Jul 14, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Public Health, BS

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department of Health and Human Development, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

95-97 credits


The Public Health degree consists of two to three years of course work in Health Education and supporting areas. This includes required course work in both content and process-oriented Public Health courses, Social Sciences (Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology), Biological and Physical Sciences (Anatomy and Physiology, Exercise Physiology, and Chemistry) and other electives that complement a student’s interests and professional needs.

Why Consider a Public Health Major?

Public Health professionals engage in epidemiological analysis, assess population and community needs for health interventions; plan, implement and administer health education strategies, interventions and programs; conduct evaluation and research; serve as a health education resource; and communicate and advocate for the general health of the public. Effective Public Health is ecological in its approach. When planning the focus of interventions, public health professionals consider all factors that contribute to health and disease: individual behavior; group dynamics; environmental conditions; economics; politics, laws and policies; culture, ethnicity, and gender; and the availability, accessibility, and quality of health services.

Students who are accepted into the Public Health major explore the biological, social, environmental, and individual determinants of health. The curriculum is based on the skills and competencies identified by Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing, Inc. Eligible students are encouraged to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam after graduation. The program is rigorous and CEPH accredited. Faculty members emphasize diverse hands-on projects and community outreach. At the end of the program, a full-time internship (40 hours per week for 10 weeks) in a public health setting is required.

The Public Health major is appropriate for students who want to work in community, public, and global health; health communication; governmental and non-profit agencies and organizations; medical care settings; worksite wellness programs; and college and university student service health education programs. It can also serve as a preparatory program for graduate or post-baccalaureate study in Public Health and related areas.

For advising, please contact Jen Leita, HHD Advising Coordinator.

 Contact Information

Ying Li
Carver 182E

Associate Professor/
Program Coordinator

Steve Bennett
Carver 182B

Associate Professor
Mary Hunt
Carver 182C

General Information
and Advising

Jen Leita
Carver 201A

 Sample Careers

Public Health Educator | Tobacco Control Specialist | Sexuality Education Coordinator | HIV/AIDS Educator | Hospital-based Wellness Program Director | Public Health Director | Substance Abuse Educator | College Health Educator | Injury Prevention Specialist | Curriculum Development Specialist | Health Consultant | Health Information Specialist | Nutrition and Physical Activity Coordinator | Epidemiologist

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Admission to the Public Health major is selective and the number of majors is limited. There are two steps to becoming a major:

Step 1: Pre-Major Application

Students interested in applying to the major should first pre-major in Public Health. This allows students access to entry-level courses. You may sign up to become a pre-major as early as your freshman year; however, some students sign up during their sophomore year.    

Students should schedule a meeting with Jen Leita by visiting calendly.com/jenleita to declare the Public Health pre-major.

Step 2: Major Application 

The Public Health program accepts major applications in the spring quarter (sometime in April, the exact date will be announced when time gets closer). Students are eligible to apply to the Public Health major once they have completed the following requirements:

  • Successfully declared a Public Health pre-major;
  • Complete at least 75 undergraduate credits or an approval from Jen Leita;
  • Complete or concurrent enrollment in two of the following courses: MATH 114, MATH 240, or CHEM 161.

After completing the above, submit an application package, which includes a major application form, transcripts, current resume, essay, and two letters of recommendation. The application form and more information regarding the application are available at chss.wwu.edu/health-human-development/apply-public-health.

Admission to the Public Health major is space-limited and competitive. Fulfillment of the requirements does not automatically secure admission to the major.  A 2.50 GPA or higher is preferred when a student applies for the major though other factors, such as a passion for the program, volunteer experience, etc., are also considered. 

Public Health pre-majors are notified regarding acceptance into the major before fall quarter registration.  

Grade Requirements

A grade of C or better is required for a student’s major courses and supporting courses for majors.


Science Core (10 credits)

Concentration (10 credits)

Complete one of the following concentrations:

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Humanities and Social Sciences