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BS, Public Health Science - College Park

Student 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

Students in the Public Health Science major will learn how to:

  • Utilize data to identify and describe public health problems. 
  • Synthesize public health science facts and concepts such as disease biology and health policy to effectively communicate to a diverse group of audiences including laypeople and policy makers.
  • Employ scientific knowledge, facts and data to develop, analyze and evaluate evidence-based public health policies and programs.
  • Communicate concisely and effectively in both oral and written formats about science, public health and public health policies and programs. 
  • Utilize an ecological model to view public health problems, considering not just the individual determinants but also the social, environmental and political determinants of health.

The Public Health Science major 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

View SPH Benchmarks and 4 Year Plans

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 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. Some popular courses include:

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

See all PHSC Major Courses

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. 

Advising for PHSC Students

SPH Center for Academic Success and Achievement (CASA)

University Career Center @ SPH

Additional Student Success Resources

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.