Earn Your Online Public Health Degree
- $320/credit (120 credits)
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Aligned to competencies of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH)
- No application fee or SAT/ACT scores
- Regionally accredited by NECHE
- Stepping stone to master's in public health (MPH) program
Online Public Health Degree Overview
Ready to make your mark in a rewarding field? Start by earning your online Bachelor of Science in Public Health at Southern New Hampshire University.
The year 2020 demonstrated the critical need for public health professionals around the globe to advocate for policy, data, funding and the resources required to tackle a pandemic.
The global pandemic brought to life the incredible complexity of public health. Many of the challenges faced around the world included timely communication, data collection and reporting, virus containment, medical supply chain management, inequitable impacts across communities (and learning how to protect those communities), managing populations and keeping frontline workers safe.
Though complex and challenging, it provided the opportunity for public health professionals to make substantial progress in the understanding of global pandemics and ultimately the prevention of future outbreaks.
Public health covers a range of fields – everything from fighting infectious disease outbreaks across the globe, to developing and presenting wellness programs in local communities and creating public policies. No matter where public health professionals work, they're driven by the same mission: to protect the health of populations and improve quality of life through healthy behaviors.
"Public health is the recognition that there are certain health issues that every population suffers from, not just nationally but internationally," said Dr. Sarah McCool, an adjunct instructor at SNHU. "It's important to understand the impact of globalization and how that affects public health. You can spread a disease in the time it takes to cross the world on a trans-Atlantic flight."
With this understanding, the main goal of public health professionals is to identify public health challenges within certain populations, study the root cause and develop initiatives that make a positive impact.
Those with a public health degree can help ensure public safety in any number of ways, including:
- Smoking and vaping awareness ads on TV
- Physical fitness programs in school
- Working with municipalities to create and promote safe places to walk and exercise
- Diabetic awareness initiatives
- Vaccination campaigns
- Campaigns to promote healthcare facilities
- Developing cleaner air initiatives
- Expanding access to fruits and vegetables
- Designing safe sex and reproductive health campaigns
- Creating transportation options to health services
- Building emergency preparedness plans
- Creating public awareness around the signs and impacts of bullying in schools
This online bachelor's program provides a strong foundation in biological and social sciences and emphasizes evidence-based approaches to program assessment, planning and evaluation. You'll also explore strategies for preventing disease, prolonging life and improving the health of entire populations.
Learn how to:
- Use principles to recognize patterns and trends
- Apply public health strategies to improve health, safety and quality of life
- Explain the effectiveness of health programs
- Identify health disparities and promote social justice
- Make globally, socially and ethically responsible public health decisions
- Design communication strategies that promote public health campaigns
If you choose to continue your studies after earning your bachelor's in public health, SNHU also offers a online Master of Public Health degree – both with a general track and a global health concentration.
Public Health Career Outlook
"Public health is the silent machine behind a healthy, growing community," said Dr. Gail Tudor, associate dean of health professions at SNHU. "When public health is successful, no one knows about it. There is no ripple, no fanfare. Just a healthy population where health equity is the norm and disease is just endemic."
The online public health degree is designed to prepare you for a variety of promising careers, including medical and health services manager, health educator or community health worker.
The demand for educated, experienced public health professionals will continue to rise based on growing populations and the need for disease prevention, surveillance and education.
Jobs for health educators and community health workers are estimated to increase by 13% through 2029.1 In 2020, the median annual wage for community health workers was $42,000 and $56,500 for health educators.
Public health professionals work in various settings and industries, including:
- Hospitals and medical facilities: Many organizations offer classes and events about topics like nutrition and exercise as preventative care – and continue to look for ways to educate people before they become patients.
- Managed care organizations: Healthcare and insurance costs rise when employees aren't at their healthiest, and these organizations can work with companies to focus on proactive vs. reactive solutions.
- Nonprofit organizations: Global, national and local non-profits as well as advocacy groups have a core mission to address public health issues
- State and local health departments: These agencies are responsible for anything from monitoring water quality in the community, inspecting restaurants and markets, and creating safe places for children to play – and everything in between.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): With a mission to fight any threats to health and safety, the CDC is responsible for over 1,000 programs since its launch in 1995, impacting millions of people.2
With such a wide variety of health-related causes to choose from, your online public health degree could take your career in a number of directions.
And to get there, our Career Services team can assist you at any point in your job search.
Our advisors are on hand to connect you with the professional experience you need, like internships or experiential-learning projects you can add to your resume. We can also help you with your job search, from application to interview. Starting on your first day as a student to long after you graduate, our services are available whenever you need them.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Public Health Degree
Why SNHU for Your Online Public Health Degree
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.3 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so we can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
The BS in Public Health program prepares graduates for the workforce as competent, emerging public health professionals. In the US, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) provides guidance to colleges and universities that offer public health programs. At SNHU, the BS in Public Health was designed to for you to meet today's public health challenges. To learn more, please review our accreditations page.
"The focus (of our curriculum) is always on helping your community be the healthiest – mentally and physically," said Dr. Gail Tudor, associate dean of health professions at SNHU. By learning to become a public health professional, "your actions can affect an entire community, an entire nation, even the world."
