention and health promotion strategies to advance community health outcomes
  • Analyze ethical dilemmas specific to the provision of health care and determine actions based on sound ethical decision making

Ready to turn your two-year degree into a bachelor’s degree?

If you want to continue your college journey, and learn relevant knowledge and skills that pertain to healthcare professionals, the Health Systems Studies program provides a breadth of opportunities for those interested in nursing health systems management careers and related fields. Metro State, established in 1971, is a member of the Minnesota State higher education system.

How to enroll

Current students: Declare this program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further admission requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Health Systems Studies BS now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Health Systems Studies BS

Program eligibility requirements

To be eligible for acceptance to program, the following must be completed:

  • Approved admission to Metropolitan State University
  • An official transcript indicating completion of an associate degree in a health-related field from a regionally accredited institution
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5. The GPA used for admission assessment is the cumulative GPA calculated from all coursework and evaluation of all transcripts.
  • Completion of all pre-major requirements with a grade of at least a C in each.
  • Completion of an official degree plan with an academic advisor.

Students complete the Undergraduate Program Declaration Form at this time.

Courses and Requirements


The degree requirements for graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Health Systems include:

  • A minimum of 120 semester credits are needed for a Minnesota State granted baccalaureate degree. These credits will consist of:
  • Transferable Associate Degree coursework
  • Transferable General Education Liberal Studies (GELS) courses
  • Required Metropolitan State University Health Science Major and GELS courses
  • Required Metropolitan State University Racial Issues Graduation Requirement coursework
  • For more information, view the University wide graduation requirement information.


The coursework within the Bachelor of Science in Health Systems may be organized in many different ways with several offered in different formats such as on line or with a mix of online and in class meetings which provides flexibility and convenience while completing your baccalaureate degree.

Health-Related Degree Programs

This degree program builds upon an associate degree in a health-related field. There are many programs which offer degrees applicable for admission to this program including (but not limited to) associate degrees (AS) or (AAS) in the follow fields:

  • Radiologic Technology
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Sonography
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Orthotics Technician
  • Prosthetic Technician
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Phlebotomy Technician
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Nutrition Science
  • Exercise Science
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Health Information Management Technician
  • Medical Equipment Technician
  • Dental Assistant

If you are interested in this program and have completed an associate degree in a health-related field that is not noted above, please contact the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Advising Center at, or 651-793-1375.

Pre-major requirements

In preparation for the health system core program, courses in the following content areas are required: Introductory college level writing course, 3 credit minimum; Introductory or general psychology course; Introductory or general sociology course; Introductory statistics. To matriculate into the BSHS major student must also complete a degree plan with the academic advisor.

+ Requirements (120 credits)

Primarily for students who have completed their writing requirement, but who seek further writing instruction and practice, this course begins with a brief review of the principles of academic writing. It then engages students in the thinking and writing required in various disciplines throughout the university. Students study and practice summary, explanation, analysis, interpretation and other critical strategies used to write essays, reports, research papers, case studies and other texts. The course also emphasizes understanding how audience, purpose and situation shape writing. Students learn how to use a flexible process of writing and revision to complete assignments, and how to respond constructively to the writing of others.

Full course description for Writing in Your Major

This course focuses on understanding the complex organization and operation of the health care system in the U.S. The history, stakeholders and their interactions, financial considerations, and the role of government are discussed and incorporated into critical analyses of the operation and performance of the health care system, current health care issues, and possible future directions for health care in the U.S.

Full course description for Understanding the U.S. Health System

This course examines global health issues that influence population health outcomes, including the interaction between domestic and global health. Students study frameworks such as vital statistics, Millennium Development Goals, and human rights principles and apply these frameworks to the definition, prevention, or mitigation of identified global health issues or concerns with particular attention given to the health of infants, children, and women in low and middle income countries. The course concludes with a study of cooperative efforts designed to mitigate or prevent global health problems.

