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What careers do people with majors in Public Health usually go into?

I am a senior in high school and I am looking at Tulane University's School of Public Health. I would want to focus on public health surrounding nutrition. I want to go into non-profit work in Latin America and I think this degree will help me do that in a sustainable way. I think focusing on nutrition education will be a way to do the most with limited resources. #medicine #nutrition #non-profit #public-health

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Andrew’s Answer

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I've met a few people with undergraduate degrees in public health and it is an increasingly popular undergraduate major. Most people who want to continue to work in the field go on to get a Master's degree in public health or an M.D. before actually working. It often takes experience to break into the field so I'd recommend doing related internships during the summer and strongly considering doing a master's degree.


The nice thing about public health is that it is a huge field with many options to explore... from nutrition education and communication, to epidemiology, to immunology, to biostatistics..


An undergraduate major in public health would position you well to go on to a career in public health or a career in medicine or the allied health sciences. Given your interest in nutrition you might also consider an undergraduate degree in nutrition; if you are interested in practicing clinically you could get an R.D. which would be a nice complement to a degree in public health. Latin America has some of the highest rates of obesity in the world, as well as pockets of undernutrition--good people are needed to help solve these important problems. best wishes!

Thank you comment icon Thank you!! Laurel
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Andrea’s Answer

Dear Laurel,


You are already ahead of the game! I didn't start my master's in public health until 6 years after I completed my bachelor's degree. It's great that you are sure of the line of work you want. Careers for people who major in public health are growing and growing every year. You can go the more traditional/academic route and go all the way to finish your PhD and become a professor/researcher. You can complement that with working in the field (which is what I've done the last 7 years), you can work for an NGO, a community-based organization, a government agency (USAID, CDC), the Ministry of Health in any of the Latin American countries you're interested in. You can also develop projects in nutrition and depending on who your target audience is, you can use Health Promotion to your favor, you can work in the public school system and integrate nutrition plans while improving physical activity and observing changes in behavior. But in anything you do, make sure you perform a needs assessment first to make sure that what you're implementing is what the community actually needs (not what you think they need), and that you have the proper support (in different types of resources) to ensure the sustainability of your work.


I wish you the best!

Thank you comment icon Thank you! I traveled to Nicaragua this last summer and learned about what it means to sustainably help a community by knowing what the community needs. I am really excited to go into this field of work! Laurel
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Teresa’s Answer

Dear Laurel,
I have only known nurses who went into public health as their "Master's" degree. If you wanted to work in Nutrition, I would suggest you get a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and then get your Master's in Public Health. The primary undergrad degree would prepare you for the type of work you want to do, and the master's would help you to specialize further in the public health arena. I know several nurses who became RNs and worked in a hospital and decided to work in more of a public health field, or administration, or sports, etc-- they then could return to school and get a master's degree that focused them more on that specific direction.
I wish you the best of luck in your future!

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Jennifer’s Answer

Laurel - I'm unsure where you're located, but if you're in the Boston area, I just saw this posting & thought it might be helpful and you could possibly contact them about possible internships: http://servings.org/about/job_detail.cfm?job=53

Thank you comment icon Thank you! I am not in the Boston area. I am in the San Francisco Bay Area, but thank you! Laurel
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Jennifer’s Answer

You might consider taking a look at Tufts University as well. They have a school specifically with programs focused on nutrition, as well as a number of combined degree programs, including ones with an MPH as a terminal degree.

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