The core major courses provide you with a comprehensive understanding of public health and insights into the administration and evaluation of public health programs, as well as the healthcare delivery system.
Course topics include epidemiology, research and assessment, program planning, health communication and education, healthcare law and ethics in national and global contexts.
As a student in the public health degree program, you'll complete a project within your capstone course toward the end of your program. The project or paper you'll work on throughout the term encompasses all your learnings throughout the program – and it's also a product you'll be able to show employers when you present your portfolio.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- General education courses: All bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Earn math credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Show your knowledge of the materials in your program's math courses, and you could earn up to 9 math credits – at less than $50 for each course assessment.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BS in Public Health|
|Courses May Include|
|BS in Public Health Online|
|HCM 340||Healthcare Delivery Systems||This course provides an overview of the nature, organization, and function of the continuum of health services found in the United States. Emphasis is placed on the interrelation of cultural, economic, political and social aspects of health care delivery at the federal, state and local level. Topics include health care costs, accessibility of services, governmental influence on health care delivery, private industry role in health care, services for the medically indigent and elderly, ethical issues regarding transplants, reproductive technology, end of life decisions and funding.|
|IHP 330||Principles of Epidemiology||Learn basic principles of epidemiology with emphasis on applications in healthcare management. Examine specific epidemiology tools used for purposes of planning, monitoring, and evaluating population health. Consider methods for managing the health of populations, understanding the factors that influence population health, and strategies that healthcare organizations and systems can use to control these factors.|
|IHP 340||Statistics for Healthcare Professionals||This course explores the basic statistical concepts of inference, variability, and statistical significance. Statistical methods used to describe data, quantify relationships and to test for differences between means will be studied. Parametric statistics will be the main focus but some common nonparametric tests will be introduced. The course will focus on the interpretation of published research findings.|
|IHP 410||Population Health and Cultural Competence||This course explores a population-based approach to understanding disease management, chronic care management, and health policy making. It explores how behavioral factors, social circumstances and environmental exposures affects a population and how to mitigate these factors using culturally relevant approaches to create a culture of wellness.|
|IHP 420||Ethical and Legal Considerations of Healthcare||Students in this course examine the role of health care policy and legal, regulatory, and quality control in ethical decision making in healthcare. Students explore concepts and principles of health care policy, legal control, ethical conduct, and regulatory environments and their application to the health care environment. The impact of health care policy and multicultural, socioeconomic, political, legal, and regulatory factors on health care systems is explored.|
|PHE 101||Fundamentals of Public Health||This course introduces students to the field of public health: its historical evolution, fundamental theories, concepts and practice in the US, and its core values and ethical principles. The structure of the public health system, the ten essential services, and the core knowledge areas (epidemiology, biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, environmental health, and healthcare policy and administration) are outlined in order for students to comprehend the breadth of complex factors impacting health and the tools available to protect and promote health.|
|PHE 321||Biological Concepts for Public Health||This course explores the major determinants of human disease from an integrated ecological perspective that brings together population-based approaches to the study of infectious disease and genetically determined diseases. Students learn about how infectious diseases are transmitted, risk factors and biological processes for common diseases, and the impact of these and control strategies on public health.|
|PHE 327||Research and Assessment in Public Health||Students in this class will develop the introductory knowledge and skills to apply assessment instruments, data collection, research designs, and statistical analysis to assess need, assets, and capacity for health education programs. Existing data sets will be introduced that will increase access to information to develop and implement health promotion projects that are fiscally feasible while meeting specific health promotion needs of a targeted population.|
|PHE 330||Public Health Education and Communication||The purpose of this course is to develop communication skills relevant to public health and examine the impact of mass media, social media, and the internet on health outcomes. Communications is a crucial tool in dealing with global public health challenges. Strong communication skills are necessary in the developing effective public health education, sound advocacy and successful policy development and implementation. In addition, the course explores how communication is currently being used by public health organizations and agencies.|
|PHE 340||Social and Behavioral Health||The course provides an overview of the contribution of the social and behavioral sciences to health behavior. Social and behavioral science fundamentals (principles, theories, research, and techniques) that are employed to address current and past public health problems are examined. Key concepts such culture, race/ethnicity, gender, poverty/disparities, factors related to behavior change, community, organizational climate, family are examined from a social and behavioral sciences perspective.|
|PHE 423||Evaluation Methods in Public Health||This course will cover contextual issues surrounding evaluation, evaluation designs and methodological issues, steps involved in conducting an evaluation, communicating the results, and ensuring that evaluation findings are used by intended users.|
|PHE 425||Programming Planning in Public Health||The purpose of this course is to provide basic knowledge in public health sciences, and practical skills to effectively plan, implement, and manage programs that address public health problems in a variety of settings. The course explores key concepts, theories, and methods in planning and implementing successful health promotion programs and healthy public policy.|
|PHE 489||Public Health Capstone Communication||Taken in the student's final term, the capstone course is the culminating experience for the Bachelor of Science in Public Health. This course builds on the theories and concepts of all courses students have taken within the program of study. The capstone course provides students with the opportunity to integrate and synthesize the knowledge and skills acquired throughout their coursework in an original comprehensive project/paper, while assessing their level of mastery of the stated outcomes of their degree program in public health. In addition, students present their capstone project and reflection on the experience to their instructor and their peers in the course. Students will also post their capstone project and presentation into their e-Portfolio.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Tuition & Fees
As a private, nonprofit university, we’re committed to making college more accessible by making it more affordable. That’s why we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation—and haven't raised our costs in a decade.
