Graduate Programs in Health Advocacy


The Health Advocacy Program imparts the knowledge, skills, competencies and habits of mind necessary for aspiring and established healthcare professionals to pursue high-impact careers in patient and health advocacy. The Program integrates key elements of management, social sciences, human services, education and health science in such a way to prepare students to become effective professionals. Graduates from the Health Advocacy program will operate from strengths-based, culturally competent frameworks that value, respect and empower clients/patients and enhances healthcare organizations and systems.

A Patient Advocate is a professional who provides services to patients and those supporting them who are navigating the complex healthcare continuum. Advocates work directly with clients (or with their legal representatives) to ensure they have a voice in their care and information to promote informed decision making. Advocates may work independently or in medical or other organizational settings. They serve individuals, communities, disease-specific populations, and family caregivers. Synonyms may include health advocate, healthcare advocate, healthcare advocacy consultant, healthcare consumer advocate, and other phrases that imply this role.” (; approved January, 2017)

View upcoming application deadlines.

Two Professional/Graduate Tracks

Certificate in Patient Advocacy
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Health Advocacy

The Graduate Certificate program is designed for students already holding the minimum of a bachelor's degree. It addresses issues of ethics, policy, economics, technologies, disease/disabilities and relational dynamics with an emphasis on individual-level case management. The Master of Arts program focuses on Health Advocacy departmental/organizational design and management. 

The credits earned in the Certificate program may be applied to the Master's program when study is resumed within five (5) years. 

Online Program
Classes attain high intellectual standards using an online format that respects the flexibility needs of young adult learners and midcareer professionals. Students are provided study opportunities that allow them to gain knowledge and skills in an area of high personal and professional interest, where there is a great societal need for thoughtful, inspired and compassionate professionals.

Learning and Expertise Goals
Students in the program will know the most important analytical frameworks, contingency models, skills, approaches, historical and current trends and ideas that shape and comprise the emerging field of health advocacy. They will respond to the growing awareness of the importance of partnering perspectives in management, the social sciences, education and the health sciences while exploring the converging roles of patient representative, ombudsman, educator, care manager, patient navigator, family advisor and health advocate.

This program equips students to understand, appreciate and advance the relevant aspects of:

  • Effective Communication and Interpersonal Relationships for Effective Advocacy
  • Healthcare Access, Finance, and Management
  • The Biopsychosocial Aspects of Chronic Illness and Disability for Patients and Families
  • Principles of Effective Health Navigation 
  • Accessing and Analyzing Health Information and Program Evaluation
  • The Social Determinants of Health and Healthcare Policy
  • The Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Standards
  • Professionalism, Professional Development, and Practice as a professional Patient Advocate
  • The Ethical Standards, Competencies and Best Practices required for a Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA)

Earn a National Credential in Patient Advocacy

Graduates of our Master's program in Health Advocacy and our Certificate of Patient Advocacy  have the availability to take a newly established national credentialing exam in Patient Advocacy. The national BCPA (Board Certified Patient Advocate) certification exam has been developed to iterate and promote the professional knowledge domains and competencies required to assist patients and caregivers in accessing family-centered healthcare. This is the only certification developed for patient advocates that focuses on patient's autonomy. Earning the BCPA credential requires passing this exam that measures candidates’ skills and abilities, and ensures that advocates meet the emerging professional standards to work successfully as a BCPA. Our courses help prepare students for the exam, as students integrate the ethical standards and best practices of patient advocates through these programs of study. The Patient Advocate Certification Board (PACB) welcomes you to its website for information regarding the Patient Advocate Certification Board.

Join an Emerging Professional Community of Health Advocates

The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates

Assumption College is proud to be an affiliate of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates (APHA). Founded in 2009, APHA now has over 600 members and is one of the largest professional network for private and independent patient advocates. Mention Assumption College on your application form where it says, “Do you belong to any of these organizations?” and you will receive $30 off your first year membership fees! Members receive information and have access to resources for a variety of topics such as legal, finance, technology, and much more. 

The National Association of Healthcare Advocacy (NAHAC) is a professional organization for people working in the field of healthcare advocacy.



Massachusetts Health Care Advocates (MAHCA) assists patients and their families in finding the best path through the health care maze.