There is no specific undergraduate major that is preferred and public health students come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Your choice of major may depend on what area of public health you want to pursue. For example, if you are interested in epidemiology or biostatistics, then a major in mathematics or basic science would be ideal. For health education or behavioral sciences, consider majoring in sociology, anthropology, or psychology. Biology or chemistry majors might e helpful if you want to pursue environmental health. If you like working with animals, you might want to combine veterinary studies with a public health degree.
Requirements will vary greatly depending upon the degree sought and the school selected. For example, just within one school, The Ohio State University, there are 7 specializations, 4 graduate degree programs, and 5 divisions. Each degree and specialization has different recommendations for preparation and have different entrance exam requirements minimum score requirements. The GRE is typically required, but depending on the specialty, they may require other exams or may accept other exams such as the MCAT in lieu of the GRE.
Things you can do:
- take advantage of opportunities to improve in verbal and written communication
- become a well-rounded student
- get involved in public health-related research or community based projects
- work at a hospital or health clinic, such as working on an immunization program, a reproductive health clinic or a health promotion program
- volunteer with an organization like the American Red Cross
- volunteer or work for a local health department
Most schools of public health require that you apply using The Schools of Public Health Application Service which provides a list of schools. Processing begins in early September. Applicants will typically need a minimum of three individual references, but they can request up to five. Each school has its own policy regarding letters of recommendation, so it is important to check with each schools and follow their instructions.