Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention and detection and control of infectious diseases [CDC Foundation, 2016]. The best of public health addresses social economic and educational inequities to improve individual and population health, locally and globally.
At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, we offer a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services (HHS) where you can focus on three concentrations: Public Health, Human Services, or Pre-Health Professions. Learn more about the UM-Dearborn College of Education Health and Human Services HHS program.
At the professional level, the public health field can be entered at any point. Many people enter the public health field after completing a graduate degree at a School of Public Health. Within a School of Public Health, there are generally six core disciplines of public health: biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health behavior and education, health management and policy and nutritional sciences.
Other areas of concentration may include maternal and child health, genetics and public health, biomedical and laboratory practice, international or global health, health information technology, etc. Many graduate schools of public health have joint programs with schools of medicine, physical therapy, veterinary medicine or law.
The most common graduate degree for public health professionals is the Master of Public Health (MPH). Other degrees are Master of Science (MS), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health.
What classes do I need to take?
All graduate public health programs require competence in verbal and written communication. They also look for applicants who have a high level of academic competency, demonstrated motivation to service, cultural competency, teamwork and exposure to public health work.
Each public health field has its own additional course prerequisites, which are listed below as a general guideline. The Health Professions Advisor and ASPPH Academic Program Finder can provide more information.
Biology, chemistry, and math (especially including upper-level statistics).
Biology (including upper level), chemistry (including organic), and math (including upper-level statistics).
Biology (including upper level), chemistry (through Biochemistry I), environmental science and math.
Health behavior and education:
Biology, math (any statistics), psychology and sociology.
Health management and policy:
Business and economics, pre-calculus, statistics, psychology, political science and sociology.
Biology (Human Physiology or Anatomy & Physiology I), Chemistry (up through Biochemistry), Calculus I, Microbiology, English, Psychology or Sociology
What is the national standardized test?
For most Public Health graduate programs, the ETS Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test (not any of the subject tests) is the test required. The best way to prepare for the general GRE test is to use the ETS free test preparation material on prepare for the general GRE.
What is the admission process?
Many schools use the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS) for primary applications to their programs. Some schools still use their own application.
Typically, the six core fields of public health in graduate school are in separate departments within a school and each department has a different set of requirements for admission. The ASPPH Academic Program Finder provides more information.
What else should I know?
More information, such as what you should major in at UM-Dearborn and what else you can do to prepare for the profession, can be found in our FAQ section.