Full course description for Global Health Issues

This course will provide an introduction to the field of health psychology, which is concerned with the roles of behavioral/lifestyle, psychological, and social/cultural factors on health/wellness, illness and chronic disease. The course will address four general subject areas: 1) attitudes, behavior, and lifestyle factors affecting disease prevention and development; 2) stress and the related psychological and social processes associated with disease development and progression; 3) social and psychological factors involved in the illness experience; and 4) long-term social and psychological implications of chronic illness (e.g., heart disease, cancer).

Full course description for Health Psychology

This course focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to appropriately identify, collect, analyze and report evaluative information to be used in making decisions about, and changes in, programs. Topics include approaches to program evaluation, the process of planning and conducting an evaluation, basic principles and practices of designing evaluation instruments, and methods for interpreting and presenting data with an emphasis on providing relevant information to decision makers. This course is appropriate for anyone in business, public, nonprofit or human services administration who is responsible for making decisions about service programs or for conducting evaluations.

Full course description for Program Evaluation

This capstone course provides a foundation for students to transition into roles of increasing responsibility in healthcare-related fields. Emphasis is placed on synthesizing theories, principles, concepts and skills from prior courses as a basis for implementing community involvement, service, and health equity in the health care environment. This course focuses on planning a change project that would positively influence processes or systems impacting health.

Full course description for Health Science Capstone

+ Evidence - based practice focus area (Choose One Course)

It is important for human service practitioners to understand the relationship between practice and research. According to social psychologist, Kurt Lewin, the best practice is founded in research and the best research is grounded in practice. Acknowledging this insight, this course will engage students in an examination of research as it is employed in the human service field. The primary focus of this course is to teach students how to be critical consumers of research, able to read, evaluate, and apply research for human service practice purposes. A second purpose is to develop students skills for their future role as collaborators with researchers in generating knowledge from the field. This course can serve as a companion course for the program evaluation offering or a foundations course for students interested in pursuing graduate study or a preview course for those intending to take social or behavioral science research methods courses.

Full course description for Understanding and Using Research for the Practitioner

This course focuses on evidence-based practice (EBP) in nursing to improve the lives of people, including the components of patient/family preferences and values, clinician experience, and best available scientific evidence. Students will engage in critical analysis of the historical development of nursing research and theory in practice. Ethical issues surrounding the use of human subjects in research and the history of racism embedded in research and EBP are explored. Emphasis is placed on critically evaluating multiple methodologies, including qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, indigenous knowledge systems, participative action research, and applying this evidence into nursing practice. Sources from social sciences, humanities, biomedicine, and social justice are used to explore holism, the human response to illness, and co-creating conditions of health. Competency Statement: Understands evidence-based nursing practice well enough to apply research to nursing care.

Full course description for Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice

This course introduces students to scientific research methods in psychology, emphasizing the experimental method. Topics include developing research questions, reviewing background information, deciding on appropriate methodology, and collecting and interpreting data. This course prepares students to think critically about psychological claims and is generally required preparation for graduate study. This course includes assignments in the Psychology Laboratory.

Full course description for Research Methods

+ Communication, Collaboration with diverse groups (Group 1) (Choose One Course)

Intercultural Communication has a global perspective and engages students in reflectively thinking about the growing interdependence of nations and peoples. Students develop their ability to apply a comparative perspective to cross-cultural communication episodes in interpersonal interactions. Students research topics of interest that compare two or more cultures in some aspect of their social, economic, or political values and practices. Through field experiences, in class exercises, and readings, students learn the dynamics and skills needed to engage in respectful and sensitive communication with others whose beliefs, values, and attitudes are different than their own.

Full course description for Intermediate Intercultural Communication

This course emphasizes the experience of race and racism and how both intersect with various forms of human diversity in the helping arena. It will provide students an understanding of how power and privilege are operant in the human services. Students will examine assumptions, myths, beliefs, and biases that block effective relationships between groups of people and that hamper helper-helpee dynamics. Course activities involve self-assessment and opportunities for application of learning in a human service environment. COMPETENCE STATEMENT: Knows conceptual frameworks dealing with racial-ethnic identity, racial-cultural world views, oppression and power well enough to explore, develop, and evaluate personal responses and professional strategies to eliminate the myths, beliefs, biases, actions and efforts, that sustain social oppression in the helping professions.

