Best Bachelor's in Health Science Degrees

Apr 06, 2021

Health Science Degrees

Health science degrees, ranging from associate degrees to doctorates, prepare students for an array of jobs in the fields of nutrition, exercise science, healthcare management, pharmacy, therapy, and more. Certificate programs are also beneficial in this field. An advanced health science degree opens the door to professional and hospital jobs, and many health science majors become doctors, surgeons, dentists, chiropractors, and therapists. Still other health science majors may pursue careers with government or nonprofit organizations. Health science careers are often both fulfilling and rewarding, with opportunities to inform, rehabilitate, and care for others while earning a reliable, comfortable salary. The field is growing as the nation's population ages, with high expectations for job growth in almost every health science occupation.

What Kinds of Health Science Degrees Are There?

Health science degrees are commonly divided into tracks that allow students to focus their studies toward a given career. Common degree titles include Associate of Applied Science in Health Sciences or Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Science, Health Administration, Public Health, and Pre-Professional Health Studies. Advanced degrees may carry more job-specific titles, such as Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy, Dietetics and Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology, Rehabilitation Counseling, and other specializations, although many universities offer an MS in Health Science or an MS in Health Administration. Doctoral programs in health science include Doctor of Health Science (DHS) as well as many other fields. Find out more about these types of degrees below.

Associate Degrees in Health Science

Associate degrees in health science are widely available online and at community colleges, generally taking about two years to complete. Students take courses in biology, bioethics or medical ethics, disease prevention, psychology or mental health, and nutrition. They also learn how to apply their knowledge in the public sphere through courses on healthcare systems and community health, preparing them for careers in public health policy as it applies in schools, hospitals, and local and global communities. Many people with an associate in health science work for the government, nonprofits, and schools in developing public health initiatives. Others may become pharmacy or laboratory technicians, dental hygienists, or medical assistants.

Bachelor's Degrees in Health Science

Many universities offer a BS in Health Science, and students with that major choose a track or concentration in categories such as nutrition, health informatics, social and behavioral sciences, healthcare administration, pre-physical or pre-occupation therapy, and more. Bachelor's degrees with titles like healthcare administration (or management), public health (sometimes called health promotion or health education), and pre-professional health studies fall into the health science department.

Some colleges may choose to divide health science majors into separate majors instead of separate tracks. It is possible to major in nutrition or in child and family studies, for instance. Other schools may offer majors in subfields like dental hygiene or laboratory science. Health science degrees may also take the form of pre-professional programs, which may be further divided into tracks like those mentioned above, but with greater specificity. For example, pre-nursing, pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy, or pre-dentistry help to funnel students into their intended professional programs. However, it is more common for students to major in biology, chemistry, or general health sciences with a pre-professional track if interested in professional degrees. Importantly, some universities offer non-degree granting, pre-requisite programs in health sciences that allow students to prepare for their professional degrees (such as occupational therapy or dentistry). Students should be aware that they are responsible to apply to advanced programs either within or outside the university at which they take their pre-requisite courses.

Master's Degrees in Health Science

A master's degree in health science or in a related field qualifies students for a variety of different careers in many settings. Holding an MS can help students gain access to positions in healthcare administration, health promotion, and health education that are less available to those who hold only bachelor's degrees. Epidemiology and disease control are particularly relevant areas of study for master's students in health science today, and having a deeper knowledge of these topics gives students the opportunity to make a real difference in the world. Other areas of deeper study include health policy, leadership, and environmental health, all of which impact the health community significantly.

Many careers, such as occupational therapy, rehabilitation counseling, and speech-language pathology require practitioners to hold a master's degree in those specific areas (e.g. a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy). While other fields, such as health administration, may not require an advanced degree, earning a master's degree in health science will further the student's career and boost their salary. An MS is also useful to students who wish to pursue doctoral degrees in health science and related fields (such as dentistry or pharmacy).

Both online and on-campus options are available for MS programs in health science.

Doctoral Degrees in Health Science

Earning a Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) can advance one's career in health administration, nursing, occupational and physical therapy, family therapy, dietetics and nutrition, and more. The DHSc paves the way to management and leadership positions, clinical research, and teaching positions; plus, the salary for those with a DHSc is lucrative.

