Professional Development Program

The Professional Development Program (PDP) is a co-curricular program carefully crafted by the Department of Health Policy and Management to focus on and develop the professional skills necessary for the success in the workplace. PDP covers a broad range of activities, including the Professional Development Seminar, competency attainment assessments, and supplemental skill sessions (required for full-time MPH and MHA students), as well as optional activities and events detailed in Unique Components. The PDP has been designed based on a review of the literature on leadership and professional development, and on extensive market research with alumni, employers, and colleagues at other institutions.

The Professional Development Seminar

The Professional Development Seminar is a two-semester co-curricular course required for all full-time students that ensures they have the necessary skills for a successful summer practicum experience and employment after graduation. The seminar covers a full spectrum of personal and professional competencies and skills designed to complement and supplement the student’s academic program, including carefully developed coursework and personal coaching. The seminar focuses on building essential skills such as presentation, oral and written communication, interviewing, and teamwork.

The first two semesters of the seminar are designed to develop essential professional skills. These skills are directly applicable to the practicum search and experience. The third semester of the seminar, taken in the Fall following the practicum, requires students to both reflect on their practicum experience and begin planning for and engaging with their post-graduate job search. Students will prepare for and take part in Practicum Day, a one-day event where students are required to prepare practicum presentations in small groups facilitated by faculty members and alumni.

Professional Development Skill Sessions

All full-time HPM students are required to attend designated skill sessions designed to enhance their Excel skills. Prior to each session, students will be required to demonstrate proficiency in Excel through the successful completion of the Excel 2013 Essential Training online course provided by This site is an excellent online resource for a variety of subjects and software, and is available for free to all Columbia students. The online self-study workshop will be followed up by an on-campus workshop. The material covered gives students basic Excel skills that they will use in their coursework and beyond.