A health science degree online prepares students for careers in the healthcare industry through the development of fundamental knowledge and skills applicable to the field. Online bachelor's degrees in health science also give students the tools to continue onto graduate programs in health-related areas.
Entry-level jobs in the health sciences field require bachelor's degrees. By choosing a health science degree online that best meets their personal interests and professional goals, learners can pursue medical, nursing, administrative, and academic positions. An online degree in health science includes concentrations in areas such as clinical science, public health, or research. Future health science workers can explore content that builds specialized competencies.
Overview of Online Health Science Degrees
Health science advances human and animal health through scientific research. By integrating scientific information with clinical, practical content, a health science curriculum equips students with tools and abilities to support overall human and animal health. Upper-level coursework in health science supplements general education classes that develop written and verbal communication skills and build global and social awareness. In an online health science degree, learners study biology, chemistry, and other hard sciences while simultaneously exploring aspects of the healthcare system, public issues associated with health, and health-related technology.
An online bachelor's degree in health sciences opens up learners to an array of competencies that prepare them for careers as healthcare professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 18% growth in the healthcare field by 2026, making health science bachelor's degrees particularly appealing for individuals who want to enter the job market upon graduation. With an aging population, the demand for healthcare professionals will continue to rise, adding as many as 2.4 million jobs within the next decade.
Students can also pursue graduate study in medicine, nursing, and health-related fields. A bachelor's program in health science provides foundational competencies needed for graduate and professional medical, nursing, and healthcare programs.
Application requirements and procedures for online bachelor's degree in health science programs differ depending on the institution and program. Many online health science bachelor's degrees require applicants to possess an associate degree, prerequisite coursework, or a certificate in a health-related field. Students can often easily transfer their previous coursework and credentials into a bachelor's program by providing transcript information and relevant documentation. Applicants must meet GPA requirements for all previous coursework or for specified prerequisite classes. Online health science degree programs maintain varying requirements, so students should check with their desired school or program.
Health science bachelor's programs may also require applicants to have experience working in the healthcare industry. Students who apply to specialized programs, including psychiatric science and occupational therapy, may need to supply recommendation letters or proof of board certifications prior to admission.
Applicants who do not meet basic admission requirements can receive conditional or provisional admission. Students in financial need can explore potential admission fee waiver programs.
What Will I Learn?
Online bachelor's degrees in health sciences include 120-122 credit hours of coursework. Most programs require students to complete 25-60 credit hours of general education coursework before taking core and elective classes.
Core classes in subjects such as public health, healthcare services, medical terminology, and clinical ethics provide students information on various aspects of health sciences and compose anywhere from 30-50 hours within the curriculum. Most bachelor's in health science online programs also include a capstone or seminar class as part of the core curriculum, designed for students to synthesize degree content through a research project, formal paper, or combination of the two.
Elective coursework allows students to take classes that meet their interests and goals. Online bachelor's degree programs in health science typically allow students to take 20-60 elective credit hours, depending on the program.
With many programs requiring students to possess an associate degree or prerequisite coursework, individual course requirements and degree completion time vary depending on the number of credit hours transferred into a program.
Ethics in Health Science
Coursework in the ethics of health science explores the history of science and ethical behavior while introducing students to theories and practices related to scientific research and practice. Students apply ethical models to real-world scenarios; assess contemporary issues; and discuss social and professional responsibilities related to medicine, technology, and science.
Human physiology coursework focuses on how the human body works, giving students the principles of body chemistry; genetics; and system processes and how they relate to human performance. Human physiology classes include both lectures and laboratory components, as learners gain knowledge and apply it directly to practical experiments and exercises.
Issues in Public Health
Issues in public health classes introduce students to public health theories and practices while examining problems, concerns, and approaches to building healthy populations. Students assess public health issues, including ethical matters, policy implementation, and resource allocation, in a contemporary context and apply problem-solving competencies through interactive exercises and discussions.
Healthcare Systems and Practice
Healthcare systems and practice courses provide students with introductory information about technological and organizational healthcare systems and how they relate to overall healthcare practice. Learners may explore information systems and record-keeping tools, facility management, practitioner behavior, and organizational structure. Healthcare systems classes also include content on insurance companies, payment structures, and human resource management.
Principles of Scientific Inquiry
Classes on the principles of scientific inquiry give students the ethical and moral foundations behind scientific research and theory while providing the tools to conduct their own scientific exercises. Learners explore the scientific method and how to draw conclusions using data. Students learn research methodologies and train in qualitative and quantitative research techniques in anticipation of a research or thesis project.
Global health classes assess the history of health and health issues from around the world. Students study disease outbreaks and prevention, contemporary challenges facing global health, and initiatives to improve health on a global scale. By assessing how health has changed over time and continues to develop in various regions, students gain insights into the future of health and healthcare.
What Can I Do with an Online Health Science Degree?
An online bachelor's degree in health science prepares students for careers in numerous health-related fields. Learners can pursue careers in areas such as medicine, healthcare administration, education, and community health. Degree concentrations offer additional opportunities for learners to tailor their education to meet the needs of the expanding health and healthcare industries. Students develop clinical skills, research competencies, and fundamental knowledge that not only allows for an entry-level health-related career, but also opens up opportunities for managerial and leadership roles in the field.
Students acquire the skills and competencies in an online human science degree that prepare them to work in numerous health-related fields. Clinical coursework gives students access to research tools, techniques, and practices that transfer to medical professions. Learners embrace the scientific method and apply it to specific research questions and issues related to health science. Classes in public health, disease prevention, and contemporary issues in health science help learners apply degree competencies to work with groups, communities, and populations to promote overall health.
