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Radiological Health Sciences

Purdue University in West Lafayette

If you are interested in studying the intersection of engineering, physics, and health care, Radiological Health Sciences is the perfect fit.

This major is dedicated to advancing the biomedical, health and scientific uses of radiation while protecting individuals, communities, and the environment from its harmful effects. This major applies radiation to medicine to ensure the safe use and maintenance of equipment that diagnoses and treats disease.

Students within this major have the opportunity to complete excellent internships within industry and health care facilities. The School of Health Sciences also has a 3T MRI machine located on campus where undergraduate students can engage in medical imaging research.

Graduates in Radiological Health Sciences (RADH) develop and apply scientific and engineering practices for the effective and safe use of radiation. RADH coursework includes a strong foundation in STEM including a physics minor and the opportunity to supplement Radiation Health Science courses with Nuclear Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences courses. Internships are strongly encouraged and opportunities are available in industry (measurement and instrumentation and nuclear energy), research (safety of radionucladies/radiopharmacy), medicine (therapeutics and diagnostics), and government.

School of Health Sciences Honors Program
Students admitted to Radiological Health Sciences may have the opportunity to participate in the School of Health and Sciences Honors Program, a program that promotes and supports honors research for high-achieving students. 

Health Physics Concentration

Radiation Protection or “Health Physics” is the profession dedicated to the protection of humans and their environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation while providing for its beneficial uses. Health physics is a profession involving many disciplines. It has common scientific interests with many areas of specialization: physics, biology, biophysics, engineering (nuclear, civil, mechanical, and electrical), chemistry, genetics, ecology, environmental sciences, metallurgy, meteorology, hydrology, medicine, physiology, toxicology, and industrial hygiene. The wide spectrum of knowledge required of the health physicist makes this profession both challenging and rewarding.

Radiation protection professionals are found in a variety of organizations and environments. For example, a radiation safety officer within an organization is responsible for the safe use of radiation and radioactive materials as well as regulatory compliance. A trained health physicist evaluates the radiation environment using instruments and calculations and works with regulatory authorities to ensure compliance with radiation exposure standards. Health physicists are not to be confused with radiation or radiological technologists, which are medical personnel who perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments. Radiation technologists pursue a two-year associate's degree or a four-year bachelor's degree.

Pre-Medical Physics Concentration

Medical Physics is the branch of physics or biophysics that is associated with the application of radiation physics in medicine at a clinic, hospital, private practice, or university. It includes the fields of diagnostic imaging physics, nuclear medicine physics, radiation therapy physics, and medical health physics. Practicing medical physicists must have a graduate degree from an accredited program. Purdue’s graduate program is CAMPEP-accredited and offers an accelerated five-year (4+1) M.S. degree in Medical Physics. The graduate program has had excellent success in placing graduates into well-paying jobs and residencies.

Medical Physicists are key members of Radiology and Radiation Oncology departments that also include radiologic technologists, radiation therapists, and dosimetrists. Our students gain insight into the physics behind diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy that uniquely prepares them for medical school, particularly to become a radiologist or radiation oncologist. Medical physicists are not to be confused with radiation or radiological technologists and radiation therapists, which are medical personnel who perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments. Radiation technologists pursue a two-year associate's degree or a four-year bachelor's degree.

Undergraduate students in Pre-medical Physics have the possibility to complete an accelerated 5-year (4+1) M.S. degree in Medical Physics through the School of Health Sciences. During the M.S. degree, students must choose a track in either diagnostic (imaging) radiological physics or therapeutic radiological physics. Both of these options are professional degrees that traditionally take 6.5 years to complete and both options lead to excellent health care careers.

Plan of Study

Radiological Health Sciences Webpage

Transfer to Radiological Health Sciences

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: 3.0

Also: Any combination of at least two courses equivalent to the following Purdue courses — CHM 11500, CHM 11600, BIOL 11000, BIOL 11100, MA 16010 or MA 16500, or a calculus-based physics course, with a minimum grade of C in each course.

Contact Information

HHS Undergraduate Student Services
(765) 494-8533

College of Health and Human Sciences

Careers in Radiological Health Sciences

  • Health Physics (Radiation Protection)

    The employment rate for graduates is constantly at, or near, 100% and individuals with a bachelor's degree have a median starting salary of $85,000 (salary.com).).

    This program trains students to work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nuclear power plants, consulting firms, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing companies, regulatory organizations like the CDC and USNRC, national research laboratories, state government, medical & public health research, academic institutions, sales, and even management positions.

    Beyond undergrad, our graduates have almost limitless possibilities for future growth such as specialization, graduate school for an MBA, MS, PhD, and work leading to professional certification. 

  • Pre-Medical Physics

    With a focus in medical physics, individuals are prepared to utilize advanced imaging to detect and treat cancer and other diseases.

    This program trains students to work in a variety of settings including hospitals and medical centers, clinics, universities and colleges, national research laboratories, government agencies (state and federal) and regulatory organizations (e.g., NRC), consulting firms, pharmaceutical companies, technology and medical industries, national laboratories, medical & public health research, and management and administrative positions.

    The employment rate for graduates is constantly at, or near, 100% and those interested in pursuing post-graduate degrees are highly competitive nationally and internationally. The starting salary for an individual with a master’s degree and residency in medical physics is $159,500 (2021 AAPM Professional Survey).

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