Health Behavior

Camille McGirt, health behavior master's student, was featured on "The Dr. Oz Show." Watch the video here. Since 2011, McGirt has served as founder and co-executive director of Healthy Girls Save the World, a nonprofit organization that provides a positive space for girls in North Carolina to foster the development of habits related to proper nutrition, physical activity, and healthy mental and physical lifestyle.

Message from the Chair
Welcome back to Spring semester, 2017. It is hard to believe that the 2016 academic year is half over and that soon many of us will be planning graduation celebrations! Read more.
Leslie Lytle, PhD,
professor and chair

The Department of Health Behavior combines the social and behavioral sciences with health science to produce graduates who deliver practical research and interventions that improve the health of individuals and communities.

Established in 1942, UNC’s Department of Public Health Education was the first program of its kind in the United States. Read about our history.

Our Degree Programs

Master of Public Health (MPH) program

The master’s program offers students the core education and practical experience they need to become successful public health professionals. Master’s students earn one of two degrees: the Master of Public Health (MPH) or the Dual Master of Public Health and Master of City and Regional Planning (MPH-MCRP).

Master’s Program  |  MPH Practicum  |  MPH Capstone  | Apply | Program Handbook

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program

Doctoral programs prepare students to lead and conduct research by providing strong research methodology courses and many student research opportunities. Some students enter directly into the PhD program, others enter the Master’s-to-Doctoral program (MSPH-PhD) acquiring core public health and health behavior competencies and completing all the requirements for the PhD.

Doctoral ProgramResearch | Recent Dissertations |MSPH-to-PhD | Apply | Program Handbook

We encourage prospective students to review the information about our programs here on the website, to check out the Health Behavior News from Gillings and the student news from our department’s e-newsletter: Spring 2016 and Fall 2016. If you need other information, use the Prospective Student Inquiry form.

hb_community_partners_400x400Community partners provide important practical experience to our master’s students through the practicum and Capstone programs. Visit our Community Partners page.

Recent awards

Photo: Dr. Luz Reyes

Dr. Reyes

Photo: Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Dr. Ribisl

Photo: Dr. Suzanne Maman

Dr. Maman

Luz Reyes received a Teaching Excellence and Innovation Award in appreciation of her excellence in teaching and her dedication to supporting her students’ success. This prestigious award is given to a faculty member in the Department of Health behavior based on nominations from students. She received the award on Thursday, March 23. Read the story.

Kurt Ribisl was recognized for his national tobacco control efforts with the American Society of Preventive Oncology 2017 Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award. He accepted the award at the Society’s annual meeting in Seattle on March 13, where he presented a talk on finding solutions for tobacco-related health disparities. Read the story.

Suzanne Maman got the prestigious Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award for her excellence in teaching and mentoring, research and service. The award will be given at the annual Foard Lecture on April 27. However, Suzanne is unable to receive the award in person. Read the story.

We will miss Jim Sorenson, former chair of health behavior and Ida Friday (MPH, 1947)

Photo: Dr. Jim Sorenson, circled in red, joined other members of Dean Michel Ibrahim's cabinet for a 1990 photo.

Dr. Jim Sorenson, circled in red, joined other members of Dean Michel Ibrahim’s cabinet for a 1990 photo.

James Roger Sorenson, PhD, chair of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior from 1985 to 1996, died in Pittsboro, N.C., on March 13, 2017. He was 74.

“Jim was a pioneer in health behavior genetics research several years before that research area became a priority for the National Institutes of Health. He was instrumental in expanding the department’s research strength and areas of expertise, thanks to the excellent faculty members he hired, especially in adolescent health.”

Sorenson is survived by his wife Nancy and other family members. Read more

friday_bill.ida_t.fuldner_738x491Ida Howell Friday, artist, activist and health behavior alumna died on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, at the age of 97. Friday (MPH, 1947) studied in the school during the tenure of Dr. Lucy S. Morgan, founder and first chair of the department then known as the Department of Public Health Education. Public health educators like Ida Friday became experts in community organization and development, but they were not merely technicians. Ida and her public health coworkers were imbued with a liberal faith in the improvability of humankind; Morgan and Tyler were, for their day, advanced racial liberals, and they helped to establish a cooperative teaching program with North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham [now North Carolina Central University] that brought blacks, for the first time, into Carolina’s classrooms.

The Ida and Bill Friday established the prestigious Lucy Morgan Fellowship with a generous gift in 1987. The award recognizes a master’s student who displays high academic achievement, integrity and leadership in health education and includes a substantial stipend. Since the first Morgan Fellow was named in1988, more than 70 health behavior students have received the award.

Read more about Ida Friday in the Gillings School News Make a gift to the Morgan Fellowship Fund. (Use the search feature and select “Lucy Morgan Fellowship.”)

Spring Semester Events

Health behavior students grab coffee during orientation in Aug. 2016.

Friday April 14: holiday

Thursday April 27: Annual Foard Lecture, schoolwide event at the Gillings School

Tuesday May 9, 4 – 7 pm: Capstone Celebration Day for second-year master’s students, their guests and the Gillings School community at the Gillings School

Saturday May 13: UNC Doctoral Hooding Ceremony and Gillings School Commencement, on the UNC campus

Sunday May 14: UNC Spring Commencement on the UNC Campus

Gillings Events Calendar UNC Academic Calendar

Academic Calendars: 2016 – 2017 and 2017 -2018


From the Health Behavior Newsfeed 
Dr. Jim Herrington is collaborating with RTI International to survey Americans about whether the threat of contracting Zika virus is affecting their spring and summer travel plans. Read now

Dr. Kurt Ribisl was honored on March 13 with the American Society of Preventive Oncology’s 2017 Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award.  Read now

Dr. James Sorenson, who chaired the Gillings School’s Department of Health Behavior from 1985 to 1996, died in Pittsboro, N.C., on March 13. He was 74. Read now

Dr. Deborah Tate co-authored chapters in the third edition of Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook, published this year by The Guilford Press. Read now

Dr. Suzanne Maman, professor and Sally Herndon, alumna, have won, respectively, the Greenberg Award for excellence in teaching, research and service. Read now

See all stories in the Health Behavior Newsfeed

Health Behavior Matters, fall 2016 newsletter

Hannah Prentice-Dunn, health behavior alumna

Ida Howell Friday, health behavior alumna, artist and activist died Feb. 6, at the age of 97. Read now

The Health Behavior Alumni page.

Health Behavior Matters, fall 2016 and scroll through recent issues.

Download older printed newsletter from the Health Behavior Alumni page