Frequently Asked Questions
What is Health Advocacy?
Health Advocacy encompasses a wide range of professional activities with the goal of improving health and enhancing the effectiveness and responsiveness of the health care system. Advocates can work one-to-one assisting individuals in their encounters with the health care system, or at the system or policy level, affecting positive change in the health care system.
Where can health advocates work?
Our graduates work in health care facilities, in disease-specific organizations, in grassroots community initiatives, in local/state/federal government agencies, in national advocacy organizations, and as independent health advocates.
Are classes available online?
The program does not offer any online courses. We believe that true learning best occurs in an academic environment that promotes dialogue among all participants, and in which each student’s talents, insights, interests, and needs help to determine the focus of the work. All Health Advocacy Program classes are conducted as seminars – highly interactive round-table discussions. In the seminar setting, students share their views so everyone's understanding is expanded, improved, and deepened while developing conversation skills – a necessity for competence in small group and professional settings.
In response to the busy lives and extended commutes of some students, classes are held two days per week - Wednesday and/or Thursday, depending on part- or full-time status.
Who are your typical Health Advocacy students?
We have a dynamic mix of students. The class make-up is almost evenly divided between recent graduates from four-year colleges, and career-changers in pursuit of a second or third career. Among the career-changers are people with backgrounds in the arts, business, law, medicine, nursing, and social services. Recent undergraduates have equally eclectic academic backgrounds, coming to us from colleges and universities all over the country, having earned degrees in a wide variety of disciplines. This diversity in personal experiences greatly enhances class discussions.
Many students work and/or take classes in addition to managing families and careers.
All students share the desire to contribute to positive change in the health care system to make it more effective, accessible, and responsive to people’s needs.
What classes are required? What is the work load?
To view the list of required courses and course descriptions, click here. Assignments include weekly reading and written responses, as well as presentations, papers, and research. Larger assignments can usually be completed in the student’s area of interest.
Are students able to individualize the program?
We ask students to identify an area of specialization and the program facilitates development of a portfolio of research and work experience in that chosen specialty.
How long does it take to complete the program?
Full-time students complete the program in two years. Part-time students complete the program in two and a half to three years.
What is the class schedule like?
Each class meets once each week for two hours on either Wednesday or Thursday. In general, full-time students are on campus two days each week, and and part-time students will need to be on campus one day each week.
How are courses graded?
Faculty write detailed evaluations of each student’s work. Most courses have final grades; a few are pass/fail.
How much time is spent in fieldwork placements?
We require three fieldwork placements of 200 hours each. The first placement typically begins the second semester in the program or during the summer after the first year. Fieldwork hours are in addition to time spent in classes. Fieldwork is coordinated and supervised by the program.
What kind of internship can I have?
The first fieldwork placement is often in a clinical setting, the remaining two are in organizations or health care facilities that support a student’s chosen area of specialization. Fieldwork is coordinated and supervised by the program.
Most fieldwork placements are unpaid. Fieldwork placements in the last year have included Medicare Rights Center, National Patient Advocate Foundation, New York Presbyterian Cornell Medical Center/Emergency Department, Payne Whitney Westchester New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Women’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Unit, Transcendent International/Language Mate, MergerWatch, Montefiore Medical Center/Pain and Palliative Care Service, and Women’s Institute/GMHC.
Is it possible to contact present students?
Yes. If you are interested, please let us know so we can make the arrangements.
Whom should I contact if I have more questions about your program?
You can contact Vicki Breitbart, Director.
Can I visit Sarah Lawrence College and the Graduate Program in Health Advocacy?
Yes. Please contact Emanuel Lomax in Graduate Admissions or Crystal Greene in the Health Advocacy Program office. We encourage applicants to visit the campus and to observe at least one Health Advocacy Program class.
What are the tuition costs?
A basic outline of tuition and costs can be found here. Specific details will be discussed in the interview sessions.
What kind of financial aid is available and how do I apply?
Applicants receive a booklet on financial aid options, which are also discussed in the interviews. If you need more information, please contact Susan Guma, dean of Graduate Studies, or Roberta Daskin, Financial Aid.
What additional fees can I expect to incur at Sarah Lawrence?
Additional expenses depend on individual circumstances. In general: Parking on campus is $100/semester. Books are either recommended or required per instructor preference, and students spend $500/semester on average.
What is the application process?
You can apply to the Health Advocacy graduate program online. To do so, visit the online application site. You may also download and print the application; return the completed application form to the Graduate Studies Office of Sarah Lawrence College.
What is the application process timeline?
The preferential deadline to apply for the Health Advocacy program is February 1, however applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Qualified applicants are required to have a program interview, which is scheduled by the Health Advocacy office when the application is in process.
Is it possible to send supporting documents separately?
Yes; however, you should keep in touch to let us know when to expect missing pieces and to make sure that all your documents have finally been received. Transcripts from an undergraduate institution must be in a sealed envelope. Letters of recommendation must be sent directly from the recommender or from you in a sealed envelope with the recommender’s signature across the flap. Everything should be sent to the attention of the Graduate Studies office.
Do you require GREs?
SLC does not require GRE scores.
How many applicants are accepted each year?
We can accept a maximum of 15 students per year.
Can I enroll in the program on a part-time basis?
Yes. Many successful graduates have completed enrollment by attending the Health Advocacy Program on a part-time basis for three years instead of two.
How far away is the College from the airports?
Westchester Airport in White Plains is 20-30 minutes, but it’s small and service is limited. LaGuardia is 30 minutes driving and 1-2 hours by public transportation. JFK is one hour driving.
Newark is in New Jersey, but is approximately one hour driving and may be faster depending on where you choose to live.
How do I get from the airport to the College?
Cab or car service is the easiest. Public transportation is available to New York City, and trains from Grand Central Terminal go to Bronxville.
How can I find a place to live?
While there is no college housing for graduate students, SLC has a very good housing Web board and housing coordinator that you will be given access to in the summer. You can also use Craigslist.org or the local papers.
How do I get around?
A car is helpful but not necessary. The College is about a mile from the Metro North train station. There are also buses that run through campus to the train station and mall, etc.
How far is the College from NYC?
30 minutes to Grand Central by train (Metro North), or up to an hour by subway (the less expensive option).
Is there College transportation, i.e. bus service?
There is a free nightly shuttle van that meets every train that comes in and goes to the city after 5 p.m.
What is the campus social life like for graduate students?
The Graduate Student Senate (GSS) holds monthly meetings. You will find out more about the GSS during orientation. There is also the daily campus e-mail that details all the campus happenings. Basically, the social life is what you choose to make of it, and options abound.