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Public Health vs Health Science Degree

Classiest2002@me[email protected] 74 replies36 threads Junior Member
So I want to major in one of these but I honestly don't know which one. Both have a lot of similarities. But what I want to know, are the differences between them. What sets them apart? Which one would do a better job at fulfilling PA school requirements? What CSUs offer these programs?
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Replies to: Public Health vs Health Science Degree

  • GumbymomGumbymom 28824 replies209 threadsForum Champion UC Forum Champion
    edited August 2019
    To find out which CSU’s offer either Public Health or Health Science, you can do a search on the CSU website.
    For Public Health the following CSU’s offer this program:
    http://degrees.calstate.edu/search-results/10987/all/10941/all?areaofstudy=Public Health

    For Health Sciences the following CSU’s offer this program:
    http://degrees.calstate.edu/search-results/10987/all/all/all?areaofstudy=Health Science

    Which one fulfills PA school requirements will depend on the curriculum. You would need to investigate each degree program at the specific Cal state you plan to apply and also the PA school requirements. The courses alone will not satisfy all the PA school requirements. Here are the basic PA school requirements:
    1) Complete your bachelor's degree (a science or healthcare related major is usually best);
    2) Gain experience either working or volunteering in a healthcare setting;
    3) Apply to ARC-PA accredited physician assistant programs;
    4) Complete a 2-3 year, master's level PA program.

    General PA course requirements:
    Most programs will require at least:
    One year of chemistry with labs*
    One course each of human anatomy and physiology with labs
    One course in microbiology with lab
    One course in statistics
    One course in psychology
    *Schools can be very particular about which chemistry series they prefer. It is important to consult websites of schools you are interested in, and then check with your academic adviser.
    Other frequently required or recommended courses:
    general biology
    genetics
    organic chemistry
    biochemistry
    additional courses in social/behavioral sciences
    languages (some schools require coursework in Spanish)
    medical terminology
    public speaking

    Here is an example of what USC’s PA program requires: https://keck.usc.edu/physician-assistant-program/admission/

    Also you want a degree that will serve as a backup in case you are not accepted into a PA program since these are highly competitive.

    Career Possibilities for Health Science: Health Educator • Government Inspector • California Middle/High School Health Teacher • Researcher/Evaluator • Health Education Specialist • Public Health Educator • Patient Educator

    Career Possibilities for Public Health: Career Paths in Public Health
    Dietitian and Nutritionist. ...
    Emergency Management Specialist. ...
    Epidemiologist. ...
    Health Educators and Community Health Workers. ...
    Microbiologist. ...
    Occupational Health and Safety Specialist. ...
    Public Health Nurse. ...
    Social and Community Service Managers.

    Both degrees will have significant overlap of pre-req PA school course requirements and career opportunities.
    Review each CSU’s degree program to see if they will meet your goals.
    edited August 2019
    Post edited by Gumbymom on
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  • MistySteel27MistySteel27 42 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Why don’t you look into freshman direct admit PA schools? There’s a handful of schools around the country like Duquesne and Gannon in Pennsylvania.
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  • juilletjuillet 12708 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    ^This. If you don't do a direct admit PA program, honestly, the best major for you in undergrad is probably nursing or some other pre-professional program that allows you to work in direct patient care. PA program applicants need to have around 2-4 years of direct patient care experience before getting admitted; most of them were former nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), parademics, EMTs, occupational or physical therapist assistants, or in other similar roles before becoming PAs.

    There are a few programs that don't have these requirements of direct patient care experience. The PA program at CUNY Sophie Davis does not, although they do recommend shadowing. Stanford and Yale also do not require it, although they strongly recommend it. You can browse through the list of accredited programs here (http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation/accredited-programs/) and look at requirements across them.

    If you major in public health or health sciences, you are going to have to go to another academic or certificate program to get the training necessary to do that direct patient care experience. (One option is to become a CNA or EMT in undergrad - it's not difficult, and you can do it over the summer - but then you'll need to work 15-20 hours a week over the course of your time there to have the appropriate experience).

    That said, the differences between these two majors depends on the university. In very general, the public health major tends to be more well-rounded/generalist, with an emphasis on both the natural sciences (biology, epidemiology, maybe some chemistry) and the social sciences that influence public health. Health sciences generally tends to focus more on the natural/physical sciences. You can easily figure out which CSUs offer these majors by visiting the websites of the campuses, or by using the search function here (http://degrees.calstate.edu/). Cal State Easy Bay offers a health sciences major, while the campuses at Chico, Fullerton, Los Angeles, Northridge, San Diego, San Jose, and Cal Poly SLO offer public health majors.
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  • GumbymomGumbymom 28824 replies209 threadsForum Champion UC Forum Champion
    @MistySteel27 @juillet

    OP has posted they are low income, trying to figure out to even pay for a Cal state as a non-local and vague about their stats. OP has stated they are struggling in Math with a D Freshman year along with possible C’s.

    Since Direct admit PA programs are highly competitive and most likely not overly generous with FA, they are probably off the table.
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