By Madelin Shelton — 

Interest in public health majors at the University of Louisville has surged as the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the globe. This interest has led to increased numbers of students beginning or advancing their education in public health.

Dr. Craig Blakely, the Dean of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at U of L, said that undergraduate enrollment numbers at the School of Public Health rose 36% this fall as compared to last fall. Similarly, their graduate numbers went up 20%.

According to U of L News, the undergraduate increase for the School of Public Health and Information Sciences represents “the largest percentage surge for any baccalaureate degree at U of L this year.”

This surge in interest is not limited to U of L. According to the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health, applications to Schools of Public Health saw a 15% increase between May 2019 and 2020. While the number of applicants has continued to increase steadily since 2016, the jump from 2019 to 2020 is especially significant.

Blakely said there were two factors he thought was contributing to such a spike besides the coronavirus.

“People are much more aware of what public health is. It’s about trying to create conditions under which people can be healthy.”

Blakely went on to say that with this newfound understanding of public health and the circumstances we now see with the COVID-19 pandemic, people believe that there will be plenty of jobs in this field.

This belief is seen in practice now, as U of L students have joined the effort against COVID-19 by becoming contact tracers to help slow the spread of the virus.

“It’s a great time to be in public health,” Blakely said. “There’s a lot going on.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal