Bachelor of Science in Public Health
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. Public health professionals engage in a variety of jobs working to prevent illness and injuries, promote wellness, encourage healthy behaviors, track disease outbreaks, and determine why some populations are more likely to suffer from poor health than others.
Public health is a new field of study at the undergraduate level. In the past, colleges and universities throughout the country only offered graduate degrees in public health. Now, WVU students can start a career in public health after earning a bachelor’s degree.
Students who enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program want to make a difference in their communities and improve the health and well-being of the people around them.
The Bachelor of Science in Public Health program requires completing 120 credit hours, including coursework for WVU general education foundations, the public health major (including an area of emphasis) and a self-selected minor.
Undergraduate students engage in the five core public health disciplines:
- Environmental health sciences
- Health policy and administration
- Social and behavioral sciences.
Early in the program, students build a strong foundation of knowledge in the natural and social sciences and become familiar with cultural and socioeconomic differences among populations. Further study provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to identify evidence-based techniques for disease prevention and promotion of health, both at home and from a global perspective.
Areas of Emphasis
In addition to the core requirements for the major, students also focus their education by selecting a minor and an area of emphasis.
In the Public Health Sciences area of emphasis, students learn to recognize how environmental and occupational factors impact the health status of individuals and populations and to apply skills in biostatistical and epidemiologic methods in public health practice and research.
In the Community and Population Health area of emphasis, students learn to recognize how social and behavioral factors impact the health status of individuals and populations and to identify appropriate theories, methods, strategies and policies to address the public health needs of communities and populations.
The Patient Navigation area of emphasis prepares students to become members of healthcare teams that help individuals overcome barriers to quality care, including access, literacy, transportation and more. Patient Navigators (PNs) assist individuals in reducing and eliminating barriers to health care access and in negotiating complex health delivery systems.
Field Placement and Community Service
All students complete field placement and capstone experiences as their culminating coursework. During their senior year, every undergraduate student is required to complete 60-75 hours of applied field placement experience in a local or regional agency or institution where they can put their classroom lessons to work. Students in the Patient Navigation area of emphasis will work with health-related agencies experiencing care coordination with patients and providers. All students engage with community partners, gain experience in the workplace and demonstrate acquisition of competencies.
In addition to the field placements, all undergraduate students are required to complete a minimum 50 hours of community service, documented through iServe in the WVU Office of Service and Learning. Getting involved in the Student Association of Public Health is also a great way to get connected to service opportunities.
- Provide a solid foundation of the historic milestones, core disciplines and core functions of public health.
- Increase appreciation of human cultures and social determinants of health as they relate to individual and population health.
- Explain the impact of natural processes and systems on health and patterns of disease and injury among diverse populations.
- Develop proficiency in critical and creative thinking, analysis and synthesis of information to inform, assist and promote public health.
- Enhance oral and written communication skills needed to effectively disseminate knowledge and information to address current public health issues.
- Engage students in public health-related activities with local, regional, national and/or global organizations.
Each student will have a Plan of Study (or course sequence) that he or she will develop with a faculty adviser and follow to complete all degree requirements. It is important to follow this plan to graduate on time.View WVU Catalog for Required Courses
The WVU School of Public Health admits undergraduate students in both fall and spring semesters. Interested students must apply and be accepted to West Virginia University. The School offers first-time freshmen direct admission to the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program for those who meet the admission standards. Students who do not meet direct admit minimum standards, but are interested in pursuing a degree in public health, may elect to be admitted into the pre-public health program, if qualified.
WVU students who are undeclared or in other majors may apply to transfer into the Public Health program via a WVU Academic Status Update form once the students meet the transfer guidelines. External transfer students who have completed undergraduate coursework at another institution of higher education prior to applying to the Public Health major are eligible if they meet the minimum guidelines.View WVU Catalog for Admissions Guidelines