Bachelor’s in Public Health (BPH) Programs

If you want a job protecting the health of people and the communities where they live, a bachelor’s in public health (BPH) could be a fit for you. With Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Public Health programs both available, you can find an option that suits your interests and prepares you to enter the field.

Simmons University

Department of Public Health


Bachelor of Science in Public Health

Women with 17+ prior college credits or an associate degree: Complete your bachelor’s degree in a supportive women’s online public health BS program.

  • Up to 96 transfer credits accepted, plus credit for life experience
  • Degree programs are designed for working professionals and can be completed part time
  • CEPH-accredited


This page will walk you through the basics of bachelor’s in public health degree programs, explain what you’ll study and discuss possible career opportunities.

Is Public Health Right for You?

People who are interested in health and well-being, driven to help others and are drawn to research, education or policy making may consider earning a BPH. A bachelor’s degree in public health delves into a variety of topics, from building emergency preparedness plans to addressing health disparities. Taking public health coursework during your bachelor’s degree program can be an excellent way to determine if public health is the right career field for you. 

More broadly, it’s crucial to understand that research and education are important components of the profession. Part of your job as a public health professional may involve transforming scientific findings into usable, easy-to-understand material that can be used to develop public health policies and programs, and inform the communities you are serving. 

For those who are interested in the field, but are uncertain about pursuing it professionally, taking undergraduate public health courses may help you make up your mind. You can explore the Public Health 101 Series put together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Health 

Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) courses typically focus on the natural sciences. Graduates with a BS in Public Health or BSPH may pursue a variety of science-based careers in the clinical field, such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and research. Students will cover much of what’s included in BA programs while also completing coursework in math, statistics, health informatics, or chemistry. BS students may also have an interest in working in laboratory settings after they start their careers.

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Public Health 

A Bachelor of Arts in Public Health is generally designed for students with an interest in the socio-cultural, socio-economical, and health policy aspects of public health. While focusing on many of the same areas as its Bachelor of Science counterpart, a BA in Public Health puts greater emphasis on the social sciences. In practice, that could involve human behavior and development, social studies, and environmental health—as well as more general topics like politics and law. 

Bachelor’s in Public Health (BPH) Degree and Curriculum 

What exactly does a bachelor’s in public health cover? The answer to that question depends on your chosen institution and specialization, but you’ll study a range of topics in both science and the humanities. 

Typical Prerequisites for a BPH Program

Though the specifics depend on the university, many bachelor’s in public health degree programs have similar admissions requirements. In most cases, you’ll begin by applying for general admission to the university of your choice. Once accepted, you may contact the school to inquire about the specifics of the program admissions.

Many universities require high school transcripts (often with a GPA of 3.0), either an SAT or ACT score, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. A personal statement may also be required for admission into the public health program specifically. 

Concentration Options in BPH

Once you’ve gotten familiar with the basics of the field, a bachelor’s in public health offers a number of public health specializations. Broadly, these are divided by degree type: a BA or a BS in Public Health. 

BA candidates tend to focus more on the social sciences, with specializations covering areas like health education, community health promotion, and global health. Conversely, BS students are likely to specialize in science and statistics, studying research methods, epidemiology, and health disparities. 

BS in Public Health programs generally don’t require an individual to choose a concentration. But if you’re hoping to obtain a more niche education, picking a specialization may help you do that. If you have one in mind, do your research to make sure your desired program offers it—some specializations are only available at the master’s level, such as a Master of Public Health (MPH)

Typical BPH Curriculum and Courses

Though curricula vary between institutions and specializations, bachelor’s in public health students can expect to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to address many of modern society’s fundamental public health challenges. As with many undergraduate programs, students will begin by taking general education courses, for example in biology or anatomy. 

The specifics vary by university, but once you choose to major in public health, you’ll take introductory classes across a range of topics, including the history of public health, environmental health, and epidemiology. 

After successfully completing these courses, you’ll be able to move on to more advanced study. At this point, choosing a concentration is sometimes required. In general, these courses may cover health psychology and behavior, or health management. Other concentrations go beyond the discipline itself, teaching students about public health education or administration.

Toward the end of your undergraduate degree, you may also be required to complete an internship or capstone project, but this varies by institution.

Traditional vs. Online BPH Programs

While some think it may lack the interactive environment of traditional BPHs, the online bachelor’s in public health comes with some benefits. Like other online degrees, this starts with flexibility. Since many courses are available part-time, you can comfortably balance school and work. 

An online program also lets you live at home and potentially save money on travel. And for candidates craving more interactive learning, some online programs offer in-person components too. Whatever path you choose, remember that online and traditional Bachelor’s in Public Health programs normally share similar curricula, so you won’t miss out if you decide to study online. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Bachelor’s in Public Health Programs

Identifying the right bachelor’s in public health for you, can be confusing. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions—and answers to help you as you make a decision.

What are the main differences between BS vs. BA in Public Health?

Normally, a BS and BA in public health cover many of the same areas. However, there may be slight differences when it comes to advanced study courses and specializations. In general, BA programs focus more on the social sciences, while BS courses focus on natural and environmental public health sciences—preparing graduates for a variety of jobs in the clinical sphere and beyond.

What can I do with a bachelor’s in Public Health?

BPH graduates may work in community education and research. A few common roles for those starting out in the field include research assistant, community educator, and community surveyor. A job in the public sector may also be a viable option. Some individuals use their BPH as a platform for continuing education in medical school, nursing school, or pharmacy school. BPH graduates might also decide to pursue a master’s degree in public health. An online MPH program may allow you to work while studying.

How to choose the BPH program right for me?

There are plenty of factors to consider before committing to a BPH program. For example, think about choosing a program that offers specializations you’re interested in. You may also want to explore tuition costs, the institution’s reputation, and whether they offer an online BPH degree.

Do I have to have SAT scores to apply for a BPH program?

The specifics vary by institution, but BPH programs may require SAT scores (though ACT scores are sometimes accepted too). In certain cases, a university will waive this requirement because of your specific circumstances.

Bachelor’s in Public Health Programs List

Below, you will find a list of available Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Public Health programs that are accredited by CEPH.

Simmons University


Bachelor of Science in Public Health

Women with 17+ prior college credits or an associate degree: Complete your bachelor’s degree in a supportive women’s online public health BS program.

  • Up to 96 transfer credits accepted, plus credit for life experience
  • Degree programs are designed for working professionals and can be completed part time
  • CEPH-accredited