California Schools of Public Health

Working in public health is a rewarding career that promotes the wellbeing of one’s community through numerous methods including health education, training, preventative strategies, research, and more. Those who work in public health may play a part in influencing policy that affects the accessibility of necessary medical care.

To work in a career in public health, you must typically have a degree related to the field. The most common level of education that those with careers in public health have is a bachelor’s degree, and the second most common is a master’s degree. The career path you wish to pursue may depend on what degree level you earn. A masters in public health in California may allow you to take on leadership roles such as a clinical director or a manager.

One important aspect of enrolling in an institution where you will earn your public health degree is to look for one that has been accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The CEPH’s vision is, per their website, “excellence in public education for a healthier world”. The goal of the CEPH is to promote quality education, innovation, and development among all institutions that provide public health degrees in the United States that are looking for accreditation. They do so by evaluating the institutions to ensure that they meet a certain set of essential quality standards.

There are several benefits to attending a CEPH-accredited program if you want to earn a public health degree. Due to the nation-wide, high-quality standards that are implemented and monitored by CEPH, you can be assured that your education will prepare you for any licensing exam that may be relevant to your future career, and your career itself. Accreditation also assures the public that educational institutions are constantly working to innovate their programs with the most accurate, up-to-date, and scientific research.

Some of the most popular and in-demand public health careers include:

San Diego Public Health Schools

Known for its excellent climate, beautiful beaches, and famous attractions, San Diego may be a great place to attend your public health program. There are multiple institutions in San Diego that offer associates, bachelors, masters, or doctoral degrees in public health. Below is an overview of some of the public health programs offered in San Diego.

UCSD School of Public Health

UC San Diego School of Public Health offers multiple degrees in public health or are related. The programs are designed to help students become leaders in the public health field who work to conduct clinical research involving prevention, epidemiology, behavior, and education.

The degrees offered at UCSD School of Public Health include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH)
    This program prepares students to promote public health by helping them gain knowledge of how human rights and culture apply to the field. This degree at UCSD School of Public Health is beneficial for both students who want to graduate into health careers as well as those who want to prepare for graduate degree programs. Students can enter the program as a freshman student for the four-year academic plan, or can do so as a junior transfer student. The lower division requirements are 32-33 units, while the upper division requirements are 52 units.
    This degree offers six concentrations:
    • Medicine Sciences
    • Community Health Sciences
    • Biostatistics
    • Epidemiology
    • Health Policy and Management Sciences
    • Climate and Environmental Sciences
  • Master of Public Health (MPH)
    This California MPH program at UCSD School of Public Health is a rigorous two-year program that offers multiple options for students looking to earn an advanced degree. This program also has a one-year option for students who have previously earned a PhD in a health science area. To complete this degree, students must complete 64 units, which comprise their core courses, electives, and courses for their concentration. To apply for the program, submitting GRE scores is not required. Students from a wide variety of disciplines are admitted to the program. Core courses in the program include such courses as: research methods, biostatistics, health behavior, scientific writing, and more. Students enrolled within a certain time period will also take part in a public health internship.
    This degree offers five concentrations:
    • Health Policy
    • Technology and Precision Health
    • Epidemiology
    • Health Behavior
    • Public Mental Health
  • Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health
    This program is a collaboration between UC San Diego and San Diego State University. The program offers three tracks:
  • Each of these tracks have different prerequisite requirements, which can be viewed in their handbooks on the program website. They also have different course requirements for graduation. This collaborative doctoral program gets students involved with conducting research and coursework at both UCSD and SDSU. Faculty at both institutions are also involved with student’s dissertations to offer multiple perspectives.
    UCSD School of Public Health also offers:

SDSU School of Public Health

San Diego State University offers public health degrees for those who want to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD degree. They also offer a minor and advanced certificate in Public Health. The School of Public Health at SDSU provides students with the opportunity to earn a dual master’s degree in Public Health and Social Work, or Public Health and Latin American Studies. The public health programs at SDSU include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Public Health
    The BS in public health at SDSU teaches students to be able to understand various techniques relevant to public health, such as data collection and analysis. Students will also be able to understand many other concepts such as the relation between how society, behavior, biology, and other factors affect health. This program involves 36 units of required core courses and 12 units of electives. Students will take part in 3 units of an internship. Students will also complete a research and internship requirement. They will also have the opportunity to study abroad.
    • The BS in public health offers a concentration in environmental health.
  • Master of Public Health
    The MPH degree at SDSU School of Public Health is a program that can generally be completed in two years by students who are attending full time. Students in each program will also complete a thesis or project. offers four options from which students can choose. These include:
    • Environmental Health. This 51-unit program gets students involved in the field and in the lab completing courses that will prepare them for a career as an occupational or environmental health practitioner.
    • Epidemiology. This concentration offers an online option. This 51-unit program provides foundational knowledge and training of the science of public health. This prepares students for careers as public health practitioners, teachers, researchers, and/or leaders in these areas.
    • Health Management and Policy. This 59-unit program prepares students to develop a variety of skills in management so they can take on careers in a variety of organizations such as hospitals, insurance companies, and public health agencies.
    • Health Promotion and Behavioral Science. This 51-unit program provides students with information on the relation between health conditions, health disparities, and the socio-ecological factors contributing to them, as well as other information that will allow graduates to serve their communities. This concentration offers an online option.

