Pitt to launch new public health undergraduate degree

By Punya Bhasin, Assistant News Editor

Pitt is launching a new undergraduate program for students interested in studying or pursuing careers in public health. Students will begin to matriculate into the program in fall 2022. The program has already received more than 800 applications.

Maureen Lichtveld, the dean of the Graduate School of Public Health, attributed the large number of applications to the COVID-19 pandemic creating an interest in public health.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, undeniable health inequities and global climate change have clearly sparked a passion for public health among the next generation,” Lichtveld said.

Students will work with GSPH to complete classes both locally and abroad. In order to earn the Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree, students will also be required to fulfill 120 service hours.

Ada Youk, Pitt Public Health’s assistant dean of academic affairs and an associate professor of biostatistics, said the program is designed so students can adapt it with their interests.

“We designed the program to provide students with a broad overview of the core public health disciplines and an opportunity to shape the curriculum according to their interests and passions,” Youk said.

The program will include courses such as “Essentials of Health Equity: Exploring Social and Structural Determinants of Health” as part of its core curriculum, which highlights health inequities.

This program can be used for many careers post-graduation, such as community health specialists and public health administrators. It also provides a foundation for graduate schools, including medical school.

Mara Leff, Pitt Public Health’s undergraduate curriculum director, said the incoming class provides a bright future for public health.

“Students are coming to us with such enthusiasm and passion for solving today’s most pressing public health issues,” Leff said. “The future of the field of public health looks brighter with this incoming cohort of young people.”