10 Awesome Classes to Take at Your Community College to Prepare for a Public Health Career

by Chad Agrawal

The Association of Schools of Public Health estimates that by 2020 the United States will face a shortage of more than 250,000 public health workers.

The path to a career in public health has traditionally required a master of public health degree, but that is changing. Due to a shortage in masters-level applicants, many health departments are hiring candidates with bachelor's degrees or even no college degree at all. If you are considering a public health degree you should visit this site to find out more information.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue public health degrees, of course. But you may not need a masters in public health to get your foot in the door. There are now around 25 bachelor-level public health programs at various colleges and universities in the US, and there is at least one community college offering an associate's degree in public health—Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland.

Start Your Public Health Education at the Community College Level

You can increase your chances of landing a position as an epidemiologist, public health nurse, or any other position that typically requires a MPH degree from a Top mph degree program by getting one of these lesser degrees. If your level of education is the highest among all who apply, it doesn't matter whether you have a master's degree or an associate's. You'll have an excellent shot at landing the job.

Unfortunately, most community colleges don't offer a degree in public health, but there are almost always classes you can take at the local community college that will count toward your bachelor's degree if you transfer to a 4-year college or university later.

Here are 10 classes offered by community colleges that will help you prepare for a career in public health, whether you get your master's degree or not.

  1. Introduction to Sociology. Almost every community college offers an introductory sociology course, and it counts toward the general education requirements at most 4-year universities. In addition, a general understanding of sociology will provide insight into the disparities in health services and outcomes among people of different social classes.
  2. Addiction Treatment with Diverse Populations. This course covers different types of chemical dependencies among various population groups. It gives an overview of counseling methods and intervention strategies that can be used when treating addiction.
  3. Human Growth and Development. Learning about the stages of growth and development from infancy through old age will help you recognize deviations from the norm, whether it's in a single individual or a population group.
  4. Statistics. Most public health degree programs require a statistics class, so you might as well get it out of the way now. If you're the analytical type, you might even enjoy it.
  5. Nutrition. If your community college has a nursing program, there is probably a nutrition class you can take. You will need a solid understanding of nutrition to address issues such as obesity, malnutrition, and nutritional deficiencies.
  6. Emergency Preparedness and Planning. Many community colleges offer degrees in environmental health and safety, which include courses in environmental regulations, hazardous waste, and other topics that could be useful for a public health student. Emergency preparedness and planning often a core course in these programs. This class will prepare you to respond to disasters such as oil spills, hazardous waste leakage, and other emergencies that pollute the air or contaminate the public water supply.
  7. Principles of Epidemiology. This class is an introduction to the science of epidemiology, which is the study of causes, effects, and patterns of disease among a population group. Topics of study include disease transmission, investigating outbreaks, and the control and prevention of diseases.
  8. Human Physiology. You'll learn about the cells, tissues, and organs that make up the body's systems. You will also study how those systems function individually as well as how they integrate with other systems.
  9. Behavioral Health and Human Services. Learn about the history of behavioral health and the work that human service providers perform. This course includes an overview of ethics and research methods as they relate to behavioral health and human services.
  10. Ethical and Legal Issues in Health Care.  Regardless of the career you choose in health care, there will always be legal and ethical issues to address. This class emphasizes the use of critical thinking skills to make ethical decisions and helps students evaluate ethical and legal positions relating to controversies in health care.

Obviously, the courses available vary from one community college to the next. Get a copy of the course catalog and look for classes that sound interesting to you, perhaps online courses in public health or a complete online degree in public health. Before registering for classes, go over your list with an admissions counselor from the college or university you'd like to transfer to so you don't waste your time taking classes that won't count toward your bachelor's in public health or master's public health degree.


This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek J. October 24, 2012 at 4:23 am

Great list of classes. These fill so many of my basic requirements. Thanks for sharing.


Chad Agrawal October 24, 2012 at 8:25 am

Happy to help Derek. Thank you for leaving a comment.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: