BS in Public Health– Prospective Students FAQS

What is public health?

“Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities.” (CDC Foundation). These communities can be as small as your local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world. Public health work includes promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing injuries, advocating for laws that keep people safe, using social media to spread the word about staying healthy, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases.

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Why is public health important?

“Public health saves money, improves our quality of life, helps children thrive and reduces human suffering.” (APHA) Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or recurring through educational programs, policies, services and research—in contrast to clinical professionals like doctors and nurses, who focus primarily on treating individuals after they become sick or injured. Public health also works ensure that everyone has the resources they need to get and stay healthy.

What can I do with a degree in public health?

You might ask, “what CAN’T I do with a degree in public health?” Because the field of public health is so broad, there’s probably a place for you in it!

If you like working with people you could become a health educator, teaching people how to stay healthy. If you have leadership skills, you could work in health care organizational management. If you like data and numbers, you could become an epidemiologist or biostatistician. Are you a social media star? You can use your talents to influence people to be healthy. Like solving mysteries? You could be a “disease detective” helping to identify and prevent the next pandemic.

If you care about health and want to help others, public health could be the place for you!

The BS in Public Health degree is an entry-level degree. It prepares you for entry-level positions such as:

  • Health Educator
  • Community Outreach Specialist
  • Program Coordinator

The BS in Public Health also prepares you for graduate work in Public Health and many other health-related professions.

Like many other career fields, in Public Health your income and your responsibility increase with your education and years of experience. Some careers will require a master’s degree or even a doctorate. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills are in high demand. And employers are always looking for employees with dedication and excellent skills in teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and cultural sensitivity –all qualities that we promote in the public health curriculum.

Some of the many possible careers in public health include:

  • Health Educator
  • Public Health Program Specialist or Officer
  • Data Analyst
  • Public Health Communications Officer
  • Global Infectious Disease Analyst
  • International NGO Aid Worker
  • Epidemiologist
  • Public Health Researcher
  • Health Policy Analyst
  • Health Care Manager
  • Evaluation Specialist

Not sure exactly what you want to do after graduation? That’s OK! Through advising and consultation with faculty mentors, you can develop the career pathway that’s right for you. And a capstone internship experience will give you practical, hands-on experience with public health and help you network with potential employers.

Want to speak to an advisor?

Want to read more details about the program? Go to our FAQS for current students 


BS in Public Health – Current Students FAQS

Advising and Registration

What do public health advisors do?

Your advisor can help you select courses required to meet graduation requirements. Your advisor also releases your advisement hold so you can register. They can answer questions about courses in the major, the major itself, or careers in public health. For questions about coursework, please contact your advisor first. Your advisor can also refer you to other resources as needed. Special circumstances might require you to meet with the BS in Public Health Program Director or the Department Chair.

Questions about courses in other departments are usually best answered by that department (e.g, will the math department recognize my math class that didn’t transfer in automatically?). The registrar’s office handles general registration inquiries, the bursar’s office handles billing issues, and the financial aid department manages financial aid.

Because your course scheduling affects your time and money, it’s important to always be aware of and follow program requirements. Ultimately, you are responsible for the classes for which you register.

When does advising take place?

Advising takes place one semester in advance during the academic year. For Summer and Fall classes, advising takes place in the spring. For Winter and Spring classes, advising takes place in Fall semester. Unlike high school, your advisors are also your instructors. Like high school, your professors are “off” from teaching and advising during the summer ---they are usually off campus working on research projects. Because classes fill quickly, meeting with your advisor during the correct time will help you get into the classes you need when you need them.

How do I know when to contact my advisor for advising?

Most advisors will contact you to let you know when they are available for advising. Please check your WCU e-mail frequently. If you haven’t heard from your advisor and your registration appointment is coming up within the next week or so, please send them an e-mail.

Who is my advisor?

Your advisor is listed on myWCU.

How do I know when to register for classes?

Your registration day and time is listed on my WCU

What happens if I get an error message while trying to register?

If you need your advisor hold released, please contact your advisor. Also, it’s not unusual for students to receive a message that your prerequisites haven’t been met for a course. That’s because our students sometimes take courses and their pre reqs at the same time. Please let your advisor know which courses you need, and you will receive a permission code to enroll within a day or two.

Financial holds will need to be addressed with the bursar’s office or financial aid office.

Who do I contact with a question or problem?

Your advisor should always be your first point of contact. They will direct you where you need to go for further help. Assistance with classes outside of the health department will normally need to be addressed with the department where the class is offered; (e.g., math classes will need to be addressed with the Math department, writing with the English department, etc.). Sometimes your advisor may suggest you contact the program coordinator for complex situations: Dr. Sharon DeJoy

Who is responsible for my graduating on time?

