Social and Behavioral Sciences – Campus

social and behavioral sciences

Research complex health issues to promote health services, self-care practices, and health system engagement

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 Katherine Pizarro-Gutierrez.

Social and Behavioral Sciences Curricula

Additional information on the curriculum, including plans of study, can be found in the MPH Student Handbook.

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

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.

Special Project/Capstone

Students must complete a special project/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.

Interested in the other concentrations offered in the MPH program? Explore other options on the Concentrations page.