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Public Health

Purdue University in West Lafayette

As the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us, health problems can be incredibly complex. Effective, efficient, and equitable solutions require not only individual patient treatment but also changes in global, national and local policy; innovations in our health care systems; outreach and health promotion programs from local health departments and community organizations; and campaigns to inform, motivate, and mobilize whole populations to shift their behavior.

As a public health major, students take courses to develop skills and understanding across the five core public health competency areas (Behavioral Social Sciences, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Health Policy and Management) to tackle questions as broad as:

  • Why are cancer deaths so much higher in some communities than in others? Is it that people there are more likely to develop cancer than others, or are they not diagnosed as early, or do they not have equal access to effective treatment, or all three? What can a community do to make a real difference? And what about a state, a hospital, a school, or a local employer?
  • What barriers have made it challenging to improve access to mental health care in rural areas, and what strategies have worked best to address this? What role can evolving technology play to improve access to care? What works best in reducing the stigma around mental health care? Does it make a difference when patients have providers who have shared some of their life experiences and know where they are coming from?

The Public Health major prepares students to plan, implement, and evaluate public health programs for individuals, groups, and populations in a variety of settings that include worksites, hospitals, schools, and communities, and includes an internship to gain real-world public health experience – whether at a worksite or in a clinical, community, or government public health setting.

Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in a variety of public health areas and are eligible to sit for the NCHEC Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) Exam and the ACSM/NPAS Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist (PAPHS) Exam. Students with the goal of earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree now have the opportunity to pursue an accelerated 5-year program through the College of Health and Human Science. The accelerated option can potentially eliminate one year of tuition costs and allow an additional year in the workforce or can allow students to complete the MPH degree prior to continuing on to a Ph.D. program, medical or dental school, nursing, occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), physician assistant (PA), or other professional or academic training.

HHS Spotlight: Hibatalla Fadul

portrait of Hibatalla Fadul

Tell us why you chose Purdue University for your undergraduate education.

I have a cousin who graduated from Purdue’s School of Electric Engineering. When I visited my cousin at Purdue, I fell in love with the campus. I was also fascinated by Purdue’s history. It was during that visit that I decided I wanted to be a Boilermaker! 

How would you describe the faculty and staff in the College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS)?

The faculty and staff I have encountered are experienced, caring and helpful. They also are a good source of information, inspiration and advice.

What advice would you give international students who are about to start their first year at Purdue?

My advice is to not be afraid to ask for help because this is how you learn. Do not isolate yourself. Get involved with the Purdue community.

Take advantage of resources available to you both on and off campus. Use the Online Writing Lab (OWL), the libraries, the Center of Career Opportunities (CCO). Go to Purdue basketball and football games, attend Purdue convocations, and have fun!

To be a successful student, you need to learn how to manage your time and how to multitask. You need to learn how to balance different activities like socializing, exercising, going to movies, but also stay focused on your academics. 

We all go through hard times as students. We might feel stress from a class load, exams, or feeling homesick. When this happens, do not hesitate to talk about it with your friends or with a counselor at CAPS (Counseling and Physiological Services) at Purdue.

What is your favorite thing about Purdue?

My favorite thing about Purdue is the simplicity and convenience of campus. The way the campus is set up makes it easy to get around. It feels like a home away from home. Also, I like the challenging curriculum which motivates you as well as stimulates your brain and prepares you for the real world. 

Tell us about some of your activities at Purdue.

I did an internship related to my Public Health major. I had the opportunity to work in the Hypertension Program offered by the A.H. Ismail Center for Health, Exercise and Nutrition. This program includes faculty and students majoring in different disciplines (Pharmacy, Nutrition, Applied Exercise and Health, and Public Health). The students work together to help Ismail Center clients with hypertension learn how to live a healthy lifestyle by maintaining their blood pressure through diet and exercise. The Hypertension Program exposed me to the clinical part of my major; the internship experience overall advanced my interpersonal communication skills, time-management skills, and professional skills.

I also participated in Purdue’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program known as LSAMP. This is a research program that provides undergraduate students the opportunity to explore research areas and exposes them to a variety of career paths. Through LSAMP, I was able to be a research assistance for three semesters. My area of research was breast cancer, and my research project involved working on different chemotherapeutic drugs to measure their cytotoxicity on breast cancer.

Original Article

Plan of Study

Public Health, BS
Public Health Webpage

Transfer to Public Health

Purdue admits to individual majors. Transfer students must meet Purdue's overall transfer criteria, as well as any major-specific requirements. Before you apply, check the closed programs page to confirm this major is open to transfer students. If it is, refer to the information below for major-specific transfer criteria.

Minimum GPA: 2.5

Also: Completion of college-level biology or chemistry course with a grade of C or higher.

Contact Information

HHS Undergraduate Student Services
(765) 494-8533

College of Health and Human Sciences

Careers in Public Health

Typically, the employment rate for graduates from the Department of Public Health is 94%.

Careers include: 

  • Infectious Disease Outbreak Investigator
  • Health Education Specialist
  • Health Coach for a worksite, community center, or app

  • Healthcare Navigator
  • Quality Improvement Analyst
  • Chronic Disease Health Educator
  • Public Health Management Analyst

Many graduates go on to pursue additional professional or academic training with careers including: 

  • Physician, Dentist, Nurse, PA, OT, PT, or other healthcare provider
  • Epidemiologist
  • Health Promotion Program Manager
  • Health Policy Advocate
  • Program Evaluation Consultant

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