By Christi Mays
A new public health program launching this fall is designed to prepare students to help improve health at the population level, impacting entire communities and even global health.
As part of the growing list of degrees available in the Mayborn College of Health Sciences, the new Public Health Program (PHP) will offer three degree options: the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH), the Master of Public Health (MPH), and a five-year, fast-track BSPH-MPH combined degree. Each of the three options includes a health promotion concentration.
“Individuals working in this field have great potential to make an impact in many areas, such as improving global health, advancing environmental health efforts, creating healthier communities through programs focused on nutrition and physical activity, reducing the impact from global pandemics and natural disasters, and reducing health disparities,” said Dr. Ariane Secrest, director of the public health program and an assistant professor in the School of Exercise and Sport Science.
Unlike most medical careers, which focus on the health of individuals, she said public health addresses health at the population level with an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion for entire communities.
“Public health takes a proactive approach to health, which is critical to make an impact and reduce the negative health effects associated with chronic diseases that are so prevalent through the United States,” Secrest said.
With a BSPH degree, Secrest said graduates could work in various settings, including in the local, state, or federal government sectors, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, health departments, universities, or corporations. Job titles include community health educator, disease prevention manager, program manager, intervention designer, maternal and child health specialist, obesity prevention coordinator, youth tobacco prevention coordinator, etc.
With the master’s in public health, the same types of jobs would be available for students, but the advanced degree provides additional opportunities, such as working as an epidemiologist for a health department, as a social and community service manager, or as a biostatistician.
“There are so many opportunities that are provided to a student with a public health degree,” said Secrest.
The PHP adds to the growing list of new degrees offered through the Mayborn College of Health Sciences, including the Master of Science in Physician Assistant program, added in January 2021; the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in 2020; and the Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2016.
Secrest said another reason students may consider a public health degree is because it “places an emphasis on serving others—an opportunity to make a difference in the community,” Secrest said. “It is a diverse and dynamic field, and it is an exciting and expanding field.”
To learn more about the program, visit umhb.edu/graduate/public-health/home.