COPH now offers undergraduate degree

This fall, the USF College of Public Health (COPH) began offering a degree in public health to undergraduates, the first of its kind to be offered in Florida by an accredited college of public health.

The Bachelor of Science degree program provides the student-centered courses required for entry-level public health jobs found in government agencies, health corporations, community non-profit organizations and health care facilities, said Kay Perrin, PhD, MPH, RN, associate professor and director of Academic and Student Affairs for USF’s COPH.

“The USF is home to Florida’s first and longest-standing public health college so it is very exciting that USF has the first bachelor’s degree in public health in Florida housed in an accredited public health college,” Dr. Perrin said.

   Dr. Kay Perrin, Director of COPH Academic and Student Affairs

“One of the main reasons we started this program is to serve Florida by filling the critical need for health care agencies seeking entry-level personnel in public health settings,” Dr. Perrin said.

“In fact, The Chronicle of Higher Education noted in their Sept.  4, 2009, issue that public health is considered to be one of the ‘five college majors on the rise’ with a list that includes service science, health informatics, computational science, sustainability and public health.”

More than 2,600 students were accepted in the charter class this fall and the program received approval from the Board of Trustees Oct. 7, Dr. Perrin said.

The BS in Public Health is a generalist degree with no concentrations, tracks or specializations, but students can have a double major or an accelerated degree across disciplines (such as a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s degree in environmental and occupational health).

COPH student advisor Cherie Dilley talks about the new undergraduate degree being offered at COPH with USF student Colleen Ward, who is currently majoring in social work.

With the new BS program, undergraduate students will be encouraged to seek opportunities to participate in public health research ranging from laboratory studies to participatory community-based research with a focus on the culturally competent aspects of healthy community development including the social, economic, educational components.

“This research provides entry-level student employment opportunities on a variety of specific public health projects while learning basic research skills including data collection, data entry and technical report writing,” Dr. Perrin said.

“Under faculty leadership, students are mentored to achieve personal goals whether they choose employment after their bachelor’s degree or admission into a graduate or professional program.”

Established in July 1984 with an initial enrollment of 100 students, the USF College of Public Health is fully accredited by the Council on Edu¬cation for Public Health (CEPH) and has graduated more than 2,000 students with master’s and doctoral degrees.

Current enrollment includes nearly 600 master’s and doctoral full- and part-time students. Constructed in 1991, the College building houses an auditorium, classrooms, a distance education studio, computer classrooms, and 17 laboratories. More than 91 faculty members provide education, research and service impacting local, state, national and global public health.

Contact Cherie Dilley, undergraduate academic advisor, at or call (813) 974-9135 for more information about the program.

Story by Sarah A. Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications