About the Public Health 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 Advisors Talk About the Major

About a Capped Major

Public Health is a capped major and unfortunately, every semester we have to turn away several great candidates because of limited capacity. This is why we encourage all students to have a backup major. While we understand that the public health major is extremely desirable, other majors may suit your interests if you are unable to declare Public Health. The most common backup majors are: 

Interdisciplinary Studies Field Major
The Interdisciplinary Studies Field (ISF) major at UC Berkeley offers students the opportunity to develop individualized crossdisciplinary majors utilizing courses from the social sciences, the humanities, and/or the professional schools and colleges. The ISF major is unique in the College of Letters and Science in the importance it assigns to the advising role. The student's part in this aspect of the major is active, not passive. That is, the student must actively plan her/his own program and cultivate a working relationship with the assigned or chosen faculty adviser. For more information, visit: http://isf.ugis.berkeley.edu/

Molecular and Cell Biology
The undergraduate major in Molecular and Cell Biology encompasses the diversity of scientific interests of the department's faculty. There are several emphases from which to choose: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell & Developmental Biology, Genetics, Genomics & Development, Immunology, and Neurobiology. Students majoring in any of these emphases have been highly successful in entering graduate or medical school and in other science- and health-related careers. For more information, visit: http://mcb.berkeley.edu/undergrad/

Integrative Biology
The Department of Integrative Biology is in the Division of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters and Science. Students in the department gain a background in all aspects of biology, including a wide range of organisms and diverse investigative techniques. For more information, visit: http://ib.berkeley.edu/student/undergrad/

American Studies
American Studies is an interdisciplinary major that mixes social sciences, material culture, the built environment, law, business, history, and literature. This degree can also be focused on American health and wellness, by encouraging students to create individual programs that suit their interests. For more information, visit: http://as.ugis.berkeley.edu/

Social Welfare
The undergraduate major in Social Welfare introduces students to problems, policies, and methods in the social welfare field. This major is an excellent pre-professional major for education, law, public health, public policy, and related fields. For more information, visit: http://socialwelfare.berkeley.edu/bachelor-arts-social-welfare 

Although the major remains capped, we do encourage all qualified students to apply. Once you’re ready to apply, check out our admission requirements page to review the prerequisite coursework. Please note that all prerequisite coursework must be completed before you can apply to the major.

If you have any questions about the major or application process, please email us at sphug@berkeley.edu!

What Have Students Done with a Public Health Degree?

Depending on emphasis, the Bachelor of Arts degree in public health prepares students for graduate study in a variety of fields including public health, public policy, and nutrition. Students who choose to work after obtaining their BA are employed by government, private, and nonprofit organizations as survey workers, educators, and research project associates.