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Drexel to Offer Undergraduate Major in Public Health

July 23, 2013

undergraduate degreeDrexel University will offer a new major in public health to undergraduate students interested in improving the health and well-being of communities starting in the fall 2013 term.  The pre-professional program at Drexel University is the nation’s only undergraduate public health major offered with an experiential co-op program for students.

The major joins faculty from the School of Public Health and College of Arts and Sciences.  The degree is conferred by the School of Public Health.

“Students enrolling in the major will learn how to better address such local and global concerns as lack of access to clean water, disease outbreaks, infant and maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, natural disasters, violence and health disparities, while also promoting human rights, social justice and health equity,” said John A. Rich, MD, MPH, Interim Dean, Drexel University School of Public Health. “Public health offers diverse and meaningful career opportunities for students after graduation.”

The interdisciplinary program includes a public health-oriented co-op experience, as well as a culminating three-course capstone during their senior year.  Students declaring the major will enroll in a wide-variety of courses that includes general university education, physical and life sciences, social sciences, public health required courses and electives. 

The School of Public Health works with hundreds of community partners to offer students real-world experience as part of their curriculum.  In fact, students accrue more than 70,000 hours annually gaining practical experience directly with their community partners.  Several students this past year participated in public health projects overseas in The Gambia and India, while others addressed local concerns at partnering organizations within the Philadelphia region.

“We are seeing more Drexel University students interested in making a meaningful difference in the health and lives of communities across the globe,” said Shannon P. Márquez, PhD, MEng, an associate dean and the director of the Global Public Health Initiative at the School of Public Health.  “The major degree program allows students to learn the best public health approaches to addressing some of our society’s most pressing concerns.”

Co-ops at Drexel University are different than traditional internships in that they usually last significantly longer, the practical experience is always related to the major, and students receive academic credit that is included on their academic transcript.

The faculty participating in the degree program reflects the diversity of the curriculum with expertise and research in public health history, ethics, emergency preparedness, environmental impacts on health, public health infrastructure, maternal and child health, violence and human rights.

The major degree builds on the undergraduate minor degree in public health, which was started by the School of Public Health in the fall 2011.

“Our community-collaborative approach fosters leadership and provides opportunities for students to learn real-world skills that sets them apart upon graduation,” said Jennifer Breaux, DrPH, MPH, CHES, director of undergraduate public health programs and an assistant professor at the School of Public Health.