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Population Health Major & Population Health Certificate Programs

At a time of change in the world of health, the demand for professionals with expertise in population health and data science is growing at a rapid pace. The field of population health science seeks to advance our understanding of the multiple determinants of health, from cell to society, and how they interact to produce the health outcomes that we observe. At the College of Health, we are committed to developing our undergraduate students to succeed and lead in these emerging fields.

Population Health Major - BS in Population Health

Lehigh’s Bachelor of Science in Population Health degree prepares students to investigate the determinants of health using data science, and to identify novel and effective avenues for disease prevention, health promotion, diagnosis, and intervention.

The program combines courses in population health with foundational courses in mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences and computer science.

Students gain knowledge and skills through coursework, experiential learning opportunities, research projects and engagement with traditional and nontraditional partners in pursuit of a healthier world.

The BS requires a minimum of 124 credits provides students with a strong conceptual background in Population Health as well as extensive methodological expertise in data science and epidemiology. All majors take POPH 001, Introduction to Population Health, plus core courses in Population Health Research Methods, History of Population Health, Biological Basis of Population Health, Population Health Data Science, and Epidemiology. They also complete a minimum of three 1-credit varying topics seminars in Population Health, in addition to 1-credit seminars in Design Thinking, Research Ethics and Writing about Science. Students then pursue their individual interests by selection an area of concentration, in consultation with their adviser; at least two of these courses are required to be at the 300-level or above. The population health capstone integration occurs in the required two-semester project (POPH 301 and POPH 302), in which students plan, implement and evaluate a population health project.

Core Courses

Despite significant advances in medicine and public health, inequities in health persist. Understanding health on a population level is an approach that seeks to improve the health of the whole population, unravel variations in health outcomes, and to identify effective strategies for reducing or eliminating inequities. The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of: 1) how population health defined and measured; and 2) the determinants of population health (from cell to society). Recitation component required.

This course provides students with fundamental principles of research methodologies relevant to population health research. Through this course, we will review a range of methodologies, including randomized controlled trials, observational studies, mixed methods, and comparative qualitative case study methods. In addition, students will obtain the research and methodological skills needed to translate their academic work into concrete policy lessons for international and domestic government and civil societal actors. This course will combine formal lectures with recitation. Pre-requisite POPH 001. 

In this course, students will be introduced to the development of population health as a convergent science. Students will learn about the historic evolution of population health interests, normative beliefs in service delivery, and policy reform at the international and domestic level. Students will also learn about the structure, principles, ethical values and services as governed by public health laws and code of ethics. In addition, students will explore the key advances and initiatives, collectively achieved among various sectors (e.g., government, community, healthcare, industry, etc), that have served to examine and address the determinants of health and illness. This course will conclude with addressing the future challenges to population health at the international and domestic level, such as worsening environmental conditions, non-communicable diseases, political instability, and worsening socioeconomic inequalities.

How do social, economic, environmental determinants bring about diseases in groups of human beings? This course will survey the methods of investigating the biological mechanisms underlying human health outcomes. Students will explore investigation of human diseases using emerging and traditional tools in genomic, molecular, immunological, and environmental fields. Students will also be expected to deepen their awareness of individual/group susceptibility, and propose societal approaches to intervention and prevention of human diseases.

Epidemiology is the field of scientific inquiry concerned with questions about the determinants of disease in the population. This course covers fundamental concepts of epidemiological thinking including study design and analytical methods to address confounding, bias, and effect modification. Students will be introduced to measures of disease frequency and association, sources of bias and how to address them, and concepts in causal inference. Case studies will address health concerns from infectious disease outbreaks to population health surveillance and disease prevention.

In Population Health Data Science I (PHDS-I) students will spend the semester learning the fundamentals of probability theory, univariate statistics, statistical computing/programming/visualization, and machine learning. A mix of traditional and experiential learning will focus on how to build an analysis pipeline to answer pressing questions in population health. In-class examples and projects will use real data sets. Examples include: comparing cardiovascular interventions in clinical trials, evaluating the incidence of influenza in the United States, and visualizing international health expenditures and burdens. Students will propose a small data-driven project focused in population health, and use their newly-acquired data science skills to collect, analyze, and present their work.  

