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Health Science Bachelor’s Degrees: Curriculum & Career Options

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How a Bachelor’s Can Prepare You for a Health Science Career

Healthcare is a huge industry, growing 16% through 2030, and projected to add more jobs than any other occupational industry, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But how can you get your foot in the door and still take the time to discover a profession that’s right for you? One option to explore is a Bachelor of Health Science degree.

A Bachelor’s in Health Science covers the foundational knowledge that’s common across a wide range of healthcare professions, from physical therapists to clinical laboratory scientists to patient advocates.

By studying health science, you will gain a broad understanding of human anatomy, medical terminology, healthcare delivery systems, and ethics, as well as key skills such as effective communication and teamwork.

How can this impact your job prospects? Here is a quick overview of health science career options:

  • You can use a health science bachelor degree as an entry point into multiple careers. If you know you want to work in healthcare, but you aren’t sure which specific job opportunities to pursue, this degree can help you stay flexible and keep your options open.
  • Alternatively, you can also earn a BS in Health Science and specialize at the same time. For example, you may decide to earn a health science bachelor’s degree with a specialization in pre-occupational therapy, pre-pharmacy or pre-physical therapy. Specializations allow you to follow a clear career path and fulfill potential prerequisites necessary for graduate school.

However, a bachelor’s degree is not your only option. If you’re looking to land a healthcare job sooner, you can also earn an associate’s degree in health science. Depending on the program, a choice of specializations may also be available, such as pharmacy technician, medical assisting or medical administrative assistant.

Associate’s degrees have an added bonus: If you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future, make sure your program is accredited so you may be able to transfer your credits to get a head start on a four-year degree.

We break down each aspect of the BS in Health Science degree—from coursework to salary outcomes—in the article below. You’ll find key information and get answers to frequently asked questions.

What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science?

As a health science major, you will earn a multidisciplinary degree that is designed to teach you a range of knowledge and skills that are vital to many different healthcare professions.

People who earn a health science degree can go on to work in a variety of settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Research laboratories
  • Private offices or clinics
  • Public health organizations
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Government agencies

Bachelor of Health Science job opportunities include direct patient care, or non-clinical roles such as a health journalist, community health educator or pharmaceutical sales representative. Here are just a few possible career pathways that are open to health science majors:

  • Clinical health: Physical therapist, physician assistant, nutritionist, occupational therapist, or dental hygienist
  • Healthcare administration: Medical and health services manager, marketing manager, medical records technician, or health informatics specialist
  • Public sector: Epidemiologist, public health officer, health education trainer, or research director

Note that some of these careers require specializations or additional schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree, but a BS in Health Science can serve as an important stepping stone to help you achieve your goals.

What Health Science Bachelor’s Degrees Include

Health science bachelor’s degree programs often provide you with the flexibility to pursue a more general degree, or to specialize in a specific job function.

  • Broad-based programs are designed to help you gain the knowledge and skills needed in a variety of healthcare settings. This can give you flexibility if you want to explore several options before settling on one.
  • Specializations allow you to progress on a more tightly focused career track, which is ideal if you are ready to commit to a certain area of healthcare.

Here are some of the specializations that are available in various health science degree programs:

Areas of Specialization

  • Computer Tomography
  • Advanced Patient Care
  • Pre-Pharmacy
  • Radiography
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Pre-Physician Assistant
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Pre-Physical Therapy
  • Post PTA
  • Family Dynamics
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Health Care Quality
  • Global Health
  • Child Health
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Aging Studies
  • Clinical Research Administration
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Trauma
  • MRI

Did You Know?

The degree is technically called a Bachelor of Science in Health Science (health science is the major; Bachelor of Science is the type of degree). You may see this degree referred to as a Bachelor of Health Science, BS in Health Science, health science degree, and other similar terms.


What Classes Will You Need to Take?

Because the field is so broad, the curriculum for health science degrees varies among institutions.

The degree often encompasses a range of core courses and electives to help you develop familiarity with multiple areas of healthcare.

