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BS, Public Health Practice

BCH Poster Session Student of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland

Make an impact on populations through the power of prevention

The Bachelor of Science in Public Health Practice prepares students to effectively plan, develop, implement and evaluate community health education programs. Students in this program are exposed to material in health behavior, community health research, biostatistics, epidemiology, grant writing, health communication and professional development.

Perfect For...

  • Students who want to use social justice to advance health equity
  • Students who aim to go to nursing school
  • Students who envision themselves working in a health-related career
  • Students who want a hands-on, skills-based academic program
  • Students who want to gain professional skills for the working world post-graduation

Career Paths

  • Outreach Specialist
  • Program Coordinator/Manager/Assistant
  • Public Health Educator
  • Health Promotion Specialist
  • Consultant (Research)
  • Quality Safety Specialist (occupational health)
  • Community Health Advocate
  • Violence Prevention Specialist 
  • Worksite Wellness Specialist
  • Health Education & Communication Specialist

Program Overview

Our BS in public health practice degree program is applied and hands-on. You will learn techniques to promote healthy lifestyle choices and improve the quality of life of individuals and groups using culturally competent techniques and methods.

Of graduates are employed in a related field within a year of graduation.
  1. Discuss the history and philosophy of public health as well as its core values, concepts, and functions across the globe and in society.
  2. Use basic public health concepts, methods, and tools for data collection and analysis.
  3. Identify the major health-related needs and concerns of populations and formulate basic processes, approaches, and interventions as possible solutions.
  4. Describe the underlying science of human health and disease including opportunities for promoting and protecting health across the lifespan.
  5. Examine the socio-economic, behavioral, biological, environmental, and other factors that impact human health and contribute to health disparities.
  6. Demonstrate the fundamental concepts and features of project implementation, including planning, assessment, and evaluation.
  7. Compare and contrast the fundamental characteristics and organizational structures of the health systems of the United States and other countries.
  8. Characterize the basic concepts of legal, ethical, economic, and regulatory dimensions of health care and public policy.
  9. Illustrate the basic concepts of public health-specific writing and communication.
  10. Assess and communicate individual and community-level needs for health promotion and disease prevention.
  11. Create and apply strategies that effectively incorporate cultural competencies with health promotion and community health initiatives.
  12. Synthesize and apply principles and theories of community health that are needed for the development of effective and evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention strategies.
  13. Promote and advocate for effective community health initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels.
  14. Collaborate with community organizations to apply public health principles in a real-world setting.
  15. Demonstrate requisite competencies in professional etiquette and career readiness to allow for a successful transition into the workplace (adapted from NACE).
  16. Critically analyze the impact racism has on population health and reflect on what it means to be anti-racist.

The BS in Public Health Practice requires completion of at least 120 credits of coursework. In addition to completing General Education requirements, students complete 13 credits in the Public and Community Health Course, 8 credits in Public and Community Health Foundational Science, 9 credits in Social and Behavioral Public Health, 9 credits in Community Public Health, 12 credits in Health Electives, and complete the program with a 12-credit capstone internship experience taken during the final semester.

The Public Health Practice internship is a full-time, semester-long internship where students work in a Community/Public Health agency approximately 36 hours a week. This unique and rewarding experience provides Public Health Practice undergraduates with the opportunity to work in a mentored, professional, public/community health setting prior to graduation. This required internship is completed during the student’s final semester and only after all other academic requirements have been successfully completed. The department offers domestic and global internship opportunities. Students are guided through the internship search process in HLTH 490 and mentored during the internship in HLTH 491.

Explore All Degree requirements on the UMD Catalog
Find courses by semester on Testudo

