Health Behavior

Sally Herndon (MPH, 1980), head of the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health receives the Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award from Kurt Ribisl, professor and chair.

In the Department of Health Behavior, students develop the skills they need to be community change agents for issues that undermine public health locally and globally, including violence, obesity, cancer, HIV, policy change and health disparities.

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: Community health, violence prevention, policy change, HIV/AIDS prevention and control, health disparities reduction, health communication / mHealth, obesity and diabetes management, tobacco control, workplace health promotion.

Community Engagement

Community engagement, which spans research and practice, is a focus of the health behavior degree programs at UNC Gillings. Many of our alumni see their expertise in this area as a critical skill they bring to careers as public health practitioners, researchers, policymakers and teachers. It is part of the leadership they provide in their communities and across  the world.

Our students provide over 24,000 hours of in-kind service to our community partners each year. Are you interested in hosting a practicum student or working with a capstone team? If so, visit our Community Partners page.

 Degree Programs

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).

Tour the master’s program: Master’s Program  |  MPH Practicum  |  MPH Capstone  | Dual Degree MPH/MCRP Apply | Program Handbook

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.

Tour the doctoral program: Doctoral ProgramResearch | Recent Dissertations |MSPH-to-PhD | Apply | Program Handbook

Learn More

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.



Da'Esha McPhaul, student services manager, greets students at an event in 2016.

Da'Esha McPhaul, student services manager, greets students at an event in 2016.


Event calendars:
Gillings School Events Calendar
UNC Academic Calendar: 2017 -2018

The North Carolina Institute for Public Health hosts a poster session where students share research that impacts our state.

The North Carolina Institute for Public Health hosts a poster session where students share research that impacts our state.

Heath Behavior Mattersour e-newsletter. The spring/summer issue is available online. Subscribe  to receive future issues by email.

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.


Health behavior alumni at the career day they sponsored in 2017

See our Health Behavior Alumni web page.
Search for health behavior alumni on the UNC alumni list on LinkedIn
Join the health behavior alumni group on LinkedIn

Activate your profile on the Gillings School’s WellConnected network. Then you can update your information, and see jobs and notices posted by other Gillings alumni.