Academics / Academic Programs

Minor in Public Health

BU College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College offers a minor in public health in collaboration with BU School of Public Health. The public health minor is open to all Boston University undergraduate students on the Charles River Campus. Approval of the minor is through the Health Science Program Office located at 635 Commonwealth Avenue, room 405, phminor@bu.edu.

Note: Public Health Minor requirements have changed, effective September 1, 2011.

Students who declared the Public Health Minor before September 1, 2011, will complete the requirements listed here.

Public Health Minor Requirements, effective September 1, 2011 (see below):

Students must complete a minimum of six (6) courses to fulfill the public health minor requirements. This is achieved by taking four (4) required courses (Introduction to Public Health, a course in International Health, a course in Epidemiology, and a course in Statistics). The remaining two (2) courses will be selected from the list of public health electives (below). Students must earn a grade of B- or better in PH 510 Introduction to Public Health and a C or better in the remaining courses.

The following four courses are required:

Introduction to Public Health:

SPHPH510: Introduction to Public Health

Students will gain an understanding of public health as a broad, collective enterprise that seeks to extend the benefits of current biomedical, environmental, social, and behavioral knowledge in ways that maximize its impact on the health status of a population. The course will provide an overview of the public health approach including epidemiology, understanding the social determinants of health, and prevention. Through active learning, students will learn skills in identifying and addressing an ever expanding list of health problems that call for collective action to protect, promote and improve our nation's health, primarily through preventive strategies. Specific topics will include: food safety, HIV/AIDS, vaccines, and tobacco control and prevention. PH510 is a requirement for obtaining an undergraduate minor in public health. It is appropriate for undergraduates and others who are not in an SPH degree program. It does not carry degree credit for MPH students.

One of the following International Health courses:

SARHS325: Introduction to Global Health

This course aims to provide students with an overview of the major concepts and themes in health sciences. During the semester, you will be introduced to the core disciplines of public health. The semester as a whole will take a "big picture" approach in addressing the dominant movements and challenges in public health, including the relationship between public health and medicine as well as the approaches encompassed in both community public health and global public health.

SARHS450: Non-Infectious Diseases

This course will examine the four most common preventable non-infectious diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, upper respiratory diseases), which accounted for nearly 60% of all deaths in the world and 80% in the developing world. Estimates predict that the "second wave" of non-infectious diseases in the coming years will have a detrimental impact on global health and economies. Despite the enormous global burden of non-infectious (or non-communicable) diseases, adequate programs for prevention and treatment do not exist and challenges faced are complex. This course will focus on the preventable risk factors (diet, exercise, tobacco, alcohol, lifestyle, etc), growing burden of disease, and current issues and challenges in control of the four most common diseases, and include discussion, field trips to examine the issues, and the ability for students to be a part of the solution through design of their own intervention.

SPHPH506: International Health and the World Health Organization

Principles of International Health is designed for students with an interest in the theory and practice of health management in developing countries. There are no prerequisites: students with a background in international relations, politics, and economics will all find that the course touches on issues relevant to their main field of study. The course is divided into six topics, including nutrition, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases. Policy issues involving research into the causes of illness and the treatment of disease in the developing world will also be discussed.The course will be directed and partly taught by Dr Philip Jenkins, who has worked on public health issues at the World Health Organization for eighteen years. There will also be many specialized guest lectures by international experts from the World Health Organization or other health-care organizations based in Geneva and field-trips to some of these organizations. This course is for undergraduates enrolled through the Geneva Internship Program only.

SPHPH507: Controversies in International Health

This course introduces students to the international organizations active in the field of public health by examining the international character of health, particularly with the emergence of HIV/AIDS, multinational droughts and famine, humanitarian crisis?, and the threat of infectious pandemics like SARS and Avian Flu. This course will place an emphasis on issues involved in best coordinating the efforts of agencies involved to achieve the greatest benefit for afflicted people. Through a series of lectures with international health specialists and structured visits to international aid institutions students will learn about the administration of international health organizations, the international difficulties arising from third party relief work, social determinants of health, healthcare and gender issues, and global pharmaceutical trade. For students in Geneva Internship Program only. Does not carry graduate credit at SPH.

