Health Behavior

If you are considering applying, come see us at the Graduate Programs Open House on Friday October 9, 8:30-5:00. More Information - Register
For Prospective Students
Graduate Open House October 9: Information, Registration


Message from the Chair
This is the most invigorating time of the school year for me as traffic picks up in the halls of Rosenau. The students are back! Possibility is in the air! Read more
Leslie Lytle, PhD
Professor and Chair

The Department of Health Behavior combines the social and behavioral sciences with health science to deliver practical research and solutions that improve the health of individuals and communities. Established in 1942, we were the first Department of Public Health Education created in the U.S.

Degree Programs

We offer the MPH and PhD degrees and a dual-degree program with the Department of City and Regional Planning. Our programs offer students pursuing an MPH degree the core education and practical experience through the MPH practicum and Health Behavior Capstone that  they need to be successful public health professionals. Our doctoral students leave well prepared to lead and conduct research.

Research and Faculty

Faculty of the Department conduct research to answer the questions that help us understand what we can do to reduce health risks, to promote healthy lives, and to increase the number of individuals who are able to benefit from known and emerging medical science. Read about our research strengths and faculty research interests or visit Health Behavior Matters, our rolling roundup of research publications from faculty and students published in 2015.

News and Events

Graduate Programs Open House Friday October 9, 8:30-5:00. Information, Registration

Community shows heart health through photo research project. According to Alexandra Lightfoot,“This formative work using photovoice provided a critical basis for the design of clinical and community-based programs to reduce the risk of heart disease. By tailoring programs to the specific concerns and needs of the community, the chances of success are much greater.”Read the Article

Co-prescribing opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines can impact overdose mortality, research by Kurt Ribisl and colleagues finds. Read the article.

Fall Events Calendar | Read Other Featured News

What our Students Say

“The Health Behavior program has given me an incredible amount of opportunities to work directly with community members on pressing public health problems.” Sarah Kowitt, doctoral student. Read about her recent research.

Top 10 reasons students came to Carolina (student survey, 2015)

Sarah Treves-Kagan tells why she chose to study in the Department of Health Behavior at Gillings.

Liz Chen, doctoral student, “The mentorship and resources I have received as a student allowed me to secure a $50,000 grant from the State Employees Credit Union to fund MYHEALTHED.”

Basic Information


In our midst are social scientists, Peace Corps volunteers, clinicians, activists, educators, entrepreneurs and researchers. Our students come from across North Carolina and around the world and they range from millennial to mid-career.

Community-Engaged Scholarship 

Every MPH student completes a 240-hour-long summer practicum and a year-long capstone course built around a project in which students apply what they have learned in class.  They work in groups with partners to meet partner’s needs.  The capstone experience is unique among MPH programs, and the mentoring and relationships built with our partners through the practicum and capstone are highly valued by our students.

MPH practicum  –   Health Behavior Capstone

Our doctoral students learn research skills from renowned faculty

Doctoral students work with our remarkable faculty to design, conduct, analyze and publish research that pushes the field of public health forward. Our alumni lead research projects and guide the work of organizations that improve the health of individuals and communities through research, policy, health systems, advocacy, and service.

Our MSPH-to-PhD students develop core and research skills

The MSPH-to-PhD program is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree who want to pursue a doctoral degree and career in research.

MPH/MCRP dual-degree

Students earn credentials in public health and City and Regional Planning. They learn to apply social and behavioral science methods to shape the social and physical environment in ways that promote public health, safety and livability in communities.