Are you interested in disease trends, the effects of public policy on population health, the global cost of AIDS, or communicating the effects of smoking on infants? If so, a career in public health may be right for you. Public health is an expansive and ever growing field. Public health includes everything from drinking water quality to Medicare Reform. The field of public health is expanding as people become more aware of the population effects of things such as alcohol, smoking, obesity, poverty, aging, and discrimination.

Degrees
Schools of public health educate future epidemiologists, biostatisticians, environmental health experts, health policy analysts, health administrators, and health communicators. Degrees vary from Master's of Science (M.S.) degrees to specific professional degrees such as Master's of Public Health (M.P.H.) and Master's of Health Administration (M.H.A.). Many schools also offer PhD programs for students interested in research and teaching careers. Students in an MPH program specialize in different areas. For instance, you can receive an MPH in maternal and child health, health policy, health communication, or environmental health (among others).

Cornell Courses and Other Requirements
If you are interested in pursuing a career in public health, Cornell provides excellent preparation for the many different types of public health programs. Some programs, such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental health require strong preparation in the sciences, while programs such as public health policy, health communication, maternal and child health, and health administration require preparation in the humanities and social sciences such as English, Economics, Anthropology, and Psychology. Be sure to research the program you are interested in applying to to learn their specific prerequisites.

Specifically, schools require:

  1. Courses in the social sciences, hard sciences, and humanities. Many require statistics and English courses.
  2. Successful undergraduate education as shown by a baccalaureate degree and GPA.
  3. GRE scores.
  4. Minimum GPA requirements (depending upon program, often 3.0 or 3.2).
  5. Proven interest in a public health field through volunteer work, job shadowing, or other experiences.
  6. Admissions essay and letters of recommendation.

Most Master's level public health programs are two years in length and are full time. PhD level programs could take anywhere from 4-8 years, depending on the school and the program.

For additional information, see:
Association of Schools of Public Health
American Public Health Association