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Washington Semester Program - Public Health Policy

Washington Semester Program Public Health

Public Health is the newest specialized program of study in the Washington Semester Program Designed to complement majors in natural and social sciences, including environmental science, community health, and metropolitan studies, this concentration of study combines comparative public health, bioethics and related electives with experiential learning.

Students in the Public Health track of the Washington Semester Program (WSP) will tap into the wealth of resources offered in the Washington DC metropolitan area that shape the public health landscape. Classroom learning is augmented through site visits, meetings with practitioners and experts, and practical experience. WSP Public Health students will learn from and work with policy makers, regulatory agencies, public and private research organizations, community-based health services, private sector companies and science-focused media.  

The Public Health track features 2-day internships (4 credits), two required seminars (Public Health in Washington and Bioethics), and an elective determined by the student’s background in Public Health (Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics or others based on availability).* 

The Public Health Seminar will take a comparative approach (comparing the US model to that of other nations) for topics such as access to health care, urban health challenges, infectious diseases, and other public health topics. The Seminar will feature sessions with policy makers and site visits.

The Bioethics Seminar will focus on contemporary topics in bioethics—stem cell research, organ transplant allocation, euthanasia, and others. Students will study the philosophical and legal questions in bioethics debates.

Internship opportunities in public health may include: AIDS Alliance, Children’s Medical Center, Centronia, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Peace Corps, Population Services International, Sabin Vaccine Institute, World Vision, among others.

*Core seminars are open to all interested students (there are no prerequisites for Public Health in Washington and Bioethics); for elective offerings at American University, students must meet the posted prerequisites.



of Americans have chronic health conditions.


billion people (half of the world's population) are at risk of malaria.



of Americans see cigarette smoking as a serious public health problem.