Uncover Your Curiosity
Have you ever found yourself wondering why something is the way it is? Do you want to generate new insights through cutting-edge innovations? Perhaps you strive to use recent advancements to help others or address large-scale problems? You may be a scientist in the making.
With the world at your fingertips, UCSB presents you with a number of opportunities, resources, and experts to help you build your career in Science + Health. Whether your interests lie in the life and physical sciences, health professions, biotechnology, environmental studies, physical geography, or other areas that call you, a career in Science + Health can put you at the forefront of humankind's greatest discoveries and advancements.
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Explore Grad School: Public Health
For complete information on graduate school search strategies and the application process, review our starter tips to Explore Grad School in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.
Is Graduate School Necessary?
As you prepare for your career in Public Health, it is common to believe that you will need an advanced degree to obtain the positions of interest. However, this is not always the case; your bachelor’s degree will prepare you for many positions in Public Health. If there is a way for you to pursue your position of interest without accumulating debt, that may be more beneficial to you. Because of this, we recommend thoroughly researching positions in your focus and determining whether or not your advanced degree will make you a more competitive candidate. If so, consider these questions:
- Is graduate school feasible?
- Are there other manners to enhance your candidacy without accumulating debt?
- Do you know what particular program you hope to pursue and why?
Before you embark on this endeavor, it is important to understand all of the logistics of it. Make sure the pros outweigh the cons for you and that you are certain that this is the best path. Just because the degree helps, does not mean that it is a necessity.
For assistance when further considering the potential benefits and setbacks of graduate school, be sure to read our Explore Grad School pages for realistic insight into the many aspects of this process.
Preparing in Advance
Some career paths in Public Health demand two to four years of graduate-level education. Because of this, it is helpful to consider the pre-requisite requirements (such as coursework and volunteer hours) ahead of time, as we do not have a specific Public Health major, thus it is up to you to ensure you complete everything. To do this, we recommend looking at programs of interest ahead of time and planning from there. Make sure to review UCSB Pre-Health Advising’s recommendations and check in with advisors regularly.
If you decide further into your undergraduate degree that you would like to pursue graduate school in Public Health and do not meet the requirements, there are post-baccalaureate programs available. We recommend reviewing the post-baccalaureate section in the Clinical Healthcare page to learn more about the pros and cons of this track.
Below you can find information pertaining Public Health career paths that students commonly pursue. Read on to learn more.
Dieticians and nutritionists create nutritional and diet-specific plans for clients in order to improve their overall health. They work in numerous settings, which include:
- Private practices
- Assisted living facilities
Most positions require a Bachelor's degree in a related field, such as: Nutrition, Food Services Management, or Dietetics in addition to a specialized certification. At UCSB, we offer a certification in Health and Wellness through UCSB Exercise and Sports Studies, which we encourage pursuing if you hope to be a nutritionist, as this career path does not require a graduate degree. If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in this area of expertise, know that it is not necessary, but it may enable you to acquire managerial positions.
Emergency Management Specialists (EMS) are responsible for ensuring that municipalities are prepared for emergency responses if an abrupt or catastrophic event occurs. These professionals manage and coordinate emergency response teams, such as firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. In addition, these professionals must ensure that all local, state, and federal regulations concerning emergency preparedness are complied with. They often take on tasks of applying for and managing grants intended to fund the region’s emergency preparedness and responses. In a state of emergency, their expertise is relied upon by their region, as these professionals assess the issues and coordinate orders such as announcing a state of emergency, calling for evacuations, and requesting resources from other regions.
Typically, these professionals are employed through state and local government agencies, and have 2-5 years of prior experience in disaster relief. Such experience may include time in related federal positions, volunteer work through national service programs (such as Peace Corps and AmeriCorps), or other related career paths.
EMS’s hold bachelor’s degrees in Emergency Management, Public Policy, or a closely-related field. UCSB’s History of Public Policy and Law major may be beneficial to pursue if you plan to become an EMS. You can also acquire a certificate from the International Association of Emergency Managers, or through other programs to enhance your preparedness.
To learn more about what an EMS does and how to pursue this career path, read “What is a Disaster Management Specialist?”
Epidemiologists research and investigate the causes and patterns of diseases, especially contagious and infectious ones, with the goal of either reducing or eliminating the negative impacts. They also plan and conduct studies on specific public health issues (such as COVID-19) and then collect and analyze the data in order to pin-point the disease causes and other health-related issues. An important skill to have for this career is the ability to translate the complex disease metrics into real-world implications for individuals without the technical knowledge to understand. Resultantly, epidemiologists may be seen as a form of public health educators as well.
Typically, these professionals work in research or applied epidemiology, and are employed by research institutions, such as universities, or federal agencies, like the Center for Disease Control. Because of this, advanced degrees in related subjects are usually (but not always) required.
What is most important, however, is your background in related research, as this is a research-intensive career. Because of this, a MS or PhD in a related field may be beneficial. We also recommend pursuing research-related internships (such as RAships at other institutions) and epidemiological volunteer opportunities during your time at UCSB. However, know that you can pursue epidemiology without a graduate degree, thus gap years may be of value to you.
Microbiologists study the diverse formations of microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, algae) that can be infectious to humans. In relation to Public Health, they execute research on microorganisms in effort to develop drugs to fight infectious diseases. They may also be employed to create or develop genetically-engineered crops and higher quality biofuels. In other words, microbiologists apply their knowledge to the microbiology of many different organisms in order to enhance their livelihood, re-engineer their genes, and augment their effect on the environment.
Because of the vastness in applicable careers, microbiologists can be found in:
- Medical schools
- Government laboratories
They can also be found within most industries. UCSB’s Microbiology degree is a great foundation for these career paths. We recommend implementing additional research outside of your classes to explore the various areas of focus. Depending on the area you wish to pursue, and the environment you hope to work in, an advanced degree may or may not be required.
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