The Health Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights (EQUITY) concentration is hosted by the Gillings School’s Departments of Epidemiology, Environmental Sciences and Health Behavior.

This concentration will prepare you for positions in diverse areas of public health through training in quantitative, qualitative and community-engaged approaches in research and practice. A cross-cutting and interdisciplinary concentration, EQUITY will empower you with a fundamental understanding of the history, principles, theories and frameworks of health equity, anti-racism, social justice and human rights.

What You’ll Learn

This concentration will train you to assess social determinants of health and structural inequities and to devise community-engaged solutions to address them through public health practice or research. Specifically, you will learn to:

  • Critically evaluate the social determinants of health and understand how they contribute to health inequities; and
  • Apply a range of community-engaged strategies and methodologies to advance health equity, social justice and human rights through mentored fieldwork in the United States or another nation.

Career Opportunities

In the course of the EQUITY concentration, you will acquire six competencies (described below). With these abilities, potential domestic and global career positions in diverse areas of public health include:

  • Public health advisor
  • Health policy analyst
  • Consultant
  • Outreach coordinator
  • Health educator
  • Research coordinator
  • Federal health agency staff member
  • Academic or foundation researcher
  • Coalition coordinator

Learn more about the opportunities that await you with an MPH from the Gillings School.

Required Courses

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 12-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take:

  • ENVR 784: Community-driven Research and Environmental Justice
  • EPID 826: Introduction to Social Epidemiology
  • EPID 892: Community-led Capstone Project, Part I
  • HBEH 700: Foundations of Health Equity
  • HBEH 720: Leading for Racial Equity: Examining Structural Issues of Race and Class
  • PUBH 748: Leadership in Health Policy for Social Justice
  • EPID 992: Community-led Capstone Project, Part II (MPH Culminating Experience)

You also will complete a summer practicum during your first year.

Concentration Competencies

This program will empower you with the knowledge and skills to achieve the following core competencies:

  • Evaluate critically the ways in which current and historical policies, institutions and groups influence social determinants of health and contribute to inequities in health across the life course.
  • Integrate relevant strategies, methodologies and measures for research, practice and policies that advance health equity, social justice and human rights.
  • Interpret data to identify the systemic inequities across multiple sectors, such as health, education, criminal justice, business, housing and economic development.
  • Critique multilevel, structural and systems approaches to public health research and practice using principles of health equity, social justice and human rights.
  • Evaluate how health programs and policies address health equity, social justice and human rights.
  • Incorporate cultural humility principles in public health research, practice and policy.

Sample Plan of Study

View this information in PDF format.

Course requirements for MPH degree in Health Equity; also available as PDF


Want to learn more?

Contact Jennifer Moore or Valerie Hudock, student services managers in the Department of Epidemiology, at

Concentration Leaders

Joanna “Asia” Maselko, ScD
Associate professor
Department of Epidemiology

Geni Eng, DrPH
Department of Health Behavior

Anissa Vines, PhD
Assistant professor
Department of Epidemiology

Courtney Woods, PhD
Assistant professor
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering

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