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Your Crash Course to UCLA’s New Public Health Major (From Someone in its First Graduating Class)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

For years, UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health has been home to cutting edge public health graduate school programs. They offer all kinds of masters degrees, as well as joint ones that will have you walking across the stage with a dual degree such as in law or medicine. But for decades, no undergraduate public health major was offered at UCLA. Lucky for us current Bruins, this all changed last year; Fielding now offers both an undergraduate BA and a BS in public health!

As someone who was always interested in health and medicine, but knew she didn’t want to take the clinical route, public health immediately sparked my interest. While some of my peers are premed students, many others (like myself) are not. Especially at a hyper-competitive school like UCLA, it’s easy to be dissuaded from pursuing anything health related if you’re not premed, but don’t let this stop you from exploring public health! There is so much more to it than the med school track!

Addressing health disparities and social determinants of health was always something I’d felt passionate about, even though I didn’t want to become a doctor. Through studying public health, I’ve realized there are so many other non clinical careers I can pursue in order to do this. So, during my freshman year, I took a couple public health classes at UCLA and loved them, which led me to apply to the major when it was created my sophomore year. Now, I couldn’t be more proud to say that I will be in the first class of UCLA public health undergraduates! 

The major offers a huge range of classes, pulling from all aspects under the larger umbrella of public health. We take courses in community health, epidemiology, environmental health, biostatistics, health policy and management, and even do community-based internships to get hands-on experience in the field. I’m currently interning at Olive View Medical Center and working in their hospital administration department! 

To add, there’s tons of electives to choose from within the major, letting you explore what interests you most and try out lots of more specific areas. I’ve really loved my maternal and child health class, as well as my food studies class, just to name a few.

Because the public health major is new, there aren’t nearly as many students enrolled in it as compared to many other majors at UCLA. In fact, I’ll be graduating in a cohort of under fifty students. This small cohort size has led me to make genuine friendships with the other students in the major. Furthermore, the small size allows for so much one-on-one with faculty, advising, and more personal relationships at a large university. Professors and advisors in the department will always make time for us and you can tell that they truly care about us students.

So whether you’ve just been accepted to UCLA, are thinking of applying next year, or are a current student wanting to change your major, I urge you to take a look at the public health major!

Ciara is a third year UCLA student from Oakland, CA who is majoring in Public Health. She loves to travel and explore new places; especially when there's any kind of ocean involved. When she's not busy workshopping her next Her Campus article, you can find Ciara sipping her morning coffee somewhere sunny, relaxing in her hammock, or chasing a sunset.