Review Graduation Plans and Benchmarks on the CASA Website

Public Health Practice Course Offerings

Course Name Course Description
HLTH124: Introduction to Behavioral and Community Health (1 credit) This course is required of first-year Community Health major to expose them to introductory-level concepts within the field of behavioral and community health as well as the Community Health degree program. Includes discussion on the delivery of behavioral and community health at the local, state, national, and global levels; career opportunities in the diverse sectors of the community health field; undergraduate programmatic information; and strategies for student success.
HLTH 140: Personal and Community Health (3 credits) Meaning and significance of physical, mental and social health as related to the individual and to society; important phases of national health problems; constructive methods of promoting health of the individual and the community.
HLTH 230: Introduction to Health Behavior Psychological, social-psychological, and sociological approaches to the following health areas: development of health attitudes and behavior, patient-provider interaction and the organization of health care.
HLTH 200: Introduction to Research in Community Health (3 credits) An overview of specific components and steps involved in the community health research process. Content includes foundations of research, sampling, measurement design, and analysis in a community context.
EPIB/HLTH 301: Epidemiology for Public Health Practice (3 credits) An examination of the discipline of epidemiology and its application to public health issues and practices, covering current epidemiological concepts and methods.
HLTH302: Measuring Change in Community-Based Research (3 credits) The purpose of this course is to provide students with research and evaluation tools that can be applied to community health promotion.
HLTH306: Macro-Level Influences on Community Health (3 credits) An examination of the effects and influences of policy decisions at local, state, and national levels on community health delivery. Historical and contemporary policy issues will be included with a focus on how the policies have impacted community organizations and the overall health of communities. 
HLTH 300/EPIB315: Biostatistics for Public Health Practice (3 credits) An examination of biostatistical concepts and procedures as they relate to contemporary issues in public health. Focus on applications, hands-on-experience, and interpretations of statistical findings in public health research.
HLTH364: Social Media and Digital Tools for Community and Public Health  (3 credits) This course will examine the characteristics and uses of social media and digital tools to expand capabilities to identify and reduce community and public health risks at all levels of prevention. The course will also consider the potential threats these new media can play on individual choice, privacy, confidentiality, and social influence. 
HLTH 391: Making a Difference: Applying Community Health (3 credits) Broad overview of community health. Health promotion, consumer health, public health, school health, environmental health, preventive medicine, human biology and the health care system are examined. Each area's contribution to community health is discussed.
HLTH 420: Effective Strategies for Public Health Practice (3 credits) The purpose of this course is to present the interrelationships of curriculum planning, methodology and the selection and use of teaching aids and materials. Special problems associated with health teaching are discussed. Students become familiar with a variety of resources as well as with planning for and presenting demonstration lessons.
HLTH 490: Professional Preparation in Community Health (3 credits) Students will be involved in the applied aspects of community health education. They will work with specific local community groups, planning, developing, implementing and evaluating a community health project. Health agencies and community health marketing techniques will be investigated.
HLTH 491/492: Community Health Internship (12 credits) Integrating theory with practice in a community health setting. 
HLTH 106: Drug Use and Abuse (3 credits) Note: Offered Summer only An interdisciplinary analysis of contemporary drug issues and problems. The course will examine physiological, psychological, social, philosophical, historical, legal and health aspects of drug use and abuse. Special attention will be focused on those general motivations for drug use that attend life on the college campus
HLTH 170: The Corporate Footprint: How Industries Influence the Public's Health (3 credits, DSSP) As public health advocates strive to protect, promote and advance the health of our communities, they sometimes find their efforts in conflict with the activities of corporations and their industry associations. This course will provide an overview of how various industries from Big Pharma to Tobacco Corporations have launched successful campaigns to influence policymakers, counter science, and at times misled the public on the harms of products to the health of communities. Students will also contemplate whether the relationship between corporations and public health advocates can ever be collaborative rather than contentious. 
HLTH 234: Global Health Messages: Understanding Exposure and Impact(3 credits) *Note: For non-majors only Using a global perspective, this course teaches students to be critical consumers of current and historical health communication interventions. It also provides students with the skills to develop media interventions that target specific and general populations. Students will discover the array of diverse media messages that influence the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
HLTH 246: The U.S. Tobacco Epidemic (3 credits) Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. This course provides an overview of the tobacco epidemic including history, health effects, economic costs, policy, surveillance, and prevention, in addition to produts like e-cigarettes, vaping, and hookahs.
