Public health is the science of protecting and advancing the health of people and communities throughout the state, the nation, and the world by the promotion of healthy lifestyles, detection and control of infectious diseases, and research for disease and injury prevention.
While a doctor may diagnose and treat people who are sick, public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or reoccurring by recommending policies, conducting research, administering services, and implementing educational programs that encourage healthy behaviors to prevent chronic diseases and improve mental health and wellness.
There are many facets to public health which can include setting safety standards to reduce death and disability by protecting people from unintentional injuries, enforcement of regulatory controls to prevent air and land pollution, developing nutrition programs to ensure that children have access to healthy food, educating people about the risks of infectious diseases, social violence and substance abuse, facilitating access to prenatal education, and much more.
There are different types of degrees in the Public Health field. If you hope to obtain your undergraduate degree (B.S. or B.A) in Public Health, you need to check the course requirements in order to transfer to another institution though many if not most public health professional have bachelor’s degrees with undergraduate majors in the sciences, social sciences, or the humanities and then pursue a graduate degree including master of public health (MPH), master of science in public health (MPH), PhD in public health, or doctorate of public health (DrPH). There are programs that may have an emphasis or concentration in different areas such as biostatics, epidemiology, environmental health, infectious diseases, health systems and policies, and more. Additionally, some schools may offer dual degree options.
In general prospective public health students should complete an English Composition, Statistics or Calculus, Social Sciences and Biology course. There are some programs which may require specific prerequisite coursework while others may not need particular courses.
Public health graduate programs typically require the GRE. However, some schools may accept the MCAT, GMAT, or LSAT in lieu of the GRE. Please check the admissions requirements of the programs you are interested in.
Public health represents a growing and influential field with diverse career opportunities in the public, private, non-profit and education sectors. These can include:
- Research institutions
- Biomedical companies
- Statewide and regional health care agencies
- Air and water quality management
- Non-profit advocacy organizations
- Community clinics
- Educational institutions
There are 10 common area of study for those pursuing the field according to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPH):
The selection criteria for admissions will vary by school, but in general, prospective public health students may be evaluated based on the following:
- Test Scores
- Statement of Purpose and/or Personal History Statement
- Letters of Recommendation
- Research Experience
- Work Experience