Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is public health?

Public health is the science of preventing disease and promoting health within populations through organized efforts. Public health professionals work to keep the communities where we live, work, and play safe and healthy. A physician treats sick patients one at a time, whereas public health professionals work to prevent people from getting sick in the first place. In public health, we study how the rates of disease vary across different populations and propose largescale solutions for solving health-related problems. The field of public health is interdisciplinary by nature, and that is reflected in Miami University's public health major.

What is the difference between public health professionals and clinical healthcare professionals?

Public health professionals examine health problems from a population perspective, whereas clinical healthcare professionals focus on treating individual patients one at a time.

Let's say you have asthma. You go to a clinical healthcare provider (e.g., physician, nurse practitioner) who listens to your unique symptoms, orders necessary lab work, and prescribes you with medication to treat your asthma. In contrast, a public health professional examines a whole community and figures out what community members have the highest rates of asthma and why. A public health professional works to reduce exposures and develops policies and programs to prevent new cases of asthma from developing. Public health professionals also work to ensure that people with asthma have access to good clinical healthcare. Both public health and clinical healthcare professionals work to promote health — but do so in different ways.

What will I learn as a public health major?

All public health majors at Miami University complete a core set of public health foundational courses. Students then complete additional coursework in one of the following specialized public health concentrations: Human Disease & Epidemiology, Health Policy & Administration, or Public Health Promotion.

Human Disease & Epidemiology: Utilizes basic concepts in biology and focuses on the factors that cause illness and promote health in human populations. This concentration explores differences in health across time and population subgroups, as well the reasons for those differences.

Health Policy & Administration: Focuses on the critical policy and programmatic issues in public health. The emphasis of this concentration is to examine how public policy impacts the public health delivery system and how administrators work to develop and implement programs in the field of public health.

Public Health Promotion: Examines the principles and practices of health promotion to address current and emerging public health problems. The focus of the concentration is on the development of public health education prevention strategies across the lifespan.

Students are encouraged to select a concentration area that most fits their interests and future career/post-graduation goals. If you are interested in public health, but are not sure what concentration is right for you — contact to set up an appointment.

What is unique about Miami's public health major?

Compared to many other universities, Miami's public health major is unique in that it is housed across two colleges — reflecting the inherent interdisciplinary nature of public health. Those with a concentration in Human Disease & Epidemiology or Health Policy & Administration will complete the requirements of the College of Arts and Science and will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health. Those with a concentration in Public Health Promotion will complete the degree requirements of the College of Education, Health and Society and will earn a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health. All public health majors, regardless of concentration area, will complete a core set of courses designed to provide students with a solid foundation in public health.

What opportunities will I have as a public health major?

As a public health major, your opportunities are limitless. Faculty and staff work to ensure that you are prepared for your next step — be it the workforce, graduate school, or something else such as the Peace Corps. You will be able to attend seminars and career fairs, do research, engage with the community and complete public health internships.

What can I do with a public health major after I graduate?

Miami's public health major is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field of public health or for graduate/professional school.

After graduation, students will often enter a Master of Public Health (MPH) program, where they obtain a set of highly specialized competencies that prepares them for program management and supervisory roles within the public health field.

The public health major is broad and cuts across several disciplines, which helps to prepare students for a range of professional degree programs such as medical, dental, pharmacy or law school. If pursuing a professional degree program, public health majors should ensure that they complete the necessary prerequisites for entry into their intended professional degree program.

Students who seek a career in research may wish to apply to public health MS/PhD graduate programs.

What kind of jobs can I get as a public health major after graduation?

As a public health major, you will be qualified to work in a variety of entry-level positions across several settings — government, non-profit or private industry.

Examples of entry-level public health work include: data collection and analysis, fieldwork, program planning, outreach, communications, customer service and program support.

Possible public health entry-level job titles include:

  • Community education specialist
  • Health data analyst
  • Health policy analyst
  • Research assistant or research coordinator
  • Prevention specialist
  • Program coordinator or consultant
  • Health promotion and education specialist

Interning with an organization is one of the best ways to better understand your career interests. If you are thinking about entering the workforce after graduation, we encourage you to use the resources offered by the Center for Career Exploration and Success such as job fairs, resume development and mock interviews.

How can I improve my resume?

Future employers and graduate/professional schools like to see that you have experience in public health research or public health practice. Some ways to enhance your resume include:

  • Joining public health professional organizations (e.g., APHA, SOPHE) to expand your network
  • Staying up-to-date on news and policies that impact health and healthcare
  • Getting involved in student government or campus organizations related to health issues
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Doing research with a faculty member
  • Practicing your communication skills
  • Completing one or more internships to gain real-world work experience

Miami University's Center for Career Exploration and Success can help you develop a professional cover letter and resume.

What are common minors that Public Health majors add to their degree program?

Minors are a nice way to explore areas that are of interest to you, while not needing to fulfill all of the requirements of a second major. There are several minors that can be a nice fit for public health majors. Examples of common minors for public health students include: Data Analytics, Community-based Leadership, General Business, Global Health, Gerontology, Nutrition, and Social Justice and Inequalities. Explore the complete list of minors that Miami has to offer!

How do I begin looking for an internship?

Internships are a great way to obtain experience in the field of public health. Some students complete internships and earn course credit, while others do not. Some internships are paid and others are unpaid. Some students do internships locally, while others obtain internship experience in their hometown area or even nationally/globally. Some public health majors may choose not to do an internship at all and focus on other interests such as research. Choosing an internship site should be based on personal goals that you wish to obtain from the experience.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many companies have stopped taking interns or have limited the number of interns per semester. Visit the Career Services and Professional Development website to learn more about internships.  

Where can I get involved in research?

Oftentimes the best way to get involved in research is to ask your professors if they are doing research that you could get involved with or ask your academic advisor if they are aware of any research opportunities on-campus. Obtaining research experience is especially important for students who wish to pursue doctoral programs in graduate school.  Learn more about undergraduate research here