Students with bachelor's or master's degrees in health science may also pursue doctoral degrees specific to those fields (e.g. Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or Doctor of Optometry (OD)). The median pay for doctors in the field of health science is enticing. Here are a few options with median yearly salaries (as of 2019), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Certificates in Health Science

Some health science programs offer certificates (also known as post-baccalaureate degrees) in health science. These are accelerated programs for students who have completed bachelor's degrees. The certificate programs involve a blend of required and elective courses, and the number of courses required to complete the program varies by university. Some programs take as little as three months to complete, while others take as long as three years, but most take about one year with roughly ten courses. A health science certificate may boost a student's chances of getting into medical school or landing a desired job.

The Best Bachelor Degree Programs in Health Science

1. Stockton University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14048 76% 77% 91% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

2. CUNY York College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7358 73% 35% 87% Yes Yes AP Credits

3. University of the Sciences

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28683 71% 78% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

4. California State University-East Bay

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7000 76% 50% 86% Yes Yes AP Credits

5. California State University-Channel Islands

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6802 86% 54% 83% Yes Yes AP Credits

6. University of Missouri-Columbia

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10477 81% 71% 89% Yes Yes AP Credits

7. University of South Florida-Main Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6410 48% 75% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

8. SUNY College at Brockport

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8680 55% 64% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

9. Husson University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18420 85% 57% 100% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

10. Touro College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18663 69% 61% 88% Yes Yes AP Credits

11. Rutgers University-Camden

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15264 79% 65% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits

12. Lincoln University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7910 No Available Data (2019-2020) 27% 97% No Yes AP Credits

13. Mercy College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19594 82% 44% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

14. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5785 36% 53% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits

15. Utica College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22110 87% 54% 98% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

16. Spelman College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$29972 43% 75% 97% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

17. Spalding University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$25200 79% 40% 99% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

18. Eastern Connecticut State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11846 64% 57% 95% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

19. University of Central Florida

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6368 44% 72% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

20. Stony Brook University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10175 44% 76% 79% Yes Yes AP Credits

21. Greensboro College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$18500 77% 33% 100% No Yes AP Credits

22. University of North Florida

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5964 72% 67% 84% Yes Yes AP Credits

23. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10930 82% 61% 100% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

24. University of South Dakota

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9332 86% 59% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

25. California State University-Fullerton

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6924 53% 69% 77% Yes Yes AP Credits

26. Florida Gulf Coast University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6118 67% 50% 77% Yes Yes AP Credits

27. Nicholls State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7898 88% 49% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

28. University of Minnesota-Crookston

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12116 68% 50% 93% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

29. North Greenville University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$21120 63% 59% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

30. California State University-Dominguez Hills

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6946 77% 44% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

31. University of South Florida-St Petersburg

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5821 27% 44% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits

32. Ave Maria University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$21854 85% 58% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

33. Columbus State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6241 79% 38% 92% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

34. Bob Jones University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19141 No Available Data (2019-2020) 66% 91% Yes Yes AP Credits

35. Towson University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10198 76% 71% 81% Yes Yes AP Credits

36. California State University-Fresno

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6589 58% 56% 89% Yes Yes AP Credits

37. Stephen F Austin State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8844 68% 52% 86% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

38. Texas Woman's University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7926 93% 43% 93% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

39. Clayton State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5538 51% 30% 88% Yes Yes AP Credits

40. West Texas A & M University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8135 69% 45% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

41. New Jersey City University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12414 95% 41% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

42. University of Missouri-Kansas City

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10543 61% 50% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

43. AdventHealth University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12840 51% 41% 91% No Yes AP Credits

44. Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9272 80% 37% 71% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

45. California State University-Long Beach

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6834 39% 74% 81% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

46. The University of West Florida

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$5776 31% 46% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

47. California State University-Sacramento

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7368 82% 55% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits

48. Rochester University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$23996 100% 52% 99% No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

49. Walla Walla University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28881 No Available Data (2019-2020) 61% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

50. University of Holy Cross

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14720 32% 40% 79% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Health Science Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

As mentioned earlier, a BS in health science is so broad that it necessitates a variety of concentrations. Concentrations such as pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy, pre-pharmacy and nutrition lead into graduate programs in those fields (e.g. Master of Science in Occupational Therapy), which means that undergraduate courses will include those specific pre-professional prerequisites. Additionally, these concentrations will involve courses like biology, anatomy and physiology, psychology, dietetics, and chemistry. On the other hand, a concentration in public health or health education will involve classes on health policy, disease prevention, global health, biostatistics, and environmental health. A concentration in health administration will involve classes in economics, medical billing and accounting, medical ethics, marketing, and leadership.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Health Science

Students spend the first two years of their BS program in general education courses and prerequisites for their desired health science concentration. These classes typically include:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • sociology
  • psychology
  • anatomy and physiology
  • medical terminology

After completing general education requirements, students are admitted to health science programs in their third year, based on their performance in the first two years. A 3.0 or higher GPA is expected of students who wish to enter a health science program.