Full course description for Intersection of Race and Diversity in Human Services

This course focuses on policies and practices for effectively managing a diverse workforce in private, public and nonprofit organizations. The current context, legal environment and historical development of equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, and diversity are addressed. Students gain theoretical and practical knowledge to understand beliefs, attitudes, biases, and prejudices to more effectively manage differences in order to enhance organization productivity. A significant amount of time will be focused on racism, origin of racism, and individual responsibility of racism.

Full course description for Managing a Diverse Workforce

+ Communication, Collaboration with diverse groups (Group 2) (One Course)

This course covers theory and practice of communication in small task-oriented groups. Communication topics include team management, models of group problem solving and decision making, leadership, building cohesiveness, resolving conflict, managing diverse views, negotiating roles, and norms. Students learn to interact productively in small task groups as members and leaders. Numerous group activities, group assignments and laboratory work require an extended class time and group meetings outside of class. Overlap: COMM 351T Communication in Work Groups Theory Seminar.

Full course description for Communication in Work Groups

This course examines communication patterns and systems functioning in modern organizations in sectors such as government, nonprofit and corporate. Course simulations and topics include analysis of organizational communication models, formal and informal communication networks, external and internal communication channels, the changing shape of future organizations, mentoring, ethics, diversity, technologies, and the purpose of communication research.

Full course description for Organizational Communication

Students learn the theory and practice of group membership skills, including group development, roles, norms and leadership responsibilities. Students also learn situational leadership styles and roles, interpersonal communication styles, conflict management, problem solving, feedback skills, and group activity planning, presentation and processing. Overlap: COMM 351 Communication in Work Groups and COMM 351T Communication in Work Groups Theory Seminar.

Full course description for Group Dynamics and Facilitation

+ Health Topics (Choose One Course)

This course is designed to provide an understanding of the health care industry and the theory and practice of face to face and mediated forms of communication by health care administrators, managers, providers, and patients. Students will analyze both common and best practices in health care campaigns, training, public relations, patient satisfaction, patient advocacy, administration, media covering health issues, and public education. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism, and how social constructions of race and racism affect perspectives and create disparities in health care access, communication, and outcomes experienced by different populations.

Full course description for Health Communication

This course covers the basics of developing an effective and compliant Health & Safety program. It will lead the student through the process of evaluating health and safety risks and developing required OSHA programs to manage those risks. Topics to be covered include: OSHA recordkeeping, hazard communication, personal protective equipment, machine safeguarding, electrical safety, ergonomics, chemical safety, employee health and wellness and workplace security. By the end of the course, the student will have the knowledge and the tools to develop a Health and Safety program.

Full course description for Managing Employee Health and Safety

This course familiarizes students with the diversity that exists in families. It is intended for students who want to gain a better understanding of the family, and for students specializing in psychology or human services related fields. Structural inequalities in society based on wealth, race/ethnicity and gender are presented as key determinants in the diversity of family forms and in differing experiences within families.

Full course description for Family: Racial, Gender and Class Dimensions

This course, designed for students in human services fields who work with older adults and their families, and students considering gerontology as a vocation, is an overview of the field. Topics include understanding the physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of aging, as well as the myths about aging, health and social needs of the aging, and community resources and programs.

Full course description for Aging in America: A Personal and Societal Journey

This course addresses how violence is responded to at various levels. It examines the role and development of personal skills and involvement in addressing violence, community intervention resources, systems responses such as punishment and rehabilitation in violence prevention, social change movement responses to violence, and international violence and the growth of human rights movements.

