Population Health

Minor In Population Health

Update to the Minor Requirements *pending approval*

(expected implementation Fall 2022)

Students are now required to take the three courses listed below plus two electives:

  • HESA 245 Introduction to Population Health
  • HESA 380 Quality Management & Performance Improvement (prerequisite HESA 245)
  • HESA 499 Population Health Capstone (prerequisite HESA 380)


The Population Health Minor is an interdisciplinary minor open to all Xavier University undergraduate students and compatible with any major.  Courses provide students with an understanding of the distribution of health outcomes within populations, the social determinants that influence health distribution, the economic framework influencing social determinants of health (SDoH), the cost-effectiveness of interventions designed to address SDoH and the policies and interventions that impact the determinants and life expectancy of the population within diverse communities. The provision of health equity across the nation is addressed. The minor consists of 15 credit hours of which three three-credit hour course (HESA 245, HESA 380, HESA 499) are required and then students can select the remaining 6 credit hours from the list of approved attribute courses taught across the four university colleges. No more than six credits of the approved electives may be from the same department.

Social and Environmental Determinants of Health include the following yet not limited to just these determinates: food insecurity, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy food, transportation, education systems, employment, income and wealth, psycho-social environment, social isolation and loneliness, safe housing, public safety, quality of the air we breathe, the physical environment and health systems and services. In completing this minor, students will obtain a broad overview of these topics from the introductory HESA 245 course and then can achieve greater depth in one or more of the topics by taking elective courses. By completeting HESA 380 students will be able to understand and manage quality principles and process management systems in the context of contemporary quality systems. The final required course, HESA 499, is a capstone class that will allow students to review and apply the fundamental knowledge and skills they have gained in their other population health courses to futher their professional development. For the electives, it is possible that a student delves deeply into epigenetics and the brain with two electives concentrated in Biology and Psychology, for example, while another uses their electives to learn more broadly about two different topics, taking courses in two different departments. The requirement of taking no more than six credits in a single department ensures students explore at least some breadth, but may go into greater depth if they choose. The goal of population health is to support healthy people comprising healthy populations that create productive workforces and thriving communities. Completing the minor will inspire some students to go on to complete graduate work in this field, or to deploy it in their professional lives in health care, business, government, and more.

Xavier University Mission supports the Center for Population Health and the development of the minor in population health. “Driven by our commitment to educating the whole person, promoting the common good, and serving others, the Xavier community challenges and supports all our members as we cultivate lives of reflection, compassion, and informed action.”

Evidence of Need

Due to the fragmented health care within the nation, health inequity amongst our national populations and existence of national health disparities, it is critical the next generation of students understand population health and what it means for the future of our country and the world. The National Healthy People 2030 goals include strategies to address health equity so that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences – including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay; quality education and housing; safe environments; and quality medical care. Food insecurity in poverty neighborhoods is a major problem within our nation placing populations at risk for many unhealthy outcomes and diseases. The population health minor will broaden Xavier’s undergraduate student’s understanding of the complexity associated with social determinants of health and the health of the nation.  Social and economic disparities separate those who have health opportunities from those who don’t.  “Only 10% of health is the direct result of clinical care. Instead health is largely shaped by our environment, behaviors – and social and economic factors” (Mark Steffen, MD, MPH). Graduates of Xavier University who have a knowledge of Population Health will be prepared to impact national health goals, improvement of communities in which residents live and work as well as enhance their ability to be recognized as thought leaders within the nation. For example, students enrolled in education and health professional related majors located in the College of Professional Sciences and the College of Nursing will benefit from the minor since the federal government is requiring all patients to be screened for Social Determinants of Health. All pre-med students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences will also benefit from having the minor on their transcripts when applying to medical schools. Communication, language, philosophy, and English majors could also potentially benefit from having the minor on their transcripts if they go on to work in health-related fields. Business majors conducting data analytics, economics, and marketing will benefit from the minor due to their future leadership roles in the business environments.


The Population Health Minor stems from the university’s formation of a Center for Population Health. The Center for Population Health has been developed in alignment with the Xavier University mission in which we are “Driven by our commitment to educating the whole person, promoting the common good, and serving others, the Xavier community challenges and supports all our members as we cultivate lives of reflection, compassion, and informed action” as well as  our value for ‘cura personalis.’ The Center guides the inclusion of population health across the university curricula as well as developing the minor in population health which can be associated with various majors across the university’s four colleges. Population Health impels us to take a broader perspective to truly improve the health of our nation.  The minor in Population Health supports the proposed new core objective 3b: “Students will be able to describe how reflection upon a range of human experiences and texts enables a sense of the divine and/or a sense of life’s meaning and right relationships with others and the world.” Using a team science approach, the Center is building coalitions with regional stakeholders to meet the needs of diverse cultural groups, and identify data to measure health and wellness while reducing health inequities. In addition to the coalitions, the Center is creating subgroups of community-academic partnerships and bringing diverse disciplines together to improve individual and population health through an understanding of social, environmental, behavioral, and biologic factors.  Students enrolled in the Population Health Minor will have the opportunity to be involved in immersion experiences through these partnerships as well within the Eigel Center immersion experiences.

Required Courses:

Students are required to take the three courses listed below:

  • HESA 245 Introduction to Population Health
  • HESA 380 Quality Management & Performance Improvement (prerequisite HESA 245)
  • HESA 499 Population Health Capstone (prerequisite HESA 380)

Students are to select two courses totaling 6 credits from the following list of courses that contain the approved attribute for population health (more are expected). No more than six hours may come from a single department:

  • BIOL 227 Parasitology
  • BIOL 260-261 Environmental Sciences
  • BIOL 364 Virology
  • BIOL 398 Air and Water Pollution
  • BIOL 430 Medical Genetics
  • ECON 395 Economics of Poverty
  • EDME 359 Community and Advocacy in Education
  • HESA 101 Introduction to American Health Care
  • HESA 345 Population Health
  • HESA 372 Internship 2 Community Service Learning
  • HESA 373 Immersive Learning in Population Health
  • HESA 380 Quality Management and Performance Improvement
  • HESA 390 Foundations of Healthcare Ethics and Law
  • HESA 498 Independent Study in Advanced Health Services
  • HIST 114 History of Native American Health
  • HIST 237 History of Epidemic Disease
  • HOCS 323 Occupational Justice I: Foundations
  • NURS 132 Health and Culture
  • NURS 470 Community Health Nursing
  • NURS 471 Community Health Nursing Practicum
  • PSYC 277 Abnormal Psychology
  • PSYCH 368 Health Psychology
  • SOCI 375 Sociology of Health
  • SOCW 208 Economics of Society
  • SOCW 299 Child Welfare and Development
  • SOCW 300 Adolescence to Older Adult Development
  • SOCW 315 Values, Poverty and Society
  • SPAN 332 Spanish in Community Health Settings
  • THEO 312 Christian Health Care Ethics