Public health is the science and art of improving health, preventing disease, prolonging life and enhancing well-being. Public health workers safeguard the health of entire populations – cities, states, countries and even the world. They fight epidemics. They protect the environment. They work to promote social justice and reduce disparities in health.
Public health is highly interdisciplinary. Its core science is epidemiology. It collaborates with a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, biostatistics, demography, environmental science, climate science, economics, law, history, geography, social science, neuroscience, psychology, political science, international studies, health care administration, and city planning.
Boston College offers an undergraduate minor and a range of courses in Global Public Health. Our entry-level courses are open to students from across Boston College and are designed to introduce students in any field of study to core concepts in public health.
Enrollment in the 6-course (18 credit) minor in Global Public Health and the Common Good is by competitive application submitted in the spring of the freshman or sophomore year.
A unique and distinctive aspect of the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good at Boston College is our strong focus on the ethical, moral and legal foundations of global public health. This emphasis reflects our foundation in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition of service and our commitment to a preferential option for the poor.
The program is unique also in that it spans multiple schools across Boston College – the Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences, the Connell School of Nursing, the School of Social Work, the Lynch School of Education, the Carroll School of Management, the Law School, and the School of Theology & Ministry. Faculty members from all of these schools teach and advise students in the Global Public Health program and selected courses in all of these schools are approved as electives in the minor in Global Public Health and the Common Good.
All students who take classes in Global Public Health at Boston College will gain familiarity with core concepts in public health and acquire insights about health and society that will inform their life’s work in a broad range of fields and professions. They will come to understand the key role that public health plays in maintaining the stability of modern societies – a role that has never been more clearly evident than in the COVID-19 pandemic
Students who complete the minor in Global Public Health and the Common Good will become deeply familiar with the disciplines and dimensions of public health and will be fully prepared for postgraduate studies in public health (MPH and PhD).
For students headed to medicine, dentistry and nursing as well as for those interested in law, economics, international studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, the humanities, business, social work or education, completion of the minor in Global Public Health will deepen their education and broaden their understanding of the intersections between human health, the environment and the health of the planet.
Because public health is highly interdisciplinary, students from all schools and majors across Boston College are encouraged to take courses through the program for Global Public Health and the Common Good. Our student body is deliberately diverse, and this diversity brings a unique perspective to the classroom.
For example, International Studies students in the Global Public Health minor educate their fellow students about the role of diplomacy in advancing public health. Students interested in entrepreneurship or communication will gain insights about public health that will enable them to develop new products and services or design health-marketing campaigns. Students planning careers in medicine, nursing or dentistry will come to understand how the health of populations influences the health and well-being of individual patients.
Public health and medicine are closely related and they share a common body of scientific knowledge, but they differ from each other in that the focus of public health is on the health of populations, while medicine’s focus is on the health of individual patients.
The Medical Humanities minor at Boston College is an interdisciplinary, humanistic and cultural sequence of courses that studies illness, health, health care, and the body. Courses in the Medical Humanities minor complement coursework in public health and in the pre-health program. Students can cross-enroll in these programs.
Students who complete the minor in Global Public Health and the Common Good will have a variety of career options.
Upon graduation from Boston College, they will be competitive for staff positions in environmental and community health organizations and for research assistant positions at health departments, universities, and hospitals.
They will be fully prepared to pursue advanced training in public health at a School of Public Health and to earn a Master’s degree (MPH) degree or a doctoral degree (PhD or Dr.P.H.) in public health.
They will be prepared to enter any of the health professions - medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or the allied health professions – and they will carry with them an extra credential and a body of knowledge that will enrich and inform their life’s work.
Visit our website and sign up for our list serve to learn about public health and public-health-related events at Boston College and throughout the Boston area. Boston is a hub for medical and public health activity—there is everything from lectures, debates, and film screenings. Please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like more information or if you want to advertise an event or job opportunity.
There are also many public health-related clubs on campus working in a wide variety of areas. The Public Health Club of Boston College started in September 2015 and coordinates on-campus events to educate students about public health. For a list of other clubs, click here.
There are many opportunities to gain experience in public health both on and off campus. Students can work as a University Research Fellow for a faculty member doing research in an area of public health.
They can explore internship and volunteer opportunities in a wide range of public health organizations within the city of Boston and beyond. For a list of potential internships and volunteer opportunities during the school year and also over the summer, click here.