School of Health Sciences Health Sciences Major

Public Health Pathway

What is Public Health?

Public health is a science concerned with the health of the entire population. Public health professionals work together to protect and improve the health of families and communities by promoting healthy lifestyles, research disease and injury prevention, and to aid in detection and control of infectious diseases. Public health professionals try to PREVENT problems from happening or recurring. Professionals accomplish this through starting or restructuring educational programs, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research. A large part of public health is promoting healthcare equity, quality and accessibility. 

The field of public health is always changing and includes many academic disciplines. However, public health consists mostly of the following core areas:

  • Behavioral Science/Health Education
  • Biostatistics
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Environmental Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Services Administration/Management
  • International/Global Health
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Nutrition
  • Public Health Laboratory Practice
  • Public Health Policy
  • Public Health Practice

What are the major achievements of Public Health?
The dramatic achievements of Public Health in the 20th century have improved our quality of life to include: an increase in life expectancy, worldwide reduction in infant and child mortality, and the elimination or reduction of many communicable diseases


How can I study Public Health at the University of South Dakota?

The Public Health pathway was recently added as an option within the undergraduate Health Sciences degree at the University of South Dakota. The pathway consists of the following three courses:

  • HSC 315: Introduction to Public Health. This course will cover the key elements of public health using an evidence-based population health approach. Student will explore through case studies the history, mission, essential services, core function, infrastructure, and care options. This course will use the United States public health system as its focus, but students will be exposed to global issues, views, and case studies from an international perspective.
  • HSC 320: Introduction to Epidemiology. This course will cover the key elements of epidemiology, integrating quantitative thinking, inquiry and analysis, and teamwork. Students will explore the terminology, experimental designs, and application of epidemiology to public health problems. Key sources of epidemiological data will be examined, as will the principles, promise, and problems of public health programs. Students will learn to calculate and interpret basic epidemiological measures and reports.
  • HSC 325: Global Health. The course will provide an introduction to global health issues to include the burden and distribution of disease and mortality in various places in the developed and developing world. Determinants of global health disparities will be addressed with an examination of how economic, political, cultural, and behavioral factors relate to and affect disease spread and management. The formation of global health policies and the outcomes of evidenced-based global health interventions will be explored. Lastly, this course will address emerging innovations to bring resources to health problems in developing countries.
***You do NOT have to be an HSC major to take the Public Health courses.***

Where can I find additional information on Public Health?

Who should I contact with questions about the Public Health pathway and courses?

  • Audrey Ticknor, RDH, MA
    Health Sciences Major Advisor/Instructor
    Lee Med 207

  • Cassity Guiterrez, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Beacom 313