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Public Health

mercyhurst public health


This is the time to enter into the public health sector — the demand for public health careers is expected to steadily grow over the next decade. This exciting field of study will introduce you to an array of fulfilling, diverse job opportunities that concentrate on human health, illnesses, disease prevention and the environment. Public health is integral to every society; it addresses the most pressing health concerns to date by going beyond traditional medical care provided by physicians and current healthcare systems. Through research, public policy and by supporting various organizations, public health graduates learn unique ways to indirectly and directly impact the well-being of a population.

Often labeled a “hot field for a global generation,” public health trains future leaders and advocates for a better tomorrow by offering a strong foundation for studying the health of human populations through education, research and practical, hands-on experience outside of the classroom. Beginning your freshman year, you’ll work directly with distinguished faculty on cutting-edge research. Additionally, Mercyhurst's liberal arts approach gives you an advantage — by combining the public health program with 15 other fields of study, you can create a unique, multidisciplinary undergraduate education that can lead you to a career that better fits your interests.

The public health program at Mercyhurst is one of the only undergraduate public health programs in the country in a fully accredited, four-year, Catholic comprehensive institution, and it is one of only a handful of undergraduate public health programs offered by colleges and universities in the northeast.

And, with a 14-1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of 20 students, you’re never just a number at Mercyhurst. In fact, many upper level courses average 10 or fewer students. We keep our classes small so you can get individualized attention from professors to ensure your success in class and beyond.

Why Public Health?

Beyond the fact that a degree in public health can lead to fulfilling careers in medicine, health care, biotechnology and the life sciences, there is a strong and evidenced need for public health workers in the coming years. Studies show that America will be short by a quarter of a million public health workers by 2020, a number that represents one-third of the workforce needed to keep society healthy.

With only 16% of schools offer undergraduate public health programs, Mercyhurst public health graduates have excellent prospects of finding work in the field, entering one of the more than 50 graduate schools of public health or continuing on to medical school or a law school offering a health law program.

Examples of the jobs public health graduates can pursue include: epidemiologist, health educator, biostatistician, health services administrator, clinical outcomes specialist, infection control coordinator, research scientist, health communications specialist and environmental health intelligence analyst.


Multidisciplinary Approach

Public health fits into the liberal arts tradition like a hand in glove. The public health program at Mercyhurst exploits the synergies across academic disciplines to give students a broad liberal arts education coupled with in-depth knowledge of the public health sector. The unique multidisciplinary approach of the public health major and minor prepares successful graduates to work and interact with numerous fields successfully. Shown below are just a few of the crossovers you will experience while studying here and how it relates to Public Health.

Employment Opportunities and Salaries

There are thousands of opportunities available with an education in Public Health. Below are just a few of the fields successful graduates will be working in and the salary ranges they can expect.
Environmental Health
$44,550 - $143,700
International Health
$31,500 - $86,625
Nutritional Epidemiology
$31,500 - $70,875
Public Health Practice/ Project Management
$41,175 - $102,000
Biomedical Laboratory
$31,500 - $78,750
Clinical Outcomes Specialist
$46,830 - $58,024
Infection Control Coordinator
$64,907 - $76,494
Health Services Administration
$37,050 - $161,400
$33,000 - $63,000
$38,175 - $136,237
Health Education/Behavioral Science
$33,000 - $86,625


A degree from Mercyhurst prepares you for this exciting and dynamic career.

