Health Majors and Undergraduate Health Degree Programs

Health sciences, public health, and nutrition science are among the most common health-related majors for undergraduates. Learn about the different programs and about career options, employment outlook and continuing education opportunities.

Essential Information

Students can pursue undergraduate health programs at the bachelor's level, as well as master's and doctorate levels if they choose to upon completion. Program fields include nutrition science, public health, pre-medicine and pre-dentistry. An internship may be a program requirement. Program graduates might pursue professional opportunities in areas such as healthcare administration, health research, public relations or patient advocacy.

Bachelor's Degree in Health Sciences

A Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences is the most general of all the available health majors, and is designed for students interested in entering the medical profession or conducting medical research after graduate school. Tracks for pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, or natural sciences are available.

Curricula are dependent on areas of concentration. All students are required to finish an internship with a healthcare agency or educational institution. General health sciences classes include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Health internship
  • Medical terminology
  • Physiology and development

Bachelor's Degree in Public Health

This program educates students in community health and public health awareness. Students learn about the healthcare system and the prevention of disease and injuries. Some degree programs are broken down into emphases, such as biostatistics or epidemiology. Graduates are expected to be able to create and manage programs that promote healthy lifestyles, environments, and policies.

Classes are science and math intensive. Psychology courses may be required. Popular topics are:

  • Community health
  • Environmental health
  • Epidemiology introduction
  • Human development
  • Public health system

Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science

Health majors on the nutrition science track learn about the relationship between humans and nutrition, as well as the physical and biological sciences behind nutrition. They study anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physiology to promote healthy lifestyles and control illness and disease. An undergraduate degree in nutrition science is meant for people interested in becoming dietitians or entering medical or graduate school.

Some undergraduate health and nutrition programs offer research opportunities with professors. Popular class topics are:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Dietetics
  • Genetics and health
  • Nutrition fundamentals and principles

Popular Career Options

Many graduates continue to medical school or graduate programs after earning a bachelor's degree in health science. The undergraduate degree alone opens employment opportunities in fields like:

  • Healthcare program or facility administration
  • Patient health education
  • Health marketing and public relations
  • Healthcare policy advocacy
  • Patient advocacy

Opportunities are available to work within communities and promote public health. Some options include:

  • Health policy analyst
  • Health program coordinator
  • Health researcher

Career and Salary Outlook

Earning a bachelor's degree in nutrition science could lead to work as a nutritionist or dietitian. In many states, professionals in this field must be licensed or certified. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to increase 16% between 2014 and 2024, which is slightly higher than average. The BLS reports that these professionals earned a median annual wage of $57,910 as of 2015.

Continuing Education

Undergraduate health majors who complete a dietetic internship are eligible to sit for the registered dietitian exam. Medical professions require advanced education and varied certifications. Master's degrees in nutrition sciences prepare students for research careers.

A master's degree, Ph.D. or M.D. is necessary to enter many of the medical professions, such as dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, and general medical practice. A bachelor's degree in health sciences provides a foundation for getting into advanced programs.

Undergraduate health degree programs offer various fields for students to study, leading to career opportunities in administration, research, advocacy and more. Graduating from an undergraduate health program also provides the groundwork to pursue even more advanced education.

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