What is a concentration within HSOC?

A concentration is a block of six (6) courses about a topic within the broad discipline of Health & Societies.  A concentration provides each student with the opportunity to become expert within a particular area of interest.  Students curate these six courses from (1) lists of pre-approved courses and (2) by petitioning relevant courses that they find across the university. 

HSOC Concentrations

Bioethics and Society
Disease and Culture 
Global Health  
Health Care Markets and Financing
Health Policy and Law
Public Health 
Race, Gender and Health 

NOTE: Disease and Society terminates as a concentration in May 2020; it closed to new majors in 2019. 

Rules about what can and cannot be in your concentration

  • Pre-approved courses:  A list of pre-approved courses is provided for each concentration.  These are not required courses.  Courses that have been pre-approved for a concentration can also be found in Path at Penn by searching for the appropriate "Course attribute." For example, you can select "HSOC Public Health Elective (AHPE)" from the drop-down menu in Path at Penn's course search to see a listing of each pre-approved course available for the semester. 

  • Core Courses: if your concentration has a core course requirement, this should be completed as soon as possible. Core courses are listed under each concentration on our website. You can also find core courses using the "Course attribute" search bar in Path at Penn. For example, the HSOC public health core attribute is "HSOC Public Health Core (AHPI)."

  • Non-College courses: Students may include up to and no more than three (3) non-Colelge courses in the concentration, including core courses.

  • Petitioning Courses: Students may petition any course not on the pre-approved list to count for the concentration (see the petition form below). 

  • Study Abroad: up to two (2) relevant courses may be used in the concentration. In the case of the IHP study abroad program, students may transfer up to 3 courses. Please discuss your study abroad plans with the Associate Director or HSOC.


How to Petition Courses for your Concentration


  • Complete the petition form 

  • On the form, make a specific argument demonstrating how the material in the specific course is directly relevant to your concentration, and the other courses in your concentration.

  • Submit the petition and a course syllabus.

  • Note: We prefer that petitions are for current courses or courses taken in the previous semester. You may consult with the Associate Director in advance about a course you want to take and may need to petition.