Global Public Health and the Common Good

Public health is the science and art of protecting the health of populations. Its mission is to enhance health, prevent disease, reduce disparities, extend longevity for all people, and safeguard the health of cities, states, and nations. 

In this program, you will gain a deep understanding of the theory and practice of public health and prepare for graduate study in medicine, nursing, public health, health policy, law, and international relations or for a career in business, social work and public health practice.


Global Public Health and the Common Good
648 Higgins Hall

An Innovative New Program

Bringing Global Public Health to BC

The Connell School introduces a new interdisciplinary major.

Global Public Health and the Common Good major

The program emphasizes the scientific and social dimensions of public health.

At a Glance

12 courses
36 credits

Two-semester capstone project in a community-based setting

11 student-run organizations dedicated to key issues in Global Public Health

Strong emphasis on the ethical and moral foundations of public health 

Distinctive Features


You will receive a rigorous education that places public health education in a highly interdisciplinary, liberal arts context. This will enable you to explore public health’s connections to history, sociology, literature, engineering, art, economics, and political science.

Jesuit, Catholic Tradition

This major, which draws on Boston College’s Jesuit, Catholic tradition and Pope Francis’ teaching in Laudato Si’, will strongly emphasize the ethical and moral foundations of public health and the intersection between public health, social justice, and care for our Common Home.

Flexible Career Options

You will be prepared to serve the public health needs on a global capacity, in addition to local, regional, and national communities.

Academic Program

This program is a collaboration between the Connell School of Nursing and the Schiller Institute for Science and Society.

Coursework in the major will be grounded in epidemiology and biostatistics, the core disciplines of public health. You will gain intellectual and experiential understanding of the social determinants of health—the complex web of social, economic, environmental, political, and historical factors that influence health and drive the spread of disease. 
The major will consist of 36 academic credits, equivalent to 12 full-semester courses.  

In addition to the Major coursework, all Global Public Health and the Common Good major students must complete the Boston College Core Curriculum.  The undergraduate Core is a set of 15 required courses that give students exposure to a wide range of subjects. Click here for more general information on the BC Core.

Major students must also complete the Boston College Language Proficiency Requirement, which requires demonstration of intermediate-level proficiency in a modern or classical language in order to graduate. Click here for more information on language proficiency.  


Required Courses


Course #Course Name

Public Health in a Global Society

An overview of the history of public health, global burden of disease, sub-disciplines of public health, maternal/child health, and nutrition, and the collaborative nature of the field through examples in research and practice, focusing on at-risk populations, reducing health disparities, and improving health equity at the population level.

PHCG 2120 

Introduction to Epidemiology

This course introduces basic principles and methods of epidemiology and biostatistics. Measures of disease frequency, association and causation, the design and analysis of studies, and the potential issues that may arise in these studies are addressed.

PHCG 3560 

Biostatistics, Data Analytics and Quantitative Methods in Public Health

This course covers descriptive and inferential statistics used in biomedical and public health studies, with emphasis on practice and implementation. Descriptive statistics, probability, basic hypothesis testing, ANOVA, and linear and logistic regression will be covered.


Ethics of Global Public Health and the Common Good

A new course that will explore the social, economic, historical and political determinants of health.

PHCG 3600

Health Inequities: Origins and Remedies

Disease is not distributed evenly or randomly within societies, but instead is concentrated among people of color, the poor and the marginalized.  This course will examine the social, economic, political and historical factors that drive disparities in health and explore strategies to overcome these structural injustices.

PHCG 2130 

Global Public Health Law

This course will examine the critical role of law in creating and implementing social policy and achieving (or at least seeking) social justice.

PHCG 3300

Global Health: Theory to Practice

In this course, students will learn how to apply the theories and practices learned in other global health courses by working through practical case studies involving real-life global health problems.

PHCG 3810 

Public Health Planning, Practice, and Evaluation

A new course which will include didactic material and case studies on leadership, advocacy, project implementation and evaluation, and community partnerships. Classroom teaching will be complemented with community engagement.


