JSU launching public health degree programs, addressing critical need in Alabama

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JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Jacksonville State University (Jax State) is set to launch two innovative degree programs within the College of Health Professions and Wellness Department of Kinesiology in the Fall of 2024: a Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) and a Master of Public Health (MPH).

The announcement comes in response to growing demand for public health professionals in Alabama, highlighted by recent reviews indicating a significant shortage in the state. According to Bureau of Labor and Statistics projections, a 17% increase in demand for public health specialists is expected by 2030, with emphasis on epidemiologists.

Both programs will focus on preparing graduates to take an active role in their communities. They will be equipped to identify needs, implement solutions, and organize services to address health disparities and improve overall wellness. The MPH program will offer concentrations in generalist and rural health, providing students with specialized training to address the unique challenges faced by rural communities.

“This is not just about learning, it’s about empowering our students to make a real difference in our community,” said Dr. Tracey Matthews, dean of the College of Health Professions and Wellness. “These programs represent a significant milestone in our mission to cultivate compassionate and competent healthcare leaders who will make a lasting impact on the health and wellness of individuals and populations.”

Louis A. Bass, president and CEO of the Health Care Authority of the City of Anniston, emphasized the importance of such programs, particularly in light of recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. “The BSPH and MPH degrees would prepare graduates as working professionals with public health skills, knowledge, and experience to support the public and private community health care workforce,” Dr. Bass stated in a letter of support.

Numerous state health professionals have also expressed their support for the new programs, citing the urgent need for a skilled public health workforce. Jeffrey R. Ryan, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Emergency Management, highlighted the programs’ potential to address gaps in healthcare provision and support community resilience.

The addition of these degree programs further solidifies Jax State’s commitment to promoting health and wellness in communities across Alabama and beyond. Jax State aims to cultivate a new generation of leaders capable of driving positive change in healthcare delivery and outcomes by providing students with the tools and expertise needed to address pressing public health challenges.

For more information about Jax State’s Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) and Master of Public Health (MPH) programs, please visit www.jsu.edu/health/index.html.