Public Health

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.

Professor teaching to a class of students

Solve the world's biggest problems

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.

The minor consists of the following five courses:

PH 101 Introduction to Public Health 4
BIOL 104 Introduction to Environmental Science 4
PH 201 Introduction to Epidemiology 4
SOCI 241 Health, Illness & Society 4
SOCI 245 Global Health 4
SOCI 345 Health Systems & Policy 4

Majors will complete twelve core courses and a capstone requirement spread out across their four years. Students have the choice of earning a BA or a BS, depending on which option they complete in addition to the core required courses.

The suggested sequence for core courses is:

First Year

PH 101Introduction to Public Health4
BIOL 113General Biology4
SOCI 241Health, Illness & Society4
CHEM 109Chemistry and Society: General, Organic, and Biochemistry for Public Health4

Sophomore Year

BIOL 104Introduction to Environmental Science4
MATH 118Introductory Statistics4
MATH 227Intermediate Statistics: Design & Analysis4
BIOL 221Microbiology4
SOCI 245Global Health4

Junior Year

PH 345Health Systems & Policy4
PH 201Introduction to Epidemiology4
COMM 312Health Communications4

Senior Year

PH 347Public Health Seminar4
 Independent Learning* 

Capstone Requirement

Public Health Seniors will complete their capstone requirement by taking the Public Health Senior Seminar (PH 347), plus undertaking a senior internship or research experience over one or two semesters (totaling 180-200 hours) and submitting an internship paper and journal, a research paper, or a research thesis as the final product of their senior capstone experience.

In addition to the Public Health Senior Seminar (4 credits) students, will pursue one of the following courses for 4 or 8 credits, depending on whether they are undertaking an internship, research experience, or thesis work.

For students doing Internships (4 credits)

PH 370Internship4

For students doing independent research (4 credits)

PH 350Independent Research4

For Thesis (8 credits)

PH 350 (first semester)Independent research4
PH 355 (second semester)Thesis4

All students are required to submit a final paper or thesis and make an oral presentation of their work at an approved internal or external symposium.

Arrangements for satisfying the independent learning requirement must be made with the student’s public health advisor before the end of the junior year.

In addition to completing the 12 core courses and fulfilling the capstone requirement, students will take an additional 3 courses for the major. Completion of these courses determines whether the student receives a BS or BA degree in Public Health.

Bachelor of Science (BS) option:

Required Courses

BIOL 246Foundations fo Exercise and Health4
BIOL 347Human Development and Genetics4

Students must choose one additional course from the BS electives list:

BIOL 245Principles of Ecology4
BIOL 338Microbial Pathogenesis4
BIOL 341Microbiology of Food, Water, and Waste4
CHEM 327Energy and Global Warming4
CS 224Data Visualization 4
HON 303HIV/Aids Intersections of Science and Society4
IT 225Health Informatics4
MGMT 234Organizational Communication and Behavior4
MATH 227Intermediate Statistics: Design & Analytics4
MATH 229Regression Models4
NUTR 110Sociocultural Implications of Nutrition4
PHIL 131Biomedical Ethics4
POLYS 217American Public Policy4
PSYC 232Health Psychology4

Bachelor of Arts (BA) option:

Required Courses

SOCI 239Introduction to Social Research I4

Students must choose two additional courses from the BA electives list:

AST 232/SOCI 232/WGST 232Race, Gender & Health4
CS 244Data Visualization4
HON 303HIV/AIDS Intersections of Science and Society4
IT 225Health Informatics4
MATH 227Intermediate Statistics: Design & Analytics4
MATH 229Regression Models4
MGMT 234Organizational Communication and Behavior4
PHIL 131Biomedical Ethics4
POLS 217American Public Policy4
PSYC 232Health Psychology4
SOCI 220Working for Social Justice4
SOCI 222Organizing for Social Change4
SOCI 210Body Politics4
SOCI 275Birth and Death4
SOCI 285Drugs and Society4
SOCI 321Sociology of Food4
SOCI 339Community Research 4
AST 365Intimate Family Violence 4


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. 

Simmons students pursuing a BA or BS in Public Health can apply to simultaneously complete coursework toward their MPH. The combined degree program decreases the total number of credits needed to earn two degrees, providing an opportunity to jumpstart your career as a public health professional. Interested students should contact Prof. Val Leiter ( to discuss this option.

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 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. 

So you know that Simmons is a great place to be, you've learned about our programs, maybe even come for a you're ready to apply! Let's get started.

Offered As
  • Major
  • Minor
Apply NowVisitRequest Info

Our Faculty