Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

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Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences seeks to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent disease through the application of social and behavioral sciences. Enjoying the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.

HPBS 6Health promotion is based on this critical human right and encompasses a positive and inclusive concept of health as a determinant of the quality of life and physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It is a core function of public health and contributes to the work of tackling communicable and noncommunicable diseases and other threats to health.

At the UTHealth School of Public Health, students in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences are surrounded by faculty who make differences every day in the areas of childhood obesity, cancer prevention, AIDS/HIV prevention, sexual education for teens and teen pregnancy prevention. Numerous opportunities exist for students to participate in teaching, research and service activities.

Research & Centers

Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences conducts exciting research on diverse topics that cross age, cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. Active research projects in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences include:

Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) A program in elementary and middle schools across Texas that has shown positive results in reducing child obesity and has proven to be cost effective.

It’s Your Game is an interactive gaming program designed to educate middle school students about HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy prevention. It has shown a reduction in risky sexual behaviors and a delay in sexual initiation.

Latinos in a Network for Cancer Control (LINCC) One of 10 Cancer Prevention Research Networks across the US, Latinos in a Network for Cancer Control is a network of academic, public health and community partners working to accelerate the use of evidenced-based cancer control in communities through community-based intervention and dissemination research.

  • Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

A World Health Organization Collaborating Center, the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR) conducts research to develop, evaluate, and disseminate health promotion and disease prevention programs in diverse settings and populations. Our vision is to promote healthy lives in healthy communities.

  • Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living

The vision of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living is healthy children in a healthy world, with a mission to serve as a state, national, and international leader in the promotion of healthy living. The Center seeks to achieve this through the prevention and control of childhood obesity by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, policy and environmental change, and professional education and community service.

Academic Programs in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

The Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences offers three options for degree-seeking students:

Application Deadlines

UTHealth SPH Application Process (All Degree Seeking Students)

Prospective Student FAQs

Master of Public Health (MPH)

The Master of Public Health in Health Promotion & Health Education is the basic professional degree and integrates the core public health disciplines with behavioral and social sciences. The majority of full-time students take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete the degree, with 45 hours including 6 hours of thesis and practicum combined.

 HPBS MPH Degree Planner

 MPH Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree preferably in a social or behavioral science, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, or communications
  • At least a 3.0 average (on a 4.0 system) in prior academic work
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores over 297 are preferred
  • At least two letters of recommendation from faculty knowledgeable about the applicant’s academic work

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

The DrPH degree in Health Promotion & Health Education is designed to develop leaders in health promotion practice. Students are trained to conduct applied research in public health settings. It is primarily designed for those who plan to apply scientific discoveries and use strong analytical skills to assess public health problems. They are also trained to develop, implement, and evaluate theory-based public health interventions in practice settings. An important component of this degree program is the ability to communicate findings to the public and policymakers. DrPH students are required to complete a minimum of 48 semester credit hours of coursework (a maximum of nine combined credit hours of practicum, thesis or dissertation count toward the minimum of 48 credit hours), a recommended breadth in leadership and one minor area of study in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, or Management, Policy, and Community Health.

 HPBS DrPH Degree Planner 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD in Behavioral Sciences and Health Promotions is designed to provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in academic and research positions. The PhD program primarily prepares scholars to integrate and develop state-of-the-art social and behavioral science theory, design, and analytic approaches to examine current problems in public health. The emphasis in this degree program is preparation for independent research and teaching. An important component of this degree program is the ability to contribute to the scientific literature. PhD students are required to complete a minimum of 48 semester credit hours of coursework (a maximum of nine combined credit hours of practicum, thesis or dissertation count toward the minimum of 48 credit hours), a recommended breadth in research methods and one minor area of study in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, or Management and Policy.

PhD program requirements: completion of required coursework; a minor in another department other than Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences; an area of breadth in a topic of interest; completion of a preliminary exam with a passing grade; a dissertation focusing on social and behavioral aspects of public health.