In Population Health Data Science II (PHDS-II) students will expand their statistics and machine learning toolkit. We will learn how to compare univariate distributions, build traditional regression models for continuous and binary data, explore supervised learning methods such as: Tree-based learning, KNN/Collaborative filtering, and Feed forward Neural networks, and understand how to manipulate, ask, and answer questions from big datasets. In-class examples include: building a learning algorithm to predict myocardial infarction from patients with heart disease, forecast the incidence of United States influenza, and construct a neural network to classify the health care decisions made by an independent medial review board. Students will be expected to propose a population health project mid-semester, and apply and present techniques they learned in class. Pre-requisite BSTA 001.

In Population Health Data Science III (PHDS-III) students are introduced to Bayesian statistics and computational techniques, ensemble learning (boosting, bagging, and stacking), how to handle missing data, and how to build reproducible analysis pipelines via Makefiles. The statistical and machine learning techniques we learn in class will be applied to a variety of real population health datasets. Students will use a real dataset from the population health domain to apply these techniques and submit a research-style manuscript. The goal is to investigate a current problem in population health and provide a data-driven solution. Pre-requisite BSTA 101.

HIT 010 Design Thinking for Innovation in Health
Design Thinking is a human centered design process used to identify problems and create actionable solutions. Students will be exposed to the process, and attitudes needed, to frame and reframe problems, challenge assumptions, access their creativity, and tell compelling stories to communicate their ideas. The emphasis is on learning by doing and focuses on practicing the 5 steps in Design Thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test that can be applied to virtually any area where new solutions are needed.

POPH 012 Ethics in Population Health
This course will introduce students to ethical concepts and critical issues pertaining to the ethical inclusion of human subjects in population health research. This course will provide opportunities for writing about, discussion of, and case-based learning around current and historical perspectives on population health research. During this course, students will complete the necessary training for conducting human subjects research at Lehigh University.

POPH 304 Writing about Science
This one-credit special topics seminar will expose students to the planning, writing, editing and publishing stages of writing about science in various mediums, including journal articles, policy briefs, and mass media.


POPH 301 Population Health Capstone (Proposal)
In this writing intensive course, students will work closely with their academic advisor and site preceptor to develop a detailed proposal for a Population Health project. Instructor permission required. 

POPH 302 Population Health Capstone (Execution)
In this course, students will implement and evaluate the Population Health project proposed in POPH 301. A final capstone report, oral presentation and preceptor evaluation will be required. Instructor permission required. 

Students choose an area of concentration in consultation with their adviser.  Concentrations may be in one of the listed areas or customized based on the student's goals.

  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Community Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Health Innovation and Technology
  • Global Health
  • Social and Behavioral Health
  • Health Policy and Management

Population Health Certificate Programs

The College of Health will also offer credit bearing undergraduate certificate programs. The first two certificates will be in Population Health and Global Population Health. Future certificates will be developed around relevant topics such as LGBTQ+ Population Health, Maternal and Child Population Health, Health Policy and Environmental Health. These certificate programs are open to all Lehigh undergraduate students as well as students from other accredited institutions. College of Health certificates can complement majors pursued within Lehigh’s other undergraduate colleges.

Population Health Certificate

The Population Health Certificate is a 16-17 credit program that includes core courses in population health such as Introduction to Population Health, Epidemiology and Population Health Data Science. An experiential learning component provides hands-on experience to help students understand and investigate multiple determinants of health from cell to society. This certificate is open to any student pursuing a degree outside of the College of Health at Lehigh University or another accredited institution.

  • POPH 001 Introduction to Population Health (4 credits)
  • One Population Health Seminar (1 credit)
  • BSTA 001 Population Health Data Science I (4 credits)
  • EPI 304 Methods in Epidemiology I (4 credits)
  • One elective chosen in consultation with adviser (3-4 credits)

Global Population Health Certificate

The Global Population Health Certificate is a 14-16 credit program that includes core courses in global population health, experiential learning and international fieldwork relating to global health. Students gain an understanding of global health concerns and their determinants, and comparative approaches for health promotion, disease prevention and health care delivery in the international sphere. This certificate is open to College of Health BS students as well as students from Lehigh’s other undergraduate colleges and other accredited universities.

