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About the Pre-Public Health Program

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Public health is the science and art of promoting and protecting the health of people and the communities where they live, work, and play. Public health practitioners, educators, and researchers work to prevent disease, prolong life, and promote health at the community and population level. Conversely, in the medical field, clinicians focus on treating illnesses and injuries one patient at a time.

Schools of public health offer graduate programs in at least one of the five core disciplines of public health. These core areas of public health include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy and Management
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Pre-Public Health Program prepares students to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health (MPH) at the more than 100 accredited programs across the country, including the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University. Students interested in pursuing a master’s degree or graduate program in public health must have successfully completed a bachelor's degree. Therefore, students pursuing a pre-public health curriculum are expected to choose a major so that they can be working towards a bachelor’s degree concurrently with the pre-public health program. Given the interdisciplinary nature of public health, a wide variety of majors provide appropriate preparation.

A Minor in Public Health is available at UNK and can complement any major. The minor is not required as part of the Pre-Public Health Program but will provide a strong foundation of public health-related coursework.

Requirements for Graduate Education in Public Health
Students should consult each school of public health they plan to apply to determine if there is specific coursework required for admission. These requirements may vary widely by degree type and/or concentration. Concentration areas that are quantitative in nature typically require specific math and science courses in areas such as statistics, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics. Students should consult with their academic advisor regarding graduate admission requirements based on concentration area of interest.


Responsibilities of a public health professional:

  • Assess and monitor population health
  • Investigate, diagnose, and address health hazards and root causes
  • Communicate effectively to inform and educate
  • Strengthen, support, and mobilize communities and partnerships
  • Create, champion, and implement policies, plans, and laws
  • Utilize legal and regulatory actions
  • Enable equitable access
  • Build a diverse and skilled workforce
  • Improve and innovate through evaluation, research, and quality improvement
  • Build and maintain a strong organizational infrastructure for public health

Salary and employment information for public health professionals


Median Pay: $96,280 per year
33% projected employment growth from 2020-2030 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Environmental Health Scientists and Specialists

Median Pay: $76,530 per year
8% projected employment growth from 2020-2030 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Median Pay: $78,830 per year
30% projected employment growth from 2020-2030 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers

Median Pay: $48,860 per year
17% projected employment growth from 2020-2030 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Crista Manning

"I chose UNK because I know they have an excellent health science program for a low cost. It has a structured public health program and there are many opportunities for students to get involved on campus. UNK Health Sciences also has wonderful advisers who are always willing to help. My adviser, Dr. Todd Bartee, is currently guiding me through the pre-public health track and helping me prepare for my graduate degree at the UNMC College of Public Health in Omaha. The best thing about being a UNK health science student is knowing I have a strong support system and a place I can always come back to for help."

Crista Manning

Sociology major with minors in public health and biology