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Health and Social Behavior MPH

The mission of our program is to train scholars and practitioners to identify and analyze the major social, cultural and bio-behavioral determinants of health and health behavior; and to design, implement and evaluate social and behavioral interventions and social policies aimed at improving community and population health. Health and Social Behavior graduates go on to work for community-based organizations, city and county health departments, state health departments, research and academic institutions and policy/advocacy organizations.


The core curriculum includes course work in the behavioral, bio-behavioral, and social sciences as these relate to public health, in survey research methods and in program planning and evaluation. The role of race/ethnicity, culture, class and gender in influencing physical and mental health status, interactions between the individual and society, and ethical issues in the design and implementation of community-based interventions are also stressed.

In addition to required courses, students are encouraged to create a cluster of elective courses which will enhance their knowledge and skills in a particular area of interest. A comprehensive examination or original research paper completes the degree.

This is a two-year, full-time master’s degree program. Graduate students are expected to complete at least 48 units of coursework over four academic semesters and one summer. The minimum enrollment is 12 units per academic semester.

  • School-wide Requirements


    • PH 142: Introduction to Probability and Statistics
    • PH 250A: Epidemiologic Methods I
    • PH 297: Public Health Field Placement
    • PH 200J: Health Policy and Management course
    • PH 200K: Environmental Health Breadth course
    • PH 200L: Health and Social Behavior Breadth Course (Note: Health and Social Behavior students take PH 203A instead of PH 200L)
  • Program Requirements


    • PH 203A: Theories of Health and Social Behavior
    • PH 205: Program Planning
    • PH 219E: Evaluation of Health and Social Programs
    • Race, Health and Social Equity – one course from a list of options. Examples include:
      • Social Epidemiology
      • Research Advances in Health Disparities
      • Human and Reproductive Technologies
    • Research Methods – one course from a list of options. Examples include:
      • Community-Based Participatory Research
      • Introduction to Qualitative Methods
    • Health and Social Behavior electives – 6 units from a list of options. Examples include:
      • Biological Embedding of Social Factors
      • Healthy Cities
      • Public Health Ethics
      • Ethnic and Cultural Disparities in Health Status and Behavior


    The Graduate Division of UC Berkeley and Berkeley Public Health require a capstone—also known as comprehensive exam or integrative learning experience (ILE)—with both written and oral components. The capstone builds on the core curriculum requirements of the school and the program. It is intended to be a culminating experience for students, requiring synthesis and integration of knowledge acquired through coursework, internships and other experiences.

    Public Health Practice Internship

    The field placement is a school-wide requirement and is considered an essential component of our curriculum. The field placement is a 12-week, full-time work experience and completed over the summer between the first and second year.

    Students work closely with the RISE Office to research and secure internship placements.


  • Coursework in one of the behavioral, social or biological sciences.
  • Two years minimum of full-time health-related work experience in community, health promotion or health-related practice or research. Most students admitted to the program have one to two years of paid work experience. We strongly urge applicants to apply only after working in a professional capacity in public health or related fields.
  • Academic excellence in undergraduate (and graduate, if applicable) studies.
  • A demonstrated contribution to the diversity of the program and the public health workforce.
  • Letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant’s academic and professional qualifications and leadership abilities.
  • A statement of purpose that explains why applicants are interested in this concentration and how this program would build on prior experiences and contribute to their career goals.
  • A writing sample that highlights your writing and analytical skills is required. The writing sample may be a final paper from a class, a research article, a report, an undergraduate or graduate thesis chapter, or similar document. The purpose of the writing sample is to demonstrate your preparation for graduate-level coursework and research at Berkeley by sharing an example of your prior work that exhibits your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, solve technical problems, construct and evaluate arguments, and/or sustain a focused and coherent discussion. The writing sample should be your own work; if there were multiple authors, please describe your specific contributions to the writing and project.
  • GRE scores are optional for the fall 2023 admissions cycle. We recommend submitting a GRE if you have no other evidence of quantitative, verbal, or analytical abilities in your application.

Admissions Statistics


Admissions Ratio (60/178)


Average GPA of admitted applicants


Average Verbal GRE scores of admitted applicants


Average Quantitative GRE scores of admitted applicants