Amid increasing interest and understanding of public health’s central role in addressing society’s most pressing challenges — including the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters driven by climate change and health inequities fueled by factors that include structural racism — the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health will expand its degree offerings to include two undergraduate bachelor’s degrees.

The new degree program, which students can apply for starting in spring 2023, will enable UCLA undergraduates to pursue a bachelor of arts in public health or a bachelor of science in public health.

“For more than 60 years, the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has educated graduate students who have become public health leaders. We’re thrilled to begin offering our undergraduate students the opportunity to learn from our renowned faculty as they pursue a degree in this crucial area of study,” said Ron Brookmeyer, dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and distinguished professor of biostatistics. “Whether it’s ensuring the safety of our food, air and water; improving access to healthcare for the most vulnerable populations; or eradicating global scourges through vaccination campaigns, public health has long played a vital role in reducing suffering and improving quality of life.”

The Fielding School — which currently offers master’s and doctoral degrees for graduate students and a minor in public health for undergraduates — designed the new undergraduate degree program with key classroom and community experiences in mind. Courses for both bachelor’s degrees will be taught by school faculty, and all students will participate in community-based service.

The school’s undergraduate minor in public health, offered since 2003 and also taught by Fielding School faculty, experienced a spike in applications of more than 70% between 2015 and 2020. Moreover, many UCLA undergraduates have enrolled in public health courses even when not fulfilling requirements for the minor. In response to the growing demand over the last several years, the university has substantially increased both the number of undergraduate public health courses and the number of undergraduate students taught by public health faculty.

“Public health is a highly collaborative discipline that is often at the helm of effecting positive and lasting societal change,” said Darnell Hunt, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “UCLA Fielding’s new undergraduate degree program will empower students by providing them with the foundational knowledge, tools, and community-based experience needed to become the next generation of public health changemakers.”