Public Health

BS in Public Health

Public health is defined as the science of protecting and improving the health and well-being of diverse populations. Public health draws upon theory and evidence from multiple disciplines to identify the causes of poor health and address those causes through organized community efforts. It includes a strong emphasis on preventing illness, addressing health disparities, and using health data. Studying public health will provide you with an understanding of the individual, social, organizational, and structural determinants of health, and give you tools to intervene at different system levels to help people and communities become healthier.

The BSPH introduces students to the history and core concepts of public health and its role in U.S. and international health systems. Students will gain knowledge of public health theory and approaches, as well as the skills necessary to apply this knowledge in entry-level professional public health roles across Maine.  Through the culminating 120-hour field experience, students will work on public health projects within their communities that integrate their learning and provide valuable experience in public health planning and program delivery.

The BS in public health will prepare you for early career, entry-level positions at local health departments, businesses, social service agencies, health systems, nonprofit community organizations, hospitals and more. The degree also provides a strong foundation for graduate programs in multiple fields, including USM’s Master of Public Health (MPH), other graduate health training programs, public policy, and law.

Credit Hours: The BS in public health requires 35 credits in public health courses plus 9 credits in approved electives, and a required introductory statistics course for a total of 48 credits (exclusive of USM Core Curriculum requirements). Several required public health courses, the required courses from other departments, and some of the approved electives may also be used to satisfy the Core curriculum requirements as appropriate.

Required Courses:

Public Health Courses (35 credits):

BPH 101 Introduction to the U.S. Health System*

BPH 160 Biology of Human Health*

BPH 161 Biology of Human Health Lab (1 credit)*

BPH 201 Foundations of Public Health

BPH 205 Health Communication and Marketing

BPH 210 Health Disparities and Social Justice*

BPH 315 Population Health Improvement

BPH 320 Methods of Public Health Research

BPH 337 Introduction to Epidemiology (SBS/SCI 337)

BPH 339 Topics in Public Health (MPH 539)

BPH 450 Analysis of Public Health Data with Lab (4 credits, MPH 550)

BPH 499 Field Experience*

*We expect this course will also fulfill a USM Core Curriculum Requirement

Required Course (pick one) from Other Departments (4 credits):

MAT 120 Introduction to Statistics

LOS 120 Introduction to Statistics

Approved Electives (select three for 9 credits):

ANT 232 Anthropology of Sex and Gender

ANT 233/TAH 263 Food and Culture

ANT 302/SBS 308 Medical Anthropology

ANT 315 Ethnographic Methods

ESP 220 Introduction to Environmental Policy

ESP/PHI 212 Environmental Ethics

ESP 375 Environmental Risk Assessment & Management

FSP 210 Food and the Environment

FSP 320 Poverty and Hunger

GEO 308 GIS Applications I

PSY 368 Health Psychology

REC 314 Wellness Education and Counseling

SBS/SCI 351 Emerging Infectious Diseases: From AIDS to Zika

SBS 304 Food, Culture, and Eating

SCI/SBS 209 Human Genetics

SCI 315 Environmental Health

TAH 222 Food and Beverage Management

TAH 299 Wellness Tourism

Additional three credit electives relevant to public health and offered at the 200-level or higher will be considered based on student request.

Grade Policy: Students must achieve a 2.0 grade point average and grades of C- or better in all courses that count toward fulfillment of the major requirements. Students will be placed on academic probation for failure to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. Students failing to rectify the GPA deficiency within a one-year probation period will be removed from the BS in public health major and from their status as a student within the Department. Upon rectifying the GPA deficiency, students can reapply for admission into a Departmental major.

Graduation Requirements: Students will graduate with a bachelor of science in public health when following requirements are satisfied:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0
  • Completion of all University Core curriculum requirements
  • Completion of all BSPH required coursework with minimum grades of C-
  • Completion of 120 credits

Transfer Policy: Please check with the chair of Public Health regarding transfer policies and accepted courses.

For all baccalaureate degrees at the University of Southern Maine, a minimum of 30 credits hours, including at least nine hours in the major, must be completed while matriculated in the school or college from which the degree is sought. A student may earn no more than six of these 30 credit hours at another campus of the University of Maine System. In addition, 30 of the final 45 credits of a student's degree program must normally be completed at USM.

Prior Learning Assessment

The Office for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) at USM believes that students should be rewarded for knowledge acquired outside the traditional classroom if it fulfills the academic criteria set forth and evaluated by the USM faculty. PLA is a process that builds a bridge between students' practical, applied learning experiences and their theoretical, college-level knowledge. There are several pathways across this bridge: testing options, credential reviews, military evaluations, and academic portfolio development, paving the way to academic credit where appropriate. Proof of competency rests with the student. Transcripts older than twenty years cannot be used for credit. For further details regarding credit options, students should contact the Office for Prior Learning Assessment at http://usm.maine.edu/pla .

For the best overall Financial Aid package, submit your USM application and complete your FAFSA by January 15. However, you can apply at any time. Undergraduate applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.  

Learn More about the Undergraduate Application Requirements & Process