Our specialty areas bring together faculty and students from across many disciplines. These academic areas of study offer students the opportunity to focus on various substantive topics, reflecting the changing public health problems that need to be addressed by public health practitioners and researchers.
Students in a two-year master’s or a doctoral program may elect to complete an additional specialty area as a minor. Students in a one-year master’s program may also add a specialty area, however we recommend talking to the relevant program coordinator for eligibility requirements.
Specialty Area in Food Systems
Current students in any master’s or doctoral degree program at UC Berkeley may elect to complete the graduate Certificate in Food Systems. The certificate responds to an escalating need to empower new leaders with the capacity to create innovative solutions to pressing food and agriculture challenges. Building on UC Berkeley’s strength as a multi-disciplinary pioneer in food systems studies, the Certificate in Food Systems prepares master’s and doctoral students to think critically about the multi-level, multi-system factors that affect food production, distribution and consumption locally, nationally and globally.
This interdisciplinary program is a collaboration between Berkeley Public Health, the College of Natural Resources and the Goldman School of Public Policy. This program complements a student’s primary fields of study by addressing the ecological, social, health, political, policy, legal and economic dimensions of food and agriculture, as well as providing graduates with the necessary theoretical framework and practical skills that can be applied across diverse and emerging food-system challenges.
Any UC Berkeley graduate student in good academic standing can earn the Certificate in Food Systems. Please visit the Berkeley Food Institute for more information on how to apply.
PBHLTH 290: Transforming Food Systems: From Agroecology to Population Health
This course takes a solutions-oriented approach to pressing problems in current food systems. We explore strategies used by the disciplines of agroecology, policy, law, public health and business to improve food systems and apply their varied approaches to real-world case studies. (three units, fall)
Two additional three unit courses from a list of approved classes. Students work with the certificate advisor and their main program advisor to ensure that elective courses complement their primary coursework.
Specialty Area in Global Health
Note: This page provides information about Global Health as a graduate specialty. If you are looking for information about the Undergraduate Global Public Health minor or certificate programs, go to the Summer Minor or Certificate program page.
The objectives of the Global Health Specialty Area (GHSA) are to support and cultivate student’s interests in global health, and to help develop competencies and skills in global public health that can be applied to students’ careers. The GHSA provides an opportunity for students to explore multidisciplinary issues in global health through coursework and global health engagement.
- Community: Connect with graduate-level students with various global health interests and backgrounds
- Networking: Join (virtual) Happy Hours, Meet & Greets, panel and discussion events that are organized to help connect with students, faculty, and staff interested in global public health and explore global health disciplines.
- Mentorship: Chat with public health scientists, researchers, and professors across the Bay Area, including UCSF, UC Davis, and Stanford faculty
- Education/training: Take a set of required hours to boost your global health specific knowledge
The Specialty is offered to all UC Berkeley School of Public Health students currently enrolled in the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program OR any other master’s or doctoral degree program in any Division of BPH. It is also open to Master of Development Practice (MDP) students and other students are also eligible on a case-by-case basis, with permission from schools/advisors. Please reach out to us via email at email@example.com
Global Health Coursework
(9 units, 2-yr program; 5 units, 1 -yr. program)
You will need to complete one of the following global health foundational courses:
- Fall 2021 (online): PHW212 Online Foundations of Global Health
Instructors: Hildy Fong Baker, Arthur Reingold (3 units)
Introduces the basic principles of global health that aim to improve population health at all levels in communities throughout the world. Introduces and applies essential concepts from public health disciplines to current global health challenges, to provide real-world context. Global health experts share their experiences and lessons learned from implementing global health research and programs. *PHW212 replaces the residential seminar, PH253 Foundations of Global Public Health, in Fall 2020
- Fall 2021: PH220E Global Health Policy
Instructor: Stefano Bertozzi (3 units)
This is a 3-unit course offering an introduction to current topics in international health policy. Taught by Dean Emeritus Prof. Stefano Bertozzi, the class will give students the opportunity to learn about how real-world policy decisions are made at the country and global levels. Students will learn about theories of governance as they apply to international settings and will evaluate the role of state actors, NGOs, and international agencies in producing key health outcomes. This is a great opportunity for students who are interested in exploring global health and/or strengthening their analytical and presentation skills.
- Fall 2021: PHW213 Global Health Ethics
Instructors: Rebecca DeBoer, Rohini Jonnalagadda Haar (3 units)
Introduces ethical frameworks, theories, and historical references that elevate the ethics conversation to the global stage. Links theory to practice by delving into ethical issues in global health research, experiential learning, and delivery. Considers ethical questions about the discipline of global public health and the roles of governments, academic institutions, organizations, health professions, and members of the public as stewards of health.
