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 faculty and students are active researchers in North Carolina, the U.S. and globally with many studies focusing upon these issues:
-HIV/AIDS prevention and control
-Health disparities reduction
-Obesity and diabetes
-Workplace health promotion
Master of Public Health
The master’s program offers students the core educational and practical experience they need to become successful public health professionals. Master’s students earn either the Master of Public Health (MPH) or the Dual Master of Public Health and Master of City and Regional Planning (MPH-MCRP).
Doctor of Philosophy
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 doctoral program; others enter the master’s-to-doctoral program (MSPH-PhD) acquiring core public health and health behavior competencies and then completing all the requirements for the doctorate.
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 Inquiry form.
Featured Student Work
Transnational networks and health
Laura Villa-Torres, doctoral student, and Associate Professor Clare Barrington’s recent article reviewed research on migrants’ health practices and behaviors that considered a transnational perspective. “For migrants who can’t travel back to their countries,” Villa-Torres said, “the transnational networks become crucial, as they provide migrants with information, remedies and medicines and facilitate access to health providers in their countries of origin via telecommunications. However, the extent of these practices and how they impact migrants’ health requires more exploration.” The Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica in Cuernavaca, Mexico was instrumental in this work.
Poster displayed at WHO’s Global Forum on Medical Devices
Ryan Seguin (MPH, 2017) is the co-author of a poster on MiracleFeet’s affordable clubfoot brace that was displayed at the World Health Organization’s 3rd Global Forum on Medical Devices in Geneva in May. (Read more) The poster is a result of the practicum Ryan completed with his preceptor Lauren Wall, Senior Innovation Manager at MiracleFeet. Community partners like MiracleFeet are essential to the health behavior program at UNC.
Student-led nonprofit wins Kenan funding
The Kenan Charitable Trust grant will provide $25,000 per year for two years to help Healthy Girls Save the World complete its first extensive program evaluation and cover operating expenses for pilot after-school and expanded summer camp programs. Camille McGirt, (MPH, 2017) is the director and co-founder of the program. McGirt established the program as an undergraduate, at a time when she was sidelined from sports because of an injury. She wanted to stay active and help other girls develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. Her stint in the Obama White House left her convinced that she wanted to continue in public service. Read the story
Colorectal cancer screening among African-Americans
Leslie B. Adams and Jennifer Richmond, doctoral students, and Wizdom Powell, PhD, associate professor are authors of an article in the Journal of Community Health. They explored the link between medical mistrust and colorectal cancer screening rates among African-Americans. The review also focused on gender differences related to medical mistrust and found key distinctions in themes of mistrust between African-American men and women. Read more
Willa Dong heads to China; six master’s students will complete the practicum in global health
“I am looking forward to being mentored by a team with such extensive experience with communities disproportionately impacted by HIV,” says Willa Dong, whose dissertation research will focus on the mental health and HIV needs of transgender women in China. Willa, a health behavior doctoral student from Gaithersburg Maryland, has been engaged with sexual health including transgender health, STIs and HIV in China and in the U.S. since 2012. This summer Willa will work as a research assistant with Dr. Joseph T.F. Lau, a professor in the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Willa’s adviser is Kate Muessig, PhD, assistant professor of health behavior. Read more
Promoting equity in the Department of Health Behavior
The Equity Collective, a student group in the Department of Health Behavior, has met bi-weekly this semester [spring 2017] to develop strategies to create a more equitable health behavior community.
The group’s mission is to work to create, promote and sustain equity in the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior for the benefit of all prospective and current students, faculty and staff. Read more
June 22: Information fair for prospective students at Gillings (1)
July 11: SOPHAS Virtual Fairs
July 27: Information fair for prospective students at Gillings (2)
October 6: Graduate Program Open House at Gillings
October 6: Annual Practicum Day Celebration
Health Behavior Newsfeed – News about health behavior faculty and staff as it is posted by the Gillings School. Scroll to see older stories.
Gillings School Newsfeed – ALL the news from the Gillings School.
Subscribe to Health Behavior Matters – All the news about health behavior faculty and students, alumni updates and features compiled twice a year, emailed to subscribers and available online.