Bachelors in Public Health (BPH) Programs

There are over 60 public health bachelor degree programs throughout the United States; yet, many students with a desire to work in the public health field often choose a different area of study for their undergraduate/Bachelor’s degree. This is because the majority of schools do not offer a Bachelor’s degree in public health and many undergraduates understand that their Bachelor’s degree does not have to perfectly align with their career goals, since it is likely they will need an MPH Degree. However, most schools do offer programs that are closely connected to, or fall under the umbrella of, public health. Some fields/programs to consider are:

Yet, if your heart is set on going to a Bachelor’s in Public Health program, or if you would solely like to learn more, we have developed a great resource of information below.

Is Public Health Right for You?

Taking public health coursework during your bachelors can be an excellent way to determine if public health is the right career field for you. When considering a career in public health it is important to understand that research and education are the backbone of the profession. The ability to take scientific research and transform that into usable, understandable material to the average person is a key component of a career in public health. Additionally, the desire for social justice and an ecological understanding of the world help significantly when addressing public health problems. An individual who is fascinated by health and well-being, driven to help others, and enjoys research and education makes an excellent candidate for a BPH.

If public health sounds like the right field for you, but you are still unsure, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together an Introduction to Public Health 101 Series where you can learn key public health terms, the history of public health, and the determinants of health. This is a great resource and should help you determine if public health is the best field for you.

What is a Bachelor’s in Public Health?

The study of public health stems from the need to educate and keep large groups of people healthy in a way that individualized medicine cannot. A Bachelor’s in Public Health is an undergraduate degree that mostly focuses on the 4 P’s of public health: Prevention, Promotion, Protection, and Population-based care, and provides an individual with the skills needed to enter into a wide variety of fields within public health.

It can be obtained through either a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) or a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA), but there are distinct differences between the two that you should be aware of:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Public Health: Tends to attract individuals more interested in the socio-cultural, socio-economical, and health policy aspects of public health. Students typically specialize in social sciences and public health. Curriculum usually revolves around biology, human behavior, social studies and classes, and health-related topics.
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Health: Students typically specialize in natural sciences and public health and will be more equipped for a career in science based, clinical fields such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and research. Curriculum includes much of what is involved with any BA program, and also tends to include coursework in math, statistics, health informatics, or chemistry-related coursework.

Whether you choose a BA or BS, it by no means dictates what field an individual may choose to enter due to public health’s cross-disciplinary nature. Receiving a BA or BS in public health requires a wide variety of skills and provides just as many career opportunities to use those skills. These opportunities may be in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

It is also very typical for seekers of a BA or BS in Public Health to continue on to get their Masters in Public Health (MPH) or other advanced degrees. If this is something you might be interested in pursuing, there are 5-year Bachelors to Masters dual programs available. This type of program allows for students to earn two degrees in a shorter amount of time than it would to earn them separately; therefore allowing students to get into the public health workforce faster.

Regardless of a BA or BS, it’s a great start. Public health is booming, and is one of the best places to be for career security for the long haul. You can also make an impact on not only individuals, but mass quantities of people in different areas, communities, towns, or even nations!

What are the Typical Pre-Requisites for a BPH Program?

For most BPH programs the applicant will apply as general admission to the college or university of their choice. Once accepted, the applicant should then contact the public health department or school to inquire about the specifics of the program admissions. Most colleges or universities require high school transcripts, either an SAT or ACT score, letters of recommendation, and often a personal statement. A personal statement may also be required for admission into the public health program.

Most Popular Concentration Options

While a BPH usually does not require an individual to choose a specific concentration, choosing one to focus on may be beneficial in creating a slightly more niche education. This is especially important if you plan on receiving an MPH in which a concentration is required. Currently the more popular concentrations in public health are community health education, environmental health, epidemiology, health promotion, healthcare administration, global health and nutrition. You can learn more about the different types of public health concentrations by going to our Concentrations Page.

