A growing global population and issues of health disparity in many communities call for competent healthcare professionals who are capable of ensuring the efficient delivery of healthcare services. A bachelor’s degree in health science affords students the skills and knowledge needed to make a valuable impact on the healthcare field.
A health science bachelor’s degree online offers flexibility for working professionals and those with personal obligations who are unable to attend on-campus classes. This guide provides helpful information for anyone considering a bachelor’s in health science, including potential career paths with salary outlooks and what to look for when choosing the best online bachelor’s program in health science for you.
A bachelor’s in health science provides professionals with the skills needed to manage healthcare operations and lays the foundation for many career opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for healthcare occupations is projected to grow by 18% through 2026, a rate much faster than the national average for all jobs. While no degree guarantees a job or salary, this section provides median salary and expected job growth for a variety of popular health science careers.
Occupational health and safety specialists inspect and document workplace environments to ensure that physical conditions are safe for employees and optimized for employee health and performance. They evaluate programs on employee health and safety, design workplace procedures for hazardous workplace environments, and implement employee training programs for workplace safety. Occupational safety specialists may also investigate workplace accidents to help determine a cause and suggest preventative policies.
Medical and health services managers and administrators oversee and direct operations of a healthcare facility, practice, or a specific department within a larger medical institution. They plan and set organizational or departmental goals that improve the quality of services and efficiency of operations. Daily tasks may include managing quarterly finances, recruiting and training new employees, and monitoring and updating a facility’s service records.
Technical writers communicate complex health information in accessible language through professional manuals, white papers, and other technical guides and documents. In a typical day, technical writers may speak with a client to understand the objectives of a particular publication, decide on the best written medium based on audience and other factors, and edit written materials produced by other writers.
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists, also known as medical laboratory scientists, perform patient tests ordered by physicians. They use specialized equipment and procedures to analyze bodily tissue samples and fluids, record data and results in a patient’s medical record, and consult with physicians about patient test results. Technologists often train and supervise medical laboratory technicians, who tend to perform more automated and routine tests.
Dietitians and nutritionists advise clients on optimal ways to manage a healthy and balanced lifestyle and prevent disease. Their work is usually customized for each client. Typical daily tasks include assessing an individual’s nutritional needs, developing appropriate nutrition and physical fitness plans for a client, and recording a patient’s progress. Other job functions may include contributing research findings to nutritional science institutions or speaking to groups and organizations on maintaining good health.
Sources: BLS 2018
Like any career, salaries for occupational health and safety specialists vary by state, industry, and an individual’s qualifications and experience. Different states offer a salary that is dependent on local demand for related work and cost of living. As of May 2017, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, and Alaska were the highest-paying states for occupational and health specialists.
Oil-related industries offer some of the top salaries for occupational health and safety specialists, followed by natural and gas distribution, and scientific research and development services. The following list provides salaries and job growth rates for occupational health and safety specialists by state.
An online health science degree curriculum typically covers courses in healthcare principles and ethics, leadership and management strategies, and more specialized courses depending on the program. Some degrees require students to complete a final research project or internship. The following list represents a sample of common courses for an online health science degree. Prospective students should always research online or contact a specific school for an accurate list of core courses, electives, and other degree requirements.
Anatomy is the study of living organisms’ physical form while physiology investigates the function of these forms. This course provides students with an understanding of the form and function of the human body, including professional terminology.
Students develop an understanding of marketing and business development strategies for healthcare environments. Topics of study may include consumer behavior in healthcare, market segmentation and targeting, and healthcare advertising and communications.
This course covers the ethical and legal considerations of healthcare policy, professional behavior, and regulations in various healthcare environments. Students also explore the cultural, socioeconomic, and political dimensions of these concepts.
Epidemiology is the study of disease in human populations. Students develop an understanding of the factors that affect the spread and control of disease within communities. They also receive training in preventative measures for the dissemination of infectious diseases.
