The Complete Online Health Science Degree Guide

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If you’re interested in advancing and enhancing public health, whether it’s in a clinical, managerial or administrative role,  an online health science degree can get you there.

Online Health Science Degree

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This highly versatile degree can open doors to a number of well-paying careers in one of the fastest-growing fields out there.

What Is Health Science?

health care assistant working on medical records

Health science is where science meets healthcare. There are two parts to this field: the study and research of human or animal health, and the application of that knowledge.

An online health science degree sometimes called an allied health degree, is very broad and covers a variety of subjects, such as chemistry, biology, ethics, management, and medical terminology. This multidisciplinary approach can lead to a number of different careers or can serve as a stepping stone to a graduate program.

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If this is a degree you are considering, it’s important to research programs and find one with health science classes that closely align with your career goals. While the degree in and of itself is quite versatile, you will find that some programs emphasize clinical health, while others prepare students for administrative roles.

Another important thing to note is that some health science programs are completion degrees, meaning they are designed for students who already have an associate’s degree or several years of schooling. Be sure to look closely at the requirements of the programs you consider.

What Can You Do With a Health Science Degree?

Medical Assistant typing medical records on laptop

An online health science degree will prepare you for exciting careers in the clinical, public, or administrative sectors of healthcare, or to pursue more advanced education.

Some careers you may pursue with an undergraduate degree in health science include:

  • Clinical Laboratory Technologist
  • Dietician or Nutritionist
  • Health Educator /Community Health Worker
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technician
  • Medical or Health Services Manager
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Radiologic and MRI Technologist
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

Please keep in mind that additional certification or licensure may also be required for these positions.

Some students use their health science undergraduate degree as a stepping stone, and later pursue graduate studies or medical school.

What Do You Learn in Health Sciences?

medical assistant looking on patients record online

While earning degrees online in health science, you will learn about the legal and ethical aspects of healthcare, public policy, medical terminology, and the US healthcare system.

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You will also take courses that prepare you for managerial roles. Often, health science programs will allow you to select an area of concentration. The options might include:

  • Biomedical science
  • Child health
  • Clinical research administration
  • Diagnostic medical sonography
  • Gerontology / aging studies
  • Health informatics
  • Health care administration
  • Pre-pharmacy
  • Pre-physical therapy
  • Pre-physician’s assistant
  • Public health
  • Radiography

If you choose a specialization during your bachelor’s degree program, a bulk of your health science classes during your final two years will be in that area of study.

What Classes Do You Take for Health Science?

dietician and female patient on consultation

Health science classes vary from institution to institution and are designed to provide the general knowledge and skills needed in a variety of healthcare settings. This foundation will allow you to explore a variety of options before settling on an area of specialization.

Examples of courses you may take include:

  • Epidemiology
  • Evidence-based research methods
  • Financial management in healthcare
  • Health communications
  • Information technology applications
  • Legal and ethical considerations in the health environment
  • Management of health professionals
  • Medical terminology
  • Principles of public health

Many baccalaureate programs will allow you to choose an area of specialization and focus your final 2 years of study on that particular area of healthcare.

What Is the Salary of a Health Science Major?

Let’s look more closely at a few professions you could pursue with an undergraduate degree in health science according to data obtained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Careers Annual Median Salary
Medical or Health Services Managers $101,340
Radiation Therapists $82,790
MRI Technologists $61,980
Dietician or Nutritionists $61,650
Clinical Laboratory Technologists $57,800
Health Educators $48,860
Substance Abuse Counselors $48,520
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians $45,620
Medical Assistants $37,190

The BLS states that employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 16% within the next 10 years. Please keep in mind that some employers look for a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to be considered for a few of these positions. 

Is a Health Science Major Easy?

It depends. If you’re planning to go on to medical school, a health science major may be easier than, say, a pre-med major in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry.

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While an online health science degree will require you to complete some difficult science courses, it will balance them with courses in leadership, problem-solving, law, ethics, etc. Health science is not an easy major by any stretch, but it may not be as challenging as some others.

What are the Best Online Schools for Health Science?

health educator teaching intern students

The best online health science degree program is one that works with your schedule and is within your budget and provides the education you need to achieve your career goals.

What Degree Options are Under Health Science?

dietician consulting with a patient

When people refer to a health science degree, they are generally talking about a bachelor’s level degree, but there are other degree levels available in this field.

  • Certificate in Health Science: If you’re not ready to commit to a full degree program, or if you have been in the workforce but need to brush up on some specific skills, an entry-level certificate may be a good solution. Graduate certificates can also prepare seasoned professionals to transition into managerial roles.
  • Associate’s in Health Science: An associate degree is a step above a certificate program and may be enough to pursue entry-level positions in administration, health informatics, health science writing, and technical work in laboratories.
  • Bachelor’s in Health Science: This degree is perhaps the most versatile, allowing you to move directly into an advanced healthcare career (including leadership roles), preparing you for graduate studies, or even launching you into a nursing career.
  • Masters in Health Science: At this level, you will dig deep into clinical and nonclinical education, research, and data analysis. Though candidates with a bachelor’s can pursue leadership roles, this degree will help set you apart, especially in highly specialized fields.
  • Doctor in Health Science: This post-professional degree is for individuals who want to secure advanced leadership or teaching positions. Coursework will focus on education, research, and administration or practice.

Is Health Science Pre-Med?

Nutrition expert talking to client about health problems

Heath science can be pre-med, but it does not have to be. Technically any major can be pre-med; students of any major simply need to complete certain required courses to apply to medical school. But some majors are more popular choices for those pursuing a medical degree.

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According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, a specialized health sciences degree was one of the most common types of undergraduate degrees earned before starting medical school. However, an online health science degree can also lead to many other careers, on its own or with additional education.

Can You Become a Nurse With a Health Science Degree?

MRI Technologist performing an MRI test

A health science degree alone is not enough to become a nurse, but it can be used as a stepping stone. If you are going to college for the first time and know you want to go into nursing, it’s best to take a direct path by enrolling in an accredited nursing program, taking the appropriate exams, and becoming licensed in your state.

But if you already have a health science degree, you can transition into nursing with an accelerated nursing program or second-degree nursing program. This will allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) in 11 to 18 months of full-time study.

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.