Pre-Public Health

What is public health?

Public health encompasses work in health education, epidemiology, environmental health, public health policy, global health, disaster preparedness, health communication, maternal and child health, community health services administration, public health nutrition, and many other areas.


What is the typical educational pathway for public health practitioners?

Most public health professionals earn a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. An MPH degree builds skills in areas such as epidemiological and statistical analysis, health systems analysis, project management, program evaluation, health policy analysis, and leadership and communication as well as a selected concentration area. Some people who have earned an MPH and have several years of work experience opt to earn a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) that equips them with advanced leadership skills. Both MPH and DrPH degrees are applied practice degrees rather than research or clinical degrees. A variety of non-degree credentials in specialty areas are also available to public health professionals. For example, a CHES is a Certified Health Education Specialist.


What are the requirements for admission to MPH programs?

There is no standard set of courses that must be taken prior to applying for an MPH program, but most schools recommend that applicants complete undergraduate courses in statistics (data science), the social sciences (such as psychology and sociology), the life sciences (biology and environmental science), and communication in addition to health-specific coursework the core courses for the health studies major. Additional coursework may also be expected for selected concentrations, such as calculus for biostatistics concentrations, chemistry for environmental health concentrations, economics for health management concentrations, or anthropology for health promotion concentrations. In addition to coursework, applicants are encouraged to gain real-world public or environmental health experience through employment or volunteering. The pre-MPH advisor can help you select an appropriate set of courses and outside-of-the-classroom activities that align with your interests.