  • POPH 001 Introduction to Population Health (4 credits)
  • POPH 106 Global Environment & Human Welfare (3 credits)
  • One Population Health Seminar (1 credit)
  • Field Experience: Internship, research project or experiential learning abroad (3-4 credits)
  • One elective chosen (200 level or above) in consultation with adviser (3-4 credits)


Population Health Careers

Lehigh’s population health alumni may pursue careers in the private sector, nonprofit organizations, or local, state, federal and international governmental institutions, or go on to obtain graduate-level research or clinical training. They may work in fields including epidemiology, medicine, data science, biostatistics, global health, health economics, health policy, community health, health promotion, and health technology and innovation.

For example, graduates can work in many different industries in a variety of roles.

Job Titles Include:

  • Population health data scientist
  • Population health researcher
  • Industry consultant
  • Global health specialist
  • Bioinformatician
  • Health program specialist
  • Project analyst
  • Population health systems integrator
  • Epidemiologist/Biostatistician
  • Research analyst

Sample List of Companies that Employ Population Health Graduates:

Health Care Providers and Payers

  • Hospitals and Health Networks
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Health Technology Firms
  • BD
  • Amgen
  • Pfizer
  • IBM Watson Health
  • Optum Labs
  • Novo Nordisk
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Google Health
  • Microsoft Health

Consulting Organizations

  • Accenture
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • IBM Watson Health
  • IBM Global Business Services
  • Abt Associates
  • Battelle
  • Mathematica Policy Research
  • SAIC
  • Mitre Corporation

Job Titles Include:

  • Community health director
  • Program coordinator
  • Project manager
  • Engagement specialist
  • Health educator
  • Grants manager

Sample List of Organizations that Employ Population Health Graduates:

Advocacy and Research Organizations

  • American Hospital Association
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Heart Association
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American College of Surgeons

Nonprofit Research Organizations

  • RTI International
  • FHI 360
  • ECRI Institute

Job Titles Include:

  • Professor
  • Research associate

Job Titles Include:

  • Health educator
  • Grants manager
  • Policy scientist
  • Population health policy analyst

Sample List of Organizations that Employ Population Health Graduates:

  • National Institutes of Health
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • State Health Department
  • County Health Department
  • Peace Corps

Top Population Health Questions Asked By High School Students

Read the top questions below about the Population Health major and the Population Health certificate programs and also review our general FAQs to learn more about the College of Health.

The core of the curriculum is rooted in population health data science with a focus on health innovation and technology. Many of the courses are 4 credits – 3 credits theoretical/classroom based and 1 credit lab/hands-on. Students are afforded an array of experiential learning opportunities with faculty, research and service. Upper level electives provide students with in-depth exploration into concentration areas such as Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Community Health, Environmental Health, Health Innovation and Technology, Global Health, Social and Behavioral Health and Health Policy and Management. Concentrations are customizable based on student interest.

Although Lehigh University does not have a formal “pre-med” major, there is a recommended track of courses for students who are considering medical school. The College of Health has mapped out the undergraduate program to ensure that students who are enrolled in the BS in Population Health are able to complete the pre-med requirements along with the BS in Population Health requirements within four years. Furthermore, students who pursue advanced clinical degrees after graduation will be well-equipped with the education, experience and skills to address specific population health challenges that exist within health care systems. Learn more information about the pre-med requirements >

The BS in Population Health from the College of Health will be a stand-alone degree and the College will offer only one degree with concentrations (not various majors). This means that any additional major coupled with the BS in Population Health will be considered a two-bachelor-degree program and students must meet university requirements. The College of Health faculty and staff will support students interested in exploring their options for a robust academic experience.

The goal of the College of Health is to ensure our students gain hands-on technical skills needed to excel in the field of population health, which is accomplished through experiential learning opportunities embedded in the curriculum and formal internship experiences with our partners.

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