Infectious and chronic diseases, food and water safety, sanitation and environmental health issues — these are just some of the pressing challenges facing our world today. You can be part of the solution.

Our nationally recognized public health program gives students the conceptual foundations and empirical bases for analyzing the interplay between science, society and health, and prepares students for rewarding careers. Students can focus on social analysis or biological sciences, but share a common core curriculum. Or, you can add a public health minor to your science, pre-med or health profession studies to broaden your perspective.

Boston is home to a vibrant medical community. There are many world-class teaching hospitals and research labs within walking distance of campus. You'll attend talks, pursue research and internship opportunities, and have guest lectures with leading experts in public health research and policy.

Our students are in demand as researchers, community health workers, and health program managers. Join them in making a difference every day.

Program Requirements

Majors will complete a core consisting of nine courses plus five track-specific courses spread out across their four years. The suggested sequence for core courses is:

First Year

  • BIOL 113 General Biology
  • BIOL 104 Introduction to Environmental Science (serves as Chemistry prerequisite for BIOL 221)
  • SOCI 241 Health, Illness and Society
  • CHEM 109 General, Organic, and Biochemistry for Public Health

Sophomore Year

  • BIOL 221 Microbiology — A Human Perspective
  • MATH 118 Introduction to Statistics
    or MATH 227 Biostatistical Design and Analysis
  • NUTR 150 International Nutrition Issues
    or SOCI 245 Global Health

Junior Year

  • SOCI 345 Health Care Systems and Policy
  • BIOL 346 Epidemiology and Infectious Disease

Senior Year

  • PH 347 Seminar in Public Health

Majors select one of two tracks to add to the core:

(A) Biology Track

  • BIOL 246 Foundations of Exercise and Health
  • BIOL 347 Human Development and Genetics

Students must choose two additional courses from the biology list:

Biology Track Electives

  • BIOL 245 Ecology
  • BIOL 338 Microbial Pathogenesis
  • BIOL 341 Microbiology of Food, Water and Waste
  • CHEM 327 Energy and Global Warming
  • HON 303 HIV/AIDS Intersections of Science
  • IDS 228 Service Learning in Nicaragua (TC)
  • IT 225 Health Informatics
  • MGMT 234 Organizational Communication and Behavior
  • MATH 227 Biostatistical Design and Analysis
  • MATH 229 Regression Models
  • NUTR 110 Sociocultural Implications of Nutrition
  • PHIL 131 Biomedical Ethics
  • POLS 217 American Public Policy
  • PSYC 232 Health Psychology

(B) Social Analysis Track

  • NUTR 150 International Nutrition Issues
  • SOCI 239 Introduction to Social Research
  • SOCI 245 Global Health

Students must choose two additional courses from the social analysis list:

Social Analysis Track Electives

  • AST/SOCI/WGST 232 Race, Gender and Health
  • IT 225 Health Informatics
  • MATH 218 Biostatistics
  • MATH 227, Biostatistical Design and Analysis
  • MATH 229, Regression Models
  • MGMT 234 Organizational Communication and Behavior
  • MGMT 321 Managing the Diverse Workforce
  • PHIL 131 Biomedical Ethics
  • POLS 217 American Public Policy
  • PSYC 232 Health Psychology
  • SJ 220 Working for Social Justice
  • SJ 222 Organizing for Social Change
  • SOCI 210 Body Politics
  • SOCI 245 Global Health
  • SOCI 275 Birth and Death
  • SOCI 321 Sociology of Food
  • AST/SOCI/WGST 365 Intimate Family Violence
  • HON 303, HIV/AIDS Intersections of Science

Independent Learning

This all-College independent learning requirement (eight semester hours) will be met through courses in the Biology or Sociology Departments, usually in the senior year. In the Biology Department it will be met through BIOL 350 Independent Laboratory Research or BIOL 370 Internship. In the Sociology Department, it will be met through SOCI 350 Independent Study, SOCI 355 Thesis, or SOCI 370 Internship. Arrangements for satisfying the independent learning requirement must be made with the student's public health advisor before the end of the junior year.

Minor in Public Health

The minor consists of the following five courses:

  • BIOL 104 Introduction to Environmental Science
  • BIOL 346 Epidemiology and Infectious Disease
  • MATH 118 Introduction to Statistics
  • SOCI 241 Health, Illness, and Society
  • SOCI 245 International Health
    or SOCI 345 Health Care Systems and Policy

For further information about the program in Public Health, contact either Professor Valerie Leiter for the Sociology track or Professor Elizabeth Scott for the Biology track. Students planning to attend medical, dental, or veterinary school should contact Bruce Gray as early as possible to be sure to incorporate the courses required for admission to these professional schools.

Minor Requirements

The minor consists of the following five courses:

  • BIOL 104 Introduction to Environmental Science
  • BIOL 346 Epidemiology and Infectious Disease
  • MATH 118 Introduction to Statistics
  • SOCI 241 Health, Illness and Society
  • SOCI 245 International Health or 
  • SOCI 345 Health Care Systems and Policy
Customize Your Program

Your advisor will help you develop a curriculum tailored to your interests and career goals. At Simmons you'll have opportunities to explore double majors and complementary minors to customize your study. Our accelerated degree in Public Health (BS) and Nutrition (MS) lets interested students earn their undergraduate and graduate degree in only 5 years. 

If your future plans include applying to medical, dental or veterinary school make sure to speak with your advisor as soon as possible so you can plan to meet the admission requirements of those professional programs. 

We also offer a minor in public health for students pursuing other majors. 

Internships and Research

Internships and research are essential to public health students. You'll have opportunities to explore your interests, build your skills and develop mentoring relationships with leaders in the field. 

Our students put their knowledge into practice in many ways, including:

  • Studying abroad — from Chile to China to Switzerland — to gain a global perspective on this universally-important major.
  • Interning and studying at places like the Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Children's Hospital. 
  • Partnering with our Communications Department to produce Public Service Announcements about timely health issues. 
Faculty
    Valerie Leiter
    • Valerie Leiter
    • Professor and Interim Chair of Sociology; Co-Director of the Program in Public Health
    • Phone: 617-521-2217
    • Office: C205A
    Donna Cole
    • Donna Cole
    • Assistant Professor
    • Phone: 617-521-2557
    • Office: C205
    Elizabeth Scott
    • Elizabeth Scott
    • Associate Professor of Biology, Co-Director of the Center for Hygiene and Health
    • Phone: 617-521-2664
    • Office: S257
    Shelley White
    • Shelley White
    • Assistant Professor of Sociology and Public Health
    • Phone: 617-521-2088
    • Office: C205D
How to Apply
So you know that Simmons is a great place to be, you've learned about our programs, maybe even come for a visit...now you're ready to apply! Let's get started.