Public Health Programs for Undergraduates

Public Health student with group of children

Maintaining and improving public health is one of the great mandates of our time, both in the US and abroad. Aging populations, global pandemics, increasing environmental degradation, and a rise in childhood obesity are just some of the many challenges to which the field directly responds. The Public Health Program shows American University's commitment to developing and strengthening public health education, research, and practice. 

The mission of the Public Health Program is to prepare students to pursue professional endeavors, informed by a social justice approach, dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood or as large as an entire country or region of the world. 

The Program mission flows directly from the mission of the Department of Health studies, which is “to educate and empower future leaders in the health professions to improve the health status and well-being of individuals, communities, organizations, and societies. We achieve this mission through innovative education, transformational research, creative partnerships, and policy change advocacy.”

Degrees offered are a BA in public health, a BS in public health, the minor in public health, and an accelerated 3-year Public Health Scholars program.

Public health is a highly interdisciplinary field and the public health degrees include courses from all schools and colleges at AU. More than 70 faculty members across campus currently conduct research and/or teach courses related to health.

At the heart of the public health BA, BS, and minor are sets of core courses that ensure that students gain both foundational knowledge and practical skills in the field of public health. Through their electives, students then learn about health issues from the perspective of several disciplines. The electives are set up into four clusters:

  • Global Health
  • Health Science
  • Social and Community Health
  • Policy, Program Planning, and Evaluation

The electives allow students to focus on a specific area of interest.

AU's Washington location gives unparalleled access to internships at numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in public health at the local, national, and international levels. Learning will occur both inside and outside the classroom, thanks to student placements in high quality internships and study abroad experiences.

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