HLTH 264: Tweets & Likes-Digital Health and Social Media (3 credits) Note: For non-majors only Examines the current and potential use of digital health and social media to influence public health. Provides an overview of knowledge, skills, and terminology necessary to optimize the effectiveness of these technologies to contribute to the enhancement of individual and community health.
HLTH 285: Controlling Stress and Tension (3 credits) Health problems related to stress and tension. Analysis of causative psychosocial stressors and intervening physiological mechanisms. Emphasis on prevention and control of stress through techniques such as biofeedback, meditation and neuromuscular relaxation.
HLTH 292: Community Health Engagement (3 credits) Note: For non-majors only An exploration and application of basic community health concepts. An integral part of the course is service learning, which includes evaluating, planning and implementing a community health program with a local community health partner.
HLTH 371: Communicating Health and Safety (3 credits) The communication and evaluation of safety and health information. Emphasis on various types of communications and recipient factors that contribute to their success or failure.
HLTH 325:  Poor in America: Health and Wellbeing (3 credits) Using the ecological framework, students will explore the complicated relationship between poverty and health and well-being in the United States.
HLTH 352: Portrayal of Drug Use and Addiction on Screen: Does Hollywood get it Right? (3 credits) Through a comparative analysis of public health research evidence with portrayals used in the film, the student gains a deep understanding of substance abuse, its consequences, and the theoretical foundations of its biopsychosocial etiology and radiating effects on families, communities and society.  
HLTH 377: Human Sexuality (3 credits) The biological and developmental aspects of human sexuality; the psychological and emotional aspects of sexual behavior; sexual identity; the historical, cultural, social, linguistic, legal and moral forces affecting sexual issues; the importance of communication, disclosure, and intimacy in interpersonal relationships; and research trends in the area of human sexuality.
HLTH 402: Disability is Not an Outcome: An Introduction to Understanding Disability With an intent to disrupt traditional understandings of disability as a health outcome to be prevented, this course will introduce students to disability as an identity, a community, a population of interest to public health professionals. To change this understanding students will explore historical representations of disability, ableism, and lived experiences of people with disabilities. Disability is a multi-layered concept that broadly describes a wide range of people. Although geared toward public health scholars, the mix of readings, discussions, and assignments will help students reflect and integrate learning into their own fields of study. The course examines factors that led to systemic oppression, and methods and strategies of moving toward a more inclusive society.
HLTH424: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health (3 credits) This course prepares students to be knowledgeable advocates for the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. The course focus is defined by the Healthy People 2020 federal health objectives for LGBT populations: data collection for research, culturally competent healthcare, bullying in schools, suicide, homelessness, and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.
HLTH 431: Health Literacy in Action (3 credits) This course introduces the concept of health literacy and develops the knowledge and skills to understand the field and engage productively about health literacy with healthcare providers, systems, and policymakers. The class explores diverse perspectives about health information and. communication, and different pathways and strategies to help create the conditions for more informed and engaged individuals and communities.
HLTH 432: Medical Terminology (3 credits) This course provides a framework for understanding medical language and terminology used by health care professionals. Students will gain an understanding of the rules of building and analyzing medical terms from word origins and will learn correct pronunciation, definitions, and spelling for all of the body systems, major pathological conditions, common disorders, prescribed medications, and more.
HLTH 434: Introduction to Public Health Informatics (3 credits) This course provides an overview of the field of public health informatics and the influence of technology on the public's health and wellbeing.  This course emphasizes the application of various technologies and computer/internet applications to support public health research and practice, including strategies to address new and emerging threats. 
HLTH 460: Multicultural Population Health (3 credits) Health concerns of U.S. ethnic minority groups and factors placing them at elevated risk for disease and injury. Health education concepts and strategies to reduce disparities between their health status and the health status of the general population.
471: Women’s Health (3 credits) The historical, physiological, psychological, and sociological mechanisms which contribute to women's health. Topics will include gynecological concerns and reproductive health; nutrition, exercise; violence; substance use/abuse; and the health of special populations.
HLTH 399: Community Health Fieldwork Students can earn academic credit for experiential learning opportunities (i.e. internship experiences, practicums, etc.). For more information contact: Tracy Kennedy (
HLTH 289, 389, 489: Independent Study Students can earn academic credit for academic work completed individually with a faculty member or research lab. Please schedule a meeting with an advisor to learn more.