 HPBS PhD Degree Planner
 

PhD & DrPH Admission Requirements

PhD program:

  • An earned master’s degree in a social or behavioral sciences

OR

  • An earned master's degree in public health with research experiences, thesis experience, and/or course work related to social and behavioral sciences  

OR

  • An earned master’s degree in another field and at least 12 hours of upper division undergraduate or graduate coursework in social or behavioral sciences

DrPH program:  

  • An earned master’s degree or equivalent in public health

For both PhD and DrPH applicants:

  • At least a 3.0 average (on a 4.0 system) in prior academic work is competitive
  • Graduate Record Examination scores over 308 are preferred
  • At least two letters of recommendation from faculty knowledgeable about the applicant s academic work
  • Acceptance by the faculty in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences with a faculty member who is willing to serve as an academic advisor
  • Submission of a writing sample that demonstrates competence in written communication for academic work. The applicant should be the sole or first author on submitted work. Theses, publications, or other academic work are preferred.

Training Opportunities

Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training Program

The Maternal and Child Health Training Program is designed to hone skills in the development and delivery of programs and services for women, infants, children, and adolescents, the training program offers four tracks:

      • MCH Concentration, open to degree-seeking students
      • MCH Certificate, open to students who are not enrolled in a degree program
      • MCH Fellowship, open to students enrolled in the MCH
      • Concentration or the MCH Certificate who are interested in a year long intensive training experience in maternal and child health
      • Training and resources for community and governmental agencies

Cancer Education and Career Development Program (National Cancer Institute)

The Cancer Education and Career Development Program is for doctoral students in all departments of UTHealth SPH and has an established track record in helping to launch academic research careers in cancer prevention and control. Pre- and post-doctoral fellowships are available.

Graduate Training Program in Breast Cancer Disparities

The goal of the graduate training program in breast cancer disparities  is to train a new cadre of innovative and highly skilled researchers and practitioners, from populations who are disproportionately affected by breast cancer, who are committed to the elimination of breast cancer disparities. The program will encourage the brightest master and doctoral students at the UTHealth School of Public Health to pursue careers as researchers or public health practitioners focusing on breast cancer disparities. The program will provide trainees with the necessary skills needed to successfully reduce breast cancer disparities by offering a rigorous specialized training program that includes formal coursework and mentored research/practice experiences. Patient advocates will be an integral part of the training program and will mentor the trainees as well as add the patient perspective.

Faculty for Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences Department 

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Marlyn Allicock
Assistant Professor
Dallas Campus
Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2006

Research focus:  Cancer prevention and control, Evaluating evidence-based interventions, Peer support interventions, Health disparities, Health communications, Tailoring and technology for health promotion, and Dissemination and implementation research   

Louis Brown

Louis D. Brown
Assistant Professor
El Paso Campus
Ph.D., Wichita State University, Wichita, 2005

Research focus: Community coalitions, Self-help and mutual support, Substance abuse prevention, Delinquency prevention, Parenting, Mental health, Implementation science, Program engagement

Byrd-Williams

Courtney Byrd-Williams
Assistant Professor
Austin Campus
Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2009

Faculty Spotlight

Research focus: Individual, social, and environmental determinants of eating and physical activity behaviors of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, children, adolescents, and their families. Effects of nutrition and physical activity interventions on behavioral constructs, body composition, and metabolic profiles in youth.