We also offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a public health professional?
A public health professional assesses the health of populations rather than focusing on the health of one person at a time.
As you work toward becoming a public health professional, you'll study core disciplines, one or more of which could be essential to your career:
- Behavioral and social sciences. Influencing behavior to encourage healthier habits.
- Biostatistics. Designing studies and examining health data.
- Epidemiology. Determining populations at risk for specific conditions or illnesses.
- Health policy and administration. Formulating and writing the policies that impact the health industry.
By becoming a public health professional, you can help alter the direction of health – for current generations and the generations to come.
What are some careers in public health?
Roles in the public health field may include:
- Community planners
- First responders
- Health educators
- Occupational health and safety professionals
- Public health nurses
- Public policymakers
- Restaurant inspectors
- Scientists and researchers
You may also find yourself in positions where you are:
- Serving as a program assistant with an international health organization
- Carrying out health-related assessments at construction sites
- Working as a research assistant with a nonprofit organization
- Doing consulting work related to disease prevention
- Working at a company that does health communication and health marketing
- Conducting air quality sampling and surveying
- Responding to calls at a West Nile virus hotline
Some public health professionals take advantage of government programs to gain more experience, such as:
- Serving in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps
- Participating in a CDC training fellowship
Some of these career paths may require additional education or licensing beyond a BS in Public Health – to both enter the field and advance in it. SNHU is one university that offers a master's in public health online program.
Is public health a good career?
Absolutely. In fact, if you're passionate about the work, a job in the public health field could be an incredibly impactful and rewarding one.
Because public health is such a broad topic, there are many places you can effect change. This also adds to job security and the opportunity for growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the health field is expected to grow 15% through 2029, adding about 2.4 million new jobs.1
A bachelor's degree in public health can offer a perfect entryway into a field is so increasingly vital – not just in the United States but around the world.
Dr. Sarah McCool adds that, for a field as dynamic as public health, it's critical that graduates are as prepared as possible to hit the ground running.
Public health is particularly useful for those interested in finding solutions to a population's overall health problems. Rather than respond to individual patients with health concerns, this field values a more proactive than reactive approach to keeping communities safe.
"We want to get involved and prevent something from happening rather than fix something once it has happened," said Dr. McCool.
How long is public health degree?
Bachelor’s degrees are traditionally known as 4-year programs. But the amount of time your program takes to finish depends on a few factors.
Take, for example, your full-time or part-time status. At SNHU, full-time students take 2 courses per term while part-time students take 1 course per term. With 6 terms per year, full-time students who start with no credits can finish in 3.5 years if they don't take a term off.
Most of our students, though, transfer in credits when they begin their degree. Bringing credits into your online public health degree program can help you get to the finish line faster.
Here, you can transfer up to 90 credits toward your program. The bachelor's in public health takes 120 credits to complete, so a student with the maximum number of transfer credits could already be 3/4 of the way to graduation.
It all adds up to less time and tuition, and a much faster pathway to reaching your goals.
How much does a bachelor's of public health make?
Depending on the role you're aiming for, you could position yourself for some significant earning potential.
For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that medical and health services managers received median annual wages of $104,280 in 2020 – much higher than the median annual wage for all U.S. workers.1
You may also choose to become a health educator, a role whose median annual wages were $56,500 in 2020.1 Another option is moving into a community health worker position, which had median annual wages of $42,000 in 2020.1
What is the difference between public health and community health?
In short, public health is concerned with protecting entire populations – from local communities to an entire country. Community health is a subset of public health that focuses on promoting and improving the health of those in the community.
Public health initiatives can be seen everywhere - from diabetic awareness and needle-sharing programs to seatbelt awareness and – even more recently – the effects of COVID-19. These officials try to get ahead of the work of doctors and nurses so that individuals won't need to be treated for sickness or injury.2
Public health officials promote healthcare equity and quality, advocating for all members of the population to have access to the care they need. They also take science into consideration when creating solutions to problems the population is facing.
Community health is similar, but focuses on specific needs and resources available within the community.
Think weight-loss programs, breast and cervical cancer screenings, food pantries, reduced-rate fitness center memberships, free and reduced lunch programs, nutrition education or asthma management. These are often held at hospitals, schools or workplaces, to meet people where they are.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3)
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (viewed April 19, 2021)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm (viewed April 19, 2021)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm (viewed April 19, 2021)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2 CDC Foundation, on the internet, at
- https://www.cdcfoundation.org/partners (viewed April 19, 2021)
- https://www.cdcfoundation.org/what-public-health (viewed April 19, 2021)
3 According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.