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February 20, 2019

USM to launch new public health degree program

Courtesy / University of Southern Maine
Courtesy / University of Southern Maine
Erika Ziller, an assistant professor of Public Health within the Muskie School of Public Service.

The University of Southern Maine will launch a new baccalaureate public health program in the fall of 2019, building on the nationally renowned and accredited Master's in Public Health program at USM's Muskie School of Public Service.

The new program will be the first of its kind in the University of Maine System and the only undergraduate public health degree offered by a public university in Maine.

The program's purpose is to prepare students for positions at local health departments, businesses, social service agencies, health systems, nonprofit community organizations and hospitals.

"Maine's population is aging and our health rankings have been declining in recent years compared to other states," said Erika Ziller, an assistant professor of Public Health within the Muskie School of Public Service. "This suggests a strong need for new professionals who understand Maine's health challenges and can identify creative solutions to promote the public's health."

The University of Maine System board of trustees approved the new program at its Jan. 27 meeting. The new classes will start Sept. 1, 2019.

"Maine's health depends on public health, and public health depends on having leaders," said Dr. Stephen Sears, a Maine public health leader who chairs the USM Public Health Advisory Committee. "USM has a new program committed to helping develop new leaders in public health. This is good for Maine and good for public health."

The new program is expected to provide a strong foundation for graduate programs in multiple fields, including graduate-level public health and other related programs, public policy and law.

"Public health is the perfect complement to the other health and pre-health majors that USM offers," Ziller said. "While our clinical degrees prepare students to work one-on-one to address health concerns, public health focuses on upstream prevention of illness in communities and populations."

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