Important Steps to a Public Health Career with a Bachelor's Degree

Important Steps to a Career in Public Health with a Bachelor's Degree

Take the right courses, besides typical PSY courses (Intro, Research Methods, Stats)
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Adjustment
  • Neuroscience
  • Lab course in Physiological Psychology
  • Seminar in Physiological PsychologyBiology, Chemistry, Physics and Math Physiological Psychology

It is critical to do well in your courses. Those who hire often look at:

  • Overall GPA.
  • Psychology GPA minor (if you have one).
  • GPA last two years in college GPA.
  • Maintaining a high GPA from your freshman year on
  • If you do not get an A or B in a course you should probably repeat the course.

Get involved in research

  • Get even more involved in research by doing a Senior Honors thesis or some other research where you can get your name on a conference presentation or journal publication. This kind of recognition is rare for an undergraduate and will really boost your standing when you apply.
  • You can get involved in research as part of Independent study course and thus earn credit hours and possibly increase your GPA if it counts as a graded course or volunteer.
  • An advantage to working in a lab is that you get to know a faculty member who can write you a strong letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply. Given you need more than one letter of recommendation, it is probably best to work in two different labs as an undergraduate.

Do an internship

  • By doing an internship you can again show your high level of motivation.
  • This internship can be with an on-campus clinic/organization or off-campus clinic/organization.

Develop critical skills

  • There are a number of skills you can develop in addition to what you learn in classes and by conducting research-- computers, writing, and oral communication skills.

Get involved in extracurricular activities

  • This involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in public health issues. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.

Get work experience if you can

  • It is not critical that you are employed as an undergraduate, but if you can get such a job that is a real bonus.

Interact with your Professors

  • It is very important that you start to interact with Professors right away. This can occur by making contributions in class or just going up to your Professors and having a conversation about issues in the field.

  • These interactions can lead to being able to work in a Professor’s research lab, hearing about job opening that may be available in the Psychology department, and a letter of recommendation.

  • Remember, if a faculty member does not really know you or had you in one class, there is a lower likelihood that the Professor will agree to write a letter for you or knows you well enough to write a letter.

  • There are two important things to keep in mind with regard to letters of recommendation. First, a short letter of recommendation from a faculty member who does not know you well can sometimes be worse than no letter at all. Second, It is almost always better to have a letter of recommendation from a full-time Professor than an Instructor. For better or worse, the latter simply has higher status than the latter.

Other links:

Click here to return to the scoutiescareersinpsychology. org homepage.

Click here to return to the Careers by Category page.

Click here to return to the Public Health page.

Click here to see career salary information.

Click on the links below to read about other Public Health careers that only require an undergraduate degree:

Health Educator/Worker



Click on the links below to read about other Public Health careers that require a graduate degree:

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Environmental Health

Health Services Administration