Public Health Overview
Public health is the science and art of creating healthy communities through education, research and promotion of healthy lifestyles. In public health, the focus is on health promotion and disease/injury prevention, in contrast to the medical model of care, which focuses more heavily upon diagnosing and treating illnesses and conditions after they occur. Focusing on prevention and the population public health is a distinct and ever-changing field. There are 10 Tips from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) when investigating an education and career in public health.
Public health professionals analyze and develop programs that protect the health of individuals, families and communities in the United States and abroad. Because of their “big picture” perspective, public health experts play a key role in emergency preparedness and response. This may be why public health has become such a growing field in recent years. The United States is placing a high priority on building up the nation’s public health workforce.
The United States is placing a high priority on building up the nation’s public health workforce. A career in public health opens the door to diverse opportunities in a variety of sectors such as federal, state, and local organizations, private, and non-governmental organizations. It means that with a degree in public health, you’ll be in high demand—and on a career path filled with advancement opportunities. A degree in public health will also provide you with opportunity for variety in your career. Depending on your area of study and field, your future career may involve flexible hours, travel, field research, academia, community outreach, or more.
A career in public health opens the door to diverse opportunities in a variety of sectors such as federal, private and non-governmental organizations. Because of their “big picture” perspective, public health experts play a key role in emergency preparedness and response. This may be why public health has become such a growing field in recent years.
School and program of public health accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), including undergraduate (2015), master’s and doctoral degrees. The most common are:
- Master of Public Health (MPH)
- Master of Health Administration (MHA)
- Master of Science (MS)
- Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
- Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
- Doctor of Science (ScD)
There are over 20 major fields of study. The five core disciplines are:
- Behavioral science/health education
- Environmental health
- Health services administration
However, your degree may be in one of several other core public health areas. Examples are:
- Global health
- Laboratory practice
- Maternal and child health
- Occupational health and safety
SOPHAS is the centralized application service for students applying to a CEPH-accredited school or program of public health. You can search for accredited schools of public health on the SOPHAS website. A searchable database of accredited programs and schools can also be found on the CEPH and ASPPH websites without starting your SOPHAS Application.
Receive more information about Public Health, events, and deadlines.
- Visit This Is Public Health for more information about pursuing a career in public health.
- Find out what public health is and why it’s important.
- Learn about the role public health plays in our society.
- Learn more about who works in public health and what they do.
- Read profiles of public health practitioners.
- Play two interactive online games, “Outbreak at Watersedge” and “Epidemic,” to better understand how important public health is.
- Explore current public health job openings
The Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health has reviewed this overview.