About the Major

Public health seeks to improve human health through the development and application of knowledge that prevents disease, protects the public from harm, and promotes health throughout the state, the nation, and the world.

Under the public health major, undergraduates will develop and apply knowledge from multiple disciplines for the promotion and protection of the health of the human population, giving due consideration to principles of human rights and cultural perspectives that abound in our multicultural country and world.

Berkeley Public Health Undergrad Peer Advisers Talk About the Major

Update on the Status of the Major

Although the major remains capped, we do encourage all qualified students to apply. To qualify, students must have completed the prerequisites in math, bio, and social sciences, with a minimum passing grade in all of the prerequisites.

Declaring the Major

Students should apply to declare a major in Public Health after completion of lower division requirements, generally at the end of the sophomore year. For 2014, May 16-23 (spring), August 19-26 (summer) and December 15-29 (fall). Transfer students should apply at the summer or fall semesters, whenever they have completed the prerequisites.

Generally, third-year transfer students have completed their prerequisite coursework at community college and are ready to declare the major at the beginning of their first semester at UC Berkeley.

To declare a major in Public Health you must first complete all of the lower division prerequisites (mathematics, biology, and social sciences). Once these requirements are fulfilled you should submit an application and application essay, carefully following the instructions.

Go to application and instructions

The application to declare the Public Health major includes: 1) a review of an applicant's academic preparation (coursework and GPA), and 2) an application essay similar to the "Statement of Purpose" required by graduate applications to the School of Public Health. In the application essay, students should describe the pathway that led them to an interest in this field of study, their experience relevant to Public Health (including volunteering), and their long-term ambitions for what they are thinking about doing with a degree in Public Health.

All applications will be reviewed by Public Health faculty.

As you go about completing the prerequisites for Public Health, you should at the same time be taking all necessary steps to prepare yourself to declare an alternate major. According to the Academic Senate regulations, a student should declare a major when they reach 60 units of coursework. Please keep this in mind as you decide on the major that is right for you.

While we will do our best to bring in all qualified students, there is no guarantee that any one particular student will be admitted into the major. Therefore, students interested in the Public Health major should be prepared for a back-up major just in case they are not selected. Students hopeful of making a valuable contribution to our public health should be prepared to declare alternative majors such as Anthropology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Integrative Biology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Communications, Conservation Resource Studies, Earth and Planetary Science, the ISF (Interdisciplinary Studies) Major, American Studies, Social Welfare, or Psychology—just to list a few. Our public health demands everyone's attention—there are myriad undergraduate majors here at Cal which will help prepare you to dedicate your professional life to our, literally vital, cause.

All students interested in the major, or the field of public health in general, are encouraged to consult with Academic Adviser Tony Soyka concerning possible alternatives.