MISSOULA – The Montana Board of Regents has approved a new bachelor’s program in public health at the University of Montana – just in time, as the world grapples with a global pandemic and a new generation of students are drawn to health care. The new degree is the only undergraduate track of its kind in Montana and is accredited by the Council of Education for Public Health.
Offered through UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences, the degree has four concentrations: generalist public health, community health, population health and global public health.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020), employment of health care occupations is projected to grow 14 % from 2018 to 2028 – much faster than the average for all occupations – and will add about 1.9 million new jobs. Health care occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups.
Currently, about 40 undergraduate students have enrolled in the new Bachelor of Science in Public Health program. Stephanie Domitrovich, UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences undergraduate advising director, said many students arriving at UM don’t know they want to concentrate on public health until later in their college career, but she thinks the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted student interest.
“The pandemic has definitely increased the visibility of this major, and I think that we're going to see an influx of students into this program in the near future,” Domitrovich said. “It has also demonstrated a critical need for these professionals in the workforce, and I believe that this will be a strength of the degree. Students now have an idea of how this type of education can translate into careers in the field of health.”
Some of these careers include epidemiologists, medical doctors, health educators and public health officials. Public health graduates can work at local, state or tribal health departments and for health care entities, as well as internationally in developing countries.
Tony Ward, chair of UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences, said the school is thrilled to add this latest undergraduate degree offering to its programs.
“In addition to the generalist track, having topic-specific tracks in community health, population health and global health will allow students to develop a deeper understanding of the different career paths related to public health,” Ward said. “Having this new degree is critically important to UM and our region, as there has rarely been a greater need for public health professionals to keep our communities safe.”
Learn more about UM’s Bachelor of Public Health program at http://health.umt.edu/publichealth/undergraduate/bachelors.php.
With 11 core faculty members, 21 staff members, 10 program faculty and 18 practitioners, UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences offers bachelor’s, certificate, master’s and doctoral tracks in public health. The school’s online master’s in public health program consistently ranks among the top nationally for affordability and value.
Last fall, the school partnered with the Missoula City-County Health Department to create an Academic Health Department, the first in Montana. This April, the school also formed the Center for Population Health Research with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Read more online at http://health.umt.edu/publichealth/.
Contact: Tony Ward, chair and professor, UM School of Public and Community Health Sciences, 406-243-4092, firstname.lastname@example.org; Stephanie Domitrovich, director of undergraduate advising, UM School of Public and Community Health Sciences, 406-243-6284, email@example.com.