An online health science degree also introduces students to aspects of the healthcare industry. By providing fundamental information on how the healthcare system works, the insurance industry, management and administrative processes, students can enter the healthcare profession with marketable and competitive leadership skills. Students also study health and healthcare policy and procedures as they learn to assess and apply regulations to various situations.
Health sciences degrees train students to communicate effectively in health-related professions, helping them build connections and work cooperatively with other health science professionals. Degree specializations and elective coursework allow for further career potential, offering learners advanced coursework on aspects of health sciences including health education, human lifespan development, and psychiatric care.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Human science degrees prepare students to enter professions that engage with individuals and groups to promote fitness, health, and wellness. Whether working as a health educator in a school or conducting experiments in a lab, human science professionals unite in their study of human and animal health. With health and healthcare positions varying significantly, human science degree graduates have opportunities to work as rehabilitation and occupational therapists.
The comprehensive coursework in an online human sciences program includes interdisciplinary content that blends aspects of business, economics, and sociology with scientific and mathematical investigation. This helps learners pursue careers in the healthcare industry, education, government service, or private practice.
Growth potential and above average salaries in health science professions give health science students exciting opportunities for their future careers. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for healthcare occupations stands at $64,770, significantly higher than the median annual wage for all economic sectors.
Annual Median Salary: $45,360
Health educators work with individuals and communities to promote health through information, programming, and advocacy. They design and implement health education materials to meet the needs of specific groups and populations. Health educators may work in private companies, public institutions, or educational settings.
Dietician or Nutritionist
Annual Median Salary: $59,410
Dieticians and nutritionists assess the nutritional needs of individuals, groups, and communities as they promote healthy lifestyles and overall wellness. Through counseling, public programming, and community engagement, dieticians and nutritionists customize eating plans and keep records on the progress of health initiatives. Dieticians and nutritionists work in clinical settings, private practice, public organizations, and government-based agencies.
Medical and Health Services Manager
Annual Median Salary: $98,350
Medical and health service managers work with doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and healthcare professionals to maintain efficiency and efficacy in health service offerings. Medical and health services managers maintain patient records, monitor budgets, develop departmental goals, and may supervise other medical and health services employees.
Clinical Laboratory Technologist
Annual Median Salary: $51,770
Clinical laboratory technologists conduct scientific experiments, preparing specimens and analyzing samples. Clinical laboratory technologists use specialized tools and equipment; keep data about their observations; and submit their results to the medical and scientific communities. Laboratory technologists may oversee lab assistants and technicians in small or large research settings.
Annual Median Salary: $49,090
Exercise physiologists study the human body, its systems, and human performance. They develop strategies for patients and clients to recover from illness, disease, or medical procedure. An exercise physiologist may work directly with a physician to design a patient's fitness or exercise program. Exercise physiologists perform cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other tests on clients and patients to assess health and wellness. They also adjust treatment and recovery plans as needed.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Health Science?
A bachelor's degree in health science prepares learners for entry-level careers in the health and healthcare industries. Students who want to continue on to managerial, mid-level, and leadership roles may want to pursue an advanced degree. Graduate programs in medicine, nursing, healthcare administration, and related fields build on the fundamentals contained within a bachelor's curriculum. With the foundations in place, learners with a health sciences bachelor's degree can thrive as they continue their educations.
Health and healthcare professionals do not need a graduate degree to advance in the field, however. Experience, certifications, and training programs give individuals with bachelor's degrees in health sciences specialized knowledge that can lead to career advancement. With the flexibility and applicability of a health science degree online, learners can thrive and excel in their current positions while pursuing new opportunities and goals.
Accreditation for Health Science Bachelor's Programs
Accreditation assures learners that programs and degrees meet the academic standards established by the accrediting body. Colleges and universities receive national or regional accreditation by a body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Neither the CHEA nor the ED accredit schools, but they oversee the standards, policies, and procedures to ensure academic quality and accountability. Schools that offer career-based, vocational, and technical degrees often hold national accreditation while research-oriented and more rigorous academic institutions maintain regional accreditation.
When choosing an online bachelor's degree in health sciences, accreditation should factor into a learner's decision. Credit transfer and financial aid opportunities vary depending on the type of accreditation a school or program holds. Regionally accredited institutions, for example, may not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools.
In addition to national or regional accreditation, departments and programs can receive programmatic accreditation. Programmatic accreditation through a field-specific agency or professional organization indicates a program or degree meets industry standards for a quality education. The CHEA and ED oversee programmatic accrediting bodies. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs remains the main accrediting body for health sciences programs.
Health Science Professional Organizations
Joining a professional health science organization gives members opportunities for networking, professional development, and personal growth. Health science organizations and associations provide members with research and updates on the field's latest news. Many groups also offer additional certifications and credentials to health science students and professionals, building competencies that facilitate professional advancement. Members receive access to job boards, discounts, annual events, and opportunities for collaboration as they interact with like-minded individuals.
American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
ASCLS works to provide excellence, diversity, and cost-effectiveness in clinical medicine by providing resources, educational opportunities, and advocacy opportunities for laboratory professionals. Membership includes access to webinars, publications, and insurance discounts. ASCLS also fosters grassroots initiatives to build connections in the clinical laboratory science community.
Health and Science Communication Association
HeSCA promotes the dissemination of health and science research and information among communication professions. HeSCA offers service awards, social networking, publications, and conferences to facilitate the use of communication technologies, foster collaborations, and build leadership competencies.
Health Care Education Association (HCEA)
HCEA unites health education professionals from various disciplines to promote excellence in healthcare outcomes. HCEA encourages communication and collaboration among health educators by providing information, research, and updates on evidence-based patient, family, and consumer care. Members gain access to professional development opportunities, scholarship opportunities, and field-related discounts.