Bachelor of Science in Public Health

The mission of the Department of Public Health (formerly Health Education) at San Francisco State University is to promote health and health equity at the individual, community, and structural levels through transformative education, research, scholarship and service, all of which value diversity, engage communities and are grounded in cultural humility.

The Bachelor of Science in Public Health is designed to build students’ knowledge and skills in the field of public health and provide a pathway for graduates to enter a range of professions to influence and support the health of communities. Students engage with a curriculum grounded in public health competencies of social determinants of health, epidemiology, health policy, community organizing, health and power inequities, public health programming and practice in the field. They also build skills to support their agency as informed and engaged participants in a democracy; these include, but are not limited to, oral and written communication skills, quantitative, scientific and information literacy, critical thinking, critical consciousness, cultural humility, teamwork, leadership and creative problem solving. This public health foundation prepares students for a broad range of roles and types of jobs where they may use knowledge, skills and values gained from their public health training to address public health challenges of the 21st century and to advocate for and build healthy communities.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify effective strategies for advocacy and community organizing to improve health and health equity.
  2. Explain behavioral, biological, social, environmental, economic, policy and systems level factors influencing public health.
  3. Communicate orally, in writing and visually, coherently and persuasively in the context of public health using multiple platforms.
  4. Describe qualitative and quantitative research, including assessment, evaluation, data collection, analysis, and reporting.
  5. Plan interventions using research and theory to improve population health and reduce health inequities.
  6. Analyze the influences of social policy and health systems on population health.
  7. Demonstrate professional skills including teamwork, leadership, cultural humility, community engagement, and critical reflection.

Public Health (B.S.) — 58 units

All courses in the major must be completed for a letter grade.

Foundation (13 units)

The following foundation courses or their equivalents must be completed prior to graduation, and preferably prior to one’s junior year and beginning the upper-division Public Health major required courses. Students entering from the community college system, or other four-year universities, should have their transcripts evaluated by a Department of Public Health advisor to receive credit for equivalent foundation courses taken elsewhere. All Public Health majors should follow the roadmap as closely as possible to ensure proper sequencing of major courses.

BIOL 100Human Biology3
BIOL 101Human Biology Laboratory1
Select One:3
Algebra and Statistics for Social Justice
Statistics for Social Justice
Data Analysis in Education
Elementary Statistics
Quantitative Reasoning in Psychology
PH 100Public Health Biology3
PH 205Introduction to Public Health3

Core (36 units)

PH 400GW and PH 425 must be taken concurrently. PH 400GW, PH 431, and PH 480 must be taken sequentially. Students who have satisfied GWAR in a discipline other than Public Health are still required to complete PH 400GW for the major. 

PH 400GWDeterminants of Health - GWAR3
PH 410Public Health Systems3
PH 420Epidemiology3
PH 425Public Health Research3
PH 431Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation3
PH 450Public Health Policy3
PH 455Community Organizing and Community Building for Health3
PH 480Fieldwork and Reflective Seminar9
PH 520Structural Oppression and Social Foundations of Health3
PH 600Public Health Media, Technology, and Communications3

Electives (9 units)

Select 9 units from the following courses:

AA S 587Asian Americans and Environmental Justice3
AA S 591Asian American Community Health Issues3
AFRS 370Health, Medicine, and Nutrition in the Black Community3
AFRS 466Black Lives Matter: Race and Social Movements3
ANTH 630Medical Anthropology3
BIOL 326Disease!3
BIOL 327AIDS: Biology of the Modern Epidemic3
HH 205Relaxation and Stress Reduction3
HH 380Holistic Health: Western Perspectives3
HH 381Holistic Health: Eastern Perspectives3
HH 382Holistic Health: Human Nature and Global Perspectives3
HH 540Meditation for Health and Wellness3
LTNS 210Latina/o/x Health Care Perspectives3
LTNS 500Latina/o Community Mental Health3
PH 200Global Health3
PH 210Personal and Social Determinants of Health3
PH/ETHS 221Health and Social Justice - Burning Issues, Taking Action3
PH/ETHS 241Health and Social Movements in the United States in the 20th Century3
PH 290Promoting Positive Health3
PH 305Critical History of Public Health in the United States3
PH 315Drugs and Society3
PH 320Contemporary Sexuality3
PH 414Women's Health3
PH/GEOG 434Geographies of Health and Health Care3
PH 655Environmental Health3
PH 685Projects in the Teaching of Public Health1-4
PH 688Racial Capitalism, Neoliberalism, and Public Health3
PH 699Independent Study1-3
PHIL 383Ethics in Medicine3
RRS 303Health and Wellness among Pacific Islanders3
WGS 593Gender, Health, and the Environment3

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

The roadmaps presented in this Bulletin are intended as suggested plans of study and do not replace meeting with an advisor. For a more personalized roadmap, please use the Degree Planner tool found in your Student Center.

First-Time Student Roadmap

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AS-T in Public Health Science.
PHS ADT Roadmap

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Public Health Science

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). 

Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.