Do you want to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities? Maybe you're interested in a career tackling addictions or obesity, changing a public law or health policy, or developing programs that make it possible to live better. The community health major will give you the tools necessary to make a real impact in any health setting.
"When I first joined the program, I wasn’t entirely sure it was for me—until I met the professors, who demonstrated a real passion for public health. The B.S.P.H. in community health offers a variety of educational resources, research opportunities, and health-related activities that have helped me grow both academically and personally. Thanks to this program, my opportunities are limitless."
Macoy Riley, Community Health B.S.P.H.
As a community health major, you’ll investigate topics in health promotion and disease prevention all while developing a solid foundation in core areas of public health:
Social and behavioral health – the psychology and sociology of health
Epidemiology – the study of the spread of disease
Health administration – the business of health
Environmental health – the earth and health
Biostatistics – the numbers of health
First-year coursework includes:
Topics such as emotional health; aging and death; alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse; physical fitness; nutrition and dieting; consumer health; chronic and infectious diseases; safety; and environmental health are explored. The course provides a theoretical and real-world treatment of disease prevention and health promotion concepts.
Writing in Public Health
This writing-intensive course provides an overview of the writing process for public health audiences. Topics include writing as an art and science, argument building, reference management, and refining written communication skills. Students develop a research guide on emergent and chronic public health issues through learned writing strategies.
Tracks and concentrations
Community Health has pre-requisites embedded in the major for:
Pre-Medical and Pre–Physician Assistant students
Pre-Professional students such as Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, and Dentistry
Advanced coursework focuses on helping you gain skills in planning, implementing, and evaluating public health programming. Once you've completed your coursework, you'll apply what you have learned through a required 5-credit, 250-hour field experience, gaining experience in the day-to-day operations of a public health agency. The internship is the last thing students do before earning their degree.
As a community health major, you will learn from faculty with expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work towards your professional career goals.
You'll gain practical, hands-on experience by participating in the Honors Program or working with IU faculty on research projects. And learning won't be confined to the classroom. With the help of an internship coordinator, you'll get real-world, professional experience through a required internship in your area of interest. Internship coordinators are faculty members who will help you navigate the internship process and ultimately approve your internship placement.
Commonly pursued majors, minors, and certificates
With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.
The Explore Programs tool can help you find majors, minors, and certificate programs that fit you and your goals by allowing you to filter by interest area. Other majors, minors, and certificates can be excellent opportunities to build upon and broaden your interests.
Some commonly pursued minors for community health students include global health promotion, human development and family studies, personal well-being, human sexuality, and nutrition.
Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist or to start a new one. Community health majors benefit from joining the School of Public Health student organization chapter of Eta Sigma Gamma. In this national health education honorary society, students gain community experience in public health.
Other student organizations that could fit your interests include:
Community health prepares you with relevant transferable skills for any public health setting. As a community health major, you’ll develop the knowledge and skills in
how to live well and to communicate wellness to others
how to address the social, behavioral, and health needs of populations
how to understand, track, and prevent diseases
how to work together to solve current public health problems such as drug abuse and obesity
how to accurately document health data to constitute solid research
how the environment and other factors affect our health
how to develop and evaluate effective public health programs
how to obtain funding and manage resources for public health programs
Skills desired by employers
Skills desired by employers include planning, implementing, and evaluating public health programming, cultural awareness, program budgeting, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, effective communication, public speaking, customer service, teamwork, adaptability, marketing, management, multi-tasking, language skills, professionalism, cultural competency, and attention to detail.
Practicum, Fieldwork, and Internship Opportunities
Take the initiative to network and look for internship and job shadow opportunities as early as your first semester and every semester while pursuing your degree at Indiana University. Our fantastic Career Services Office supports students throughout the career search process. Community health students must complete at least one internship for academic credit through the course: SPH-B496, where students plan, implement and evaluate an effective public health program. This capstone experience allows students to practice their skills in the field with professional mentors. Students are often offered full-time employment with these internship sites. Below are some examples of community health topics and sites where students have completed internships:
Corporate and Employee Wellness
Health Equity and Disparities
Maternal and Child Health
School Health Education
Sexual and Reproductive Health
Boys and Girls Club
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Healthy Aging Agencies
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Indiana Minority Health Coalition
Maternal and Child Health Agencies
National Institutes for Health
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Sexual and Reproductive Health Agencies
State and County Health Departments
University and College Institutes and Centers
Urban and Rural Hospitals and Clinics
This major will prepare you for a career in professional organizations, non-profit agencies, government, or healthcare. You may even consider continuing your education in public health, public health administration, law, environmental affairs, safety engineering, epidemiology, biostatistics, or the field of human services. You'll also have access to our team of career coaches in the Office of Career Services, who will work with you as soon as you're ready to explore your career interests and develop a plan tailored to you.
Students in the program come from all over the country and the world. Class size varies from 10–250 students depending on the course.
Community health is a great major if you want to empower individuals and communities to strive for a healthy life. Elective courses allow you to explore your unique interests in the field. The curriculum will prepare you to step into the profession immediately or further your education for work in medical or allied health fields.
To be considered for direct admission into the School of Public Health, students must first be admitted to IU with an intended major within the School of Public Health. Students who meet the Direct Admit qualifications are accepted into the program.
"My undergrad coursework—specifically the Public Health Program Planning course and my field experience—solidly prepared me for my role as assistant director of student support at the Kelley School of Business. I had a base of knowledge to effectively plan public health programs that meet audience needs and include stakeholders in every step of the process. I currently manage several programs, which I can do confidently because of the exceptional training I received."
Keyandra Whiteside, Assistant Director of Student Support/Indiana University Bloomington