SPHPH511: Pathogens, Poverty, and Populations: An Introduction to International Health

This course will introduce students to issues of public health importance in developing countries. For each disease or public health problem considered, the class will explore its epidemiology, natural history, risk factors and contributing causes, and responses of the public health community at local, national, regional, and international levels. The course includes six sections: Core Concepts, Child Health and Nutrition, Infectious Diseases, Women?s Health and HIV/AIDS, Chronic and Non-communicable Diseases, and Concluding Sessions. PH511 is appropriate for undergraduates and others who are not in an SPH degree program. Students who complete PH511 as undergraduates should not also take IH703.

SARHS463

One of the following Epidemiology courses:

SARHS300: Epidemiology I

Epidemiology examines the distribution of health and diseases across the population, and the factors that impact health. This course covers the principles and methods used in epidemiology, particularly as it relates to public health, including the types of study designs used in health care research and the interpretation of research studies. The final portion of the course focuses on critical evaluation of public health literature (journal articles). 4 credits, either semester

SPHEP713: Introduction to Epidemiology

EP713 is the sole introductory epidemiology course for all SPH programs (replacing EP711 and EP712). The goals of EP713 are to introduce the basic principles and methods of epidemiology and demonstrate their applicability to public health and research and to provide fundamental skills needed to begin to interpret and critically evaluate literature relevant to public health professionals. Topics include measures of disease frequency and effect, epidemiologic study designs, bias, and screening for disease. Class lectures are interspersed with active learning exercises consisting of a mixture of in-class problems, exercises, and discussions, and online and independent learning modules further enable students to achieve the learning objectives.

One of the following Statistics courses:

CASMA113: Elementary Statistics

MA 113 may not be taken for credit by any student who has completed any MA course numbered 300 or higher. Students may receive credit for not more than one of the following courses: CAS MA 113, MA 115, or MA 213. Basic concepts of estimation and tests of hypotheses, ideas from probability; one-, two-, and multiple-sample problems. Applications in social sciences. Primarily for students in the social sciences who require a one-semester introduction to statistics; others should consider CAS MA 115 or MA 213. Carries MCS divisional credit in CAS.

CASMA115: Statistics I

MA 115 may not be taken for credit by any student who has completed any MA course numbered 300 or higher. Students may receive credit for not more than one of the following courses: CAS MA 113, MA 115, or MA 213. Numerical and graphical summaries of univariate and bivariate data. Basic probability, random variables, binomial distribution, normal distribution. One-sample statistical inference for normal means and binomial probabilities. Primarily for students in the social sciences with limited mathematics preparation.Carries MCS divisional credit in CAS.

CASMA214: Applied Statistics

Students may receive credit for not more than one of the following courses: CAS MA 116, MA 214, or MA 614. Inference about proportions, goodness of fit, student's t-distribution, tests for normality; two-sample comparisons, regression and correlation, tests for linearity and outliers, residual analysis, contingency tables, analysis of variance. Carries MCS divisional credit in CAS.

CASPS211: Introduction to Experimental Design in Psychology

Introduction to logic and methodology of univariate statistics with relevance to psychology. Topics include descriptive statistics, data representation, statistical inference, probability and significance, correlation and regression, and non parametric analyses. Does not count toward eight principal course requirement for concentrators.

SMGSM221: Probabilistic and Statistical Decision Making for Management

Sophomore requirement. Exposes students to the fundamentals of probability, decision analysis, and statistics, and their application to business. Topics include probability, decision analysis, distributions, sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, and chi-square. Please note: Students may not receive credit for both SMG SM 221 and CAS EC 305.

SPHBS704: Introduction to Biostatistics

This course meets the biostatistics core course requirement for all degrees and concentrations at SPH. The course replaces BS701 and BS703. Topics include the collection, classification, and presentation of descriptive data; the rationale of estimation and hypothesis testing; analysis of variance; analysis of contingency tables; correlation and regression analaysis; multiple regression, logistic regression, and the statistical control of confounding; sample size and power considerations; survival analysis. Special attention is directed to the ability to recognize and interpret statistical procedures in articles from the current literature. This course gives students the skills to perform, present, and interpret basic statistical analyses using the R statistical package.

Two courses from the following list of Public Health electives are required:

CASSO215: Sociology of Health Care

Social, cultural, and intercultural factors in health and illness. Training and socialization of medical professionals, roots of medical power and authority, organization and operation of health care facilities. U.S. health care system and its main problems. Comparison of health care systems in the U.S. and in other countries. Carries social science divisional credit in CAS.