Emmanuel Chavarria2

Enmanuel A. Chavarria
Assistant Professor
Brownsville Campus
Ph.D., University of Florida, 2014

Research Focus: Cancer Control, Prevention, and Education, eHealth/mHealth Interventions, Health Literacy Research, eHealth Literacy Research, Cancer Health Disparities, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), Latino/Hispanic Health

Dr. Clutter

Michiko O. Clutter
Assistant Professor
Dallas Campus
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2005

Research Focus: Pediatric asthma self-management, addressing social determinants of health to improve pediatric health outcomes, adolescent health risk behaviors, school-based telehealth, mindful parenting

Paula Cuccaro

Paula M. Cuccaro
Assistant Professor
Houston Campus
Ph.D., University of Houston, Houston,1996

Research focus: Maternal & Child Health child & adolescent development, Poverty, Mental Health, Adolescent sexual health, HPV vaccine, Violence

Casey Durand

Casey Durand
Assistant Professor
Houston Campus
Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2012

Research focus: Physical activity and diet, Obesity prevention, Built environment and policy, Ecological models of health behavior, Active transportation, Health Disparities

Alexandra Evans

Alexandra (Sandra) Evans
Associate Professor
Austin Campus
Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1997

Faculty Spotlight

Research focus: Sustainable food systems, Health disparities, Child obesity prevention through environmental and policy interventions, Program evaluation

Maria Fernandez

Maria E. Fernandez
Professor, Chair of Diversity Programs, & Director WHO Training Center, Director, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, Research Council
Houston Campus
Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 1995

Research focus:  Cancer Prevention and Control, Cancer Screening (Breast/Cervical/colorectal), HPV and HPV vaccination, Cancer Epidemiology, Dissemination and Implementation Research, Evaluation, Health Disparities, Hispanics Health, Global Health, Health Communication, Use of Tailoring and Technology in Health Education, Community-based participatory research

Maria Fernandez-Esquer

Maria (Maru) Fernandez-Esquer
Associate Professor
Houston Campus
Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1989

Research focus: Immigrant health, Marginal Latino groups, Alcohol use, HIV/AIDS, Cervical Cancer and HPV, Domestic Violence, Health Disparities, Culture & Gender Norms, Injury prevention at work

Kayo Fujimoto

Kayo Fujimoto
Assistant Professor
Houston Campus
Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, 2003

Research focus: Social Network Analysis, Adolescent health, Categorical data analysis, Network interventions, Actor-oriented simulation methodology

Belinda Hernandez

Belinda Hernandez
Assistant Professor
San Antonio Campus
Ph.D., The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 2012

Research focus: Adolescent health, HIV, STD, pregnancy prevention, Sexual harassment and assault prevention, Dissemination research, Evaluation

Deanna Hoelscher

Deanna Hoelscher
Professor, Director of Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
Austin Campus
Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, 1991

Faculty Spotlight

Research focus: Child nutrition focusing on underserved populations, Child and adolescent obesity, School-based health promotion, Dietary assessment and surveillance, Prevention of chronic diseases (type 2 diabetes & cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis), Gene diet interactions, Food and physical activity policy interventions and evaluation

Christine Markham

Christine Markham
Associate Professor, Associate Chair of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, Assistant Admission’s Coordinator
Houston Campus
Ph.D., The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 2002

Research focus: Child /adolescent health, HIV, STD & pregnancy prevention, Qualitative & quantitative methods, School health promotion, Self-management skills for HIV+ youth, Dissemination research

Alfred McAlister

Alfred McAlister
Professor
Austin Campus
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1976

Research focus: Media and Community Organization, Cross-Cultural and International Health, Reducing Health Disparities, Tobacco, Finnish-Russian public health collaborations, Afghan health promotion capacity development, Promoting nutrition in Tanzania

Sheryl McCurdy

Sheryl McCurdy
Associate Professor
Houston Campus
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2000

Research focus: African Studies, Ethnography, Global Health, HIV/STI Prevention, Maternal & child morbidity and mortality, Science and Technology Studies, Social construction of health and illness, Social justice, Substance use

Patricia Dolan Mullen

Patricia Dolan Mullen
Professor, Chair Faculty Council
Houston Campus
DrPH, University of California, Berkeley, 1975

