How to Choose a Bachelors in Public Health Degree?

This article contains information about how to select a bachelor’s degree in public health. It also has information about where you may attend a good quality bachelor’s program in public health. Also provided is accreditation information for public health programs; this is vitally important for the future of your career in public health.

What Is a Bachelor’s in Public Health Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in public health is the entry level public health degree to enter this thriving career. While most in the field eventually earn a master’s degree in public health (MPH), a bachelor’s degree will provide you with the fundamental skills and knowledge to get started in a variety of public health careers.

This degree can be either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Professionals who earn their bachelor’s in public health will be ready to work in heavily science-based fields, including biostatistics, environmental health, international health and epidemiology.

As a whole, the bachelor of arts program is concerned more with the social, economical and health policy topics in public health. The bachelor of science is more heavily science and research oriented in areas of public health such as epidemiology and biostatistics.

The curriculum for this program will vary somewhat between programs, as well as between BS and BA degrees. Generally, courses in a bachelor’s in public health program will teach you how to better communicate with people in many different cultures and ethics. Other topics include public education, preventative health theory and cultural diversity.

Most bachelor’s programs also will have classes in health policy, epidemiology and environmental health. These need to be completed satisfactorily before moving on to other programs.

With a bachelor’s degree in public health, entry level careers in research and community education are very common. Jobs such as research assistant, community health educator and community health surveyor are common jobs with this bachelor’s degree.

Many professionals use their bachelor’s degree as a stepping stone for more education, including an MPH degree, nursing master’s MSN degree, public administration master’s degree, and even an MD degree.

A bachelor’s degree in this field, and public health generally, are strongly based upon research and education. These degrees will teach you to create scientific research and transform it into easily understood and actionable information for average people, including citizens, legislators, public officials, etc.

Having a strong sense of a need for social justice and a better ecological understanding of the earth are important features to have as you are earning your bachelor’s.

Why Earn a Bachelor’s in Public Health Degree?

As health care technology is getting more advanced, it is better understood today that preventative healthcare is very important to reduce health problems before they occur. By taking a proactive approach to potential public health problems in certain communities, many health care problems can be avoided, which means lower health care costs.

Consequently, more public health workers are being hired across the country and globe today. Workers who want to make a meaningful health difference in the lives of many people, who also want to work in a field with plenty of jobs, frequently choose to work in public health.

For example, these are some of the most common jobs available to professionals with a public health degree. Some of these careers will likely require a master’s in public health eventually to advance beyond entry level:

Health Educator

They help people in vulnerable communities learn about behaviors and health choices that will make them healthier. These workers devise and put into practice strategies that improve the health of communities and individuals.

They primarily assess the many health needs of the community in need; develop new programs to teach them about vital health topics; and help people to find health services they need.

Last, they collect data and perform analysis to learn more about a community’s public health needs. Job demand is going to increase by a healthy 13% by 2024, and the median wage is $53,070, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Community Health Worker

Community health workers offer an important link between health educators, the community and other social services and healthcare professionals. They often work with health educators to develop and implement new strategies to boost the health of communities and individuals.

Community health workers also collect data and talk about health problems with members of vulnerable communities. These public health professionals also report health findings to health educators and various other healthcare professionals. Further, they provide informal counseling and perform community outreach programs to teach citizens about healthy practices.

The job outlook for community health workers also is bright, with a 13% increase in jobs, and a median salary of $37,300.

Biostatistician

Biostatisticians use statistical methods in public health to collect and analyze complex information and to analyze it so that public health problems can be solved or even prevented.

These workers must decide the type of data that needs to be collected to answer many different public health problems, and then determine the best means for collecting that data. Then, they devise experiments, surveys and even opinion polls to get the data they need.

The data then is analyzed and interpreted, and conclusions are reported from these analyses to stakeholders.

This is one of the fastest growing professions in the US, with a 34% increase in demand for all types of statisticians. This is definitely the case in health care and public health; studying public health problems is a very effective way to stop or reduce serious illnesses and diseases that reduce life expectancy and reduce quality of life.

Median pay for statisticians today is a very healthy $80,500.

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists are public health workers who study why diseases happen in humans. Some epidemiologists also will study the origin of injuries in humans and how to prevent them. Their general goal is to reduce risk of illness, disease and injury among various communities. This is done through scientific research, health policy and community education.,

This field will grow at a stable 6% by 2024, and the median income is $70,800.

Whichever career path you choose in public health, earning your bachelor’s degree will provide you with an entry into a dynamic and growing profession.

Online Degree Options

Southern New Hampshire University offers an Online Bachelor’s in Public Health that offers a robust foundation in the biological and social sciences. It also stresses solid, evidence-based approaches to assessing programs, planning and evaluation. You also will be able to explore strategies to prevent serious diseases, which can prolong life and boost the health of an entire community.

Required courses in this four year, online degree program in public health are:

  • Statistics for Health Care Professionals
  • Healthcare Delivery Systems
  • Principles of Epidemiology
  • Population Health and Cultural Competence
  • Ethical and Legal Considerations of Healthcare
  • Fundamentals of Public Health
  • Biologic Concepts for Public Health
  • Research and Assessment in Public Health
  • Public Health Education and Communication
  • Evaluation Methods in Public Health

Accreditation

Accreditation is a matter of note for public health programs. If a program is accredited by a respected public health accreditation organization, this lets you know that the public health program has met rigorous quality standards.

It is recommended that a public health degree program be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, or CEPH. It is advised to verify that your program is so accredited, so that you know you are earning a good quality degree.

However, few bachelor’s degrees in public health have CEPH accreditation; if you consider an MPH, it is recommended that you look only at CEPH-accredited master’s programs.

Summary

Earning a bachelor’s degree in public health will open the door to many good paying public health positions. You also will have the opportunity to earn your master’s degree later and then the opportunities in public health are nearly endless.

References

Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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