Jackson State University addresses health disparities through new Bachelor of Science in public health

In alignment with the Elevate 2026 strategic plan, Jackson State University (JSU) continues to enhance its program offerings to meet the challenge of society’s evolving workforce and industry needs. This fall, the Department of Health Policy & Management is pleased to launch a Bachelor of Science in public health program, which will provide a sound theoretical and practical education for public health practitioners.

“Jackson State University’s faculty partnered with external stakeholders in the design of an academic program meeting the demands of a changing health landscape. The result is a degree program embracing workforce needs. Our graduates will be ready to reimagine public health and consider the impact of data on the promotion of health outcomes. I am very appreciative of the faculty’s work and excited by the approach we’ve taken in adding mission-centric programming to our degree offerings,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Alisa Mosley, Ph.D. “The workforce needs in the public health industry continue to outpace the supply of professionals entering the market, particularly among those equipped to address health disparities. We’re ready to meet the demand and train a diverse cadre of competent professionals to address the complexity of public health.” 

In a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of public health services managers is projected to increase by 18 percent over the next several years. Employment for health educators and community health workers will increase by 11 percent.

With the demand for public health practitioners rapidly increasing, JSU Department Chair of Health Policy and Management Russell L. Bennett, Ph.D., expects the program to serve as the foundation for innovative strategies and interventions necessary for addressing health issues prevalent in society.

“This program provides a means to continually educate public health professionals in strategies and interventions focused on increasing life expectancy, reducing infant and child mortality around the world, and eradicating many of the communicable diseases of our time,” Bennett said. 

He further described the burgeoning program as a way to prepare students to enter the workforce in a number of jobs that fall under the public health umbrella. Graduates will be equipped to enter careers with an emphasis on disease prevention and the promotion and protection of the health of a community, either through education or policy advocacy.

In addition to receiving theoretical training, students will also receive tangible experience within the field by engaging in real case studies and research alongside supervising faculty.

“This program will also provide students an opportunity to advocate for community health, organize community partnerships, and provide innovative solutions to investigating public health problems,” said Yalanda M. Barner, DrPH, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

Upon graduation, public health undergraduates can assume entry and middle-level positions as community health planners, first responders, epidemiologists, public policymakers, public health physicians, public health nurses, and occupational and safety professionals.

The new Bachelor of Science in public health program is a product of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) funds project between JSU and Mississippi College. Last year, JSU and Mississippi College received $5 million for a joint venture to promote and protect population health.

A virtual information session for prospective students will be held on July 28 at 1 p.m. CT. For more information, please contact Yalanda Barner, DrPH, assistant professor, at (601) 979-8821 or yalanda.m.barner@jsums.edu.