Los Angeles Area Public Health Schools

Los Angeles is known as the entertainment capital of the world. However, they also offer some of the best public health programs in the state of California. The Los Angeles area provides many opportunities for students to seek almost any degree and career they could wish to pursue, such as a career within health management, environmental health, epidemiology, or the many other public health job options available.

Cal State LA Department of Public Health

The goal of Cal State LA is to educate students on how to improve their communities through promoting public health through the lens of health equity and social justice. Cal State LA’s Department of Public Health offers two programs:

  • Bachelor’s of Science (BS) in Public Health
    This degree requires students to complete 120 units. 55 of these units are in the major, and the rest involve upper and lower division core courses as well as electives. In this program, students will become prepared to take on education and leadership roles in their communities. They will also be ready to move on to graduate school, if they so choose. This preparation will be done through not only their coursework, but also their required internship, where they will practice what they have learned.
  • Master’s in Public Health
    This degree requires students to complete 42-units, and it takes two years of full-time study to complete. In this program, students learn the way that certain complex factors impact their communities, and how they can use that knowledge to improve the health outcomes of those communities. To enroll in the program, student’s must have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.

The Public Health department also offers the option of a minor in public health.

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Ranked #10 on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of best public health schools, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has a robust public health department, with five academic departments including Biostatistics, Community Health Sciences, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, and Health Policy and Management. UCLA Fielding provides students with the opportunity to pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in public health. These include:

UCI School of Population Health

The goal of UCI School of Population Health is to offer degrees for students who are entering the public health field at all levels. Whether they are experienced professionals or just beginning their journey, the university offers degrees for those who wish to gain knowledge of the foundations of public health, or individuals who want to expand their career options and leadership skills. Students in the various programs offered will learn to approach public health from a forward-thinking, inquisitive, perspective. The public health programs offered through this university include:

  • Bachelors of Science in Public Health Sciences
    This program brings students through both the qualitative and quantitative exploration of public health analysis through their curriculum that also covers the biological aspects of public health such as disease, environmental science, genetics, epidemiology, and more. Students will be required to complete an 8-unit internship, and 128 units total for their degree.
  • Master of Public Health
    The MPH degree is designed to teach students how to become public health leaders by learning essential principles, core disciplines, and problem solving skills relevant to the field and their future careers when working with a diverse population. In this program, students will complete an 8-unit supervised internship that will help prepare them for their future career. Graduates from this degree go on to be employed at various public and private agencies that focus on disease prevention and wellness promotion in society.
    This degree includes the option for the following emphases:
    • Biostatistics
    • Environmental Health
    • Epidemiology
    • Sociocultural Diversity and Health
  • Master of Science in Public Health
    This MSPH program involves modules in which students take part that involve the study of disease outcomes, risk factors, and vulnerable communities. Students learn to research and develop hypotheses through these. They then develop a thesis and will present it to a committee. This program is 64 units of core courses plus additional units for electives. Graduates will be prepared to become leaders in careers such as analyzing public health policy, evaluating public health programs, academic research, and more.
  • PhD in Public Health
    This program prepares students to conduct academic research on public health subjects such as risk factors, disease, and vulnerable populations. Students learn specific methodologies towards this research to graduate as academics who are well-versed in public health academia. Students must complete a minimum of 84 quarter-units. Those who have previously completed coursework that is comparable may waive three courses upon approval of the program director.

UCI School of Population Health also offers:

Loma Linda University School of Public Health

Loma Linda University’s Public Health department offers flexible options for students that include both online and in-person programs. These programs allow students the opportunity for hands-on experiences that adequately prepare them for their future careers. Their advanced degree public health programs include:

The other programs offered in the public health department include:

San Francisco and Northern California Public Health Schools

Known for its mountainous settings, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Redwood trees, Northern California offers its own unique set of benefits that students can appreciate. There are many excellent schools in this part of California, as there is in the other parts of the state. Some students may appreciate the atmosphere that Northern California offers. Some of the accredited schools in Northern California include:

Berkeley School of Public Health

Berkeley’s Public Health department teaches through the lens of health equity and social justice. They do so to promote these values to better communities all around the world as they educate students who go on to become graduates in the field of public health. The degree options at Berkeley School of Public Health include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Public Health
    The undergraduate public health program at Berkeley offers both an on-campus and online option to students. Students can choose between majors including epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, and health policy. Students in this major will learn how to identify solutions to address real-world public health problems.
  • Masters in Public Health
    Berkeley offers the following California MPH programs:
    • Community Health Sciences. This degree focuses on the connection between health and community, such as how a biological susceptibility to disease works with social and cultural factors to impact disease.
    • Environmental Health Sciences. This degree focuses on the impact of industrialization, climate change, and other similar developments to research how it might impact humans due to the contamination being produced.
    • Epidemiology. This degree researches how disease is caused, how to prevent it, and how to assist with planning and evaluating how effective public health programs are. The main focus of this subject is infectious and noninfectious diseases.
    • Health Policy and Management. This degree focuses on leadership in healthcare as it is continuously evolving. It prepares future leaders who will work in management in a variety of organizations.
    • Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. This degree studies infectious diseases specifically, from how they spread, to the biology of disease, to the evolution of pathogens, and more. The goal of this degree is to get students investigating disease to apply their knowledge to the development of treatment, control, diagnosis, and prevention.

