Public Health vs. Health Care Degree

Public Health vs. Healthcare: What’s the Difference?

If you are looking for a career making a positive impact and ensuring longer, happier, and healthier lives, you’ve likely considered pursuing a health-related field. Public health and healthcare are two great career options where you can help people in need.

Though these career paths have several similarities, people are often surprised to discover just how many differences exist between the public health and healthcare fields. Students must note and understand the distinction between these areas of study to determine which approach is best for them.

Let’s look at the definitions of public health vs. healthcare, the types of careers available in each field, and how students can select the best degree program for them, their interests, and their goals.

What is Public Health?

Public health focuses on protecting and improving the health of individuals and communities, as well as populations across the globe. Public health professionals promote healthy lifestyles, research diseases, advocate for injury prevention, and detect, prevent, and respond to infectious diseases.

This interdisciplinary field blends the sciences, including sociology, biology, environmental health, ethics, and epidemiology, from an educational perspective to preserve and profess people’s health through evidence-based measures.

Public health professionals also research emerging health trends and concerns worldwide to develop programs to educate and protect the public.

What Can I Do With A Public Health Degree?

Graduating from a Public Health program prepares graduates to advocate for populations needing better health care or health education. They use their knowledge of the U.S. and global healthcare systems’ policies to change health policy, promotion, and research.

Popular career paths among individuals with Public Health degrees and their median annual salaries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), include:

  • Community health worker – $46,190
  • Environmental health specialist – $76,480
  • Health education specialists – $59,990
  • Epidemiologist – $78,520
  • Nutritionist – $66,450

Public Health Degree Programs

Depending on their interests and goals, students can earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Public Health or a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH).

Bachelor degrees in Public Health prepare students to launch a career in the field by providing the foundational knowledge and skill sets needed to succeed in various positions. Students learn about and take courses in health behavior, health promotion, epidemiology, environmental health, occupational health, injury prevention, and public safety.

For those looking to take their education and training a step further, earning a Master’s in Public Health program allows candidates to pursue even more advanced careers in public health, such as a biostatistician, public health director, and disaster and emergency specialist.

Additionally, many graduate Public Health degree programs offer students the opportunity to concentrate on a specific study area, such as global health, community health, and health policy and management.

Some schools, like Goodwin University, allow students to earn their degrees via classes in an on-campus, online hybrid format, or, in the case of our Master’s in Public Health, entirely online.


Looking to earn your Master’s in Public Health? Check out our downloadable MPH Get Started Guide to learn more about our flexible class format, curriculum, financial aid, and more!


What is Healthcare?

The field of healthcare is focused on health, wellness, and helping individuals improve their overall well-being. Healthcare professionals are trained in patient care, leadership, medical terminology, pharmacology, facility management, administration, and record maintenance.

Plus, with about 1.8 million openings projected each year in the healthcare industry, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported, it’s no surprise that pursuing a healthcare degree and career is more popular than ever.

What Can I Do With a Healthcare Degree?

The healthcare job or career you pursue will largely depend on what type of Healthcare degree you earn. While there are a variety of degrees, they will all prepare candidates to work in the medical field through classroom instruction, hands-on lab work, and internships.

Professionals with degrees in Healthcare have endless opportunities in hospitals, healthcare facilities, and medical offices.

Here are some common healthcare careers and their median annual salaries as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Medical assistant – $38,270
  • Dental hygienist – $81,400
  • Respiratory therapist – $70,540
  • Occupational therapy assistant – $63,450
  • Registered nurse (RN) – $81,220

Healthcare Degree Programs

Students passionate about careers in health and wellness often pursue Healthcare degrees to pursue their field and career of interest.

For example, students interested in becoming a nurse typically earn their associate degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both of these degrees prepare students to help patients and their families through challenging and vulnerable times, whether sick, injured, or disabled.

While an Associate degree in Nursing will cover essential clinical components and fundamentals of nursing, nursing students earning their Bachelor’s degree should be ready to take advanced courses like public health nursing, nursing research, healthcare policy, and more.

Every college and university will offer different and various healthcare degrees, so students should research to find the best program and career for them. In addition to the aforementioned Nursing degrees, Goodwin University offers the following Healthcare degrees:

  • Health Science
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Medical Assisting
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Occupational Therapy Assisting
  • Respiratory Care
  • Funeral Service
  • Family Practice Nursing
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

Public Health vs. Healthcare: Which Degree is Right for Me?

Deciding between a degree in Health Science and Healthcare degree is an important, unique, and individual decision. Students should consider their personal and professional goals, interests, and passions.

For example, if you want to help improve public health by working with larger populations and are interested in research, you are likely suited to pursue your Public Health degree.

On the other hand, if you are more interested in working directly with patients in one-on-one settings and interested in the clinical aspects and operations of the healthcare field, consider earning a Healthcare degree.

No matter what path you choose, Goodwin University is there to ensure you get through college and into a great career with our expert faculty, staff, and comprehensive support services.

Apply today and take the next step toward your exciting career today!