Programs may include courses such as:

  • Writing and Communication in the Health Science Professions
  • Evidence-Based Research Methods
  • Healthcare Issues in Culturally Diverse Populations
  • The Healthcare System
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Financial Management in Healthcare
  • Principles of Public Health
  • Medical Terminology
  • Information Technology Applications
  • Health, Safety and Ethics in the Health Environment

It’s important to search through the courses available at each institution to determine which specialty courses are most interesting to you. Depending on your personal circumstances you should check to see if online courses or degree programs in health science are available as well. These can provide flexibility and lessen stress around on-campus regulations and timelines.

Will You Need to Do a Practicum?

Many health science bachelor’s programs do require you to complete a practicum, which may also be described as clinical experience, an externship, or internship, depending on the school. The purpose is to give you hands-on skills and allow you to apply what you learn in the classroom to a real-world setting.

For example, in your final year of a health science degree program, you may spend several hours a week working in a clinic, hospital, non-profit, or public health department. These types of practicum experiences not only give you college credit, they also help you build your resume, increase your network and help you “test drive” jobs before graduation.

What Is the Average Salary for Health Science Careers?

The salary you may earn after receiving your Bachelor’s in Health Science will vary widely because there are so many types of careers associated with this degree. Listed below are median annual salaries of some popular jobs you may qualify for according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook:

  • Health education specialist: $56,500
  • Medical and clinical laboratory technologist and technician: $54,180
  • Dietitian and nutritionist: $63,090

Other in-demand health science careers may require graduate-level education on top of a BS in Health Science, but these careers could also be quite lucrative. Here are a few examples:

  • Epidemiologist: $74,560
  • Occupational therapist: $86,280
  • Physical therapist: $91,010
  • Medical health services manager: $104,280

Benefits of a Health Science Degree

A health science degree could prepare you to fill the growing needs of the healthcare industry, which is one of the strongest sectors in the U.S. economy.

Entering this profession could allow you to achieve long-term financial security and experience a stimulating work environment where you can make a real difference in people’s lives.

Increasing Opportunities for Health Science Professionals

Job growth through 2030

16%

2.6 million new healthcare jobs per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

What’s more, there are plenty of scholarships, financial aid and loan forgiveness programs for people who are pursuing an education in the field—which can help remove financial barriers and open up more opportunities for individuals in all walks of life.

For tips, insights, and expert sources to help you lower and manage student debt, check out our extensive resource page on loan forgiveness programs for healthcare professionals.

Where Can You Go from There?

Depending on your specialty, you may decide that a graduate degree is the best option for pursuing your ideal career path.

One of these options for advancing your education beyond a bachelor’s is a Master of Health Science degree. A graduate-level degree can allow you to specialize in a broad range of advanced fields such as:

  • Healthcare Risk Management
  • Biostatistics
  • Immunology
  • Healthcare Leadership
  • Epidemiology
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical Research

A Master’s in Health Science can lead to careers in public health, health informatics, health services management, health communications, health education, and more.

You can also enrich your educational background by pursuing a certificate in health sciences. A graduate-level certificate can help you develop knowledge and skills in a specialized subject area — often within a year or less.

A variety of certificate programs are available. Examples include certificates in public health sciences, global health, environmental health sciences, and pre-health.

Depending on your field, a certificate may be the most practical option, but do remember that some areas are more focused on work experience than advanced degrees—another reason to do keep your research going.

Choosing a Bachelor in Health Science Program

When searching for a health science program, it’s important to find out if it is accredited. Accreditation helps ensure that the degree program meets a specific set of quality standards. Attending an accredited program can also allow you to access state and federal student aid and transfer your credits in the future.

There are both national and regional accrediting bodies. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is one of the largest accrediting agencies for health sciences professions, but other accrediting bodies may be relevant to your program of interest as well.

If you are interested in a specific profession, find out what type of accreditation you will need for that career path. You can find out more by searching the online database of accrediting agencies provided by the Department of Education.

Of course, accreditation isn’t the only factor you must consider when looking for a degree program. You will also need to decide whether to attend an on-campus program or earn a health science degree online. Both of these routes have possible pros and cons, so choose an option that works best for your needs and goals.