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Lehigh Launches New Inter-college Undergraduate Degree in Integrated Business and Health

Student recruiting will begin in Fall 2024 for enrollment in Fall 2025.

Photography by

Marcus Smith '25

Lehigh has a history of providing interdisciplinary educational programs to students looking for innovative programs of study that fit their life goals. Starting in Fall of 2025, undergraduate students will be able to enroll in a new inter-college interdisciplinary program offered by the College of Health and the College of Business: Integrated Business and Health (IBH).

“The new Integrated Business and Health undergraduate degree combines disciplines in a way that aligns with our strategic planning goal of providing a deeply interdisciplinary education, and will prepare graduates to contribute immediately to the business side of health and healthcare,” said Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82.

“Students will gain knowledge and insights that come from combining the core principles of business with an in-depth knowledge of the multiple determinants of health, the health system and health policy," he said. "These future leaders will better understand and address the vital conditions that shape community health in different areas and different populations.”

Healthcare Sector is Growing

Health is a large and growing dimension of the U.S. economy and offers a range of career opportunities to students who understand core business principles and have the understanding needed to apply these principles within the health sector.

The new Integrated Business and Health program will offer undergraduate students interested in health and the healthcare industry the opportunity to combine knowledge and skills gained through the core curriculums of the colleges of Business and Health with in-depth, interdisciplinary training in health economics and policy, healthcare management and community health.

“The healthcare industry has a deep human and economic impact on society, making it of interest to many students," Nathan Urban, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said. "The healthcare industry needs people with the skills and knowledge required to make decisions that maximize both health and business outcomes. We can provide students with training in the combination of skills that positions them to meet this need.

"Many Lehigh alumni are leaders in the business side of health," he said. "Lehigh students have long combined majors and minors to gain the skills and experience needed to succeed in this area on an 'as-needed' basis. With the new IBH program, we are intentionally creating a program that will prepare future leaders in a growing industry.”

Although health care providers and health insurance and technology companies may primarily focus on financing and delivering health care services, they are increasingly asked, and even required, to “look upstream” at the lasting value of their services, which can only be achieved through understanding of the broader social determinants of health.

The new Integrated Business and Health undergraduate degree combines disciplines in a way that aligns with our strategic planning goal of providing a deeply interdisciplinary education, and will prepare graduates to contribute immediately to the business side of health and healthcare.

Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble '82

Students with a degree from the inter-college program will have the unique ability to effectively lead their organizations and navigate them through the complex institutional structures and policies of the healthcare sector, and by doing so, devise solutions to one of society’s most pressing challenges: the equitable promotion of health in a resource-constrained environment.

“The entrepreneurship and health space has been very disruptive, in a good and exciting way,” Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, said. “The health sector is huge. With IBH we can provide Lehigh students with the opportunity to access a degree that sits at the intersection of business and health in all of its forms.”

College of Health Dean Beth Dolan said, “The health sector comprises more than the traditional roles of medical professionals like doctors and nurses. Students who want to improve human health across sectors can benefit from business training. A community health leader, for example, needs a business background combined with a knowledge of the health industry to run an effective nonprofit organization. The same applies to someone who wants to be entrepreneurial and implement solutions to increasingly challenging problems such as eldercare.”

Integrated Business and Health Degree: A New Student Path

Currently, students in the College of Business may complete any of 10 minors in the College of Health, but the new IBH inter-college program will offer much more in-depth training in health policy and health economics than is possible by combining a Bachelor of Science in business and economics with a College of Health minor. Likewise, students in the College of Health can, and do, declare a Dual Degree program or a minor in the College of Business. The new Integrated Business and Health program will offer them more solid grounding in the business tools needed to solve complex health challenges in society.

Carson Snyder '23 recognized this need before the new program was in place. With a major in population health and minors in entrepreneurship and mass communications, Snyder, working with her advisor, was able to create her own version of an interdisciplinary degree that will now be easier to define at Lehigh moving forward.

“My interest in healthcare has been with me all my life,” Snyder said. “But I wanted to be able to create a view of the industry from many different perspectives and through many different lenses.

Three Lehigh faculty members have been instrumental in the design of classroom and experiential learning elements of this IBH program: Chad Meyerhoefer (professor and Economics Department chair, College of Business), Michael Gusmano (professor and associate dean for academic programs, College of Health), and Fathima Wakeel (associate professor, College of Health). As part of the IBH degree, students will learn about the social determinants of health (political, environmental, social etc.) and will have an understanding of how the healthcare system actually works. Students also will gain literacy in biostatistics so they can read and understand the significance of research.

“We are looking for students who want to better understand why the U.S. healthcare system struggles to provide quality care in a cost-effective manner, and how health outcomes depend as much on global factors as they do on the local environment,” Meyerhoefer said. “Our students will learn not just how to identify the most pressing areas of the healthcare system in need of reform, but develop actionable solutions to improve population health.”

Gusmano said, “This IBH program will not only attract students seeking specialized business training in the field of health, it will offer them the training required to promote community health and health equity, which is critical for leaders in the health sector.

Snyder said the intercollegiate combination of communications, marketing, strategy and health allowed her to secure a financial role at Johnson & Johnson, a leading company in the healthcare space, despite not having a pure business degree. As an associate deal desk analyst, she evaluates contract pricing for healthcare systems across the country.

“Gaining an understanding of the private side of the healthcare industry now,” Snyder said, “will put me in a position to have a future impact on the public health space."

Fall 2024 Applicant Path for Enrollment in Fall 2025

“I am excited this new IBH program will be available to selected first-year students for a Fall 2025 start,” said Terry-Ann Jones, deputy provost for undergraduate education.

As with other inter-college interdisciplinary programs at Lehigh (Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE); Computer Science and Business (CSB); Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences (IDEAS)), applicants will be able to choose a backup choice of college for admission consideration if not accepted into IBH. Jones also shared that the IBH intercollege program will incorporate an integrated seminar available to first -year students to help them imagine the multiple connections and career paths available to pursue.

The senior year integrated capstone experience will provide students a hands-on opportunity to connect the business aspects of healthcare with society’s commitment to promoting the health of its members through both government and community-based initiatives.

The new IBH inter-college interdisciplinary program will allow students to obtain a degree that will prepare them to succeed in an increasingly complex health and healthcare environment.

“Our highest and best goal is to graduate students with a knowledge set that allows them to apply critical analysis to world problems, including those in the sphere of health," Jones said.

Story by Amy Bilello

Photography by

Marcus Smith '25

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