The other programs offered in the public health department include:

Cal State East Bay Department of Public Health

Cal State East Bay focuses on health equity in their public health department by educating students on how to handle public health challenges. They do so by addressing public health needs through up-to-date and modern information. The degrees offered at Cal State East Bay include:

  • Bachelors of Science in Public Health
    This program encourages students to hone their critical thinking skills to graduate as public health practitioners who promote social justice. Students in this program are required to complete 120 units, and the major itself requires the completion of 67 units. Students will also complete an internship requirement that is 1-3 units. Graduates of this program can go on to a number of careers in many different health fields. They will be prepared for graduate school as well.

The other programs offered in the public health department include:

SF State Department of Public Health

Cal State University Fresno School of Public Health

CSU Fresno’s School of Public Health works to educate students in cultural humility through their various curriculums that promote health equity. In addition to the public health degrees, the school also offers a minor in Women’s Health Issues and Health Education. The programs offered at CSU Fresno include:

  • Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science – Community Health Option
    In this program, students will build their knowledge of public health so they can enter a public health career where they can support their communities. The curriculum is designed so that students can build competencies essential to the field such as quantitative and qualitative data, community organizing, and practicing in the field. Students will also develop skills such as teamwork, leadership, scientific literacy, communication, and more. To graduate, they will complete approximately 120 units that consist of core classes, electives, and a field internship.
  • Master of Public Health
    This two-year MPH program in California is designed to educate students on how to become leaders in diverse communities. Students will build skills of professionalism and advocacy that they can use in their future careers. Students will explore and practice what they learn in the classroom through a field internship, which will prepare them for their future career. Students will also decide between a thesis or a project. To graduate, students will complete 84 units.

The other programs offered in the public health department include:

Best Schools of Public Health in California

When deciding on where to attend a public health program, you might be wondering which is the best. There are multiple factors to consider to determine which one has the most benefits for you. Below is a list of the top universities in California based on the rankings from the U.S. News & World Report to give you an idea of where to start when making considerations. These excellent universities are reviewed in this article.

  • University of California – Berkeley (Ranked #8)
  • University of California – Los Angeles (Ranked #10)
  • San Diego State University (Ranked #19)
  • University of California – Davis (Ranked #19, tied)

What makes schools of public health in California unique?

California has a population that comes from all over the world, a varied landscape, and a vast assortment of urban cities and rural towns. Public health schools in California reflect these distinct features of the state. The accredited programs prepare students for working with such large and diverse populations, and the curriculums include coursework that involve developing a high level of cultural competency. The programs reflect the needs of the state through the strategies in which they educate their students, and students can go on to fulfill the many employment options available in public health agencies, non-profits, healthcare organizations, and other institutions

California Public Health Organizations

Multiple organizations work to bring health education, prevention, and public healthcare to communities living within the state of California. These organizations may function as nonprofit, private, or government entities. Some aspects of their missions may be similar, while others differ. Ultimately, though, they all play an important role in improving the health of the public. These organizations include:

  • California Department of Public Health
    The CDPH comprises medical, scientific, and public health professionals who share a vision for improved health for individuals, families, and communities in California. The Department strives to meet this vision through collaborations with a variety of partners at federal, state, and private level, as well as through specific programs and services. They also provide disease control through a variety of methods and prevention via education, as well as a number of other critical services. The CDPH ultimately strives to reduce health inequities in California through their work and promote the wellbeing of diverse populations.
  • California Public Health Association
    The CPHA is one part of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The CPHA and APHA are in collaboration to provide a voice for public health. The collaboration allows organizations to advocate for priorities that end up being common to all locally and at the state and federal levels. These combined perspectives work to influence federal public health policy alongside the advocacy that the professional individuals within the organization take part in.
  • California Health Collaborative
    The California Health Collaborative is a nonprofit organization that provides health promotion and disease prevention public health programs and services. These programs and services focus on many communities, but specifically target the needs of underserved populations. They provide a variety of services to the entirety of the state such as public health program planning, wellness programs, grant administration, cancer data collection, family life education, and much more. Their services are provided uniquely on a fee-for-service basis.
  • California Health Information Association
    CHIA, a non-profit that was established in 1949, is the largest affiliate of the AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association). The organization provides relevant health education to the community. They also have committed to advocating for legislation that is relevant to California residents, such as their privacy when receiving healthcare and the right to receive their own health information.