Pre-Professional Program Pre-Public Health

students talking in the rec center lobby

Pre-Public Health Pre-Professional Program Overview

Public health professionals work to protect entire population groups from experiencing unnecessary, preventable injury or illness, and to help create the conditions that support life-long good health for everyone. They do so through a number of pathways: by detecting, measuring, and monitoring sources of risk and benefit to populations; developing and implementing policies that protect people from harm and that support healthful communities; exploring how the physical, natural, and “built” environments can support or harm the public’s health, and identifying strategies to address risks; identifying and addressing the social, economic, and individual influences on behavior in populations; and by organizing health agencies and health care systems that can optimally adapt and respond to the changing needs of populations -- among others.

A public health degree has never been more valuable than it is today. Graduates at all levels enter high-demand fields with opportunities to work in communities around the world. For example, some Public Health professionals work in research and discovery, and others in local, national, or international public agencies. Some work in communities in health-focused, not-for-profit, advocacy, and/or direct-service organizations, while others work to promote the public’s health in service environments with other primary missions such as schools, public service agencies, and corrections. Some will focus their work on specific health conditions or risks, while others will focus on the broader health of specific populations, and yet others will focus on applying specific sets of tools and techniques to a variety of challenges.

In the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, degrees are offered in flexible formats (online or in-person), as well as dual master’s degree programs in social work, medicine, and urban and regional planning.

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in Applied Health and Fitness
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Studies with 4 concentration areas in Community Health Education, Health Sciences, School Health, and Aging Services
  • Undergraduate certificate in Human Lactation, and Graduate certificates in Biostatistics and Public Health
  • Masters of Public Health (MPH) degrees in Biostatistics, Environmental Systems & Human Health, Epidemiology, Health Management & Policy, Health Promotion, Primary Health Care & Health Disparities (online)
  • Masters Degrees in Biostatistics, and Health Studies
  • Dual Masters Degrees in Health Management & Policy & Social Work (MPH/MSW), Health Promotion & Social Work (MPH/MSW), Health Promotion & Urban Planning (MPH/MURP), and Epidemiology & Medicine (MD/MPH)
  • Doctoral degrees (Ph.D.) in Community Health, Epidemiology, and Health Systems & Policy

Degree Details

  • PPT
    Pre-Professional Track
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term

Pre-Public Health Pre-Professional Program: Why PSU?

PSU has dedicated pre-health advisors to help students plan their coursework, support them in gaining relevant healthcare experience, and guide them through the process of applying to professional programs in public health and medicine.

There are a huge range of clinical and other volunteer opportunities available in the Portland area to help students better understand the role of physicians (allopathic and osteopathic) and other healthcare providers, gain exposure to different clinical settings, and boost their application to medical schools in the future.

PSU’s Health, Science, and the Earth pathway advising team offers many different workshops and events to help you in preparing to apply for medical school.

Beyond the pre-requisite courses needed to prepare for the professional public health programs, PSU offers many additional courses of interest to pre-medical students, including Communicable and Chronic Disease (PHE 363), Physics in Biomedicine (PHY 337), Gender, Race, Class, & Health (PHE 452), Philosophy of Medicine (PHL 318), Biomedical Ethics (PHL 446), Sociology for the Health Sciences (SOC 250), and many others.

Many of Portland State’s departments and schools offer student research opportunities, including Biology, Chemistry, and the School of Public Health.

PSU has the Ignite Scholarship program, developed in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente and Portland Leadership Foundation, which emphasizes a culture of support and community for students in healthcare career pathways that can sometimes be complex and overwhelming. Students who receive the Ignite scholarship will be part of a program emphasizing leadership and mentorship (supported by a $5,000 scholarship), which includes serving as mentors for incoming pre-health students.

Incoming pre-health students seeking mentorship can apply to be matched with PSU's Ignite mentors. This is a one-year commitment (fall, winter, and spring terms) for mentors and mentees.

Student organizations on campus help students to connect with peers pursuing pre-health tracks or science fields, as well as many different multicultural, social, and community involvement focused groups. Examples of student groups include the Health Promotion Student Organization, Portland State Women in STEM, Science Outreach Society, Biology Investigation and Outreach, and the Neuroscience Club at PSU."

What can I do after completing the Pre-Public Health Track?

The Pre-Public Health track prepares students who plan to pursue careers in public or clinical health including epidemiology, health administration, biostatistics, medicine, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, dentistry, and more.

Recent graduates have been accepted to OHSU, Oregon State University, Harvard, Linfield, Pacific University, SUNNY Binghamton, Mt. Sinai, Concordia, and other schools around the country.

Featured Courses

  • PHE 320 Health Ethics
  • PHE 321 Health Policy
  • PHE 322 Health Services Administration
  • PHE 426 Advanced topics in Health Services Administration (prerequisite PHE350)
  • PHE 427 Health Informatics
  • PHE 478 Program Planning
  • PHE 479 Program Evaluation
  • PHE 250 Our Community, Our Health
  • PHE 350 Health Systems
  • PHE 363 Communicable and Chronic Disease
  • PHE 450 Epidemiology
  • PHE 452 Gender, Race, Class and Health


  • PHE 275 Stress Management
  • PHE 325U Nutrition for Health
  • PHE 326U Drug Education
  • PHE 335U Human Sexuality
  • PHE 351U Film and Health
  • PHE 355U Consumer Health Issues
  • PHE 365 Health Promotion Programs for Children and Youth
  • PHE 445 Men's Health
  • PHE 446U Community Health Principles and Practices
  • PHE 448 Health Education Techniques and Strategies
  • PHE 451 Women and Holistic Health
  • PHE 453 Women's Reproductive Health
  • PHE 456 Health Aspects of Aging
  • PHE 466 Mind/Body Health: Disease Prevention
  • PHE 467 Mind/Body Health: Human Potential
  • PHE 480 Controversial Issues in Community Health


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).