Public Health students using a desktop computer

Public Health

Bachelor of Arts | Bachelor of Science

Eradicating diseases, promoting healthy behaviors, and improving the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities—an education in public health will provide you the skills to do it all. Mercyhurst’s multidisciplinary Public Health program focuses on disease and injury prevention by promoting healthy lifestyles through the implementation of educational programs, development of policies, research, and administration of health services. With only 16% of colleges offering 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.

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. As we have seen firsthand over the past few years, global health crises require well-trained and dedicated professionals who can understand the full scope of public health to create solutions for the betterment of our local and global communities. Public health is integral to every society through research and public policy. By supporting various organizations, public health graduates learn unique ways to indirectly and directly impact the well-being of a population; This exciting field of study will introduce you to an array of fulfilling, diverse job opportunities that specialize in human health, illnesses, disease prevention, and the environment.


    A minor in Public Health is useful to any student considering a career in medicine, health care, or the health sciences. Seven courses are required for the Public Health minor (five core courses and two public health electives):

    • PUBH 101: Foundations of Public Health (3 credits)
    • PUBH 201: Environmental Health (3 credits)
    • PUBH 211: Global Health (3 credits)
    • STAT 137: Biostatistics (3 credits)
    • PUBH 260: Principles of Epidemiology I (3 credits)

B.A. in Public Health

Graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health will be well-equipped for careers in the following areas:

  • Health Education and Advocacy
  • Public Health Communication and Marketing
  • Bioterrorism and Terrorism Investigations
  • Disaster Response and Recovery
  • Outbreak Investigations and Global Health
  • Health Law, Public Policy, and Analysis
  • Microfinance for Health Interventions in Developing Countries
  • Program Management
  • Public Health Practice and Planning

B.S. in Public Health

Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health will be well-equipped for careers in the following areas:

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Information Technology
  • Public Health Informatics and Biostatistics
  • Modeling and Simulation of Pandemics
  • Environmental Health
  • Water, Air, and Soil Safety Testing
  • Food Safety
  • Vaccines and Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Biomedical and Lab Practices

    Community Health seeks to improve the health and quality of life of all people in a community. Using health science, evidence-based strategies, and culturally appropriate approaches, professionals in this sector find solutions to health needs of the community.

    Career Opportunities:

    • Director, manager, or coordinator of specific public health programs
    • Patient outreach and patient satisfaction in clinics and hospitals
    • Advocacy
    • Policy analyst
    • Health educator

    Environmental Health seeks to understand the relationship between the environment, humans, and animals. It focuses on finding solutions to the many challenges posed by environmental health hazards, including chemical, biological, and radiation exposures, as well as the choices we must make to promote safe and healthy environments.

    Career Opportunities:

    • Air pollution analyst
    • Disaster management specialist
    • Environmental health professional
    • Environmental inspector
    • Environmental sanitation engineer
    • Environmental toxicologist
    • Epidemiologist
    • Groundwater protection specialist
    • Occupational health specialist/researcher
    • Environmental educator

    Epidemiology works to identify disease occurrence; factors that contribute to disease spread; and effective actions to prevent, control, and reduce disease burden. This field is essential for making decisions about health policy and the treatment of diseases, as well as establishing public health priorities. 

    Career Opportunities:

    • Epidemiologist
    • Disease investigation
    • Researcher
    • Medical trials coordinator
    • Biostatistician

    Global Health looks for ways to improve the health, life expectancy, and health equity of individuals around the world. Using health science, evidence-based strategies, and culturally appropriate approaches, professionals in this sector work to create health solutions for the global community. 

    Career Opportunities:

    • Director, manager, or coordinator of specific global public health programs
    • Patient outreach and patient satisfaction in clinics and hospitals
    • Advocacy
    • Policy analyst
    • Emergency preparedness
    • Disease control
    • Global health consultant
    • Global health educator

    The Pre-Health program directly prepares students to enter medical, dental, nursing, or physician assistant programs following graduation.   

In The Classroom

Social Determinants of Health students posing for a photo at a Erie City Council meeting

Dr. Beatriz Torres and six Lakers from the Social Determinants of Health class spoke at an Erie City Council meeting and met with City Council member Mayor Joseph V. Schemberand. These students, chosen by their peers to represent the class of 28 students, conducted a community assessment that included thorough observations of built environment, resources, and assets. They walked the streets and spoke with neighbors about aspects that encourage and/or hinder health and well-being. Each student presented their observations and provided recommendations for improvement coming from neighbors’ input. Dr. Torres asked the City Council members to reflect on ways each of their policies could affect Erie’s community health.

Learning Outcomes

The Public Health faculty members have identified five major Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for Majors in the Public Health Program. These SLOs are based on the 14 Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH) specific learning outcomes, which have been combined into five broader learning outcomes.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the history and philosophy of Public Health, as well as the healthcare system and relevant dimensions of health policy, law, ethics, and economics related to the public.
  • Identify the role and importance of using data in Public Health for identifying and addressing population health challenges.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the science of human health and disease, as well as health promotion and health principles.
  • Describe the role of socioeconomic, behavioral, biological, and environmental factors on human health and their contribution to health.
  • Use mass media, technical writing, and technology to effectively communicate health-related information and to disseminate public health messages to a wide range of audiences.
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  • Public Health Club

    Public Health Club facilitates cooperation between Public Health students and Erie community members through activities that promote wellness of the entire person. By applying classroom learning to service projects and community partnerships, students help to improve the quality of life for others as they reflect on their role as community members.

    Public Health students receiving a lecture from their professor
  • Student Scholarship

    The Department of Public Health encourages students to apply their knowledge beyond the classroom through internships, fieldwork, and academic conferences. 

    Public health students posing for a picture on a classroom trip
  • Experiences Abroad

    Students learn outside the classroom and even around the world.

    Students studying abroad

    Students can complete more than one Public Health internship or field experience. Through these hands-on experiences, students strengthen their skills to:  

    • Investigate factors that determine the presence or absence of diseases and disorders.
    • Evaluate health data.
    • Solve complex health problems while working collaboratively in teams.  
    • Create, implement, and evaluate disease prevention and health promotion strategies. 
    • Develop health education and communication campaigns. 

    Internship placements have included Trillium Health, Blue Zones Project, International Institute of Buffalo, Community Health Net, UNYTS Connect Life, Environment Erie, MIDAS, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Coalition Pathways, Cigna, Saint Vincent Hospital, Erie County Department of Health, Pennsylvania WIC, American Red Cross, Shriners Hospitals for Children, UPMC Hamot, American Intercontinental Healthcare Group, NASA, World Health Organization, and more. 

    At the local level, Mercyhurst Public Health has developed community partnerships with various grassroots and neighborhood organizations to improve food insecurity in the poorest census tracts in the city of Erie. Over the past four years, our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer has helped establish our footprint in local Erie schools and community organizations through the Tower Garden Lending Program. Tower gardens are an innovative way of growing produce indoors or outdoors, as well as using air or mist rather than in soil. The Tower Garden Lending Program provides nutritional and educational health outcomes, which align with identified needs, including the Community School Needs Assessment.