SARHP353: Organization and Delivery of Health Care in the U.S.

The focus of this interdisciplinary course is on increasing the student's understanding of the health care system, the social, environmental, and behavioral factors that affect health care, and on increasing the student's ability to work in interdisciplinary teams. The student will actively engage in individual work, group discussion and teamwork through written, oral, and web site assignments.

SARHS325: Introduction to Global Health

This course aims to provide students with an overview of the major concepts and themes in health sciences. During the semester, you will be introduced to the core disciplines of public health. The semester as a whole will take a "big picture" approach in addressing the dominant movements and challenges in public health, including the relationship between public health and medicine as well as the approaches encompassed in both community public health and global public health.

SARHS345: Global Environmental Public Health

Environmental health is associated with recognizing, assessing, understanding and controlling the impacts of people in their environment and the impacts of the environment on the public health. The complexity of the problems requires multidisciplinary approaches. This course will provide an introduction to the principles, methods, and issues related to global environmental health. This course examines health issues, scientific understanding of causes, and possible future approaches to control of the major environmental health problems internationally. Topics include how the body reacts to environmental pollutants; physical, chemical, and biological agents of environmental contamination; vectors for dissemination (air, water, soil); solid and hazardous waste; susceptible populations; bio-markers and risk analysis; the scientific basis for policy decisions; risk communication; and, emerging global environmental health problems.

SARHS395: Food, Supplements, and Consumer Health

Students will conduct a detailed "aisle by aisle" review of foods available in today's marketplace with special attention to functional foods, foods for special dietary use, and foods modified through technology. Students will gain an understanding of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act and become familiar with methods for evaluating dietary supplements with regard to product quality, safety, effectiveness, and doping status. The influence of nutrition marketing on consumer purchasing patterns will be explored. Students will apply the knowledge and skills gained throughout the course by comparing the nutrient content of specific foods and dietary supplements to the nutrient needs of consumers according to the Dietary Reference Intakes.

SARHS425: Healthcare Policy and Practice in Ireland

Available in Dublin Health Science program only This course introduces students to the organization and delivery of healthcare. It helps students develop a critical appreciation of the dynamics of healthcare policy making and the role of healthcare professionals within the sector. It examines healthcare finance and the role and influence of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. It also examines the social, environmental, and behavioral factors that affect healthcare across different social cohorts. It concludes by looking at healthcare regulation and reform.

SARHS440: Qualitative Research Strategies in Global Health

Qualitative research methods are increasingly used in public health, and provide valuable insights into the local perspectives of study populations. This course provides practical strategies and methods for using qualitative research and includes the basic assumptions, approach and rationale for making qualitative research decisions, framing qualitative research questions, and designing appropriate research strategies. Examples will be drawn from current global health issues.

SARHS450: Non-Infectious Diseases

This course will examine the four most common preventable non-infectious diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, upper respiratory diseases), which accounted for nearly 60% of all deaths in the world and 80% in the developing world. Estimates predict that the "second wave" of non-infectious diseases in the coming years will have a detrimental impact on global health and economies. Despite the enormous global burden of non-infectious (or non-communicable) diseases, adequate programs for prevention and treatment do not exist and challenges faced are complex. This course will focus on the preventable risk factors (diet, exercise, tobacco, alcohol, lifestyle, etc), growing burden of disease, and current issues and challenges in control of the four most common diseases, and include discussion, field trips to examine the issues, and the ability for students to be a part of the solution through design of their own intervention.

SARHS470: Topics in Public Health

This course addresses new and emerging issues in the field of public health through interactive case study method and the medical literature. The format is small group discussion. Topics vary each semester; but include infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS), maternal and child health, chronic diseases (obesity, mental illness), health and human rights, and international health. 4 credits, 2nd semester

SARHS475: Disability Advocacy and the Law: Theory, Practice and Real World Challenges and Actions

This interdisciplinary course provides the student an exciting understanding of disability advocacy, integrating theory and practical coursework. It emphasizes the role of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its supporting Amendment Act (ADAAA) as the basis for disability advocacy through theory and direct experience; how advocacy occurs among disability stakeholders (the nation's public health leadership, elected officials, lawyers, judicial, health care, education and social service systems, and providers, family members, persons with disabilities, media, and the public). The class provides hands-on learning on the challenges of non-available disability-based accommodations along with the development of and opportunity to implement a corrective action plan. 4 credits, 2nd semester