Typical BPH Curriculum & Classes

The curriculum for a BPH may vary slightly between a BA and a BS in public health, but no matter which degree a student chooses, s/he will gain the knowledge and skills to address public health challenges of the 21st century when they leave the program. When starting an undergraduate program, there will be general education courses that must be completed before some or all public health classes may be taken; for example, an introductory course in biology or anatomy. Once taking classes in
public health, most schools or universities have introductory classes on Public Health, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Global Health, and/or Health Policy. These must be passed first before moving on to more advanced classes in the degree. At this point, choosing a concentration will either be required or help narrow down which electives to take.

In general, the courses will teach preventative health theory, health education, cultural competency, and how to:

  • Understand data and turn it into information for action
  • Conduct community needs assessments
  • Plan, implement, and evaluate health programs
  • Assess and address health literacy
  • Communicate with individuals with varied backgrounds, cultures and ethics.

Toward the end of one’s undergraduate degrees, a practicum / internship or a capstone project may be required as well.

Online BPH Degree

Online programs will often have the same requirements and classes as brick-and-mortar schools. The main difference will be attending classes online. Online degree programs are typically stereotyped as boring, unengaging, and unmotivating. Watch a video, take a test, check your grades, rinse, repeat. However, the innovative and immersive online learning environment has become the hallmark of programs offered by universities. These programs allow virtual interaction with classmates and
instructors from all over the country and world, easy access to knowledgeable advisors and campus resources, and incomparable networking opportunities. An individual interested in receiving an online degree should be a self-starter and willing to find opportunities to practice what you learn.

Some Bachelors of Public Health programs of note

University of Colorado – Denver’s program offers two bachelors of public health degrees: a BA and a BS. UC Denver’s relationships with large public health providers make their program intriguing, as you will want to complete an internship within the public health field to gain experience in the real world. UC Denver prides itself on its multidisciplinary perspective, understanding that for students to be successful after graduation they must be able to apply their knowledge of theory into practice in various contexts using mixed methods.

The University of Arizona’s Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a Major in Public Health program features multiple tracks, including environmental, health behaviors, and health delivery tracks. The majority of professors for this major are also terminal professors, meaning most professors have PhDs in their area of expertise. As Arizona’s first accredited college of Public Health, The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health has much to offer its students. With opportunities in research and community involvement students receive a rich, diverse education.

University of California Berkeley

The School of Public Health at Berkeley sets itself apart with what it calls “The Berkeley Difference” characterized by:

  • A broad-based ecological perspective on health
  • An interdisciplinary, campus-wide resource base
  • An emphasis on applying new and emerging research
  • A sensitivity to multicultural issues informed by social justice and the protection of human rights

Learn more about the Berkeley Difference and how to apply visit (

Walden University offers an online Bachelor’s of Public Health degree, making this program especially interesting for those looking to study public health from home. The program is mostly geared for adult learners, and has a number of concentrations to select from, including health informatics, health promotion and wellness, and child development. Walden also has a general public health concentration.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health?

A Bachelors in Public Health will provide an individual with an expansive introduction to the field of public health. Through electives and a chosen concentration the options available to a BPH may narrow some. Careers in research and community education are most common for BPH degrees. Starting as a research assistant, community educator and community surveyor are common jobs as a new BPH. Health education and community health workers have a high projected job growth, making it an appealing option to some (ONET). A career in the government sector is also popular among BPH graduates. Some individuals use the BPH as a platform for continuing education in medical school, nursing school, pharmacy school or a master’s degree.

Public Health Associations to Know

Anyone interested in public health should consider becoming a member of The American Public Health Association. Their mission to “improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status” explains so clearly what drives many public health workers. The APHA provides opportunities in professional development, news from around the globe and current public health topics and research (APHA).

If you are interested in becoming a health educator, you should consider become familiar with the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). NCHEC is a professional
health education credentialing body that works to define, verify, certify and promote the role of health educators as a national standard. They offer an examination that allows for individuals  to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). To learn more about this certification and other public health certifications, visit our Certification page.

