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School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

Undergraduate Program

Major and Minor Degrees

Public Health is an interdisciplinary field drawing on the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to promote health, prevent disease, prolong life and improve quality of life through organized efforts by society. Focusing on the health and well-being of populations, Public Health complements medicine’s concern for individuals with diseases. Through activities ranging from basic research to frontline efforts such as vaccination programs, promotion of health lifestyles and environments, disease control, and leadership on health policy formation, the field of public health makes diverse, far reaching contributions to societal well-being. To learn more about the field and the impact of public health professionals, visit the ASPPH web site.

At UC Merced, a key mission in Public Health is to bring our resources to bear on the needs of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most economically important yet underprivileged regions of the United States, and home to our institution. Our nearness to this underserved population provides unique opportunities to work on local problems through basic research and service. Undergraduates in Public Health learn and participate in these activities both inside and ouside the classroom.

UC Merced offers both major (BA) and minor degree programs in Public Health, which aim to provide students with broad knowledge through rigorous course work in an intellectually challenging environment, hands-on experience in public health research, and ample opportunity to work directly with expert faculty.

Major (BA) Degree

The BA degree program in Public Health provides students with extensive training and expertise across multiple disciplines encompassed by the field. Students graduating from the program are prepared to enter professions in the science and policy of population health, or move on to advanced training in graduate or medical school.

Major Degree Requirements (BA)

Details on the major (BA) degree program, learning outcomes, and course options can be found on our Major Degree web pages. Additional information is available on the SSHA Undergraduate Advising web site's Public Health Major pages.

Minor Degree

The minor degree in Public Health provides students with basic training and expertise in core areas of the field. It is an ideal supplement for students majoring in other fields who seek to broaden their knowledge and experience with population-level challenges to health and well-being.

Minor Degree Requirements

Details on the minor degree program, learning outcomes, and course options can be found on our Minor Degree web pages.  Additional information is available on the SSHA Undergraduate Advising web site's Public Health Minor pages.

Online Courses

Three new courses – developed by the UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI) and UC’s Innovative Learning Technology Initiative (ILTI) – will be available for spring 2018 registration. While not directly linked to the UC Merced academic courses or course credit, they provide a valuable opportunity to learn more about important global health problems.

The courses address current issues in global health and offer UC undergraduate students opportunities to explore a field that is growing in popularity. Newly available courses include:

1) Migration and Health (by UC Merced Public Health Professor Nancy Burke)

Providing an introduction to the history, current status, and future of migration and health using the social determinants of health model to foster a multidisciplinary analysis of migrant health disparities.

2) Global Population, Health and Environment

Using a planetary health framework, this course examines concepts of demography, health, and environmental change from around the world. Engaging in current issues on the effects that our populations have on local and global environments, and the effects that our environments have on human and animal populations fosters cross-cultural and multidisciplinary problem solving.

3) Climate Change and Disaster Management

Examining the social, economic, environmental and health impacts of anthropogenic climate change through the lens of multiple disciplines, including public health, anthropology, and emergency management and preparedness.


For full details on Public Health Major and Minor degree requirements, course substitutions, and prerequisites, visit your SSHA academic advisor and the SSHA Advising web site.


The multi-disciplinary background gained through a Public Health curriculum opens myriad professional door for graduates. By developing diverse skill sets including quantitative abilities, critical thinking, and presentation, students qualify themselves to enter fields ranging from laboratory science to policy development. Learn more about the possibilities on our Careers in Public Health page.
Updated 2022