Public health is an area that encompasses environmental health, public health policy and health education, maternal and child health, nutrition and health education, and epidemiology. Professionals in the field have a passion for educating the public about specific public health issues and affecting policy as well as future health concerns. Rather than assist individual patients as a medical doctor would, graduates of public health programs spend their time promoting disease prevention and healthfulness among the general public.
A bachelor of science in public health prepares graduates to work in public, private, and non-profit sectors to help improve the quality of life of individuals and communities. Typical places of employment post-graduation include government health agencies, medical care services and education agencies.
With today’s advancement in technology, it’s more convenient than ever to earn an online degree. Earning an online bachelor’s in public health is no exception. Online programs offer students the flexibility to attend classes from the convenience of their own home, or anywhere with an Internet connection. With basic equipment, including an up-to-date computer, Internet access and word processing software, students have what they need to get started. Some schools, however, require additional software to meet program requirements.
Earning a degree online is a unique experience. Students view lectures and assignments online and rarely have direct face-to-face interaction with their professors or peers. Many online programs require regular written communication between and among fellow students and instructors via Blackboard or a similar class management system. Students who prefer at least some level of personal interaction can choose a hybrid program, which requires some on-campus time.
In an online program, students can expect to prepare research assignments about current public health concerns facing individuals and communities. Some classes don’t necessarily lend themselves well to online coursework, so colleges will get creative to ensure each student—whether online or traditional—receives the same high quality education. For example, when enrolled in an online gerontology class, students may be required to view case studies online or visit a local facility to meet with a doctor or patients as part of an assignment. Students generally have opportunities for internships and work-study programs both within their own community and abroad, adding to the value of their coursework.
Students will gain an understanding of the relationship between physical, social and cultural aspects of specific diseases in an online public health program. They can expect to spend time researching and reviewing trade journals as they study the causes and origin of diseases and other health-related issues that affect the public. Self-starters with a desire to learn and work independently often do very well in online programs.
Can I work while earning my bachelor’s in public health?
Online programs are great in that they allow a lot of flexibility in your work and school schedules. Many students can work full time throughout their bachelor’s degree program and still attend school full or part time. Ultimately, only you can decide what is right for you and your family. Make sure you have sufficient support at home to juggle a job on top of earning your bachelor’s degree.
What kinds of classes can I expect to take?
In a public health degree, you can expect to take classes relating to preventative health and theories behind health education. You will learn about careers in health care, communicating with other cultures, ethics and cultural diversity. As someone who will affect public health, you will also learn how to write grants to obtain funding for the communities where you will eventually work. You should also expect to take all the basic requirements for a bachelor’s degree, including math, English, humanities and sciences.
What are the job prospects for someone with a bachelor’s in public health?
The job outlook for health educators and community health workers is better than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is predicted that employment for these professionals will grow about 21 percent from 2012 to 2022. Most in this field help to educate the public about healthy habits and how to use health care services in an effort to reduce overall health care costs.
Is an online bachelor’s in public health reputable?
Most online degree programs are very reputable, especially when offered by a well-known university. However, it’s always important to do your research. Before choosing a particular school or program, make sure the online college is accredited by an independent agency.
How will I gain real-world experience in an online program?
Flexibility is one of the bonuses of earning a bachelor’s degree online, but it’s sometimes difficult to obtain real-world experience. Most online programs have systems in place to ensure online students get the same education as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Case studies, research and even on-site visits to various facilities on your own time will ensure you receive the knowledge and practice necessary for success in your field.
Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health (BPH) Scholarships
Earning a bachelor’s degree can be financially daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. A scholarship can help defray the cost of school, and sometimes scholarships can cover the cost entirely, allowing the student to focus on school, rather than how the tuition bill is going to get paid. Below are some examples of public health scholarships to help students cover the cost:
Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship – Awarded by the Society for Public Health Education, this scholarship is for both graduate and undergraduate students. Students must write an essay about public health issues and how they plan to contribute to their field after graduation. Students must provide evidence of financial need.
NEHA/AAS Scholarship – This scholarship’s aim is to encourage students to commit early in their careers to environmental health and to encourage them to pursue post-graduate students in environmental health sciences and/or public health. Students must demonstrate financial need.
AFDO Scholarships – The AFDO offers three scholarship opportunities to students who wish to pursue a career in research, regulatory work, quality control or teaching in some aspect of foods, drugs or consumer product safety.
NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program – This competitive scholarship gives $20,000 per academic year to its recipients, plus a 10-week summer laboratory experience at an NIH research facility.
Denny’s Hungry for Education Scholarship – Students attending a Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities-member institution in the U.S. can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must write an essay about how Denny’s can help in the fight against childhood hunger in the U.S.
National Science Foundation – The NSF provides grants to institutions of higher education so those institutions can provide scholarships for students in STEM-related fields. Students should contact their college or university for more information about these opportunities.
Richard A. Herbert Memorial Scholarship – Designed to provide enhancement of education in water resources, this scholarship was renamed for Richard A. Herbert, a champion for water resources education, in 1994.
Professional Associations for Public Health
Belonging to professional associations provides a good foot in the door for students and recent graduates of public health programs. Young professionals can network with established leaders and they can volunteer to assist with various projects, thus earning some real-life experience. Many associations have a student chapter with discounted membership rates.
Society for Public Health Education – SOPHE is an independent professional association with a membership of nearly 4,000 health professionals in the U.S. and 25 other countries. It promotes healthy behaviors, healthy communities and healthy environments.
National Environmental Health Association – NEHA was incorporated in 1937 and is designed “to advance the environmental health and protection professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all.”
American Academy of Sanitarians– The AAS “elevates the standards, improves the practice, advances the professional proficiency and promotes the highest levels of ethical conduct among professional sanitarians in every field of environmental health.”