First Undergrad Cohort Arrives This Fall
Meeting the rapidly growing need for public health professionals
SPH's first class of undergraduate students will begin coursework this September. The U-M Board of Regents approved the new program in Public Health in September 2015, and more than 97 students are now enrolled for the fall. Gary Harper, professor of health behavior and health education, is SPH's first director of undergraduate education. Using ASPPH's current curricular recommendations, Harper and his team have developed BS and BA majors geared toward upper-level students. SPH recruited broadly for this first cohort and has admitted a diverse class representing several U-M schools and colleges and transfer students from other institutions.
With mass retirements only a few years away, demand for public health education is at an all-time high.
SPH undergraduates will take a variety of courses to build general public health skills and to develop a broad interdisciplinary approach to the profession. Students will choose from two majors—public health sciences, and community and global public health—and both majors will require a field learning experience, with study abroad and other international experiences encouraged. "Our new BA and BS degrees are designed to help undergraduates move into a public health career holistically," says SPH Undergraduate Program Coordinator Jillian McConville, "preparing them to expand their work into more technical areas during their graduate study." Faculty from each SPH department will be developing and teaching courses in the program.
The new programs demonstrate SPH's ongoing commitment to academic excellence and to serving local, national, and global communities. Offering undergraduate degrees keeps SPH competitive with the top 40 public health schools in the country—only five of which do not have an undergraduate major.
Expanding degree offerings and student demographics meets the rapidly growing need for public health professionals. "With mass retirements only a few years away," says Harper, "demand for public health education is at an all-time high. SPH's new undergraduate program is a significant step toward addressing those tremendous needs."