Full course description for Violence: Individual, Community and Global Responses

This course is designed as an introduction to the study of family violence across the lifespan. It will introduce students to history, current theories, research, and policies in the three areas of family violence: child maltreatment, elder abuse, domestic violence. You will examine the cultural, social and political roots of family violence, as well as the dynamics of abuse in the family and in intimate relationships. You will explore the effects of abuse at the individual, family, and community levels, and be able to identify abusive and controlling behaviors. The content of the course focuses on current theories, research and policies on domestic violence (battering, sexual assault, stalking), child maltreatment (physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect) and abuse of vulnerable adults (elderly, non-elderly vulnerable populations). This course is an introduction to the topic. It will give students a basic overview of the issues across types of family violence…

Full course description for Family Violence Across the Lifespan

This course focuses on the origins and trends in community and public health nursing, conceptual models for practice, and contemporary public health problems and issues. Students synthesize knowledge from nursing, public health and the social sciences to provide holistic care with community as client. Emphasis is on prevalent population-based health issues.

Full course description for Community Health Nursing

This course examines the many meanings death has for individuals. Its goals are to convey information, stimulate thought and promote a deeper awareness of this subject through readings from literature (fiction, poetry and essays) and humanistic psychology. Topics include death as an idea, death anxiety, children and death, the dying process, grief and loss, death metaphors, suicide, and longevity, survival and immortality.

Full course description for Understanding Death and Dying

This course surveys the principles and applications of community psychology, emphasizing person-environment interactions and societal/cultural impacts upon individual and community functioning. Attention is given to community-based interventions that facilitate individual and community competence and empowerment, prevent disorder, and promote health and social change. Students select and research an issue of their choice (such as, mental illness, violence, alcohol or substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, discrimination) utilizing a community psychology lens.

Full course description for Community Psychology

The course explores the risk management issues facing firms and individuals and examines how to protect firm value and personal wealth. It covers the areas of the general risk management process, property and liability insurance, life and health insurance, annuities and employee benefits. The insurance industry and regulatory concerns are also addressed. In addition, the course touches on some of the new products emerging in the risk management arena and how the insurance industry responds to them.

Full course description for Risk Management and Insurance

+ Leading People, Organizations, Projects (Choose One Course)

This course focuses on developing the skills needed to become a successful project manager and project team member. Topics covered include all aspects of project management from project initiation issues and project planning to scheduling, organization, implementation, monitoring progress and controlling to achieve desired project results. Also included are project management techniques such as PERT, CPM and project evaluation methods using Microsoft Project software.

Full course description for Project Management

This course focuses on principles and techniques of personnel and industrial psychology and applications of scientific psychology to business and industrial settings. Topics include: psychology as a science and professional practice issues; employee selection, psychological testing, performance appraisal, and training and development; leadership in organizations; motivation, job satisfaction and job involvement; organizational structure; work conditions, engineering psychology, employee safety and health, and work stress; and consumer psychology. This course is appropriate for general management, business administration and psychology students in addition to human resource management professionals. Overlap: HRM 330 Personnel and Industrial Psychology.

Full course description for Industrial-Organizational Psychology

+ Ethics (Choose One Course)

Do business firms have obligations besides making as much money as possible for their stockholders? What are their responsibilities, if any, to their employees, their customers, and the wider community? Is it enough to obey the law, or does the law sometimes allow people to do things that are wrong? Do employees have any right to privacy on the job? To 'living wages'? To 'decent' working conditions? Does a seller have any obligation to look out for the interests of the buyer? Isn't it necessary to put the best possible 'spin' on your product and let the buyer look out for him or herself? This course will examine questions like these in light of various theories of ethics and current theories of justice. In addition to considering how we might ideally like people to act, it will also consider the challenges to personal integrity and 'doing the right thing' posed by the real world of business and by the kind of large bureaucratic organizations that dominate it.

Full course description for Business Ethics

Is it ever right to try to hasten a patient's death? Should people ever be given medical treatment against their will? How should we decide who will get access to scarce medical resources (like organ transplants)? Do people have a right to get the care they need, even if they can't pay for it? This course will use ethical theories and theories of justice to explore these questions and others like them. It is intended to be helpful not only to (present or future) health care practitioners, but also to anyone who wants to think about these issues, which confront us in our roles as patients and as citizens whose voices can contribute to the shaping of health care policies.

Full course description for Medical Ethics

*Additional courses may be added to these focus areas in the future and are subject to change based on course offerings.