- Spring 2022: PHW209 Comparative Health Systems
Instructor: Neelam Feachem (3 units)
Examines health systems and their role in global health, and introduces current debates about health financing and universal health coverage (UHC). Investigates efforts to achieve UHC by balancing the goals of quality, affordability, and access in ways that are unique to each country and region. Studies the evidence on financing, delivery, and governance of health systems, and considers the policy context in which health systems operate.
In addition to the core course, you will need to complete additional units of global health-related coursework to meet the 9 unit or 5 unit GHSA requirement.
- 2-year program (i.e., most MPH students): 6-7 units depending on core course
- 1-year program (i.e., Interdisciplinary, one-year Epi students): 2-3 units depending on core course
- Eligible courses chosen from a list of approved courses. Other courses can qualify if it is reviewed and approved in advance, in consultation with a GHSA advisor.
- We encourage transdisciplinary coursework that can enhance your interests in a variety of global health areas. All coursework must be taken for a letter grade.
Global Health Engagement
- Community Events: This specialty also aims to bring together the UC Berkeley global health community. As such, we request all those in the GHSA to attend two global health seminars or events hosted by UC Berkeley or UCSF each semester (i.e., events hosted by the School of Public Health, Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases, Center for Global Public Health, Blum Center, Bixby Center, etc.). We will inform you about Bay Area global health events, news, and opportunities through our listserv. We also run a year-long workshop series on Global Health Internships.
- Mentorship: GHSA staff and faculty will cultivate connections and small group meetings that will help you build and navigate your mentor network. Activities will include opportunities to learn how to approach faculty, organizations, and researchers who will support your global health journey at UCB. We recommend speaking with your program coordinator and faculty advisor to explore avenues for global health mentorship at UC Berkeley.
- Internships: Global health internships are recommended, but not required. For students in 2-year programs, we encourage you to reach out to BPH and CGPH affiliated faculty to explore global health-related internships in the summer, either at home or abroad. While the responsibility for securing an acceptable international placement lies with the student, the Center for Public Health Practice & Leadership (CPHPL) and the Center for Global Public Health (CGPH) offer a number of events and resources throughout the year about global health internships. Please note that MPH internship placements must be approved by the CPHPL and should provide the student with a relevant and rigorous off-campus learning experience. Students in 1-year programs are encouraged to seek practical and/or research experiences in global health during their studies. You are welcome to contact CPHPL and CGPH advisors to explore opportunities.
If you are an eligible student, and would like to declare your intent to pursue the Global Health Specialty during your course of study at UC Berkeley, this is done at the beginning of the academic year. Please sign up here to indicate interest and we will follow up with you when the semester begins about an orientation session.
The Specialty Area in Global Health is supported by the Center for Global Public Health staff and affiliated faculty.
Specialty Area in Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health
Note: Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health is both an area of study and a specialty area. The following information is specific to the specialty area.
The field of maternal, child and adolescent health aims to promote and protect the health status and well-being of women, infants, children, adolescents and their families. The Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Specialty Area furthers this goal through excellence in training, research, continuing education, service and advocacy.
This specialty area is available to two-year master’s and doctoral students enrolled in any of our regular academic programs. For more information, students can contact our specialty coordinator.
The Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Specialty Area track requires completion of the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Specialty Area core course plus two additional courses. Note: A course cannot count towards both a student’s specialty area and academic program of study.
- PH 210 Maternal and Child Health Core Course
Remaining two courses may be selected from the following list:
- PH 207A Public Health Aspects of Maternal and Child Health Nutrition
- PH 210B Adolescent Health
- PH 210D Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology
- PH 212A International Maternal and Child Health
- PH 213A Family Planning, Population Change and Health
Course offerings are subject to change. Please check the current schedule of classes to confirm.
At the time of graduation, each student receives a letter signed by the chair of the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Specialty Area and dean of Berkeley Public Health certifying the student’s completion of the requirements in this area.
The coordinator for the MCAH specialty area is Heidi Kelly-Tuason MPH, PhD(c).
Specialty Area in Multicultural Health
Continuing wide discrepancies by ethnicity, race and social background in health and access to healthcare in the United States pose dramatic challenges to the field of public health. These problems range from high infant mortality rates in many communities of color to large gaps in morbidity and mortality among adults. Such differentials present major challenges to virtually every discipline within public health, including environmental and occupational health, epidemiology, health education, and health policy and management. Students in the Specialty Area in Multicultural Health are trained to play a leadership role in addressing these challenges.
Students interested in pursuing coursework and/or research in multicultural health should apply to an appropriate degree program in one of our regular academic programs. Once students are enrolled, they can sign up for the Specialty Area in Multicultural Health.