Research focus: Systematic review & meta-analysis, Program evaluation, Informed decision making for cancer screening and treatment, Increasing the accessibility of evidence-based interventions for practitioners, Motivational approaches, Multiple behavior change, Incarcerated populations prisons

Cheryl Perry

Cheryl Perry
Professor, Regional Dean, Austin Campus
Austin Campus
Ph.D., Stanford University,1980

Research focus: Child and adolescent health Promotion, Dietary, physical activity behavior, Behavior change methods with youth, Tobacco use behavior with youth, Tobacco regulatory Science, Multi-component community interventions

Melissa Peskin

Melissa Peskin
Assistant Professor, Departmental Curriculum Coordinator, Academic Council
Houston Campus
Ph.D., The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 2004

Research focus: Dating Violence Prevention, Bullying and cyberbullying, Adolescent sexual health, Adolescent mental health

Nalini Ranjit

Nalini Ranjit
Assistant Professor
Austin Campus
Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, 1999

Faculty Spotlight

Research focus: Social epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, Design and evaluation of school-based obesity interventions, Snacking and soft drink consumption, Social ecology of health behaviors, Health disparities

Belinda Reininger

Belinda Reininger
Associate Professor, Practice Council                    
Brownsville Campus
DrPH, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 1994

Research focus: Community-based participatory research, Program evaluation, Health Disparities, Intervention research, Obesity prevention, Adolescent Health

Lara Savas

Lara Savas
Assistant Professor
Houston Campus
Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 2006

Research focus: Cancer epidemiology, prevention and control, Cancer screening (Breast/Cervical/Colorectal), HPV vaccination, Intervention Research to increase cancer prevention in vulnerable populations, Lay Health Worker & Navigation models, Reducing health disparities, Community-based research

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Aubree Shay
Assistant Professor
San Antonio Campus
Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, 2013

Research focus:  Patient-provider communication and medical decision making, cancer screening decisions, adolescent and young adult cancer survivors, HPV vaccination, mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) design

Ross Shegog

Ross Shegog
Associate Professor
Houston Campus  
Ph.D., The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 1997

Research focus:  Communication technology applications for health education and health promotion, HIV, STD & pregnancy prevention, Chronic disease management (epilepsy, asthma, HIV), Smoking prevention/ cessation in adolescents, Diet and physical activity                           

Andrew Springer

Andrew Springer
Assistant Professor
Austin Campus
DrPH, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 2000

Faculty Spotlight

Research focus: Child and adolescent health promotion, Physical activity promotion and obesity prevention in underserved populations, Adolescent risk behavior in Latin America

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Paul Swank
Professor
Houston
Ph.D., University of Northern Colorado, 1979

Research focus: General linear models, Structural equation modeling, Psychometrics

Wendell Taylor

Wendell C. Taylor
Associate Professor, Admissions Officer  
Houston Campus                     
Ph.D., Arizona State University, Tempe, 1984

Research focus: Physical activity, Worksite Health Promotion, Underserved populations, Health Disparities

Susan Tortolero Emery

Susan Tortolero Emery
Professor, Senior Associate Dean Academic and Research Affairs
Houston              
Ph.D., The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 1994

Research focus: Adolescent Health, Adolescent Sexual Health, HIV, STDs, pregnancy prevention, Substance use, Violence, Cross-cultural research, Hispanics, Mental health, Gender Equity          

Valerio Melissa_headshot 2017

Melissa A. Valerio
Associate Professor, Regional Dean, San Antonio Regional Campus
San Antonio Campus
Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2006

Research focus: Health Literacy, Chronic Disease Management and Control, Intervention design and evaluation

Sally Vernon

Sally Vernon
Professor, Chair, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and Blair Justice, PhD Professorship in Mind-Body Medicine and Public Health
Houston Campus
Ph.D., The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 1980

Research focus: Cancer screening (breast, cervical & colorectal), HPV vaccination, Informed decision making for prostate cancer screening, Developing & validating measures of psychosocial constructs & self-report behaviors, Dissemination & implementation, Systematic reviews of cancer control interventions, Social epidemiology

