A health studies program specializes in health promotion and disease prevention.
It emphasizes health issues, the relationship between lifestyle and health,
and the importance of disease prevention.
These programs may also be known as community health, public health, health
education and health promotion.
Health studies degrees are offered throughout North America. There are
many options for specialization, so you should check out a few and find
one you like.
Dan Duquette is chair of the department of health education and health
promotion at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. In his program, students
are offered a number of paths. These include a BS in community health education,
a BS in school health education (with teaching certification), a minor in
school health education, and master's degrees in both community health education
and school health education.
"At the undergraduate level, students can complete either the school health
or community health degree in four to five years, depending on when they enter
the program," says Duquette. "All the master's degree programs can be completed
in two years."
Typical courses cover nutrition education, health promotion, drugs,
society and human behavior, environmental health, research design, program
planning and health aspects of aging. Duquette's program also requires
Duquette says the required internship for the undergraduate program
is a full semester of full-time experience at a department-approved site.
At the graduate level, students work for 15 hours a week in an internship
Students should display a strong desire for a career in a health profession
and be independent thinkers, says Brent Faught. He is a professor of
community health sciences. Other important traits include being innovative,
having a willingness to get involved in projects and research and working
well in group settings.
"Generally speaking, we are looking for students that come with a lot
of experience -- volunteer and employment -- that are willing to get involved
once they have arrived," Faught says.
High school students could take biology, chemistry, physics, calculus,
algebra and physical or health education, he says.
An emerging area in this field is the integration of health information
with information technology, known as health informatics. That means computer
literacy is vital to health studies students.
The main costs are tuition and books. For students enrolled in co-op, there
is an additional co-op fee per term.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Medical
and Health Services Managers
Office of Public Health and Science
From the U.S. Surgeon General
National Center for Health Statistics
Read up on health-related data
Health Occupations Students of America
Promoting health occupations in the U.S.