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Public Health Major

Public health is a major that typically falls into the Health Professions category.

There are 90 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in public health, 464 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 573 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 181 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Public Health Degree?

In 2017, roughly 14,400 public health majors graduated with a bachelor’s degree. This makes it #35 in popularity of all the majors we track. This major is dominated by women with about 79.6% of recent graduates being female.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of public health majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 12.4%
  • Black or African American: 15.4%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 15.5%
  • White: 46.6%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 2.6%
  • Other Races: 7.4%
Public Health Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in public health. About 2.6% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending public health majors to the U.S. are China, India and Saudi Arabia.

What Will You Learn as a Public Health Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to public health to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Public Health Majors

A major in public health should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Public Health Majors

Skills for Public Health Majors

Public health majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

Important Skills for Public Health Majors

Abilities for Public Health Majors

A major in public health will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for public health Majors

What Can You Do With a Public Health Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with public health:

Careers Related to Public Health
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians



Health Specialties Professors



Industrial Ecologists



Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health



Community Health Workers






Occupational Health and Safety Specialists



Health Educators



Medical and Health Services Managers






Public Health Major Salary

Public health majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $60,000 to $114,000. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Public Health Major  ( 60000 to 114000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Public Health Major Jobs

Some careers associated with public health require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to public health have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Public Health
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Public Health Programs

There are 464 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in public health, with 60 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is a Public Health Major Worth It?

The median salary for a public health grad is $76,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 95% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $735,800 after 20 years!

public health salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Article 25 Flickr via License

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