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Public Health Professional

Public Health Professional


What do Public Health Professionals Do?

Public health professionals work in the areas of health education and outreach, safety, environment, epidemiology, administration, and health care policy.  Some are health care providers such as nurses, pharmacists, or physicians who have a public health component as part or all of their appointment.  Others have a stand alone degree at the Master or Doctoral level in public health (MPH, DPH, or PhD) following the Bachelor degree. They may work at an academic hospital, state Department of Public Health, nationally with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Health and Human Services, or at an international level with organizations such as the World Health Organization or with an NGO (non-governmental organization) providing relief.

What training is required to become a Public Health Professional?

The most common degree among public health workers is the Master of Public Health.  It can generally be earned in two years or less following the Bachelor degree or as a one-year component of a combined MD/MPH program.  See Physician Scientist. Training will include coursework in biostatistics, epidemiology, health care policies, and behavioral sciences. Others pursue a PhD in Biostatistics, Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, or Environmental Sciences before entering the field of public health.

How do I best prepare for entrance into a graduate program in Public Health?

The Genetics major requirements will give you a strong foundation in the life sciences but making intentional choices from the lists of required electives can provide you with some additional background. You should plan to take STAT 301 (Intermediate Statistical Concepts and Methods) either to meet the degree requirements for Math and Statistics or as an advanced science elective. (Consider a minor in Statistics.) If you are interested in epidemiology/infectious diseases some other relevant courses among advanced science electives are MICRO 310 (Medical Microbiology), MICRO 374 (Insects and Our Health), and MICRO 428 (Principles of Epidemiology and Population Health).  Relevant social sciences include PSYCH 280 (Social Psychology), POL S 335 (Science, Technology, and Public Policy), and SOC 134 (Introduction to Sociology). ANTHR 220 (Globalization and Sustainability) is also a social science for LAS students and meets the university requirement for international perspectives.

Among Arts and Humanities choices consider PHIL 331 (Moral Problems in Medicine) or PHIL 334 (Environmental Ethics). FS HN 430 (U.S. Health Systems and Policy) is not on the college lists and requires senior classification but would be very relevant.

A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required by most MPH programs; the GRE is also required by some.



Umnia Mahgoub

Education:  BS, Genetics, BA, WLC French, ISU, 2018; MPH program, Emory University

My time as an undergraduate in the Genetics department served as excellent preparation for my professional career. I gained knowledge and skills that proved to be a solid foundation for my pursuit of a Master of Public Health. I currently attend Emory University where I study global epidemiology and have interests in infectious disease and outbreak response. Thanks to the Genetics program at ISU, I gained a strong background in biological sciences and technical/research skills. I get to use these skills each and every day in my coursework as well as my position as a graduate research assistant at the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As an undergraduate, my dream was to work at the CDC.  I truly believe the Genetics program set me up to reach my goal. I am very fond of my time at ISU, and am proud to be an alumna of the Genetics program!