Students examine how culture and socioeconomic status impacts a patient’s quality of healthcare and relationships with healthcare professionals. Topics covered include healthcare provider responsibilities and cultural influences when providing care to various communities.
When choosing an online bachelor's degree in health science, you should consider several factors, including tuition and academic fees, internship and field experience requirements, and accreditation status. Other important criteria to consider include concentration offerings, faculty background and expertise, and graduate testimonials. This section provides answers to commonly asked questions for students pursuing a bachelor's degree in health science.
The skills and knowledge developed in a bachelor’s in health science online are applicable to many healthcare professions. However, a program with a specific emphasis may be useful if you have career goals within a particular domain, like nonprofit healthcare. Some concentrations offered in health science include public health, management, and health and wellness. Keep in mind that not all programs offer concentrations.
Many online programs in health science require an internship. A typical program requires 120 internship hours, which are usually completed over one or two semesters under the supervision of an adviser. Programs that do not require an internship often require students to complete a final capstone project, in which students demonstrate mastery of content by integrating skills and knowledge learned with a professional topic of interest.
Since online health science degrees are frequently targeted to full-time professionals, previous experience in the healthcare industry is often a requirement in the admissions process. While some programs may require a minimum number of years of professional experience, others accept previous internship or volunteer experiences. If you have an existing healthcare license or certification, some programs may count this credential toward required program credits.
Many health science bachelor's degrees online offer the same curriculum as on-campus degrees and follow the same enrollment schedule, with set starting dates for spring and fall semesters. Some programs may also offer summer courses. You can contact a school’s admissions office or online learning department to better understand how students are expected to enroll and any course order requirements for degree completion.
While not always advertised on a degree page, it’s important to research a program’s faculty prior to making an enrollment decision. Some factors to consider include whether the same faculty teaches online courses as on-campus courses, the relevancy of faculty expertise to your career goals, and the degree of expected faculty interaction.
Every online health science degree requires a financial commitment, so it’s important to have a plan for tackling costs before you enroll. While there are a variety of ways to finance your degree, scholarships and grants are optimal as they don’t require repayment. Students may qualify for one or more scholarships depending on eligibility requirements. Below is a sample of scholarships available to students enrolled in a health science or related undergraduate degree.
Scholarships are available to undergraduate students enrolled in a four-year college or university that is an NEHA member or accredited by the Environmental Health Accreditation Council. Applicants must provide evidence of one year of completed coursework. Up to three undergraduates are chosen annually to receive up to a $1,000 award, which must be used toward college tuition or fees.
Students enrolled in an accredited primary healthcare professions program are eligible to apply for an NHSC scholarship. Recipients of an NHSC scholarship agree to provide two years of full-time service in a facility or organization located in a designated health professional shortage area. The NHSC scholarship covers tuition for up to one year of an undergraduate program. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
Offered through Sharps Compliance, the Sharps scholarships are awarded annually to three undergraduate students who are completing a healthcare-related undergraduate program. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and currently enrolled at an accredited university; they may not be associated with Sharps Compliance. Application requirements include a 1,250-1,500-word essay on a current healthcare issue posted each year by Sharps. First prize receives $1,500, second prize receives $1,000, and third prize receives $750.
The NIH UGSP pays up to $20,000 each year in tuition, academic fees, and living expenses to scholarship awardees. Scholarships can be renewed for up to four years. Scholarship recipients are obligated to complete a paid summer research internship at an NIH research laboratory and continue training after graduation for at least one year. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited four-year college or university, hold a GPA that ranks in the top 5% of their class, and demonstrate exceptional financial need.
Udall Foundation awards scholarships to eligible sophomore and junior scholars who are committed to healthcare and other issues that impact Native American communities or the environment. Up to 50 scholarships are awarded each year in amounts up to $7,000. In addition to an application, students must submit an 800-word essay on legislation or a speech given by Stewart L. Udall or Morris K. Udall, three letters of recommendation that support a student’s leadership qualities and achievements, and copies of college transcripts.