Health Care Careers: Nursing Courses, Medical Degrees, and More at US Universities

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By Deshan Mendis
Last updated on August 11, 2023

Demand for health care professionals is always growing, so pursuing a health care major at a US university can qualify you for high-value careers.

International medical students in scrubs being taught at a hospital

From nurses, physicians, surgeons, therapists, pharmacists, and health insurance underwriters, the field of health care is diverse and deep, full of interconnecting roles that leverage a wide variety of experiences and qualifications. 

Health care careers are also in constant demand, with no signs of slowing down. Employment in health care-related jobs is expected to grow by 16% by 2030 (a rate significantly faster than the average for all occupations).

In this guide, we go over everything you need to know if you plan to pursue a major in health care, including the types of jobs you can qualify for and programs you can consider.

Which Health Care Careers Can You Pursue?

Health plays an important role in people’s lives and the health care industry needs qualified professionals, all around the world. From nursing to hospital administration, health insurance to software development, careers in health care are vast and varied. 

Here are some health care career possibilities and their potential earnings in the US, Brazil, China, and India:

Health Care Administrator

Job Role

Oversees day-to-day administrative operations of hospitals and other health care facilities, as well as planning and supervising all medical services

Starting Salary in the US


Starting Salary in Brazil


Starting Salary in China


Starting Salary in India



Job Role

Assists in managing patients’ physical needs, preventing illness, and treating medical conditions

Starting Salary in the US


Starting Salary in Brazil


Starting Salary in China


Starting Salary in India


Physician Assistant

Job Role

Treats and provides health care services to patients under the direction and responsibility of physicians

Starting Salary in the US


Starting Salary in Brazil


Starting Salary in China


Starting Salary in India


Physical Therapist

Job Role

Examines patients and develops physical treatment plans to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability

Starting Salary in the US


Starting Salary in Brazil


Starting Salary in China


Starting Salary in India


Public Health Practitioner/Analyst

Job Role

Works closely with doctors and nurses to advocate and promote evidence-based health care policies

Starting Salary in the US


Starting Salary in Brazil


Starting Salary in China


Starting Salary in India


Source: Salary Expert, 2022 and Salary Explorer, 2022

Now that you have an overview of just a few health care career opportunities available, the next step is to look at how you can work up to those positions. With Shorelight, you can begin your degree in a health care-related field at top-ranked and international student-friendly universities that support your career goals.

Let’s take a look at a sample of health care degree programs offered at Shorelight universities:

Auburn University College of Education — Physical Activity and Health

The College of Education at Auburn University offers a Bachelor of Science in Physical Activity and Health that provides students with the knowledge, abilities, and experience needed to work in either commercial, corporate fitness, or cardiac rehabilitation environments. Learn and develop skills for evaluating fitness and health, understand the behavioral tactics motivating people to exercise, and more best practices for encouraging healthy lifestyles. 

Curriculum includes courses in:

  • Human anatomy and physiology

  • Physiology of exercise 

  • Principles of biology

  • Strength and conditioning development

Toward the end of the program, students are required to complete a semester-long internship to gain on-the-job experience. After graduation, degree holders may qualify for roles in hospitals, corporate facilities, commercial fitness centers, or rehabilitation clinics. 

Auburn University College of Liberal Arts — Health Services Administration

A recognized professional degree program, Auburn’s Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration (HADM) is one of the oldest undergraduate health care administration programs in the state of Alabama. Graduates possess professional skills and knowledge required to lead and manage health care teams responsibly and ethically.

The HADM program includes courses such as:

  • Ethics and the health sciences

  • Gateway to health care administration

  • Health care policy

  • Public speaking 

With this program, students are eligible for an internship once they have concluded their final semester. 

University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health — Public Health

At the Arnold School of Public Health, students have the option to either follow a bachelor of arts degree or bachelor of science degree. The bachelor of science program focuses on key health care concepts and topics such as public health, different types of health services, and more.

Courses include:

  • Environmental health sciences

  • Epidemiology

  • Health services policy and management

  • Communication sciences and disorders

University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health — Environmental Health Sciences 

UofSC’s Master of Science in Environmental Health Sciences (ENHS) builds graduate students’ understanding of complicated and modern environmental challenges, such as researching the negative effects of environmental conditions and contamination on human health, the effects of human activities on the environment, and more. 

Sample courses cover:

  • Concepts of environmental health science 

  • Introduction to epidemiology 

  • Perspectives in public health 

Students can also tailor parts of the program to their individual interests, so they may qualify for specialized jobs requiring deep knowledge of specific technical health-related skills. 

University of South Carolina College of Nursing — Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The curriculum for the bachelor’s degree in nursing is split into two divisions: pre-nursing lower division and upper division. The pre-nursing lower division is for students who have recently been admitted to university and works as a foundation, while the upper division is more advanced and students in this division may have already completed their first two years of study. 

In the pre-nursing lower division, students must follow core general education classes (such as English, history, and math) as well nursing courses, including:

  • Introduction to Nursing Profession

  • Elementary Statistics for the Biological and Life Sciences

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology

As the first Nursing Honors program in South Carolina, the UofSC College of Nursing also has been awarded the prestigious distinction of a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence. Cohorts from the school have ranked among the top 1% in the US with their pass rates for the NCLEX (a required standardized test to be licensed as a registered nurse in the US). 

UofSC’s Clinical Simulation Lab is accredited for teaching by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) and the Council for Accreditation of Healthcare Simulation Programs. In lab classes, students gain an immersive learning experience in realistic practice environments that replicate real-world clinical scenarios. 

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine  

With coursework in all five areas of public health as well as tropical medicine, Tulane University offers a wide range of master’s programs to prepare students for public health careers, both domestic and abroad. 

The five core areas of public health include:

  • Behavioral science

  • Biostatistics

  • Environmental health

  • Epidemiology

  • Management

Depending on the field of study you pursue and its requirements, you can choose the program best suited for your future career goals.

Master of Public Health (MPH)

The Master of Public Health is a multidisciplinary degree equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to work in a variety of public health settings, including local, state, federal, and international organizations. With the Master of Public Health program, students can specialize in health policy or international health and sustainable development.

Read how a Tulane public health alum is making a big difference in India >

Master of Science in Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences

The Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) in Environmental Health Sciences is a program that prepares students to identify, assess, and manage issues affecting global environmental health.

Students are also taught how to evaluate environmental data using both quantitative and qualitative procedures. To develop expertise in multiple areas of environmental health, students can also choose elective coursework outside of the school’s core curriculum with support from their academic advisor. Both pre- and mid-career professionals can benefit from the MSPH degree.

Sample courses include:

  • Epidemiology for public health

  • Environmental health microbiology

  • Health systems policy and management

  • Principles of toxicology

To learn more about your options for health care-related degrees and determine which program is right for you, reach out to your Shorelight advisor. Your advisor can help you evaluate university options, understand program curriculum and requirements, support you in developing your study plan, and much more.

With a variety of health care programs and learning experiences available to you at US universities and colleges, you’ll benefit from a world-class education as you grow toward becoming a health care professional. Regardless of the specific type of health care you wish to pursue, look forward to a rewarding career where you work to support the well-being and health of others.

Shorelight can help you discover which health care services degree makes sense for you