The Department of Behavioral and Community Health offers students three guided specialization areas in the Community Health major: 

View detailed descriptions of each of the specializations and courses across the university that count towards each specialization.

Special Populations

Life circumstances and related bio/psycho/social conditions can warrant special attention in understanding the health risks of populations.  People with characteristics or circumstances with unique health implications may include the groups and subgroups in the following categories:   women, children, ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities, the LBGT community, older adults, and people living in poverty, as examples.  Specific health risks and approaches to addressing these risks are explored within this specialization area.

Health Communication

Health communication is the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence decisions that enhance health. Health communication is fundamental in disease prevention, health promotion, health care policy, and the business of health care. Health communication uses various approaches to deliver targeted messages to diverse audience segments ranging from at-risk groups to health professionals to policymakers.  This specialization focuses on theory and practice in understanding health communication uses and methods and materials that can be applied to health campaigns and social marketing efforts.

Health Risk Behavior

Risk behaviors are those associated with increased susceptibility to disease and/or injury.  Risk behaviors are varied and include cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, poor nutrition practices, unprotected sexual behavior, distracted driving, and violence, as examples.  Understanding health risks associated with specific behavior patterns, why people engage in health risk behaviors, and methods of prevention are explored in this specialization. 

What does this mean for you?

  • You can take a cluster of courses in a specific area while earning health elective credit.
  • You can strengthen your knowledge in a specific area of interest to you.
  • You can cite your specialization area on your resume, cover letter and/or graduate/professional school application.
  • You can start anytime and apply for classes retroactively.

How does this work?

  • You are required to take 12 credits in your specialization area
    • At least 6 credits must be taken in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health
    • 6 credits of approved courses can be taken outside of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health (advance approval is required by a Community Health Academic Advisor)
  • Your specialization will be recognized in a letter from the Department of Behavioral and Community Health. This letter will be provided after you have completed all requirements for the Community Health major.  The specialization will not be noted on your transcript. 
  • Grades of C- or higher are required in all coursework applied to your Specialization. 
  • Questions? Contact your Community Health advisors!  

What steps should I take to declare a specialization?

  • Review the Specialization table and guidelines in this document (also provided on the Department website).
  • If selecting a course outside of the approved list, email Dr. Tracy Zeeger ( with the syllabus and a brief justification for why you think the course fits in your Specialization.
    • The syllabus will be reviewed for applicability, and you will be notified via email.
    • Outside courses must be submitted for approval before the HLTH491 internship semester.
  • Track your Specialization progress.
  • In the semester in which you are graduating, you will receive an email through the listserv requesting confirmation of completion.
    • Upon review and approval, a letter from the Department Chair will be emailed to you to recognize your Specialization.
    • Keep this letter as documentation of your Specialization.  

Which courses can count toward my specialization area?

Approved courses must:

  • Have a minimum of 3 credits.
  • Clearly address your specialization area theme.
  • Directly address health content/promotion, or address one or more social determinants of health (e.g., physical environment, policy, societal/cultural forces, economics).


1. Can Peer Education experiences count for more than one specialization area?

  • No. Peer Education experiences cannot be double-counted and will be applied toward one Specialization only.
  • No more than 3 credits of Peer Education coursework can count toward a Specialization.

2. Can courses used as health electives outside of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health be used as one of the three required HLTH courses?

  • Because these courses do not have the “HLTH” course code, they fall in the “other” category and can be used once to ensure that students are getting Specialization information from an accredited and monitored entity. 

The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Honors program offers undergraduates the opportunity to engage in challenging educational experiences related to the social and behavioral aspects of public health.  Rising juniors with strong academic records and significant interest in intellectual pursuits are invited to apply for this opportunity to partake in independent, mentored, scholarly work.  

View the BCH Undergraduate Honors Program Application.

Applications are due June, 7 2024.

To be eligible for the program, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Public Health Practice major
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Have successfully completed at least 3 HLTH classes (9 credits with a GPA of 3.5 or higher in HLTH classes.  Must have taken HLTH200 by the start of the program.)
  • Have completed 45 total credits before applying to the program.  Students should be of “junior standing” their first semester in the program (approximately 60 credits)
  • Ideally should have 2 semesters left of coursework before the BCH internship

Some Program Highlights:

  • Getting to work 1:1 with a BCH faculty member on a thesis/project topic of your choosing
  • Graduating with the distinction of departmental honors
  • Ability to take HONR seminars and be a member of the University of Maryland Honors College
  • Access to a small seminar class (HLTH 410) to develop personal interests and professional skills

Overview of Program Requirements:

  • Enrollment in HLTH 410 (health elective) in the Fall 
  • In Spring and Fall, students work with a faculty mentor of their choosing (faculty members must agree) to complete a research-oriented thesis or an honors-level project.  This may be original work or one that is derived from the ongoing work of the faculty mentor’s lab or research group (6 credits total)
  • 12 credits of honors-level coursework through a combination of H sections, HONR courses, or graduate classes

If you have any questions please email Dr. Kerry Green, Undergraduate Honors Program Director, at