Health Behavior

This health behavior Capstone team (Amanda Kong, Christina Villella, Aly Bancroft, Alex Coombs and Dirk Davis) collaborated with the Durham County Department of Public Health to identify smoke-free air policy best practices and to assess knowledge and compliance with the implementation of the 2012 Board of Health Smoking Rule, which prohibits smoking in some public areas in an effort to reduce secondhand smoke. Read more about Capstone.

Message from the Chair
Welcome to the 2016-2017 academic year. I look forward to meeting each of you and watching you grow and develop the skills you need to become the health professionals you aspire to be. Read more.
Leslie Lytle, PhD,
professor and chair

Welcome new students!

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.

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

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 Program | Research | Recent Dissertations |Master’s to PhD | Apply

We encourage prospective students to review the information about our programs here on the website, to read the Health Behavior News from Gillings, and to check the more informal notes we post on Facebook. If you need other information, use the prospective student inquiry form.


Give-Now-Button-dashesThe Jo Anne Earp Distinguished Professorship in Health Behavior will be the first of its kind for the Department of Health Behavior!

To date nearly $320,000 has been contributed by more than 260 donors for the endowed fund. With a goal of $333,000 to establish the professorship and provide permanent funding for future mentors, we still need your help.


Features from Students, Faculty and Alumni

Health behavior students awarded record $325K to teach sex education through technology

September 7, 2016 Elizabeth Chen, MPH, and Cristina Leos, MSPH, health behavior doctoral students at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Vichi Jagannathan, MBA student at Yale,  have won a $325,000 award from Innovation Next, a program of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The award is the largest ever made to a student or a… Read more.

Wizdom Powell named associate director of the UNC Department of Social Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Research (CHER)

photo, Dr. Wizdom Powell

Dr. Wizdom Powell

Wizdom Powell, PhD, associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named associate director of the UNC Department of Social Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Research (CHER) and research associate professor of social medicine in the UNC School of Medicine.

Powell also is member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of UNC’s Men’s Health Research Lab. Read more.

Beth Morocco  to lead evaluation of The evaluation of the rape education program


Dr. Beth Moracco

The evaluation, which will beconducted through the Children’s Home Society and called “Wise Guys: The Next Level.

“Sexual violence is a highly prevalent and deeply significant social and public health problem,” Moracco said. “Despite the magnitude and severity of sexual violence, little is known about how best to prevent sexual violence perpetration. This critical gap in the sexual violence prevention evidence limits our ability to implement comprehensive programs to prevent and reduce sexual violence perpetration.” Read more.


Michael DeFranco Blogs about Summer Practicum

Michael DeFranco, health behavior master's student.

Michael DeFranco, health behavior master’s student.

“Digital Health and the New World,” Michael Del Franco’s new post on IntraHealth’s Vital blog tells the story of his summer practicum. “I was a digital health novice before working with the informatics team at IntraHealth. Then they introduced me to mHero.” Imagine a scenario where information—really important and meaningful information that could help millions of people—is stored in a way that makes it seemingly impossible to access. Even users within the same organization can’t share it with one another, not because it’s confidential, but because of the way their software is built. Read the blog | Read more about the practicum


Health Behavior Matters, our quarterly e-newsletter

HB_SubscribeThe July 2016 issue of our e-newsletter included a roundup of news from the 2015-2016. . Read the July issue.

Open-rank faculty positions

The Department of Health Behavior seeks to hire up to three open-rank tenure-track faculty. We are interested in colleagues who can facilitate and contribute to the applied research of the current faculty as well as establish their own research programs. Strong methodological and analytical expertise is preferred. Candidates should have interest and ability in teaching at the graduate level. See position posting and apply through UNC Human Resources. Read the position announcement.

News and Events



Tuesday, October 4th: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.; 1101F McGavran-Greenberg Hall. Global Local Lunch is back!

“Next generation NGO: insights into strategies, organizational models and job profiles” with Rebecca Kohler (MPH in health behavior) Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Development, IntraHealth.
Seating is limited, so RSVP/registration is required:

Oct. 15: Health Behavior Alumni Potluck Lunch and Hike at Umstead Park.


Health Behavior Matters, our quarterly newsletter, is a roundup of news and features about faculty members, students and alumni.
Health Behavior News is a running list of news about health behavior faculty and students from the Gillings School.
Facebook includes departmental news and events, general news stories, and informal notes for our community.

Resources for Students

Da'Esha McPhaul, student services manager for health behavior, greets admitted students at Experience Gillings 2016.

Master’s Program Resources

Program Quick Guide – basic information
Program Handbook 2016-2017 – in-depth information

Doctoral Program Resources

Program Quick Guide – basic information
Program Handbook 2016-2017 – in depth information

Fall 2016 Classes

Course Schedule
More Resources for Students

Resources for applicants


Search all Gillings programs.

Health Behavior Alumni


Visit the Health Behavior Alumni page to access alumni profiles, see recent updates, find the current e-newsletter and download older printed newsletters in pdf format.

Featured alumna: Linda Ko is leads a childhood obesity study in Washington state, and shares tips for students.

Oct. 15: Health Behavior Alumni Potluck Lunch and Hike at Umstead Park. Read more.

We love to hear from our alumni. When you have professional news or address changes, send them to  Hbnews.