Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities. Professionals in this field use specialized knowledge and skills to better understand the root causes of diseases and injuries and, whenever possible, develop strategies to prevent them.

This is a collaborative, diverse field that attracts people who want to improve human health by applying skills from areas such as behavioral and social science, environmental science, math and statistics, laboratory science, and policy development.

Public health promotes healthy lifestyles to combat cancer, diabetes, and obesity; develops vaccines to stop the spread of infectious diseases; ensures the safety of the food supply, as well as new drugs and medical technologies; implements programs that protect workers' health; and shapes policies that ensure quality health care.

Why Study at Iowa

The College of Public Health is Iowa's only accredited school of public health and is ranked among the top 10 publicly supported schools of public health in the nation. With an extensive network of community partners who support students' experiential learning and a track record of offering high-quality education, students are prepared for rewarding careers in public health practice or further academic study.

Course Work

Students admitted to the College of Public Health must complete the college's general education requirements in addition to course work required for their specific major. 

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees provide students with a basic understanding of the five core public health knowledge areas: biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, health policy and management, and occupational and environmental health sciences. Students in either program will be prepared to enter the workforce or continue their education.

A uniform public health core will provide both degrees with breadth in the biological, social, economic, quantitative, geographic, and educational components of health and health disparities within and across populations.

Core course work for all public health majors includes:

  • Fundamentals of Public Health
  • Public Health Science: Inquiry and Investigation in Public Health
  • The U.S. Health System in a Global Context
  • Introduction to Public Health Methods
  • Health, Work, and the Environment
  • Global Public Health
  • Methods for Program Implementation and Evaluation
  • Practice of Evidence-Based Public Health

Students in both degree programs also will complete a professional development seminar series, an experiential learning requirement, and a cumulative capstone experience during which they will integrate, apply, and synthesize public health knowledge outside of the typical classroom setting. As an integral part of their education, students also will be exposed to public health professionals and agencies.

The BA program is for students interested in the social sciences and public health. BA students will complete additional required course work in the social sciences and humanities.

The BS program is for students interested in the natural sciences and public health. BS students will complete additional required course work in the natural sciences and mathematics.

Review Public Health in the General Catalog for more information about required courses and graduating with honors. 

Undergrad to Grad Degree Programs

Combined undergraduate to graduate programs provide an opportunity for students interested in health sciences to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees in five years.

Pursuing a combined degree allows students to further explore their interest in the field of public health, expedite time to degree--five years versus the typical six years--and save money by cutting one year of tuition.

Undergraduate to graduate degree options are open to all undergraduate majors. For more information about these degree options, visit

Admission Requirements

Admission to Iowa's undergraduate public health majors is selective and meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission. Students may be admitted to the College of Public Health either through Direct Admission or Standard Admission. 

Direct Admission is designed for students applying to the university as first-year students for the fall semester. Applicants who meet the high school course requirements and present an ACT composite score of 26 or higher (or a combined SAT EBRW+M 1230*/CR+M 1170** or higher) and a high school grade-point average (GPA) of 3.60 or higher will be strongly considered for Direct Admission to the college. Applicants who meet course requirements and either the test score or GPA requirement also will be considered.

First-year students not admitted directly to the College of Public Health may be admitted to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a Public Health Interest major. These students are eligible to apply for Standard Admission to the College of Public Health after completing prerequisite courses and earning the required GPA, typically after their first year. To learn about applying for Standard Admission, visit  

Applications by transfer students for direct admission to the public health major are not being accepted at this time. Transfer students interested in applying to the public health major should declare a public health interest in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and apply to the College of Public Health through standard admission after completing the prerequisites.

* combined evidence-based reading & writing and math SAT score for test taken after March 1, 2016
**combined critical reading and math SAT score for tests taken prior to March 1, 2016

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The College of Public Health faculty is highly productive and has expertise in all disciplines of public health. Our faculty collaborates extensively with campus colleagues and with community partners to provide innovative education, research, and public health practice programs.

The College of Public Health Building is a state-of-the-art LEED certified facility that reflects the college's commitment to sustainability. Centrally located on the university's health sciences campus, the building houses auditoriums, classrooms, and student commons, as well as the college's core administrative, departmental, and faculty offices.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

The BA program will provide knowledge of the community and behavioral aspects of public health for students interested in working in health education; health communication; public health program development; or public health policy in local, federal, or international governmental or non-governmental agencies.

BA students also will be prepared for advanced education in the social sciences, communication studies, social and community health, health policy and management, and other fields.

The BS program will provide knowledge of the natural sciences for students who are interested in working in a research setting or preparing for advanced study in programs such as biostatistics, dentistry, environmental health, epidemiology, medicine, nursing, occupational health, pharmacy, or veterinary medicine.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships. 

Students granted direct admission to the college are eligible to apply for first-year public health scholarships. The scholarship application process is competitive. Visit the Iowa Scholarship Portal for more information about how to apply for these competitive scholarships. 

Application Process

Application Process Tabs


Public Health BA
Public Health BS
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission