New undergraduate public health degree program to help meet workforce demands


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In an effort to meet the national shortage of trained public health professionals, the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences will launch a new undergraduate degree program in fall 2014. The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education today approved the program that will offer two degree options, a bachelor of science in public health (BSPH) for students focused on public health practice and a bachelor of arts in public health (BAPH) for liberal arts studies.

    The bachelor’’ degrees will prepare students for positions in specific sectors of public health, health services and public policy, with career opportunities in policy change, community engagement, global health, maternal and child health, disease surveillance, non-profit management, health promotion, health care administration, health services research and environmental health. Examples of job settings could include colleges and universities; local, state and federal health agencies; consumer advocacy organizations; consulting firms; health service delivery organizations; and community and international non-profits. Both the BAPH and BSPH will prepare students for advanced degrees in public health, law, medicine, nursing, and dentistry.

    “Our profession seeks to improve the conditions under which people can be healthy through health promotion, disease prevention and organized efforts that include health care systems and social policy,” Craig Blakely, PhD, MPH, Dean of UofL’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

    According to the Kentucky Institute of Public Health Practice Enhancement, more than half of the state’s public health workforce lack formal education in the profession’s essential core functions. To underscore the concern, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is calling for additional training opportunities to strengthen public health worker competencies.

    On a national scale, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) estimates an additional 250,000 public health workers will be needed by 2020. Meantime, the public health workforce has diminished, with 50,000 fewer workers in the year 2000 compared to 1980. To remedy this situation, the ASPPH recommends that schools of public health offer training opportunities for undergraduate students which address critical thinking as an educational cornerstone, an aspect UofL addresses through Ideas to Action (i2a), a university quality enhancement plan focused on critical thinking, oral communication, and appreciation of cultural diversity within society.

    Prospective students can learn more about UofL’s new degrees at: or by calling 502-852-3289.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.