Career opportunties: Behavior scientist, health educator, health scientist, mental health researcher, health communications specialist, academic
The social and behavioral sciences is based on the assumption that health and health behavior are impacted by multiple psychological, behavioral, social and cultural factors. Central to addressing health problems and eliminating health disparities and inequalities, these factors must be understood and addressed at multiple social-ecological levels (individual, interpersonal, organizational, community and population).
Those who seek a concentration in social and behavioral sciences come from a variety of undergraduate and professional backgrounds. Undergraduate majors in sociology, anthropology, psychology and health education provide strong foundations for this concentration. However, it is also sought out by individuals with backgrounds in bench science, health professions, and other professions, such as journalism, to provide a multi-layered perspective on the determinants of and solutions to health problems.
MPH graduates with concentrations in social and behavioral sciences are employed in health agencies at all levels and sectors. They are usually involved in creative aspects of community assessment, program development and evaluation, and research. Just a few examples of current jobs held by our alumni include research positions at NIH and CDC, program directors at the Alachua County Health Department and the North Florida Healthy Start coalition, and tobacco specialist with the local Area Health Education Center (AHEC).
The curriculum is designed to enable students to develop competence in very specific social and behavioral science skills. In addition to the public health core courses, students are required to take 15 credits of social and behavioral science core courses. The social and behavioral sciences core courses enable students to acquire and apply new knowledge and tools in social and behavioral theory, research methods, health communication, need and asset assessment and surveillance, and ultimately, program planning and evaluation.
If you are interested in the social and behavioral sciences concentration, please contact Amanda Kastner.
Social and Behavioral Sciences Curricula
Additional information on the curriculum, including plans of study, can be found in the MPH Student Handbook.
- Standard 48-credit/42-credit MPH Curriculum, Social and Behavioral Sciences Concentration
Visit the online social and behavioral sciences concentration page for more information on the online program. Visit the Social and Behavioral Sciences Faculty page to learn more about the course instructors.
Social and Behavioral Sciences Core Courses
- PHC 6146 Public Health Program Planning and Evaluation
- PHC 6195 Health Information for Diverse Populations: Theory & Methods
- PHC 6251 Assessment and Surveillance in Public Health
- PHC 6405 Theoretical Foundations of Public Health
- PHC 6700 Social and Behavioral Research Methods
Upon completion of the MPH program, students with a concentration in social and behavioral science should have mastered the following competencies:
- Evaluate public health social and behavioral science research so that research decisions, strengths and limitations are addressed
- Integrate social and behavioral science theories and concepts in the development of interventions/solutions to public health problems
- Design and conduct a community needs assessment
- Design, implement and evaluate a public health intervention
- Design and develop effective communication products that convey health information to diverse audiences that increase recipients’ knowledge and positively impact attitudes, beliefs and behaviors
Internship/Applied Practice Experience
For the purposes of the MPH internship/APE, social and behavioral sciences students are to: (1) apply the skills learned across the MPH curriculum and within social and behavioral sciences specifically; (2) advance the student’s understanding of social and behavioral sciences theories, methods, and approaches in a real-world application and setting; and (3) promote within students an appreciation for how public health professionals interact with and affect the well-being of individuals and communities. Typically, social and behavioral sciences MPH students should seek an internship that will provide a foundation for future educational endeavors (e.g., PhD, MD) or employment within national and international organizations including government, non-profit foundations and companies, and for-profit companies. Based on students’ goals, the internship will be in a setting (e.g., public health agency, community based organization, federal agency) and focus on a specific content area (e.g., chronic disease, infectious disease, health behavior) that will prepare them for the next step in their careers.
More information about the Applied Practice Experience can be found here.
Students must complete an Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) through completion of a capstone project that demonstrates their ability to define an issue, apply methods appropriate to their concentration, and produce results. These final activities of the MPH program are intended to encourage students to understand their projects in the larger context of public health as a cross-disciplinary field and in relation to the competencies expected of all MPH graduates.
More information about the ILE and capstone project can be found here.
Interested in the other concentrations offered in the MPH program? Explore other options on the Concentrations page.