Joining a local or state public health association is an excellent way to use a BPH degree and network with others in public health. Some state associations share reciprocity with the APHA and will offer two-for-one memberships or significantly discounted memberships for joining both.

The World Health Organization is considered the leader in public health by many through the organization’s direction and coordination of international health efforts. As a component of the United Nations, the WHO provides leadership, shapes research agendas, and provides technical support for evidence-based changes in policy and practice around the world. Individuals entering into public health should have a strong understanding of the WHO and how it impacts the world.

Available Programs with a Bachelor’s in Public Health

Below you will find a list of available Bachelors of Arts and Bachelors of Science in Public Health programs:

Bachelors of Arts in Public Health Programs

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Traditional Format

University of California, Irvine

Irvine, CA • Traditional Format

University of Hawaii

Honolulu, HI • Traditional Format

University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago, IL • Traditional Format

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA • Traditional Format

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC • Traditional Format

University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Global Health

Bachelors of Science in Public Health Programs

Arcadia University

Glenside, PA • Traditional Format

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC • Traditional Format

Baylor University

Waco, TX • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health, Nutrition & Food Science

Carroll College

Helena, MT • Traditional Format

California State University Fullerton

Fullerton, CA • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: General Studies; Global Health; Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety

California State University Northridge

Berkeley, CA • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health, Nutrition & Food Science

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Los Angeles, CA • Traditional Format

City University of New York – School of Public Health

New York, NY • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health, Nutrition & Food Science

Coastal Carolina University

Conway, SC • Traditional Format

Drexel University

Philadeliphia, PA • Traditional Format

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC • Traditional Format

East Tennessee State University

Johnson City, TN • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health, Health Care Administration

Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond, KY • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health

East Stroudsburg University

East Stroudsburg, PA • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health; Health Service Administration

Florida International University

Miami, FL • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Dietetics & Nutrition

George Washington University

Washington,DC • Traditional Format

Georgia Southern University

Savannah, GA • Traditional Format

Ithaca University

Ithaca, NY • Traditional Format

Loyola University of Chicago

Chicago, IL • Traditional Format

Mercer University

Savannah, GA • Traditional Format

Montclair State University

Montclair, NJ • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health Education, Health Systems Administration and Policy

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Public Health Sociology, Environmental Public Health

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Health Management and Policy, Health Promotion and Health Behavior

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ • Traditional Format

Saint Louis University

St. Louis, MO • Traditional Format

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Traditional Format

San Jose State University

San Jose, CA • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: General; Health Services Administration

Southern Connecticut State University

New Haven, CT • Traditional Format

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Edwardsville, IL • Traditional Format

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY • Traditional Format

Temple University

Philadelphia, PA • Traditional Format

Tulane University

New Orleans, LA • Traditional Format

University at Albany – SUNY

Albany, NY • Traditional Format

University at Buffalo – SUNY

Buffalo, NY • Traditional Format

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL • Traditional Format

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ • Traditional Format

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA • Traditional Format

University of California Irvine

Irvine, CA • Traditional Format

University of California San Diego

San Diego, CA • Traditional Format

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Traditional Format

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY • Traditional Format

University of Miami

Miami, FL • Traditional Format

University of Maryland

College Park, MD • Traditional Format

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amherst, MA • Traditional Format

University of Newbraska Omaha

Omaha, NE • Traditional Format

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Epidemiology; Environmental Health; Social/Behavioral Health; Generalist Public Health

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Biostatistics; Environmental Health Sciences; Health Policy and Management; Nutrition

University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Charlotte, NC • Traditional Format

University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Wilmington, NC • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health Education; Pre-Clinical Health; Global Health

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC • Traditional Format

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL • Traditional Format

University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Global Health

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Milwaukee, WI • Traditional Format

University of Wisconsin, La Crosse

La Crosse, WI • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Community Health Education

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Public Health Science; Community and Population Health; Patient Navigation

William Paterson University

Wayne, NJ • Traditional Format

Concentration(s) Available: Public Health – General Track; Public Health Education