Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities. Public health professionals use specialized knowledge and skills to better understand the underlying causes of diseases and injuries and develop strategies to prevent them.

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

Public health professionals promote healthy lifestyles; develop vaccines to stop the spread of infectious diseases; ensure the safety of the food supply; implement programs that protect workers' health; and shape 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 20 schools and programs of public health in the nation. With an extensive network of community partners who support students' learning and a track record of offering high-quality education, we prepare students for rewarding careers in public health practice or further academic study.

The college offers opportunities to engage in research, internships, and experiential learning; focuses on professional development; and provides an option for students to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees in five years. 

The college's location at a major research university enables its students to collaborate easily with those in other disciplines The Carver College of Medicine and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics provide numerous opportunities for research partnerships in the health sciences. 

Course Work

The BA and BS programs 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. Core course work focuses on the determinants of health and health disparities within and across populations. 

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

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

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 must complete the college's general education program requirements in addition to course work required for their specific major. Review Public Health in the General Catalog for more information about required courses and graduating with honors in the major. 

Experiential Learning 

Students apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world public health experiences. Students learn by doing and, as they do, they develop skills that are critical for success in the workplace, in graduate/professional schools, and in their community.

All public health majors must successfully complete at least one of the following experiences to graduate: research, internship, global learning or study abroad, or service learning. 

Undergrad to Grad Degree Programs

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

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

Public Health Certificate

The undergraduate certificate in public health is designed for anyone interested in learning about public health concepts to enhance their ability to succeed in their chosen field. 

This certificate may be earned by any student admitted to Iowa who is not currently enrolled in a graduate or professional program, except for those who are earning or who have earned a BA or BS degree in public health.

The certificate requires 18 s.h. of courses taken at Iowa. Students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.00 in work for the certificate. Before beginning certificate work, students should contact the certificate coordinator to complete a plan of study. 

Students completing this certificate will have an understanding of emerging issues in public health, the social and behavioral aspects of preventing disease, environmental health concepts, and the health care system in the United States as compared to systems globally. 

Admission Requirements

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 course requirements and either the test score or GPA requirement will be considered for admission.

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.

Undergraduates at Iowa are eligible to apply for Standard Admission to the College of Public Health after completing prerequisite courses and earning the required GPA. 

For detailed information on admission requirements, visit  

Students may not earn both an undergraduate (BA or BS) degree in public health and the certificate in public health. Review our Areas of Study to select a major. 

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 Study Abroad Programs and multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Public Health students are encouraged to learn outside the classroom by participating in community service, volunteer opportunities, or in research projects with a faculty member. Students doing research also can apply for competitive scholarship support from the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU).

The Undergraduate Public Health Organization sponsors speakers, career development workshops, and volunteer opportunities.

Students have opportunities to be involved in the college and expand their network by serving on committees and attending meetings with the dean, advisory councils, and alumni boards. 


Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Public health is a broad and wide-ranging field. Both the BA and BS degree programs will prepare students for entry-level positions in this field. The skills gained will prepare students to meet emerging health challenges at the local, state, national, or global level. There is a wide variety of settings in which public health graduates may work.

The BA program provides knowledge of the social 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 agencies. BA students will be prepared for advanced education in the social sciences, community health, health policy and management, and other fields.

The BS program provides knowledge of the biomedical aspects of public health for students interested in working in epidemiology, environmental health, population health, or disease prevention in local, federal, or international agencies. BS students will be prepared for advanced education in the health sciences and other fields.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

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

Application Process

Application Process Tabs


Public Health (BA)
Public Health (BS)
Public Health
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
(for BA, BS programs)
Selective Admission
(for BA, BS programs)