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BS, Public Health Science - College Park

Students in lab for PHSC415

Solve public health challenges through the lens of scientific inquiry

An interdisciplinary major that requires the study of life sciences and public health. Students interested in careers in epidemiology, health professions, healthcare administration, environmental health and justice, and health equity, will gain skills essential to recognizing and addressing today’s public health issues.

Perfect for...

  • Those who see their future work informed by the fusion of science and public health
  • Those who enjoy studying life sciences, especially biology and chemistry
  • Those who want to explore the breadth of the field of public health as an undergraduate
  • Those pursuing medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, physician’s assistant and other allied health professions

Career paths

  • Healthcare and public health
  • Research: graduate study in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, or health services and policy
  • Health policy and management: informing policy on disease prevention, environmental protection and health promotion 
  • Human services: engaging with individuals through case management, health communications, community health

Program Overview

The public health science program includes a strong curriculum in science and public health courses, such as biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health and global health. Students have the opportunity to explore public health through electives, laboratory experiences, optional internships and a culminating interdisciplinary capstone course. This education enables students to succeed in careers in public health, medicine, disease prevention, environmental protection, health policy and more. 


Public Health Science student enrollment in Spring 2020, the largest SPH undergraduate major
  • Discuss the history and philosophy of public health as well as its core values, concepts, and functions across the globe and in society
  • Use basic public health concepts, methods, and tools for data collection and analysis
  • Identify the major health-related needs and concerns of populations and formulate basic processes, approaches, and interventions as possible solutions
  • Describe the underlying science of human health and disease including opportunities for promoting and protecting health across the lifespan
  • Examine the socio-economic, behavioral, biological, environmental, and other factors that impact human health and contribute to health disparities
  • Demonstrate the fundamental concepts and features of project implementation, including planning, assessment, and evaluation
  • Compare and contrast the fundamental characteristics and organizational structures of the health systems of the United States and other countries
  • Characterize the basic concepts of legal, ethical, economic, and regulatory dimensions of health care and public policy
  • Illustrate the basic concepts of public health-specific writing and communication.
  • Interpret and synthesize scientific knowledge to propose evidence-based approaches and solutions to public health problems

The Public Health Science major curriculum is made up of 74+ required major-specific credits in three categories:

  • 31 credits of Scientific Foundation courses
  • 31 credits of Public Health Science Foundation courses
    • Including 3 credit capstone individual research thesis
  • 12 credits of Public Health Science Option courses 
    • Up to 6 credits of research, internships, study abroad are possible, but not required

Review Benchmarks

Sample PHSC Graduation Plan

The Public Health Science curriculum provides all students in the major with a strong foundation in life sciences and an introduction to the field of public health. 

Public Health Science students start with Scientific Foundation courses, including General and Organic Chemistry, Biology, and Calculus. These courses are open to students in all majors.

Once in the major, students begin exploring Public Health Science Foundations through required courses in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Community, Environmental, and Global Health.

Through the 12 credits of required upper level Public Health Science Options, students can take courses that expand upon or complement their foundations. The offerings vary from term to term, but some popular courses include:

  • The Coming Plague
  • Public Health Nutrition
  • Policy, Advocacy and Public Health
  • Vaccines and Immunology
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Introduction to Biostatistical Programming

Summer 2021 PHSC Course Offerings

Fall 2021 PHSC Course Offerings

Public Health Science majors are supported in their academic and career planning by professional advisors in the School of Public Health and on the UMD campus. 

In addition to the PHSC advising team, students are supported in their academic planning by the School of Public Health's Center for Academic Success and Achievement (CASA). The University Career Center@SPH provides students guidance in preparing for life after college. Student interested in careers in medicine and allied health can use the resources of the Reed-Yorke Health Professions Advising Office.

Advising for PHSC Majors

Become a Public Health Science Major

As a student in the Public Health Science program, you are encouraged to become involved in experiences outside the traditional classroom in order to enrich your academic experience.

This may involve research with faculty in the School of Public Health, an internship with a local organization, involvement in a student organization, or studying abroad.