Public Health

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Health degree programs equip students with the knowledge to face pressing health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases, food and water safety, sanitation. and environmental issues.

Professor teaching to a class of students

Simmons University is nationally recognized for providing public health students with the conceptual and empirical foundation for analyzing the interplay between science, society, and health. Throughout the degree experience, Public Health students will find a unique niche in the field that best matches their interests, skills, and passion for making an impact—setting them up for a rewarding career.

Public Health Bachelor Degree Structure Options

All undergraduate Public Health students complete the same 12 core courses spread across the four years to establish a strong foundation in fundamental and emerging topics in the field, including psychology, human development, health communications, microbiology, global health, environmental science, and epidemiology.

Once the core coursework is complete, Public Health students work with their academic advisor to select their remaining three courses, which determine their bachelor’s degree path.

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Public Health degree path focuses more on social sciences, socio-economic factors, and human behavior. BA in Public Health students have the opportunity to dive deeper into concepts such as ethics, social analysis, social research, sociology, race, gender, and social change.

Differing slightly, the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Health courses are more clinical-focused, exploring the intersection of public health and the natural sciences. Topics for the BS in Public Health degree path include exercise and health, genetics, ecology, pathogenesis, and microbiology.

Both Public Health bachelor’s degree paths culminate in a capstone requirement of either an internship or research experience, providing students with a rewarding, hands-on learning experience to deepen their in-classroom knowledge. Learn more about the specific BS and BA course options in our Program Requirements below.

In addition to the BA and BS in Public health degree programs, students can also add a public health minor to science, pre-med, or health profession studies for a broadened perspective of the reach of their field.

Why study Public Health?

The field of Public Health is one that touches many aspects of people’s lives. The work done in this field reflects the tireless efforts of its practitioners to continuously strive for improvement and innovation that can solve pressing health challenges facing the world.

Students in the BS and BA in Public Health programs learn how to interpret public health data, frame a public health issue or risk, review and apply industry literature, and present findings on approaches to the issue. The interdisciplinary coursework covers emerging research, trends, and solutions that can act as long-term prevention of an issue on a widespread scale—like the eradication of disease.

Through the curriculum and hands-on learning, students are shaped into confident, skilled advocates capable of influencing a healthier, more educated public.

Engaging Hands-on Learning in Boston

Studying Public Health at Simmons University provides access to Boston’s world-class, vibrant medical community. There are many prestigious teaching hospitals and research labs within walking distance of the Simmons campus. Students will enrich their academic experience by attending talks, pursuing research and internships, and interacting directly with leading experts in public health research and policy through guest lectures.

Internship and research opportunities are an essential element of the Public Health degree, enhancing the in-classroom experience for deeper understanding of course concepts. They allow students to explore specialized interests, build career-ready skills, and establish strong connections with dedicated mentors in the field. Simmons Public Health undergraduate students have interned in prominent locations such as the Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Children’s Hospital.

What can you do with a Public Health bachelor’s degree?

There is a rising demand for public health professionals due to increased global concerns regarding health inequities, infectious and chronic disease epidemiology, food and water safety, sanitation, and environmental health issues.

With this demand, graduates of the BS and BA in Public Health degree programs are making a difference every day. The interdisciplinary curriculum sets the stage for students to have the flexibility to carve out a specialization in public health that best matches their interests and goals. As a result, Simmons Public Health graduates are entering into the workforce in a wide range of in-demand roles such as emergency management specialists, health educators, epidemiologists, community health workers, researchers, and public health communicators—all seeking to identify and solve important issues in public health.

In addition to beginning a career, the BS and BA in Public Health programs also prepare students to continue their education and increase specialization through an advanced degree program like Simmons’ online Master of Public Health (MPH) or Bachelor’s in Public Health + MS in Nutrition and Health Promotion 4+1 degree.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in applying to the undergraduate Public Health degree program must submit the following items to be considered for undergraduate admission:

  • Completed Application
  • High School Transcript
  • SAT or ACT Test Scores
  • TOEFL Scores (required if English is not your first language)
  • College Essay College Transcript (if applicable)
  • Two Letters of Recommendation (one teacher, one counselor)

Learn more about Simmons University’s first-year undergraduate application process, including deadlines and what we look for in an applicant.

Face the World’s Public Health Challenges Head-On

The Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Public Health degrees at Simmons University prepares you for vital roles that serve local, national, and global communities, helping them to face current and emerging public health challenges. Interested in learning more? Request information or start your application today!

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 (va[email protected]) 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.

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