Upon admission to the health science department, students select a track and, during their third and fourth years, take courses that pertain to their chosen track or pre-professional program. Each track has its own classes such as:

  • research methods
  • healthcare systems
  • public health
  • epidemiology

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Health Science?

A bachelor's degree in health science generally takes about four years or 120 credit hours. However, it is not unusual for students to earn an associate's degree in a related field and return to school later after working and gaining more experience in that field. This process can help students determine what they enjoy and how far they want to go in their education and career, keeping in mind that salary and career options expand with additional education. Earning a bachelor's degree takes less time if the student has already earned an associate degree.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Health Science Degrees

For a BS in health science to be recognized and applicable in the workplace or an institution of higher education, the degree-conferring institution must be accredited by one of the many associations that regulate standards of education and practice. Colleges and universities offering baccalaureate degrees should be accredited by a regional institutional accrediting associations. Many schools providing programs in health science fields are accredited by institutions such as the American Medical Association, which works in conjunction with the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation.

Health Science Licensure & Certification

Obtaining a certification may be contingent upon an associate's or bachelor's degree, but this is not always the case. For instance, it can take as little as three weeks to train and become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) with a high school diploma. Certification and licensing requirements vary by state and can be available to health science graduates with various levels of education.

For those with bachelor's degrees from accredited schools, here are a few examples of necessary certifications for popular subfields:

  • Nutrition: Some states require practitioners to obtain a certification to become a registered dietician (RD) or certified nutrition specialist (CNS). Certifications are available through the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Exercise physiology: The American College of Sports Medicine offers clinical certification for exercise physiologists contingent upon a bachelor's degree with 1200 hours of hands-on clinical experience or a master's with 600 hours.
  • Health education: the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers certifications that do not vary based on location (i.e. state to state), the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES).

The cost of certification programs and exams varies, but health science students should be aware of the cost of obtaining a license in their chosen track.

Renewal of certifications often carries a fee and/or is contingent upon continuing education courses. Credentials must be renewed on a regular basis, but the frequency of renewal depends on the profession.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Health Science?

Popular jobs for graduates with a BS in health science include the following, with excellent median incomes according to the BLS:

Another option that may not immediately come to mind is to become a health writer. Students who enjoy both writing and health sciences may consider combining their interests.

How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

Step One

You will need to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a healthcare administration track or a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Administration from an accredited college or university. You will take courses in:

  • business, accounting, and economics
  • medical ethics and law
  • healthcare marketing and management
  • public health
  • sociology

Step Two

After completing your coursework and graduating with your degree, you will need to choose whether to apply for an entry-level position or apply to graduate school. With your bachelor's degree, you will be qualified for a position at a hospital, assisted living facility, clinic, or other healthcare facility, government agency or nonprofit. Graduate school will enable you to get beyond an entry-level position, and work as an administrator across departments rather than working under a department head.

Step Three

Earning further certification will help you increase your options and your income in healthcare administration. You may want to consider applying for certification from the American Association of Healthcare Administration Management.

How to Become a Physician Assistant

Step One

Although a pre-professional degree is not required by all physician assistant (PA) programs, you will need to obtain a bachelor's degree of some kind. An excellent choice would be a Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a pre-professional track at an accredited school, which will grant you options among schools that may or may not require pre-professional degrees. You will take courses in:

  • chemistry
  • biology
  • microbiology
  • anatomy and physiology

Step Two

Most PA schools will be looking for candidates with hands-on experience, so you will want to consider working in the medical field as a medical or laboratory assistant, emergency room or surgical technician, certified nursing assistant, paramedic, or other entry-level position.

