Courses of Interest for Health Careers

If you are interested in health-related careers, you can combine developmental courses with courses on building helping skills, understanding biological bases of behavior, and developing programs and policies. Below we have identified many courses that you can take to explore these careers and develop relevant skills.

Because many health careers require very specific courses and experiences, be sure to contact other relevant departments as well. Here are some common health careers that interest HDFS students and the corresponding departments that may interest you:

Pre-Med: Penn State has advising specifically for students interest in attending medical school.

Other departments that may be able to help you learn about the courses and experiences necessary for the particular career that interests you:

Relevant general education courses

*Be sure to check the supporting courses list (supporting courses) for Gen Eds that may be particularly relevant to HDFS students. Just remember, you can count these courses as either a Gen Ed or a supporting course, but they do not double count.

Your Natural Science classes can be particularly helpful as you explore careers and many graduate programs require certain science courses for admission.

Examples of relevant GN courses include but are not limited to:

B M B 001 (GN)
Understanding the Bases of Human Disease (3) A broad survey of the molecular and cellular factors that contribute to an understanding of selected human diseases.

BI SC 001 (GN)
Structure and Function of Organisms (3) An exploration of how cellular structures and processes contribute to life and how life displays unity even in its diversity. Students who have passed BIOL 027, 110, or 141 may not schedule this course.

BIOL 011 (GN)
Introductory Biology I (3) An introduction to fundamental biological topics (including cells, energy transduction, genetics, evolution, organismal structure/function, ecology) for non-majors biology-related fields.

BIOL 129 (GN)
Mammalian Anatomy (4) Anatomy of a mammal, with special reference to that of man. Students who have passed BIOL 421 may not schedule this course.

BIOL 141 (GN)
Introductory Physiology (3) Explanation of the normal structure and function of the animal body, with special emphasis on human body systems. Students who have passed BIOL 472 may not schedule this course.

Your health courses may also be highly relevant. Examples of relevant GHA courses include but are not limited to:

BB H 119 (GHA)
Behavior, Health, and Disease (3) Principles of health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment of acute and chronic illness. This course is designed for non-BB H majors.

BB H 130 (GHA)
Strategies for Addressing the Obesity and Diabetes Epidemics (3) Strategies for understanding and modifying the factors underlying weight, health, and the current U.S. and worldwide obesity/diabetes epidemics.

KINES 061 (GHA)
Fitness Theory and Practice (3) Students will learn about the science of fitness/wellness; evaluate their present fitness levels and create a personal fitness plan.

KINES 081 (GHA)
Wellness Theory (3) Focused on preparing and engaging students in the attitudes and behaviors that enhance quality of life and maximize personal potential.

KINES 303 (GHA)
Emergency Care - First Aid/Safety/AED (3) Develop skills for First Responder Certification in CPR/AED, First Aid and Safety by American Red Cross or National Safety Council.

NUTR 251 (GHA)
Introductory Principles of Nutrition (3) The nutrients: food sources and physiological functions as related to human growth and well-being throughout life; current nutrition issues. Students who have passed NUTR 151 may not schedule this course.

Relevant HDFS electives

Some HDFS courses are relevant to this career path, including required courses such as HDFS 301, HDFS 311, and HDFS 411. Many other courses are very relevant to these fields.

Knowledge of development

Understanding physical, cognitive, and social development can be important for health-related professions.

HD FS 229 - Infant and Child Development

HD FS 239 - Adolescent Development

HD FS 249 (GS) Adult Development and Aging

HD FS 330 - Observation or Experience with Preschool Children

HD FS 428 Infant Development

HD FS 429 - Advanced Child Development

HD FS 432 - Developmental Problems in Childhood and Adolescence

HD FS 433 Developmental Transition to Adulthood

HD FS 445 (PSYCH 416) Development Throughout Adulthood

HD FS 497E - Risk and Resilience over the Life Span

Special topics courses that may be relevant, based on your career goals

HD FS 250 (US) (WMNST 250) Sexual Identity over the Life Span

HD FS 416 (US) (SOC 411) Racial and Ethnic Diversity and the American Family

HD FS 446 Programs and Services in Gerontology

HD FS 452 Child Maltreatment Prevention, Intervention, and Legal Issues (3)

HD FS 453 Family Participation and Involvement in Child Services

Supporting courses for students interested in health care, health administration, and education

Your supporting courses can focus on developing important skills or they can help you learn about populations and problems that interest you. They can also provide information about health care, health administration, and health policy. Do not just randomly pick classes from these lists. Sit down and think carefully about what your goals are and what you need to learn, and then select courses that fit your interests.

There are many supporting courses for students interested in health care, administration, and policy. Use the supporting courses list (supporting-courses). Pay particular attention to courses in:

  • BIOL: Basic biology is essential for many health careers
  • BBH: courses focus on direct health care issues, reproduction, drug use, and disease
  • BIOL: courses related to anatomy and physiology
  • HPA: courses focus on health care administration
  • KINES: courses focus on human movement, first aid, and disease
  • NURS: courses focus on direct health care issues
  • NUTR: courses focus on nutrition

For more information, please visit the undergraduate advising office for the specific departments and check the entrance requirements for graduate programs.

Optional Minors

Students interested in health careers can explore the Global Health Minor, as well as minors through the departments listed above.