Undergraduate Public Health Programs

Maintaining and improving public health is one of the great mandates of our time, both in the US and abroad. Aging populations, global pandemics, increasing environmental degradation, and a rise in childhood obesity are just some of the many challenges to which the field directly responds.

The Public Health Program prepares students to:

  • Pursue professional endeavors informed by a social justice approach and dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of local neighborhoods or national populations: explore recent post-graduate results for the Public Health BA and BS degrees, or accelerated Three-Year Scholars program for incoming students.
  • Participate in original research and scholarly writing with faculty in areas including epidemiology, global health, health equity, health policy, maternal and child health, nutrition, mental health, and health promotion.
  • Engage with the DC community-and your community abroad-through internships and service-learning activities.

Students can choose the Public Health BS, BA, or minor, in addition to our accelerated Three-Year Scholars Program:

At the heart of the BA, BS, and minor are sets of core courses that ensure that students gain both foundational knowledge and practical skills in the field of public health. Through their electives, students then learn about health issues from the perspective of several disciplines. The electives are set up into four clusters:

  • Global Health
  • Health Science
  • Social and Community Health
  • Policy, Program Planning, and Evaluation

Are you a current student?  If so, be sure to check out the Department of Health Studies Resources Canvas page on your Canvas portal. You’ll find information about major requirements, internships, the honors program, and much more!  If you need access, please email healthstudies@american.edu.

Upon completion of the Public Health program, students will be able to: 

  1. Explain the philosophy and essential services of Public Health.
    1. Explain the history and philosophy of public health as well as its core values, concepts, and functions across the globe and in society
    2. Identify and address the concepts of population health, and the basic processes, approaches, and interventions which focus on the major health-related needs and concerns of populations
  2. Apply and utilize an epidemiological approach through engagement in collaborative public health research.
    1. Identify, explain, and utilize the basic concepts, methods, and tools of public health data collection, use, and analysis
    2. Apply evidence-based approaches to public health practice
  3. Evaluate and compare healthcare systems and public health initiatives in the United States and abroad.
    1. Describe the basic concepts of legal, ethical, economic, and regulatory dimensions of health care and public health policy, and the roles, influences and responsibilities of the different agencies and branches of government
    2. Explain the fundamental characteristics and organizational structures of the U.S. health system as well the differences in systems in other countries       
  4. Convey an understanding of the determinants of health and health disparities.
    1. Describe the underlying science of human health and disease including opportunities for promoting and protecting health across the life course
    2. Identify and explain the socio-economic, behavioral, biological, environmental, and other factors that impact human health and contribute to health disparities
    3. Appraise cultural differences among populations and interact sensitively, effectively, and professionally with persons from diverse backgrounds
  5. Plan, implement, and evaluate public health programs.
    1. Utilize the fundamental concepts and features of project implementation, including planning, assessment, and evaluation
    2. Utilize the basic concepts of public health-specific communication, including technical and professional writing and the use of mass media and electronic technology

Complete your MS Degree in 1 Year!

Health Studies students now have the opportunity to complete a combined Bachelor’s/Master’s program in 5 years (4 years for Public Health Scholars).

Students are eligible to apply if they meet the following requirements:

  • Cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Have earned 75 – 90 academic credits
  • Students are not required to take Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

If accepted into the combined program, graduate regulations permit 500 and 600 level approved courses to be shared between the BA/BS in Public Health or Health Promotion and the MS programs.

  • Health Promotion Management is a 30-credit MS program and permits 12 approved credits to be shared between degrees.
  • Nutrition Education is a 30-credit MS online program and permits 9 approved credits to be shared between degrees.

Students must apply for the Bachelor’s/Master’s option when they have earned between 75 – 90 credits; therefore, early planning is essential!

For more information, email healthstudies@american.edu.

The DC area remains a US leader for employment growth and compensation for health workers and educators with expected 16% job-growth nationwide between 2020 and 2030 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Selected recent employers for AU undergraduates with a degree in Public Health:

  • American Institutes for Research
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • FHI 360
  • French Ministry of Education
  • HealthCorps, Inc.
  • HealthHIV
  • Health Resources & Services Administration
  • National Institutes of Health 
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
  • Peace Corps
  • Precision Sports & Pediatric Physical Therapy
  • Public Health Management Corporation
  • RTI International
  • Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Check out the This is Public Health website, or see more about AU Public Health alumni career outcomes.

News & Notes

AU Global Health Case Competition, 2023.Public Health students Davonna Jones, Nai’la-Mareen Morris, Shadan Rahmani, and Lindsay Smith won the 2023 AU Global Health Case Competition — see AU Students Develop Solutions to Gun Violence in Brazil.

At the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine 2022 Public Health Case Challenge, students Adira Brenner, Margaret Curley, Caroline Kerkorian, Rotem Miloh, Rebeka Rafi, and Anjali Singh were awarded the Interprofessional Prize.

Alumna Annika Bergstrom (CAS/BS ’15) won the United States Public Health Service 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award.

CEPH AccreditationThe Public Health Program earned accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)" Read the CEPH Report (PDF)and Self-Study Report (PDF).

See more Health Department News.

Scarlett Wedergren is studying at the AU Nairobi Center working with a nonprofit with a focus on public health

Social Sciences ·

The Urge to Serve: Natural Disaster Sets Student on Public Health Path  

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CAS student Ekua Hudson used AU's Design and Build Lab to construct a sustainable farming system.

Environment ·

A Bountiful Future: AU Student Crafting Sustainable Food Plan for DC Public Schools

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