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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

Upon completing a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Science, students should be able to: 

  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. Interpret and synthesize scientific knowledge to propose evidence-based approaches and solutions to public health problems

To earn a B.S. in Public Health Science at the University of Maryland, students complete at least 120 credits.

  • 31 credits of PHSC Scientific Foundation courses
  • 31 credits of Public Health Science Foundation courses
  • 12 credits of Public Health Science Option courses 
  • 24+ credits of UMD General Education courses
  • 22+ credits of general electives

Note: Credit totals may vary depending on individual students' coursework. Some General Education courses fulfill multiple requirements. Elective credit totals may vary depending on incoming transfer credit, including AP/IB credit. 

Explore PHSC degree requirements in the UMD catalog

View SPH Four Year Plans and Benchmarks
View Complete PHSC Curriculum and Course Offerings

Public Health Science students start with a strong foundation in life sciences courses. The required courses in General and Organic Chemistry, Biology, Anatomy/Physiology and Calculus are open to students in all majors.

Students in the major begin exploring Public Health Science Foundations through required courses in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Community, Environmental, and Global Health. Through upper level Public Health Science Options, students then delve into topics that expand upon or complement these foundations. 

Public Health Science Foundation Courses

Course Name Course Description
SPHL100: Foundations of Public Health An overview of the goals, functions, and methods of public health. After an introduction to the core concepts and tools used in public health research and practice, applications of these methodologies are considered in the context of current controversies/problems in public health.
HLTH366: Behavioral and Community Issues in Public Health The exploration of how social and behavioral science theories and public health concepts and methods can be applied to both the health-illness experience and community interventions.
EPIB301: Epidemiology for Public Health Practice An examination of the discipline of epidemiology and its application to public health issues and practices, covering current epidemiological concepts and methods.
EPIB315: Biostatistics for Public Health Practice (FSAR) 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.
HLSA300: Introduction to Health Policy and Services A multidimensional view of public health policy and services. Students will learn about the nature of and development of policy, public health policy, and financing and delivery of health care services. This course will place a significant emphasis on a team-based learning approach to understanding the health care system and health care reform.
KNES320: Physiological Basis of Physical Activity and Human Health A study of the responses and chronic adaptations to physical activity and exercise, with particular emphasis on the interaction between human health and physical activity. The laboratory component of course will focus on the assessment of physical activity and measurement of physiological adaptations to exercise. Students are expected to gain an understanding and appreciation for the benefits of physical activity and exercise in the context of public health.
MIEH300: A Public Health Perspective: Introduction to Environmental Health Environmental health deals with the human health effects of exposure to chemical, physical, and biological agents in the community, workplace, and home. Activities within Environmental Health Sciences are associated with recognizing, assessing, understanding, and mitigating the impacts of chemical, physical, and biological agents as well as understanding how human behavior and action impacts the environment.
PHSC450: Addressing Social and Structural Inequities Through Public Health (DVUP) A focus on addressing social and structural inequities within race, gender, disability, and class through various perspectives in the field of public health. Students explore the causes, challenges, consequences, and extent these injustices have on health disparities from local, national, and global perspectives. Students view these inequities through the lens of the affected populations, and work interactively and collaboratively to interpret, design, and evaluate public health interventions and approaches to address key health disparities within specific communities. The aim of this course is to help students define appropriate research and address structural inequities with innovative approaches through the professional practice of public health.
PHSC415: Essentials of Public Health Biology: The Cell, The Individual, and Disease Presents the basic scientific and biomedical concepts of modern public health problems and explores in depth mechanisms and models of the major categories of disease. The biologic principles presented are foundations to public health disease prevention, control, or management programs.
PHSC497: Public Health Science Capstone (DSSP) The Public Health Science capstone course is designed to challenge students to integrate the five core areas of public health in investigating, researching and addressing public health issues. Throughout the semester, students will be required to evaluate, analyze and synthesize scholarly works as they research and propose solutions to a variety of public health issues. By the conclusion of this research based course, students will understand how the various public health perspectives can combine in addressing and informing public health practices.

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.

Students in the Public Health Science program are not required to complete an internship or research experience for their degree, but they are encouraged to become involved in experiences outside the traditional classroom in order to enrich their 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. Public Health Science majors may apply up to 6 credits from an approved internship or research experience towards their degree requirements.