College of Science and Mathematics
Public health is concerned with promoting and protecting the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. The field works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and determine why some people are more likely than others to experience poor health.
Coursework in public health includes community health, epidemiology, global health, health behavior, obesity prevention and treatment, stress and chronic disease. The program offers opportunities for hands-on application through research, field experience and community-oriented outreach activities to promote health. The program also qualifies you for the national Certified Health Education Specialists exam. Opportunities for independent research under faculty guidance are also available, including a requirement for a senior project or internship.
You will have hands-on opportunities to work with state-of-the-art equipment in our labs. Examples include:
- Behavioral Epidemiology
- Health Promotion Program Planning
- Media and Technology in Health Promotion
- Obesity Prevention and Treatment
- Research in Public Health Settings
- Stress, Health and Chronic Illness
In addition, a wide variety of undergraduate research opportunities in faculty labs are available outside of coursework or for credit.
Community and Public Health
This concentration will prepare you for careers with public health departments, non-profit health agencies, insurance providers, hospitals, and clinical and research settings. It also provides the necessary foundation for the Masters in Public Health. If you are considering a graduate program in an allied health profession (e.g., nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant, etc.) or medicine, additional coursework is required.
Culture and Society in Health
This concentration provides a strong foundation in the social determinants of health. It also provides the necessary foundation for the Masters in Public Health. If you are considering a graduate program in an allied health profession (e.g., nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant, etc.) or medicine, additional coursework is required.
Physical Activity in Public Health
This concentration prepares you to work with organizations that promote physical activity and improve health, including public health agencies, non-profit health agencies and corporate and commercial fitness settings. It is also a good preparation for a public health specialist certification and a variety of master’s degrees.
Worksite and University Health Promotion
This concentration prepares you for careers in health promotion or as a wellness specialist in various public/private worksites, college/university settings, non-profit health agencies, health insurance providers or for graduate study in a number of master’s programs.
About the Program
A degree in public health gives you the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to work to improve and promote health and prevent disease in your community. You will learn to promote healthy lifestyles; research disease and injury prevention; detect, prevent and respond to infectious diseases and more.
There are many opportunities for hands-on application of knowledge in classes, field experience and research projects. It also requires you to participate in community-oriented outreach activities to promote health. The program also prepares you to meet the professional practices standards developed by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing so you can qualify for the certification exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist.
Learn by Doing
There are a wide variety of opportunities within health promotion and education. You will work with children, seniors or fellow Cal Poly students, learning valuable skills — such as taking accurate body mass and body composition measurements — while encouraging healthy lifestyles. From promoting health and preventing obesity within families, to understanding the health implications of too little exercise, you will be able to engage in real-world activities around California that will impact your knowledge and expertise.
A degree in public health will prepare you for careers in local, state and federal public health departments, non-profit health agencies, hospitals and clinical and research settings. Graduates may also work for health insurance providers or pursue a number of different master’s degrees.