Michael Wilkerson

J. Michael Wilkerson
Assistant Professor
Houston Campus
Ph.D., Texas State University, San Marcos, 2007

Research focus: HIV/STI prevention, Substance use, Harm Reduction, LGBT health disparities, Mobile health (mHealth), Internet-based mixed methods research

Health Promotion at Work

Career opportunities in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences are diverse, and may involve working with individuals, families, schools, worksites or communities. Work settings include universities; federal, state, and local agencies; healthcare organizations; corporations; and non-profit organizations.

 A Community Health Educator plans, develops, implements, and evaluates health education strategies, interventions, and programs to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of diverse populations. These professionals use a variety of health education methods and approaches to improve the health of individuals and communities.

 A Health Promotion Research Scientist plans and conducts scientific studies to identify and solve public health problems and provides scientific expertise to various agencies and organizations. Researchers identify and find solutions for critical public health issues that impact individuals and communities.

Federal Agency Director plans, develops, manages, and evaluates policies and activities in areas such as primary health care, maternal/child health, HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, population/family planning, nutrition/micronutrients, and environmental health.

A Director of Community Health and Wellness in a non-profit organization oversees day-to-day activities including the quality, marketing, and promotion of its programs; participates in strategic planning and visioning; provides effective facilitative leadership; and keeps abreast of health promotion trends and anticipates future needs.

Additional Health Promotion and Behavioral Science positions:

  • Community Health Worker
  • Health Promotion Program Coordinator
  • Health Promotion Program Evaluator
  • Health Promotion Specialist
  • Public Health Social Worker
  • Supervisor of Health Education and Wellness
  • Worksite Wellness Manager

National Public Health Organizations:

International Public Health Organizations:

Alumni Highlights

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[Pictured left to right: Jasmin Tiro (PhD, 2005), Amy McQueen (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2006), Caitlin Murphy (MPH, 2011) and Sandi Pruitt (PhD, 2008)]

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Reginald J Warren_Photo

Name: Reginald J. Warren
Graduation year: 2016
Program
:  Master of Public Health, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, Concentration in Maternal and Child Health
Interests: Nutrition and physical activity, reproductive health, adolescent health, and maternal and child health
Current Position: Health Services Representative at the Florida Department of Health
(Transitioning to: Health Educator at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City)

READ REGINALD'S INTERVIEW HERE

Headshot_Sharon Abada2

Name: Sharon Abada
Graduation year: 2016
Program: Master of Public Health, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences 
Interests: Stroke prevention, older adult health, injury prevention
Current Position: Accepted into Medical School

READ SHARON'S INTERVIEW HERE

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Dennis Li

Name:  Dennis H. Li
Graduation year:  2016
Program: PhD, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
Interests:  Adolescent health, sexual and gender minority health
Current Position: Postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University

READ DENNIS' INTERVIEW HERE

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Pragati Advani

Name: Pragati Advani
Graduation Year: 2016
Program: DrPH, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
Interests: Cancer prevention, survivorship care, health disparities (emphasis on minority and geriatric populations), reproductive health among cancer patients, and understanding the role of energy balance and psychosocial health in cancer
Current Position: Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center 

READ PRAGATIS' INTERVIEW HERE

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Administration

Sally W. Vernon, PhD
Department Chair and Blair Justice, PhD Professorship in Mind-Body Medicine and Public Health
713-500-9760
sally.w.vernon@uth.tmc.edu

Mary Brown
Sr. Administrative Coordinator
713-500-9987
mary.d.brown@uth.tmc.edu

Admissions

Claire Strickland

Academic and Admissions Advisor 

713-500-9985

claire.strickland@uth.tmc.edu 

or

hpbsadmissions@uth.tmc.edu

Please use the form below to request information.

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