SPHEH717: Foundations of Environmental Health

EH717 is the introductory core course that focuses on assessment and control of a broad range of physical, chemical, and biological factors in the natural and built environment that affect the health of individuals and populations. EH717 addresses an array of environmental issues including emergency preparedness; food safety and regulation; electromagnetic radiation; energy utilization; solid, liquid, and hazardous materials management; the fate of chemicals in the environment; vector control; livestock production; air and water quality; occupational health and safety; the built environment; environmental justice; and other timely environmental issues of growing importance across the globe.

SPHLW719: Essentials of Public Health Law

Law is an essential tool for creating and implementing public health policies. The goal of this course is to enable students to understand how and when the law can be used to implement health policies and programs. It is designed for students who do not have prior experience or education in law and covers basic legal concepts and the process of decision making by legislative, administrative, and judicial bodies. Students learn how to construct oral and written arguments while analyzing how American law balances the rights of individuals with the interests of government and where appropriate analyzes the ethics of policy choices. By examining constitutional, common-law and statutory rights related to public health and health care students are prepared to compare such rights with those in other countries and in relation to the aspirational rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

SPHLW740: Health and Human Rights

This course is appropriate for graduate, 4+1, and undergraduate students and is taught at the Medical Campus. Health is closely linked to the realization of human rights. Preventable illness, infant mortality, and premature death, for example, are closely tied to societal discrimination and violation of human rights. This course explores the relationship between human rights and health by examining relevant international declarations in historical context, exploring the meaning of "human rights" and "health," and analyzing specific case studies that illuminate the problems, prospects, and potential methods of promoting health by promoting human rights on the national and international levels.

SPHLW751: Public Health Law

This course introduces students to the legal system and to major legal issues and problems confronting the public health professional. By analyzing judicial decisions, students learn about legal analysis and conflict resolution and avoidance. Thus they learn to see the legal system as a tool that can be used to advance, rather than impede, the implementation of specific public health policies. Topics covered include state public health powers, federal activity in public health, medical malpractice, privacy and confidentiality of medical information, mental health law, abortion and sterilization, patients' rights, emergency medical care delivery, legal status of allied health professionals, human experimentation, and rights of the terminally ill. This course is a prerequisite for most other Health Law courses. Students who take this course cannot take LW719 for degree credit. Health Law concentrators must complete this course to fulfill the health law MPH core requirement.

SPHMC705: Safer Sex in the City: from science to policy

Why do you need research-based knowledge about sex, sexuality, and how to apply this to public health? So you can understand and debate public health issues and controversies, such as STDs, contraception, and donor sperm and eggs. And maybe learn a little about yourself. This course will cover a range of topics related to sexuality and health application of this knowledge to program planning and policy.

SPHMC725: Women, Children and Adolescents: A Public Health Approach

Women, Children and Adolescents: Public Health Approaches This course introduces students to the principles and practices of public health and maternal and child health. Using the life-course perspective, this course examines the social determinants of health and development of women, infants, children and adolescents. Selected current topics, such as asthma, adolescent pregnancy, infant mortality, and childhood obesity, are studied in depth and used to illustrate how problems are understood, their distribution in diverse populations, and the content and quality of programs required to address them. Throughout the course, special attention is given to the impact of poverty, poor access to health care, and racial inequities on the health of families, as well as to the strengths that individuals and communities bring to the creation of solutions. By the end of the course students will be able to formulate an MCH-related public health question, conduct and write a literature review, and write a policy memo. MC725 is the first required course in the MCH sequence.

SPHPH506: International Health and the World Health Organization

Principles of International Health is designed for students with an interest in the theory and practice of health management in developing countries. There are no prerequisites: students with a background in international relations, politics, and economics will all find that the course touches on issues relevant to their main field of study. The course is divided into six topics, including nutrition, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases. Policy issues involving research into the causes of illness and the treatment of disease in the developing world will also be discussed.The course will be directed and partly taught by Dr Philip Jenkins, who has worked on public health issues at the World Health Organization for eighteen years. There will also be many specialized guest lectures by international experts from the World Health Organization or other health-care organizations based in Geneva and field-trips to some of these organizations. This course is for undergraduates enrolled through the Geneva Internship Program only.

