Public Health

The Profession

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Who They Are

Public health professionals work to prevent illness, disease and injury with whole communities and populations at a time. They conduct and implement research, promote health and disease prevention interventions, and develop policies to improve and enhance quality of life. The field of public health includes a wide-array of professionals, including epidemiologists, community health educators, biostatisticians, health administrators, health researchers, environmental health specialists, nutritionists, and maternal and child health specialists to name a few. To learn more about public health, explore the “What is Public Health” and "This is Public Health" websites.

What They Do

Public health professionals address a very wide range of public health threats including infectious diseases, chronic diseases and other epidemics (such as obesity). They work to implement safety laws and policy to positively impact people at work, school, at home, and beyond. The field of public health is constantly changing and evolving to reflect new threats, such as bioterrorism and avian influenza, but also includes policies, such as assuring smoke-free restaurants for employees and customers.

Where They Work

Public health professionals work in a wide variety of environments. You can conduct research for a university or company. Many work in healthcare settings, for local, state, or federal governments, or even for a nonprofit organization.


Because there are so many career possibilities in public health, it can be difficult to describe the overall outlook. For epidemiologists, the profession is expected to grow by 5% in the next ten years. The Health education profession is growing much faster than the national average. Generally, the field of public health is rapidly growing and changing. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


There are many paths you can take to become a public health professional. A Master of Public Health, a Master of Science, a Master of Healthcare Administration, or a Doctoral degree are all types of degrees these professionals hold. Many of these degrees are broken down further by areas of study and student focus. The University of Minnesota School of Public Health offers many different educational opportunities, including the graduate degrees listed above as well as a public health Bachelor of Arts (BA) program for undergraduate students. Explore the different areas of study and degrees offered to help you decide which major/area is the best fit for you.

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