The 2022 Guide to Online Bachelor of Public Health Programs

Online bachelor’s in public health programs aim to help prepare you to have a positive effect on the health and well-being of your community. Learn more about what it takes to major in public health, including what you’ll study, the importance of accreditation and common requirements for entering this rewarding field. 

What Is a Bachelor of Public Health?

Public health is a broad field that focuses on promoting wellness, encouraging healthy behaviors, conducting research to better understand health-related problems and facilitating health education and outreach programs. 

Depending on your degree and area of focus, you might apply your public health education in many different settings. For example, after majoring in public health you may work as a health educator, a community health worker or an environmental science and protection technician. This includes professionals who inspect public places to ensure that there are no environmental or health hazards. 

A public health degree differs from administrative and clinical degrees, such as health administration and nursing, in a number of ways. Instead of being connected to individual patient outcomes or how a single organization operates, public health looks at the larger picture. This includes assessing the needs of the community, working to improve health services, collecting data and researching issues that affect the community. 

Depending on the nature of your role, you may also be involved in health education and overall community wellness support. Additionally, public health work does not provide direct health services.

Can You Earn a Bachelor’s in Public Health Online?

Online education provides busy adults and working professionals convenient access to higher education. The flexibility of an online program may allow people to obtain an education to help advance or change careers without being limited by location. 

Online programs may offer the same quality of education as an on-campus program but with a different student experience. Online students can access instructors through technology like Zoom and webcams combined with reliable internet service. 

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health, Accredited Programs

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of accreditation is to help ensure that the education provided by an institution meets an acceptable level of quality. That makes college accreditation an important consideration when weighing online and in-person options. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is a good place to look for accredited bachelor’s in public health programs. You can find online, in-person and hybrid CEPH-accredited schools and programs.

Online Public Health Degree Transfer Credits

The ability to transfer college credits between institutions can be a complicated subject. Generally, postsecondary institutions are responsible for deciding if they will accept credits earned at other institutions. This means that some bachelor’s programs will accept transfer credits and associate degrees earned elsewhere. Always check with the institution you’re interested in attending to learn about their transfer policies.

Bachelor’s in Public Health Online Program Admission Requirements

Online bachelor’s degree admission requirements can vary greatly depending on the institution and the type of program. For instance, a bachelor’s degree program may have different admission requirements than a master’s program. Additionally, some individual programs within an institution may have their own set of admission requirements. For this reason, it is important to check with the institution you want to attend for specific admission requirements.

In general, you will typically need to supply the following: 

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Official college transcripts (if applicable)
  • Completed university or program application 

Some institutions may require you to submit a personal essay and a written recommendation. It is also possible that you may have to pass some type of entrance exam or standardized test. 

Bachelor of Public Health Degree, No SAT Requirement

There was a time when the SAT or ACT was typically required for first-time college students, but things are changing. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions dropped their testing requirements. Now, it is reported that at least 1,400 four-year colleges will have no SAT required fall 2022. Online programs also forego SAT or other standardized test scores along with their on-campus counterparts. 

Online Bachelor’s in Public Health Program Curriculum

As a public health major, you will likely study a broad range of subjects aimed at giving you a well-rounded understanding of important health topics. The exact course requirements will vary based on your program of study, institution and if you have an area of emphasis, such as environmental and occupational health. 

Some of the courses you may take include the following subjects:

  • Epidemiology 
  • Statistics 
  • Health education and health promotion 
  • Health systems theory
  • Public policy and management
  • Business and/or technical writing

Additionally, as a public health major you may find it helpful to have an in-depth understanding of the healthcare system. This includes a historical perspective on healthcare, the various ideologies about how to solve existing problems and the role of public policy on health. It is also likely that you’ll explore global health issues, health disparity and minority health issues. 

Those starting their public health degree program without any existing credits may also need to take basic classes such as math, English and biology as well as other foundational courses.

Prerequisites for a Bachelor’s in Public Health

Generally you only need to successfully fulfill the school’s admission requirements in order to enter a bachelor’s degree program. This means that there may be no specific public health degree prerequisites beyond general entry into the institution of your choosing. 

Some programs, however, do have specific requirements above and separate from what is needed to be accepted to the school itself. For this reason, it is important that you carefully look at the program’s admission information.

Online Bachelor’s in Public Health FAQ

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in public health, you probably have some questions about things like job outlook, salary potential and related career paths. You’ll find answers to these and more in the following frequently asked questions about earning an online bachelor’s in public health.

Is public health a good major?

What makes something a good major is subjective, but if you are community minded and interested in improving the lives of others, you may find working in public health fulfilling. It’s also a good foundation if you want to pursue a graduate degree, such as a master’s in public health. Among other degrees, there appears to be demand for various jobs related to holding a bachelor’s degree in public health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for health education specialists and community health workers is positioned to grow about 17% from 2020 to 2030.

What is the difference between public health and community health?

not individuals. The way public health professionals achieve this varies but could include promoting healthy behaviors, injury prevention, and researching and responding to infectious disease situations.

Community health, on the other hand, does not look specifically at the diseases that negatively affect the health of populations but instead focuses on how outside factors affect overall health.

How much can you make with a bachelor’s in public health?

Public health degree salaries vary based on several factors, including where you work and your area of focus. According to the BLS, the median salary for environmental science and protection technicians was $47,370 per year in 2021. Health education specialists and community health workers had a median salary of $48,860 per year. Your level of education may also affect your salary. According to the BLS, epidemiologists earned a median salary of $78,830 in 2021. A master’s in public health is typically required to become an epidemiologist. 

What are some alternative careers for public health majors?

A public health major can open the door to other roles based on your passions and goals. For example, if you love technology and statistics, you may want to go into health informatics. If you like the idea of working for a non-profit organization or the government, you may be interested in public administration or health administration careers. And if you’re interested in direct patient care, there is always nursing. Just keep in mind that you may need to earn a higher degree to enter certain fields. 

Find the Best Bachelor’s in Public Health Online Program for You

There are many online public health degree programs available, but your particular goals will be unique to you. This means there is no single best degree choice—only options that fit your life and career goals. 

To sort through your options, you should look for something that matches your career aspirations and includes areas of emphasis that you’re passionate about. You may want to compare factors such as admission requirements, the flexibility of the program and the expected time to completion. These factors and more can help you decide if a degree in public health is right for you. 

Last updated April 2022