The Bachelor of Science in Public Health is a new undergraduate program that evolved from the previous B.S. in Community Health. The Public Health degree was offered for the first time in Fall 2016 and is designed to promote an understanding of health and disease based on public health principles. Students will learn to apply social, behavioral, policy and educational interventions to help shape population health. Students will also learn how to assess needs of target populations, create program goals and objectives, and develop strategies to foster health behavior change interventions for individuals and communities.
What is Public Health?
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. Public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or world region. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims “Public Health connects us all”!
Public health is further defined as the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through education and promotion of healthy lifestyles, policy-making and research for disease and injury prevention, and detection and control of infectious diseases. Medical professionals typically treat people with illness or disease but Public Health professionals typically work to prevent the occurrence or spread of disease or injury.
Viewing the two short videos linked below may also help you understand Public Health:
What is the Public Health System?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, public health systems are commonly defined as “all public, private, and voluntary entities that contribute to the delivery of essential public health services within a jurisdiction.” This includes:
- Public health agencies at state and local levels
- Healthcare providers
- Public safety agencies
- Human service and charity organizations
- Education and youth development organizations
- Recreation and arts-related organizations
- Economic and philanthropic organizations
- Environmental agencies and organizations
What will I study?
Public Health utilizes a mixture of classroom experiences and practical application opportunities. The curriculum consists of courses from a variety of disciplines including public health, health promotion, health sciences and behavioral sciences. Topics specific to Public Health include Epidemiology, Global Health, Environmental Health, Public Health Policy, Research Methods, and much more. Central to the program of study is applied engaged learning opportunities offered through a range of course projects, practicum settings, and internships. Students develop skills in a variety of areas including analysis of public health issues, health promotion program planning and implementation, and instructional methods.
Georgia College offers an undergraduate curriculum that emphasizes liberal arts and includes professional degree programs that provide students with a breadth and depth of preparation for their intended careers. The Public Health program includes 42 credit hours of Area A-E courses, 18 credit hours from Area F, 33 hours of public health courses, 15 hours of approved electives or a minor, and a 12-credit internship capstone completed at the end of all coursework. Students will need to become first aid/CPR certified during the program of study. Internship, community- based engaged learning, and other applied learning strategies will provide students with opportunities to incorporate classroom learning into public health practice and prepare them for future employment.
Program Specific Opportunities
- Research Opportunities
- Campus Organizations
The Georgia College Public Health Student Organization (PHSO) is a student organization committed to developing community public health awareness through volunteer work, service-learning, and following the shared Public Health mission to Promote, Protect and Serve. The PHSO meets each month during the academic year and hosts workshops, health-related activities, and social gatherings for Community/Public Health Majors and Minors. For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/publichealthGC
Undergraduate preparation in public health provides an interdisciplinary set of content and skills that are readily applicable and transferable to many professions and to post-graduate educational opportunities. Some of these professions include health care, human services, social sciences, biological sciences, health administration, social work, and international affairs. Graduates of the program may seek advanced Public Health degrees at other institutions but will also be prepared for entry-level positions in governmental public health agencies, community health organizations, non-profit organizations, corporate wellness programs, and health care settings.
Health educators and community health workers are potential areas of focus for students majoring the broader discipline of Public Health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these jobs are expected to increase by 13% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. The growth is fueled in part by a desire to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Students who obtain a Certified Health Education Specialist credential may further enhance their employment prospects.
Median Starting Income for an Entry Level Position
Salaries for public health and health education professionals vary by location, occupation, level of education and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages of health educators and community health workers was $43,840 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Salaries also vary considerably within each specialty area and settings within public health. Job openings with salary information for the Georgia Department of Public Health can be viewed at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/georgiadph
Program Goals and Objectives
Program goals and objectives are aligned with the recommended Critical Component Elements proposed by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health for Framing the Future: The Second 100 Years of Public Health (Wykoff, Petersen & Weist, 2013).
- Background content domains (science, social/behavioral science, math/quantitative reasoning, humanities/fine arts)
- Background skill domains (communication; information literacy)
- Public Health domains (overview of public health; role and importance of data; identifying and addressing population health challenges; human health; determinants of disease; project implementation; overview of health systems; health policy, law, ethics, and economics; health communication)
- Cumulative experience and field exposure
- Cross-cutting areas (advocacy, ethics, professionalism, teamwork, leadership, research methods, systems thinking)
The program goals include:
Goal 1: To educate individuals for professional careers in public health to prepare them to create lasting, sustainable changes to improve individual and community health outcomes
Goal 2: To provide a supportive environment conducive to student learning and professional development.
Goal 3: To prepare graduates to practice successfully in entry level public health settings or to pursue advanced professional or academic training
Goal 4: To conduct research that contributes to identification, problem-solving, and resolution of public health problems locally and globally
Goal 5: To foster student engagement in applied internships and service activities to improve the health status of individuals and communities and to reduce health disparities
American Public Health Association - APHA is a professional organization for public health workers
Georgia Public Health Association - GAPHA is a state chapter of APHA
Society for Public Health Education - SOPHE is a professional organization to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion
Georgia SOPHE - A state chapter of SOPHE
National Commission for Health Education Credentialing - Learn more about Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination and benefits
Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health - Wealth of information for prospective students
This is Public Health - Informational site created by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Extensive information regarding the U.S. public health system
AmeriCorps - Organization that can provide ways to gain public health experience
Peace Corps - Opportunity for students to gain experience in public health
Public Health Training Fellowships - Fellowship opportunities
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational outlook for health education