Courses for Required Capstone Project

Senior Capstone Experience:

PHCG4975 and PHCG4976: You will complete a 2-semester, 6-credit, interdisciplinary Capstone Experience in your senior year. The equivalent of two courses, this Capstone will be the culmination of your undergraduate experience and will allow you to apply your knowledge in a real-world setting. A faculty mentor will provide guidance as you work with a community-based organization identified by CSON’s Office of Clinical Placements and Community Partnerships. Individually or paired with another student, you will work in and with a community to:

  • identify a community-level public health problem
  • undertake a rigorous analysis of its origins and health effects, and
  • devise feasible and cost-effective solutions that are acceptable to the community. 

The resulting project—a scholarly report, video, or other academic output—will describe the project, your approach to it, and its outcome. This final product will be of a quality suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed biomedical journal or for regional or national presentation.




You will choose two electives from an extensive list of courses.


Notice to our Premedical Students:

Students applying to medical programs in the United States calculate a science GPA that includes all BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics) courses.

It is the belief of the Global Public Health and the Common Good program faculty that, in accordance with the guidelines outlined by AMCAS, the courses listed below should be reported in your “BCPM” GPA when applying through AMCAS. When filing an application, Premedical students should read the instructions on the AMCAS or AACOMAS application carefully, as policies may change.

  • PHCG2120 Introduction to Epidemiology
  • PHCG3120 Cancer Epidemiology
  • PHCG3560 Biostatistics, Data Analytics and Quantitative Methods in Public Health
  • PHCG4140 Children's Health and the Environment 

As a graduate from this program, you will be prepared for:

  • graduate study in medicine, nursing, public health, health policy, law, and international relations or 
  • a career in business, social work and public health practice

You will learn how the health of populations affects economic growth and alters the destiny of nations. You will acquire knowledge of key elements of public health: disease prevention; health promotion; survey design; community assessment; data collection, management, and analysis; policy development; outbreak investigation and control; infection dynamics; project implementation; grant writing, public health communication; and leadership.

The acceptance to the Global Public Health and the Common Good program is by application, which occurs in January annually. The best way to stay informed of all things related to the Global Public Health program, is to subscribe to our newsletter.

Admittance to the major and minor in Global Public Health and the Common Good is by application.  Students can apply in the Spring semester of either their freshman or sophomore year. Rising seniors will be considered only if they have already fulfilled many of the course requirements for the minor.

We seek a broad range of students from programs and schools across Boston College to apply.

  • We invite pre-health and nursing students who wish to understand how the health of populations informs the care of individual patients.
  • We invite students from the humanities, business, economics, environmental science, pre-law, political science, international studies and other majors who wish to learn how the health of populations and the social, political, economic and environmental determinants of health and disease influence public policy, drive economic growth, and shape the destiny of nations.

Students who wish to apply to the program are encouraged to take Public Health in a Global Society (NURS1210 cross-listed as PHCG1210) before applying. This course is open to students in all schools at Boston College, but it is not required to apply to the program.

Please contact with any questions regarding the application.


Connell School of Nursing

Law School

Lynch School of Education and Human Development

Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

School of Social Work

Student Ambassadors, 2023–2024

Because of their merit and passion for public health, GPHCG Student Ambassadors have been selected to represent the program at BC and beyond. It is their job to lead the next generation of public health professionals and help create meaningful impact in their communities.


Undergraduate Research


In the Undergraduate Research Fellows (UGRF) program, undergraduates pair with research-intensive faculty and their teams to work on scholarly projects. They are financially compensated for their time and effort. CSON supports approximately 50 research placements for undergraduate students each year. Many UGRFs contribute substantially to scientific products including presentations and published abstracts and papers. 

Faculty Research

Students are invited to learn about our research and to become involved in projects of significant importance to modern societies.

Areas of major research interest within the program are:

  • The spread of pandemics,
  • Nutrition and health.
  • Health impacts of pollution and climate change, and
  • The ethical and legal foundations of public health


Developing this major at Boston College is aligned with our mission to use our education and knowledge in service to others – in this case, to serve people and communities through global public health.
Katherine Gregory, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Dean, William F. Connell School of Nursing
Dean Kate Gregory

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