Public health focuses on creating healthy communities through education, research and the promotion of healthy lifestyle choices. Rather than diagnosing and treating illnesses and conditions after they occur, public health professionals analyze and develop programs to prevent disease and injury. Common areas of study within the field of public health include:
WHAT ARE THE ACADEMIC PREREQUISITES FOR PUBLIC HEALTH GRADUATE SCHOOL?
In making decisions about admissions, healthcare administration schools consider a range of factors that may vary from one school to another. All prerequisite courses usually need to be completed with a grade of C or above.
NOTE: Prerequisite courses for graduate programs in public health are highly variable, depending on the type of degree (masters or PhD) you are pursuing and the specific area within public health you will be studying. However, prerequisite and recommended courses might include:
|Biology||1 year w. lab (generally BIO 150 and BIO 227), Genetics (BIO 233), Microbiology (BIO 231), Environmental Health (BI/ES 228), Human Bio is recommended if you aren’t doing more in depth biology (e.g., analytical chemistry/pollution focus)|
|Chemistry||1 year Gen Chem w. lab (CHEM 125 & 126 or CH/BI 125 & 227 or CHEM 121, 123, and 126 or CHEM 122 & 126)|
|Math, Stats, CS||Calculus (MATH 119 or 120)
Statistics – Statistics for Science (STAT 212), Statistical Modeling (STAT 272) is recommended
Computer science (CS 125) or modeling (e.g., mathematics of biology (Math 236)) or GIS courses are recommended
|ID (not offered consistently)||Comparative Public Health: the US and the World (ID 280)
Introduction to Public Health (ID 245)
|Philosophy||Biomedical Ethics (PHIL 250)|
|Economics||Health care economics (ECON 245)|
|Psychology, So/An, Nursing||Principles of Psychology (PSYCH 125), Social Psychology (PSYCH 249) is recommended
Intro to Sociology (SOAN 121), Medical Anthropology (SOAN 267)
Nutrition and Wellness (NURS 110)
It is highly recommended that you take a RACE course or WGS
Note: PH does not favor particular majors but it does require learning to work in one area in depth — a strong major AND synergistic depth from the HBS fields and Humanities for science/math majors and vice versa for HBS majors.
Sample Course Timeline
Because prerequisite courses are highly variable for public health graduate programs, there is no set or suggested timeline. Students should consult with their academic advisors regarding course selection.
Sample Prerequisite Course Requirements for Admission to MPH Programs
*Please note, it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they complete all prerequisite coursework in the time required for admission. Please consult each school’s website for prerequisite requirements.
WHAT STANDARDIZED TEST WILL I NEED TO TAKE? Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
WHAT CENTRALIZED APPLICATION WILL I USE? Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS)
WHAT ARE THE EXPERIENTIAL PREREQUISITES?*
- Shadowing: if possible, try to shadow a number of public health professionals in different work environments (government, non-profit, research, etc.) to gain perspective on the responsibilities of their position.
- Research: It is highly recommended that you complete at least one 10-week research experience. You do not have to find a research opportunity that is related to public health.
- Volunteering: It is highly recommended that you volunteer in your community, starting as early as your first year at St. Olaf. Although your volunteer role can be in healthcare or outside of healthcare, we recommend that you aim to volunteer in both capacities. Gain experience related to your specific area of interest within the broad field of public health. Public Health graduate schools are looking for applicants with sustained and meaningful volunteer experiences. They don’t want students who are simply checking the “volunteer box.”
- Internship(s): Gain experience in the field through interning at a community health clinic, a department of health, a government project, a nonprofit serving marginalized communities, etc. Internships outside of public health are highly beneficial as well.
- Leadership: It is strongly recommended that you serve in a leadership capacity (president of an organization, academic tutor, service on an advisory board, etc.). Leaders can enhance their communication and organizational skills, as well as learn how to interact with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds.
WHAT OTHER RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE AT ST. OLAF?
WHO IS THE DESIGNATED ADVISING SPECIALIST?
There is more than one faculty advising specialist. Please reach out to Katie Hughes to be directed to a faculty advisor related to your specific area of interest.
Office: TOH 270 Phone: 507-786-3249 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Ultimately, it is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that they complete all prerequisite coursework and experiential opportunities required for successful admission to public health graduate school.
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