Students interested in pursuing course work and/or research in multicultural health should apply to an appropriate degree program in one of our regular academic programs. Once students are enrolled, they can sign up for the Specialty Area in Multicultural Health. For more information, please contact our specialty area coordinator.
Students participating in the MHSA are required to successfully pass 9 units of MHSA courses. These courses included 3 core courses of 2-4 units, and 8 elective courses ranging from 2-4 units. Students must take at least one of the core courses, and then enough elective courses to reach a minimum of 9 units throughout their BPH degree program.
Core Courses (at least 1 Required)
|Course #||Course Name||Units||Semester|
|PH 202B||Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Health Status and Behavior||4||Spring|
|PH 204G||Research Advances in Health Disparities||2||Spring|
|PH 255A||Social Epidemiology||4||Spring|
|Course #||Course Name||Units||Semester|
|PH 216A||Biological Embedding of Social Factors||2||Fall|
|PH 219C||Community-Based Participatory Research||3 or 4||Spring|
|PH C233||Healthy Cities||3||Fall|
|PH 255D||Methods in Social Epidemiology||2||Spring|
|PH 299||Structural Competency: Responding to the|
Social Determinants of Health
|PH 290||Bio-Ethics: From Nuremberg to Modern Times||3||Fall or Spring|
|PH 290||Critical Theory and Social Science Research||3 or 4||Fall or Spring|
|PH 274||Social Justice and Worker Health||2||Fall|
|PP 290||Poverty and Inequality: Facts, Causes and Policy Solutions||3||Spring|
|AAS 201A||Interdisciplinary Research Methods||2||Fall|
Please see our MHSA Handbook for additional information.
If you are interested in pursuing the Multicultural Health Specialty Area, please fill out the Multicultural Health Specialty Area Interest Form 20-21.
At the time of graduation, each student receives a letter signed by the chair of the Multicultural Health Specialty Area and dean of Berkeley Public Health certifying the student’s completion of the requirements in this area.
Specialty Area in Public Health Nutrition
Note: Public Health Nutrition is both an area of concentration and a specialty area. The following information is specific to the specialty area.
We face many nutrition-related problems both nationally and internationally, which need the expertise and leadership of well-trained public health professionals. The Specialty Area in Public Health Nutrition is designed to provide students with strong leadership skills and the competencies to address complex issues and problems relating to public health nutrition. These professionals need to be able to design, implement and evaluate programs; identify best practices; develop and implement new food and nutrition policies; and find ways to address the widespread epidemic of obesity and ongoing problems related to sustaining our national and global food system.
This specialty area is offered to all Berkeley Public Health students currently enrolled in our master’s or doctoral degree programs. Students should have some previous coursework in biological sciences and/or nutrition sciences—either as part of their undergraduate major or as post-baccalaureate coursework.
Students need to complete nine units of courses, selected from the following:
- PH 206B Food and Nutrition Policies and Programs (3 units)
- PH 206C Nutritional Epidemiology (3 units)
- PH 206D Food and Nutrition Programs and Policies in Developing Countries (3 units)
- PH 207A Public Health Aspects of Maternal and Child Nutrition (2, 3 units)
- Upper-division Nutrition Sciences and Toxicology courses (NST 103, 160, 161)
- Other related coursework by permission
Two-year master’s students need to complete a 12-week summer internship/fieldwork in an area related to nutrition, nutrition policy and/or physical activity. One-year master’s students may satisfy this requirement with an internship during the school year or during the winter recess.
Students also complete a comprehensive exam or thesis on a topic related to public health nutrition.
Students in the Specialty Area in Public Health Nutrition may be able to participate in faculty research projects and the Nutrition Policy Institute. Students may be eligible for public health nutrition fellowship and scholarship funds.
At the time of graduation, each student will receive a letter signed by the Dean and the Public Health Nutrition Program chair certifying the student’s completion of the PHN Specialty Area degree requirements.
The coordinator for the PHN specialty area is Carol Hui.
Specialty Area in Aging
NOTE: This specialty area is under redevelopment. As of September 13, 2019, this specialty area is not accepting additional students. The school is committed to providing high quality instructional and intellectual resources. We will be working diligently to restore this specialty and will provide updated information about the process when it is available.
Current students who are interested in aging are encouraged to contact their academic advisors. Academic advisors will assist students in finding courses and other resources to meet their individual curricular interests.
One of the nation’s major public health objectives is to enhance and maintain the health, vitality and independence of its aging population. To meet this challenge, Berkeley Public Health is committed to the field of aging, including the development of special courses, field placements and research opportunities.
Students may designate aging as a specialty area. In addition to completing the requirements for a specific academic program, students may complete a nine unit series of courses in aging.