Public Health

Public Health


What Does It Mean to Be a Public Health Major?
An inside look into a smaller major.

At first glance, the words “public health” don’t offer much insight. As defined in the dictionary, they refer to the health of a population as a whole, especially as monitored or regulated by the state. Essentially, public health acts as the umbrella to a broad variety of modern-day, global health concerns and goals. But what, exactly, does pursuing a degree in this field of study entail?


The Public Health Degree Plan

Public Health majors, in addition to fulfilling their core requirements, must fulfill foundation course requirements (e.g., Nutrition, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Politics/Government), Public Health core requirements (e.g., Biostatics, Epidemiology, Health Policy), and basic Math, Biology, and Chemistry course requirements.

Following this, there are six areas of Public Health a student may specialize in:

  • Biostatics and Public Health Informatics

  • Environmental Health Sciences

  • Health Policy and Management

  • Infectious Diseases and Public Health Microbiology

  • Nutrition

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

Even when choosing a specialization within a Public Health degree, the topics of study are relatively broad and concerned with the bigger picture when it comes to health. Biology or Chemistry majors, for example, may specialize in a more acute area within their field of study that is then used to piece together smaller parts of a larger picture. Public Health majors, however, seem to look at the big picture from the very beginning.


The Benefits of Pursuing a Public Health Degree

According to _____, a ____ major, “the Public Health degree focuses on the big picture and systems thinking, observing how many causes have many effects”. The curriculum within this degree is in general less specifically concentrated than that of other degrees within the College of Natural Sciences. This fact not only allows students to look at the bigger picture when approaching health as it applies to the world today, but to pursue a major that doesn’t necessarily confine one’s interests to one narrow field of study.

Also important to note is the fact that the pursuit of a Public Health degree often allows for the pursuit of a broader range of career paths. Where more specifically concentrated majors within the College of Natural Sciences may be confined to career paths in research or medicine, Public Health majors can pursue such career paths as well as an array of many others. Examples include careers in epidemiology, health education, and environmental health policy.


The Takeaway

Overall, the Public Health degree is a solid option for students looking to get a feel for what a health career may entail. The following are some reasons one may want to consider pursuing it:

  • a less specifically concentrated curriculum in comparison to that of other majors

  • the satisfaction of a broader range of interests as concerned with health

  • a more “big picture, systems thinking” approach to modern global health

  • no impending sense of commitment or resignation to one narrowed field of study

The general course curriculum for the degree plan can be found here, but a more detailed representation can be found here as well.

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