Each student is responsible for knowing and completing their WCU and program requirements. Advisors advise, but the student is the one who registers for classes, pays the tuition, and invests their time in classes; therefore, it is in every student’s best interest to develop and follow a four-year course plan. Please check your Degree Progress Report and advising sheet every semester to ensure you are on track, and contact your advisor with any questions.


What courses are required for the public health major?

If you entered the BS in Public Health program prior to Fall 2021, your advising sheet is here

If you entered the BS in Public Health effective Fall 2021 or later, the advising sheet is here

Interested in our accelerated BS in Public Health/MPH program? That advising sheet is here

In what order should I take public health courses?

Always check with your advisor to discuss your specific situation. However, most students should complete the courses in the following order. Most students will require 5 semesters to complete the major.


1st semester:

HEA 100
HEA 242
ENV 102
HEA 110

Gen Ed or minor course

2nd semester

HEA 244 *
HEA 341
HEA 330
HEA 140

MAT 121 (if not taken earlier)

3rd semester

HEA 342
HEA 419
HEA 348
HEA 276 *

Gen Ed or minor course

4th semester

HEA 420
HEA 418
HEA 434

Public health elective (or MPH class for accelerated program)

Public health elective (or MPH class for accelerated program)

5th semester

HEA 421

Public health elective (or MPH class for accelerated program)

Public health elective (or MPH class for accelerated program)


* recommended, but not required, for students prior to Fall 2021

If I have the academic passport, do I still need to take PHI 150, ENV 102, HEA 110, MAT 121,BIO, CHE, etc.?

Yes. The BS in Public Health program requires specific General Education courses be taken for the major.

How can I become a health educator?

To sit for the CHES exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist, you must take two courses: HEA 240 and HEA 306, which are not offered in every semester, and then get an eligibility letter from the Program Director. Please meet with your advisor to develop a course plan to meet your goals.

What is the accelerated BS in Public Health to MPH program?

The accelerated program enables undergraduate students to take up to 13 graduate credits as an undergraduate at undergraduate tuition prices, saving you time and money on your MPH degree.

Current BSPH undergraduate students are eligible for admission with junior standing, a cumulative grade point average of 3.00, and completion of at least15 credits of core public health courses. Applicants must submit the graduate application and all requested documents required by the department. Application instructions can be found here.

If admission to the MPH program is recommended, students receive a conditional and provisional offer of admission. Full admission will be granted upon conferral of the undergraduate degree and meeting all departmental and Dean of Graduate Studies requirements.

Please contact Dr. Erin Knight for more information.


When do I take the internship?

The internship is taken in your last semester in the program (Fall, Spring, or Summer). All core Public Health core courses must be taken before HEA 421 because it is a capstone course. Currently there is no mechanism for awarding credit for independent internships; for example, if you have the opportunity to do an internship in a health care organization over the summer, but you are not in your last semester, you won’t be able to earn credit for it.

How do I find an internship?

HEA 418 is the course that prepares you for internship. In that class, you will work with department faculty and staff to find an internship that meets your needs.


When do I apply for graduation?

You will receive your diploma once your internship has completed. Therefore, your graduation date will be either the end of Spring semester, Summer semester, or Fall semester. Application deadlines for graduation can be found here:

Generally, if you plan to graduate in May or August, you will apply in January. If you plan to graduate in December, you will apply in July or August.

Note to students graduating in summer: There is no August commencement ceremony. Once you apply to graduate in summer, you should receive an invitation to participate in the May commencement ceremony. You will get to “walk” before you graduate and get your diploma. Other than August graduates, no other students should be “walking” before graduation.

Applying for graduation early will not enable you to “walk” early. If you apply before it is appropriate, your application will be pushed back to the correct semester.

What happens after I apply for graduation?

Once you apply for graduation, the registrar’s office will review the university graduation requirements; that is, that you have completed your General Education requirements and will have 120 credits upon graduation.

Then your application will be forward to the Health department, where the Program Director will review whether you have completed the BS in Public Health program requirements. Once both sets of requirements have been checked off, you are clear to graduate.

What could prevent me from graduating?

You won’t be able to graduate on time if you:

  • Won’t have 120 credits by the time you graduate
  • Missed a required General Education course
  • Missed a core Public Health course or elective or did not attain the minimum grade in a course.

Avoid surprises; check your Degree Progress Report regularly and meet with your advisor when invited.