Social and Behavioral Sciences Department

Trace S. Kershaw, Ph.D., Chair

The Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) department aims to understand and improve health equity and social justice, both domestically and globally. SBS provides instruction in the theory and methods of the social and behavioral sciences that emphasize individual, interpersonal, community, and structural influences on health, illness, and recovery. The primary emphases are focused on (1) understanding the psychosocial, behavioral, community, and societal influences on health in the general population, with a focus on those who are disadvantaged; and (2) creating multilevel interventions that eliminate barriers to health, from infancy to old age. The SBS curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach and focuses on integrating methods from epidemiology and the social sciences, training scientists with a broad skill set that allows them to answer a host of complex research questions. The department has numerous research strengths including in HIV/AIDS, aging health, community-engaged health research, maternal-child health, mental health, health equity and social justice, and stigma prevention and health. 

Departmental Requirements

SBS 525Seminar in Social and Behavioral Sciences0
SBS 526Seminar in Social and Behavioral Sciences0
SBS 529Foundations of Behavior Change1
One of the following:
EPH 525Thesis2
SBS 574Developing a Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Intervention1
One of the following:
SBS 541Community Health Program Evaluation1
SBS 676Questionnaire Development1
One of the following:
BIS 505Biostatistics in Public Health II1
CDE 516Principles of Epidemiology II1
CDE 534Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology1

Remaining elective courses (10–11 course units) may include any course in social and behavioral sciences from across the University at level 300 or above, with approval of course instructor and YSPH faculty adviser.


Upon receiving an M.P.H. with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the consequence of understanding health from multiple levels, including the individual, the social group, and society (e.g., understand a broad ecological model of health)
  • Develop interventions to address health inequalities and promote health equity
  • Apply social and behavioral theory in the design and implementation of prevention interventions aimed toward improving health
  • Evaluate health promotion interventions
  • Apply ethical principles to the collection of social and behavioral health data