Public Health Major
Public health matters. And there’s good reason to consider this field — and UNI:
- The need. Public health is one of the fastest growing careers in the nation.
- Choice and flexibility. You have two tracks, two minors and five certificates to choose from and can combine areas to broaden your skills, knowledge and employability.
- Experience. You gain hands-on learning through a nine-credit-hour field internship before graduation, with placements locally, across the United States or around the world.
You’ll choose one of two tracks to focus your studies: community health and environmental health sciences. With this degree, you’re on your way to becoming part of the solution as you learn about health promotion, disease prevention and health improvement strategies.
Above average career growth expected over next decade.
One and only
Regents’ university offering the popular school health teaching endorsement for middle or high school teachers.
Interested in Majoring?
Tell us more and we'll send information on how you can succeed with a public health degree from the University of Northern Iowa College of Education.
Contact us directly at:
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0607
Phone: (319) 273-2654
“When first applying I was undecided. After exploring different majors, I soon found public health and it was actually the professors who helped me pursue this major. All the professors in this department have a true passion for this field and are always willing to help you in any way.”
Discover Your Path
Environmental Health Science
Are you an advocate for the environment? Want to learn more about the ties between the environment and our health? Choose the environmental health science track and study how various factors in the environment — like air, food and water quality — impact our health. In this track, you’ll learn the basics of public health and its relation to our environment.
If health promotion and education excite you, consider the community health track within this major. This emphasis takes a more holistic approach to health education by covering how broad topics like nutrition, stress and aging affect our health. You will learn how to study different populations to examine communal factors that lead to poor health and disease patterns and discover how we may be able to promote change.
Why Public Health?
Health affects us all: our families, communities and future generations. By influencing policy, behavior and environment, public health professionals create long-lasting changes that lead to healthier communities. In this field, you will:
- Assess populations;
- Determine health issues;
- Implement strategic programs to address those needs; and,
- Evaluate the effectiveness of those programs long-term.
It’s not unusual for students to combine a major in public health with a related bachelor's degree on campus, such as:
- Exercise science
- Athletic training
- Women’s studies
An increasing number of students choose to go on and earn a master’s degree in community health, leading to administration and higher salaries.
The courses you’ll take in this major will prepare you for the National Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam or the Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) exam.
Careers and Courses
With a degree in public health, you’ll have career options in a wide variety of settings, including county and state health departments, gyms, corporate wellness sites, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, schools, clinics and community centers.
Here are some career paths you’ll be prepared for after you graduate with this degree:
- Corporate wellness
- Hospital and clinic programming
- Nutrition programming
- School health education
- Peace Corps and Americorps
- Health coaching
- Emergency management and disaster relief
- Environmental and occupational health
- County and state health department programming
As a public health major, be prepared for a variety of different courses depending on which track you select. Here is a set of common courses that all public health majors will take.
- Introduction to Public Health
- Basic Nutrition
- Epidemiology of Human Diseases
- Internship Seminar
- Cultural Competency for the Helping Professions
- Environmental Health Science
- Senior Project
- Internship (3 or 6 hours)
Beyond the Classroom
Experiences to Learn and Grow
"It was a crazy month of preparing, but I would not take it back. I am better equipped to join the public health field and have grown closer to my classmates because of it." -- Lynn Kleyer, after she and two other senior UNI public health students took second place in the virtual National Case Study Competition in Health Education in 2021. Go Panthers!
The UNI Student Public Health Association (SPHA) is a service-oriented organization which aims to provide the general public with a greater understanding of public health. You’ll engage directly with community members in service activities in the community and gain hands-on experience in the field of public health. An active group, SPHA meets every other week.
Internships and More
You definitely get hands-on with this major. From class-related experiences like volunteering at a local food bank or conducting a poverty simulation to formal semester-long internships in communities and organizations locally — or across the globe.
Our interns have served in agencies like the YWCA, county health departments, organizations affiliated with the United Nations and beyond. Many take this opportunity to participate in medical missions in Latin America, Asia and Africa, or earn credit through study abroad.
Panther Success Stories
"I learned a lot about public health during the pandemic. There are scary realities you have to face when working in public health, but there are also things that make you hopeful. Seeing public health in action from people all across the world showed me the hard-working and brave people I will be working amongst soon."
Pryce Johnson, '21, BA