What Are the Courses in a Public Health Bachelor's Degree Program?

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) has identified general knowledge areas in public health, which often form the core of public health bachelor's degree programs. Read on to learn about these degree programs and what they include. Schools offering Public Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Public Health Bachelor's Degree Programs Overview

Bachelor's degree programs in public health are offered at many different universities. These are four-year programs that include both public health-specific and general education courses. Some also include different tracks so students may specialize in an area specific to their interests.

Bachelor's degree programs in public health award either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts. The focus is slightly different between the two: a BS focuses more on natural sciences, while a BA focuses more on social sciences. Some courses that may be part of these programs include the following:

  • Health Literacy
  • Environmental Health
  • Global Public Health
  • Health Care in the U.S.

Important Information About This Field of Study

Specializations Global health, health economics, epidemiology, nutrition, maternal and child health, health promotion, health services research
Possible Careers Public health educator, environmental specialist, communicable disease investigator, program coordinator
Online Availability Many schools offer fully online programs.
Prerequisites Some schools require successful completion of introductory public health courses before being admitted to the program.
Median Salary (2018) $46,080 (for all health educators and community health workers
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 16% growth (for all health educators and community health workers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Core Courses

Below are some of the major topics that bachelor's degree programs in public health usually cover:


Biostatistics is the study of statistics as applied to biology. Topics in an introductory biostatistics class might include probability, sampling distributions, hypothesis testing and data analysis. Public health students also learn to use statistical software to manage data.


In an epidemiology course, public health majors study how illness affects whole populations or segments of populations, as opposed to individual patients. Students learn to apply statistics to resolve community health problems, while exploring prevention and control of chronic conditions and communicable diseases. Topics may include biological and environmental factors in disease emergence and the history of various diseases.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Social and behavioral sciences coursework may include the studies of anthropology, psychology and related disciplines to explore people's attitudes and behavior regarding health. Students observe trends in public health that are social, rather than communicable, in nature, such as smoking. They also learn to apply theories of behavior change for the purpose of intervention.

Health Services Administration

Health services administration involves assessing a population's health needs, formulating policies and interventions, and implementing appropriate services and programs. Aspiring public health administrators study program planning and evaluation, media relations, financing, human resources, marketing and quality control.

Environmental Health Sciences

A class in environmental health sciences introduces public health students to environmental factors that can adversely impact human health or development. These factors might include air and water quality, disease and food safety. Students also examine environmental practices, policies and laws aimed at improving public health.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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