Step Three

After earning your bachelor's degree and gaining experience in one of the occupations above, you will apply to graduate school and complete an accredited PA program to earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. This will take roughly three years and include both classroom and clinical hours. You will take classes in biology, pharmacology, behavioral science, biochemistry, and more; meanwhile, you will complete 2,000 hours in clinical rotations. Some choices of rotations could include:

  • Internal medicine
  • Family medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • General surgery
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Emergency medicine

Step Four

After PA school, you will need to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) to become certified under the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). You will also need to obtain a state license; each state has different licensing boards and requirements.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Health Science Degrees

There are many options for scholarships and financial aid for students who wish to pursue health science degrees. This aid may be federal, state, or institution funded; it may be need-based or merit-based; and some are more competitive than others.

The FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines students' eligibility for financial aid. The amount of aid a student receives depends on what a given state or school has available.

State and Institutional Scholarships

Government funding can come in the form of unsubsidized and subsidized loans, which must be repaid after graduation, as well as grants or even scholarships that do not have to be repaid. In-state and out-of-state scholarships exist in many institutions. State and private schools offer competitive scholarships based on ACT or SAT score and GPA. For instance, the University of Alabama offers the Presidential Scholarship, which covers full tuition, to students with scores of 30-36 on the ACT or 1360-1600 on the SAT with a GPA of 3.5 or more. Many schools offer similar scholarships, and comparing a school's available scholarships against the price of tuition can help prospective students determine their options financially.

For students living in Tennessee, the Tennessee Promise provides two years of community or technical college for free.

Other Scholarships

Finally, many institutions and individuals offer scholarships based on college majors or someone's intended career. A great example is the GoodRx Pharmacy Innovation Scholarship, which offers up to 10 awards of $1,000 each to those studying pharmacy. Many Christian universities, such as Liberty University, offer tuition discounts to children of ministers and missionaries. Other scholarships are available to students with health conditions, children of military members, and so on. Becoming a health science professional can be costly, so it is worth looking into the array of scholarships that can help ease the burden of educational expenses.

How to Choose a Bachelor's in Health Science Program

When preparing to enroll in a health science program, you will need to choose the school that best fits your planned career path, since different schools offer different specializations within the health science field. For example, if you want to study healthcare administration, you will need to find out which schools offer that track and what courses will be available. You may be interested in the financial side of healthcare administration, so you should look for courses in finance, business, economics, and accounting listed in the degree program. Or, you may be interested in health education, so you should look for a course list that includes public health, epidemiology, and biostatistics.

If you want to get the most out of your college experience while studying health science, look for a program with a practicum component. Getting real-world experience through an internship or volunteer experience will help you internalize and apply the classroom knowledge you've studied. These programs might be called ''independent studies,'' ''practicum,'' ''clinical experience,'' ''service learning,'' etc., but the important thing is to spend time working in a hospital, doctor's office, or non-profit under the direction of your college department.

Finally, look for opportunities to go above and beyond. Some colleges may offer a senior thesis capstone that allows health science students to hone their writing and laboratory skills while building an impressive resume for graduate school. Other schools may offer hands-on experiences, internships, and independent study. Some schools might even require public health students to complete capstone classes on special or advanced topics.

Career Advancement in Health Administration

Health administration is one of the top careers sought after by health science majors, and advancing in this field requires constant learning, networking, discipline, and patience. Some important ways to grow as a healthcare administrator include the following.

Be Involved in Professional Associations and Organizations

Networking with fellow professionals, employees, and experts will not only help you learn from their experience broadly speaking, but could also put you in position to seek out a mentor. Because health administration is a huge and complex field, learning from someone who has been there will ease the process of navigating a difficult and ever-expanding path.

Stay Informed

Continuing education is required for many health science professions, and it's important to regularly read and research to stay current on trends and best practices even if you aren't trying to recertify. When you expand your mind, you also expand the possibilities for the company, employees, and patients under your care. Plus, the more knowledgeable you become, the more likely that you will be able to handle policy changes, conflicts, or even a promotion.

Volunteer

Your career as an administrator will be demanding and at times exhausting, but volunteering is absolutely necessary for growing in your field. Through volunteer work, you'll be able to serve others while increasing your knowledge and understanding of the work, making new contacts, and refreshing your vision. Ultimately, healthcare administration is about helping patients receive the care they need at a cost they can afford, and giving your time in service will keep that mission at the forefront of your career.

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