Coursework: MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences


The MPH in Social Behavioral Sciences has a strong focus on addressing the behavioral, social and cultural factors related to individual and population health and the social and behavioral aspects of community health, health communication, program implementation and evaluation, and health education.

MPH CORE COURSES (18 credits)



PH 5001 Fundamentals of Public Health

3 credits

PH 5102 Theory of Health Behavior

3 credits

 PH 5002 Biostatistics

3 credits

PH 5101 Epidemiology

3 credits

PH 8003 Political & Economic Aspects of Health

3 credits

PH 5103 Environmental Health

3 credits

PH 8111 Program Planning (pre req: PH 5101, 5002 and 5102 or equivalent)

3 credits

PH 8112 Program Evaluation (pre req: PH 8111)

3 credits

PH 8105 Health Communication or  Risk Communication

3 credits

Fieldwork 1 (pre req PH 8111)

3 credits

Fieldwork 2

3 Credits

Concentration Elective - Pick at least one from: PH 8009 Health Psychology

PH 5004 Stress and Change

PH 8011 Social Determinants of Health

Soc 8391 Medical Sociology

3 credits each

(9 credits total)



Electives - Choose 3 electives from the List of Approved Electives (9 credits except dual degree students and students with transfer credits)


Course Descriptions

5001. Fundamentals of Public Health (3 s.h.)

This course encompasses historical and sociocultural approaches to understanding public health and bioethics. Emphasis is on understanding public health systems from the dawn of history to the 21st century and the evolution of bioethical issues, including the application of bioethical principles, regulations, and strategies in research and health practice. This seminar emphasizes the integration of conceptual and experiential learning. This is reflected in the course design and in teaching and learning processes

5002. Biostatistics (3 s.h.)

This course offers an introduction to applied biostatistics as used in research in public health, including statistical methods used for descriptive and analytic research, inferential statistics, surveillance systems, and statistical software used in public health.

5009. Risk Communication and Public Health   (3 s.h.)

This course focuses on risk communication within the context of terrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, and health problems that occur because of natural disasters.  It includes core principles of risk communication, examines special challenges of risk communication with diverse audiences, and prepares students to create a crisis and emergency risk communication plan.

5101. Epidemiology   (3 s.h.)

Prerequisite: Matriculation in Environmental Health, Public Health, or Health Studies or permission of instructor.

This course offers an introduction to descriptive and analytical epidemiology. The focus is on concepts and methods used in public health with emphasis on the calculation and interpretation of indices of community health, morbidity and mortality rates, age adjustment, risk ratios, sensitivity and specificity, and predictive value of screening tests. The course also provides an overview of epidemiological research designs, surveillance systems, and evidence-based practice guidelines. 5102. Theoretical Foundations of Health Behavior (3 s.h.)

5103. Environmental Health (3 s.h.)

This course explores the effects of interactions between the environment and human health, and the ways that adverse effects may be mitigated. Environmental health hazards, including chemical, biological, and physical pollutants in air, water, soil, and food are addressed, as are risk analysis and risk communication as applied to environmental health. This course examines how problems and solutions are identified globally, nationally, and locally. The use of biological and chemical agents as weapons is also explored. This course is available online.

5107. Complex Emergencies and Forced Migration   (3 s.h.)

This course uses case studies and research literature to examine the multifaceted causes of complex emergencies and their subsequent impact on the health of the population, including populations that stay in place, are internally displaced, and cross international borders (refugees). The policies and practices of the humanitarian response among both governments and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and their impact on population health are explored. A framework for three issues that affect population health in complex emergencies is provided and their consequences and possible interventions iterated. These issues are mental health, gender-based violence, and nutrition. Assessment, program implementation, and evaluation are looked at in the context of the particular barriers and issues found in complex emergency situations.

5112. Public Health Program Evaluation (3 s.h.)

Prerequisite: PH 5101 and PH 8111 or equivalent and permission of instructor.

This course covers research methods and techniques used to evaluate public health programs. Students develop an evaluation design, including defined evaluation questions, study design, specific measures and methods, and human subjectsprotocols.

8105. Health Communication (3 s.h.)

This course covers levels of communication processes and effects in intrapersonal health communication related to personality, attitudes, cognitive style, and quality of life; interpersonal communication in the patient-caregiver relationship, including dynamics of stress, conflict, and social support; organizational communication in health-care settings; mass communication processes, including media campaigns to promote good health and disease prevention; and risk communication across settings and strategies.8111. Public Health Program Planning(3 s.h.)

This course covers program planning in public health practice, as well as analysis of national health objectives and their applications at the state and community levels. Emphasis is on program planning as a change strategy to alter knowledge, attitudes, and health behavior to achieve positive health outcomes.

8003. Political-Economic Aspects of Public Health (3 s.h.)

The course provides an introduction to the structure and delivery of healthcare in the United States, as well as an introduction to health policymaking. In addition to required reading materials, students are asked to examine current health policies at the local, state, and/or national level.

8004. Understanding Stress and Change   (3 s.h.)

This course focuses on the impact of stress on physical and emotional health and quality of life. It focuses on the causes, types, and physiology of stress and stress reduction methods, including relaxation, biofeedback, fear control, cognitive restructuring, and social psychological interventions in community settings.

9289. MPH Fieldwork I (3 s.h.)

This course entails a fieldwork project or internship in a public health agency. It includes seminars, oral and written reports of progress, and joint supervision by a preceptor and faculty member.

9389. MPH Fieldwork II (3 s.h.)

This course evaluates the fieldwork project or internship using a full range of research methodologies. Data are collected, analyzed, and reported in a comprehensive final report. Oral and/or poster presentations are presented to public health organizations. It includes a final oral defense of the project or internship.