Major(s) Public Health Major
Minor(s) Public Health Minor
Pre-Health Medical Technologist
  Pre-Physician Assistant

Ready to begin your journey in public health?  Apply online today -- it's free and getting your application started takes only a few brief minutes.  Interested students may also consult the course catalog for more information.  As a liberal arts institution, all undergraduate students complete Mercyhurst's core curriculum

Consistent with the mission of Mercyhurst University, the Public Health Department at Mercyhurst seeks to train students to be globally responsible citizens who take intelligent actions to improve the lives and conditions of people around the world. The Department strives to: · Instill a passion for public health knowledge and action in undergraduate students · Train the next generation of public health workers who "think globally, act locally" · Become a community resource and repository for public health knowledge · Serve as an exemplar for undergraduate public health studies for colleges and universities around the country · Develop public health curricula, case studies and learning tools that can be adopted by other public health programs · Design and implement public health continuing education training opportunities for existing members of the public health workforce · Conduct cutting edge public health research designed to improve the health and well being of populations of people · Disseminate public health knowledge through peer-reviewed publications, public reports and national, regional and local presentations · Provide high school and college students with information about public health as a career option · Increase awareness about the health and conditions of populations around the world

The goal of Public Health Department is to train students to be able to gain entry-level positions in the health sector and/or to help them gain entrance into high quality graduate or professional schools. Graduates of the public health program go on to pursue jobs in the public and private sector, medical degrees, law degrees, and graduate degrees in a diverse range of fields including public health, immunology, and environmental health. The Public Health Department has a unique focus that provides students with skills that are: · Distinct and unique · Transferable (to other fields of study) · Marketable (to a wide range of employers or graduate/professional schools) Students are trained in the cutting edge of public health science. In addition to core public health methods, they learn new and evolving methods that are likely to shape the field over the course of the next decade including crowd sourcing, social network analysis, and agent based modeling. Students will graduate with a distinct set of skills that are marketable to a wide range of employers or that will make them strong candidates for further studies. These skills include strong data analysis, statistical programming, and database development skills. In addition, from the day students enter the program, they will be taught "soft skills" related to professionalism, teamwork, and advancement that will put them on a path to exceed in their careers. The public health program has a unique approach that defines the program and sets it apart from most other undergraduate programs in public health. Three defining principles provide maximum benefit for career development: · Competency focused · Team-based · Applied and experiential Knowledge acquisition is only one aspect of learning. The public health program focuses on teaching students core competencies that are critical for a successful career in public health. This approach to learning focuses not only on what students know when they graduate but also on what they can do and is consistent with professional expectations for public health graduates entering the workforce or graduate studies. The public health curriculum is also team based and harnesses the power of teams to improve student outcomes and learning through case studies, projects, exercises and simulations. This plan summarizes the learning outcomes and competencies for the Public Health Department. It provides a curricular map for these outcomes and links them to measurable assessment tools that will be used in the next five years to evaluate the Department's success and to engage in continuous quality improvement.

  • Overview of Public Health
  • Address the history and philosophy of public health as well as its core values, concepts, and functions the globe and in society. A1-A2. Public Health History & Philosophy A3-A4. Core Public Health Values & Concepts A5-A6. Global & Societal Functions of Public Health
  • Role and Importance of Data in Public Health
  • Address the basic concepts, methods, and tools of public health data collection, use, and analysis and why evidence-based approaches are an essential part of public health practice
  • Identify and Addressing Population Health Channenges
  • Interact with diverse individuals and communities to successfully produce or impact an intended public health outcome.
  • Professionalism and ethics
  • Demonstrate ethical choices, values and professional practices implicit in public health decisions; consider the effect of choices on community stewardship, equity, social justice, and accountability; and commit to personal and institutional development.
  • Policy development and program planning
  • Plan for the design, development, implementation and evaluation of strategies to improve individual and community health.
  • Public health science
  • Apply knowledge of public health history and science (including biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health sciences and social and behavioral sciences) to solve public health problems.
  • Leadership and systems thinking
  • Recognize the roles and responsibilities of public health leaders. Recognize systems-level properties that result from dynamic interactions among human and social systems and how they affect the relations among individuals, groups, organizations, communities and environments.


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David Dausey, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Eileen Zinchiak
Program Coordinator, High School Coordinator
James Teufel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Public Health, Director, Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health
Paula Davis-Olwell, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Sarah McCool
Thomas Cook, M.P.H., Ph.D.
Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Public Health