"Up-and-coming" major

JOHNSON CITY (Sept. 21, 2009)– A new report published in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education identifies five “College Majors on the Rise” based on interviews with academic experts, business analysts and economic forecasters. One of the five emerging areas of study is public health.

The article indicates that the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in public health doubled between 2003 and 2007, and that the degree is an ideal first step for entrance into any health field. In addition, the visibility and importance of public health have increased during the current national health care debate.

East Tennessee State University’s interest in the public health field is longstanding. In 1949, a Department of Physical Education and Health was established, and this evolved into the School of Health in 1959. A bachelor of science in community health was first offered in 1956, making it one of the older undergraduate public health programs in the country. The current freestanding ETSU College of Public Health — the first in Tennessee — was inaugurated in 2007.

Dr. Randy Wykoff is dean of the College of Public Health at ETSU, and he serves on the Undergraduate Public Health Learning Outcomes Development Project Leadership Group for the Association of Schools of Public Health. “Undergraduate public health training is an area of rapidly growing interest across the country,” Wykoff says. “With over 50 years of experience in offering undergraduate training in public health, ETSU has long recognized the importance of this field of study.”

The college confers three undergraduate degrees with six concentrations. The bachelor of science in environmental health degree offers specializations in environmental health practices and occupational health and safety, while the bachelor of science in health sciences degree encompasses the areas of microbiology and human health. The bachelor of science in public health is comprised of programs in health care administration and community health. The college also offers six degrees at the master’s level as well as three doctoral degrees.

In the past 10 years, the three departments have awarded over 600 undergraduate degrees.

For further information, contact the College of Public Health at (423) 439-4243.