Hi,

What major would give me the best chances for admission into a good MPH program in epidemiology or biostatistics, as well as help me get a good job later, assuming I'm equally capable of doing well in any major?

The majors I'm looking at are statistics, applied math, biochemistry, and public health.

Advantages of statistics major: allows me to take graduate-level biostatistics courses as an undergrad, good back-up career plan (I've seen a lot of job postings for statistics majors in my area), could fit in a minor in something public-health-related like global health or microbiology

Applied math: has an honors/thesis option (statistics doesn't), could possibly also work as a back-up career plan (not sure if it would look as good to employers as statistics though), could fit in a minor in something public-health-related like global health or microbiology

Biochemistry: has departmental honors option, could also minor in statistics or math, probably has the most research opportunities for undergraduates

Public health: has departmental honors option, includes public health capstone. Not enough room for a statistics/math minor probably.

Any advice or thoughts would be welcome!

Don't know if this is too late, but this the advice I would give for maximum flexibility:

Biostatistics and Statistics are not terribly different in the modern era with statistical computing. They were more divergent before most people had easy access to statistical software mainly due to the problems of learning the calculations for that particular branch. The tradeoff between Biostatistics (Biometry) and Statistics is mainly on the more advanced techniques, Statistics tends to worry about mathematical matters and biostatistics tends to worry about violations more.

For the MPH/PhD level, there are usually three different levels of classes given.

1. The non-math intensive (algebra only) class for MPH only majors (you cannot do the PhD/ScD with this class). This is purely applied and is not acceptable for further study (it's a terminal class).

The representative book is usually Rosner, Sullivan, or Norman/Streiner. Sometimes Rothman, but that covers epidemiology as well.

2. The "intro" math intensive class for MPH majors in Epidemiology (if taken for Biostatistics, it's grudgingly accepted although puts you at a severe disadvantage in the second year classes).

The representative book is usually Devore and Berk. This requires you have linear algebra before entering the class.

3. The math intensive class for MPH/PhD Biostatistics majors (required for the PhD level biostatistics, sometimes not optional for Epidemiology, preferred for MPH biostatistics)

The representative book is almost always Shao. This requires that you have some working knowledge of measure theory before entering the class.

In undergraduate, these are the prerequisites:

1. You need to take a class in linear algebra, period. There's no way you can take even the MPH level without having some idea about how matrices work. If you end up having to teach yourself, use the "Done Right" book as a starter.

2. For the serious MPH, a course in probability is strongly preferred.

3. If you are thinking about PhD Biostatistics work, Real Analysis ("Baby" Blue Rudin or Apostol) is a certain prerequisite nowadays. "Big" Green Rudin is usually a graduate class for Biostatistics and is a requirement if theory is your specialty within the major.

One other constructed path may be to take the actuaries exam pathway along with undergraduate. Many of our faculty had SoA as one of their undergraduate achievements, and it's a real help to earn a little something in applied math/statistics.