Public Health is a vast interdisciplinary field of study that incorporates all the perspectives, roles, policies, and institutions required to keep our populations safe from illness and injury. Unlike the medical field, which focuses on the health of individuals, public health focuses on the health of communities and populations at local, national, and global levels. The study of public health covers a broad range of topics from the safety of food, water, and highways to examining how individual behaviors and the social environment contribute to the prevention of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Knowledge of public health is an asset to all undergraduate students who, as world citizens, must cooperate in the effort to manage multiple, simultaneous threats to public health including: infectious diseases such as flu and SARS; chronic disease risk factors such as obesity and smoking; the unequal distribution disease and risk factors in the population; and shifts in environmental risk factors resulting from climate change. All of these issues entail complex ethical questions about individual freedom, social responsibility, and human rights.
The Public Health Program offers two degrees in public health: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. Each degree prepares graduates for exciting careers in the diverse domains of the field. All Public Health majors should have strong skills in science, mathematics, ethics, social analysis, and cultural awareness along with excellence in written and oral communication. Students pursuing a major in Public Health complete a semester-long field experience that integrates their skills in connection with a contemporary public health issue. The major pairs well with a second major in the Arts and Sciences and a variety of minors in interdisciplinary and professional fields.
The Public Health Bachelor of Arts degree is a 49-credit interdisciplinary program that explores the social, behavioral, cultural, economic, and administrative dimensions of health and health policy. All Public Health BA students build a strong foundation in the principal competencies of public health and choose a specialization in Health Policy and Administration or Community and Health Equity for their elective and field experience coursework. Both tracks examine how the social environment, broadly defined, affects population health outcomes but each track emphasizes a different dimension of the health-society relationship.
Community and Health Equity Track - The Community and Health Equity track prepares students for careers related to community health education and community outreach as well as community assessment, health communication, and project management. Students who pursue a specialization in this track should choose a variety of electives that reflect the breadth of knowledge and skills required in public health practice and research at the community level. Competency areas include: human behavior and development; communication; social and cultural diversity; social justice and inequalities; social and behavioral determinants of health.