Social and Behavioral Sciences

social and behavioral sciences

The online MPH Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration is offered in partnership between the online MPH program and the Social and Behavioral Sciences program. The Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) concentration 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). Through online instruction, research, and field practice, MPH students who concentrate in social and behavioral sciences explore the unique issues faced by diverse groups and populations and acquire skills to achieve social and behavioral change.

Eligibility: Who typically applies to this concentration?

  • Undergraduate majors in sociology, anthropology, psychology and health education provide strong foundations for this concentration.
  • Those who seek a concentration in social behavioral sciences come from a variety of undergraduate and professional backgrounds.
  • 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.
  • Those who are involved in creative aspects of community assessment, program development and evaluation, and research


The curriculum for the online Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration follows the same model as the other five concentrations. Students begin their programs with the MPH core courses required of all students. Instead of a specified set of concentration core courses, however, these students choose 2 to 3 courses from concentration core course options in 2-4 of the other concentrations. Selections include courses with problem-based methodologies to enhance students’ practice skill sets. Students complete their degrees with 16 hours (1 credit) of seminar and a 5-8 credit internship.

There are five components to the online Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration:

  1. One course in each of the five core areas (15 credits)
  2. Core courses in the Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration (15-21 credits)
  3. Elective courses in the Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration (up to 12 credits)
  4. Public Health Internship (5-8 credits)
  5. Seminar in Contemporary Public Health Issues (1 credit)

Online Social and Behavioral Sciences Curriculum

The online Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration is currently available in four tracks. Below are the individual SBS concentration curriculum tracks.

Online Social and Behavioral Sciences Competencies

Click here to review the competencies expected of graduates of the Online Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration and the courses that contribute to them.

Social and Behavioral Sciences Core Courses

Click below for descriptions of the SBS concentration core courses.

Concentration 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


All MPH students are required to complete an internship with a public health or related agency. While every internship involves different goals and activities, all of them provide numerous opportunities for students to enrich and expand on one or more of the MPH core competencies and one or more of their concentration-specific competencies. The internship is usually completed in the student’s final semester in the program, although it may be started in the penultimate semester with permission of the faculty advisor.

Special Project

Within each internship experience, students must complete a special project that demonstrates their ability to define an issue, apply methods appropriate to their concentration, and produce results. The special project serves as the basis for a final written report and either an oral or poster presentation. 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. Student presentations are scheduled on one or two Public Health Days near the end of fall, spring and summer semesters. DVM/MPH students typically present in the summer or fall of their senior year.