Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS) launched a new undergraduate public health major, just in time, as the world continues to battle a global pandemic and students who wish to make a difference are drawn to health care careers.  

The public health major is part of an interprofessional health professions college. Students learn alongside peers who are pursuing a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical healthcare careers. This gives students the experience and skills necessary to collaborate in teams with the goal of improving the health of patients, communities, and populations. 

Students pursuing the public health major complete courses that promote and support individual and community health and well-being. They will develop the critical thinking and analytic skills necessary to address topics such as access to health care, health promotion, disease prevention, health disparities, health economics, health policy, and others. All students will also complete an internship along with a research project related to their career goals during the final year of the program. 

The students also have the option to earn a concentration in global and comparative public health and/or a minor in a foreign language, business, entrepreneurship, or leadership. The CPHS is currently developing dual degree options for this major with other programs in the College. 

Renae Chesnut, dean and professor, said the school is excited to add this latest undergraduate major offering to the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree

“Offering the public health major is critically important as there is a greater need now for public health professionals to keep our communities safe,” Chesnut said. “Public health professionals are an important part of health care teams and this new major will be a springboard for students to many different career opportunities.” 

Graduates can continue their education or join the work force in public, private, non-profit, or academic settings. Graduates can work at local or state health departments and for health care entities, as well as internationally in developing countries. Careers also include epidemiologists, medical doctors, health educators, and public health officials.  

“The pandemic has increased the visibility for the need for public health professionals, and it is likely that we’re going to see an influx of opportunities for students who pursue this major,” said Cassity Gutierrez, chair and associate professor. “Students now have an idea of how this type of education can translate into careers within health care and beyond.” 

The new major is one of three options within the Bachelor of Sciences in Health Sciences degree, which also offers tracks in health care administration and clinical and applied sciences. Learn more about the new offering here.