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Major Requirements

The BA and BS degrees in public health are designed for those who are interested in working to improve health in diverse populations by introducing students to the foundations of scientific and social knowledge relevant to public health, including:

  • Biological and life sciences and intersections with public health
  • Social and behavioral sciences determinants of population health
  • Epidemiological principles
  • Quantitative and statistical concepts applied to public health
  • Health care programs and policies
  • The role of the environment in health
  • Public health practice

Students in either major learn foundational concepts and approaches regarding health issues and their solutions, explore research methods both qualitative and quantitative, learn to think critically about upstream and downstream approaches in the field, and use case studies and problem-based learning to define issues, assess populations, implement programs, gather evidence, analyze data, and evaluate efforts.

Through courses and a capstone experience, students are equipped to pursue multiple career pathways, including entry-level jobs in public health, or seek further graduate studies in the health sciences such as in medicine or other health professions. Below are the preparation for the major and major requirements for both the BA and BS.

Which Degree Is Right for Me?

The BA and BS differ in the amount of science preparatory coursework required. BA students complete lower-division, introductory courses in life science, chemistry, and statistics, while BS students must complete the Life Sciences Core, which includes one to two years of coursework in the life sciences, mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

For students who complete all or a portion of the Life Science Core, the additional science preparation will equip them to take more science-focused upper-division electives and select a capstone experience that draws on greater preparation in the sciences. BA students may focus on artistic, business, economic, legal, linguistic, media, and policy applications of public health in their careers and will be more equipped for general and global issues for which some scientific background is necessary to understand the importance of the health factors involved.

Preparation for the Majors

Introduction to Public HealthPublic Health 50A and 50BPublic Health 50A and 50B
Foundations of scientific knowledge

Chemistry 14A or 17

Life Sciences 7A or 15

Statistics 10 or 13

Chemistry and Biochemistry 14A, 14B, 14BL, 14C, 14CL, 14D (or 20A, 20B, 20L, 30A, 30AL, 30B)

Life Sciences 7A, 7B, 7C, 23L

Life Sciences 30A, 30B, and 40 or Statistics 13, or Mathematics 3A, 3B, 3C, and Statistics 10 or 13

Physics 5A, 5B, 5C (or 1A, 1B, 1C, 4AL, 4BL)

Health and societyOne course from approved listOne course from approved list
Cultural competencyOne approved diversity courseOne approved diversity course
Communication fundamentalsCommunication 1 or any approved Writing II courseCommunication 1 or any approved Writing II course
Total units:36-41 units90-103 units

The Major

RequirementBA and BS
Foundations of Public Health knowledge and practice

Biostatistics 120

Community Health Sciences 120

Environmental Health Sciences 120

Epidemiology 120

Health Policy and Management 120

Public health electivesThree upper division courses (minimum 12 units) from the school’s undergraduate course offerings; no more than 4 units from 195 to 199 numbered courses may be applied
Community engagementPublic Health 195CE or approved course
Capstone experiencePublic Health 185A and 185B
Total units:45-49 units