4 + 1 Undergraduate – Public Health Program

What is the 4 + 1 Undergraduate Public Health Program?

Old Medical School Building entrance on Hospital Drive. (Photo taken by Abby Sacks.)

Through this Program fourth-year undergraduate students will have the opportunity to begin doing public health graduate course work, research, and internships while completing their undergraduate course work and the requirements of their particular majors.

Although they can begin accumulating graduate public health credits as undergraduates, they will not be formally admitted to begin matriculation as graduate MPH students until after they have received their undergraduate degree and have applied and been formally accepted by the MPH Degree Program.  Students must fulfill all of the regular requirements for each of the separate degrees, i.e., for their particular undergraduate degree and for the MPH degree; no graduate public health courses can be double counted for both degrees.

The Program, with its particular focus on the social determinants of health, health equity, and population health, showcases the unique contributions the University hopes to make in educating leaders in public health, global health, and health policy.  It provides the opportunity for students each year to undertake research and field work in public health as undergraduates, and then to continue their work over a number of years and in greater depth as MPH students.

How Do Students Apply to and Matriculate in the Program?

The MPH Program will accept applications from third-year students from any major enrolled full-time at the University of Virginia.  Applicants from schools other than the College of Arts & Sciences may apply, provided they have a letter of support from their deans. Students will apply during the summer between their third and fourth years, and will be notified of a decision before the start of their fourth year.

During their fourth year of undergraduate study, students must apply through the regular application process in order to be accepted into the graduate-level MPH degree program.

If students are officially accepted by the MPH program, they will be able to count the PHS courses they completed during their fourth year toward the graduate degree, as long the credits were taken above the 120 needed for their undergraduate degree. Students cannot double count any credits toward both degrees. All of the requirements for their BA/BS degree and for the MPH degree must be separately fulfilled.  Students who wish to complete both degrees in five years will need to have space in their schedule to take at least three PHS courses (9 credits) during their fourth year.

What is Public Health in the 21st Century?

As threats of infectious diseases and bioterrorism grow and the nation confronts chronic health problems such as obesity and substance abuse, there is a critical need both in the public and private sectors for leaders who understand the scientific as well as the ethical, social, and legal issues involved. Public health professionals are expected not only to work in partnerships with communities, stakeholder groups, and citizens — who have widely varying values — but also to confront complex behavioral and social factors related to health in the community.  Examples include the analysis of life expectancy decrease due to obesity, the number of professionals needed to care for patients with diabetes resulting from obesity, data relating to epidemics and their prevention, as well as appropriate structures and protections to collect and use genetic information, the power of public health professionals to use coercive measures to protect the nation’s security, or the appropriateness of government campaigns to encourage citizens to stop smoking or lose weight.

When did the Program Begin?

The Department of Public Health Sciences began the new undergraduate program by inviting applications from third-year students in June 2007.

The Department of Public Health Sciences was awarded a grant from the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine (ATPM) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2006 to develop a model undergraduate course in public health.

Application Information

Rising fourth-year undergraduate students will submit their application to the 4+1 undergraduate by June 1, after receiving grades for the spring semester. They will be given a decision by August 1, just before they begin their fourth year.

To apply, students must submit an application to:

Tracey Critzer Brookman, M.Ed.
Director Academic Programs & Registrar
Department of Public Health Sciences
PO Box 800717
Charlottesville, VA 22908-0717

Applications should include

  1. a statement of interest
  2. a complete transcript with all grades, including the grades from the spring semester
  3. a resume, including a detailed description of any relevant experience
  4. three faculty letters of recommendation mailed directly to Tracey Critzer Brookman at the address above, or e-mailed to
  5. Students applying from outside the College of Arts & Sciences must also include a letter of support from their Dean.