SPHPH507: Controversies in International Health

This course introduces students to the international organizations active in the field of public health by examining the international character of health, particularly with the emergence of HIV/AIDS, multinational droughts and famine, humanitarian crisis?, and the threat of infectious pandemics like SARS and Avian Flu. This course will place an emphasis on issues involved in best coordinating the efforts of agencies involved to achieve the greatest benefit for afflicted people. Through a series of lectures with international health specialists and structured visits to international aid institutions students will learn about the administration of international health organizations, the international difficulties arising from third party relief work, social determinants of health, healthcare and gender issues, and global pharmaceutical trade. For students in Geneva Internship Program only. Does not carry graduate credit at SPH.

SPHPH511: Pathogens, Poverty, and Populations: An Introduction to International Health

This course will introduce students to issues of public health importance in developing countries. For each disease or public health problem considered, the class will explore its epidemiology, natural history, risk factors and contributing causes, and responses of the public health community at local, national, regional, and international levels. The course includes six sections: Core Concepts, Child Health and Nutrition, Infectious Diseases, Women?s Health and HIV/AIDS, Chronic and Non-communicable Diseases, and Concluding Sessions. PH511 is appropriate for undergraduates and others who are not in an SPH degree program. Students who complete PH511 as undergraduates should not also take IH703.

SPHPH709: The Biology of Public Health

This course, designed for students who have little or no background in the biological sciences, provides a foundation in the biological mechanisms and principles underlying major public health problems. Selected public health problems are explored from a biological perspective in order to provide fundamental information about infectious and non-infectious agents of disease, disease transmission, biological defense mechanisms, co-evolution of man and microbes, the effects of nutritional deficiency and excess, effects of respiratory exposures, the biology of cancer, aging, and other topics. Each student completing this course should be able to knowledgeably participate in a discussion of public health problems with a basic understanding of the terminology, the underlying biological mechanisms of major public health problems, the biological impact of disease, and the major biological issues that influence the success of interventions. This course, or its equivalent, or SPH EH710, Physiology, are required pre-requisites for SPH EH768, Introduction to Toxicology.

SPHPM702: Introduction to Health Policy, Delivery, and Management

Almost 90 percent of the $2.8 trillion spent on health care in this nation in 2012 was used to provide medical services to individuals. High costs, unequal coverage and access, stresses on many caregivers, tradeoffs among quality and cost and access, and growing political tensions afflict U.S. health care. These problems affect all of us who work in public health. This course analyzes these problems, their causes, and ways to solve them. Specifically, how can our vast human and financial resources be marshaled and managed to improve health care delivery for all Americans? To answer this question, the course examines how people are covered, how care is organized and delivered, how money is raised and caregivers are paid, management, politics, ethics, and more. It considers hospitals, physicians and other caregivers, long-term care, prescription drugs, and mental health. NOTE: This course meets the health policy and management MPH core requirement. It is the prerequisite for most others in the department. Peace Corps/MI students who are not HPM concentrators, students studying on F-1 or J-1 visas, students who are not permanent residents of the U.S. and who are not Health Policy and Management concentrators, and all International Health concentrators may substitute IH704.

SPHSB721: Social and Behavioral Sciences for Public Health

This survey course introduces MPH students to social and behavioral sciences within the context of public health scholarship, research, and practice. The basic aim of the course is to teach students the social and behavioral science fundamentals (principles, theories, research, and techniques) that can and should be used to inform the identification, definition, assessment, and resolution of public health problems. The course focuses on providing a framework for considering the important questions in a thoughtful and evidence-based manner such that students will be able to critically analyze public health problems and determine the appropriate social and behavioral sciences principles, theories, and research that will be most effective and useful in intervening to address that particular public health problem. The course considers alternative paradigms for understanding and intervening to resolve public health problems in a critical way, drawing heavily upon the public health literature in which these various perspectives have been vigorously debated and discussed.

For information and public health minor approval, please contact:

Public Health Minor Office: phminor@bu.edu
Senior Program Coordinator: Cristina Carbunaru, 617-358-5477

Sargent College, 635 Commonwealth Ave, Room 405
Office Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (walk-in)